As the NBA calendar makes its homestretch towards the playoffs, the Utah Jazz are left staring fate in the eyes. After finishing a very reasonable 20-game platter at 12-8, the injury-prone Jazz will enter the most pivotal final games of the season. It starts tonight at Milwaukee.
Coach Ty Corbin and supporting players have expressed their remaining optimism for the treacherous journey that lies ahead, but the reality of how it has played out so far has fans shaking their heads.
The irony in the way things have turned out so far is the fact that the Jazz are essentially where they were before a highly winnable games resulted in a just above average winning percentage. While being able to lean on signature wins against Miami, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio, they just dropped their third straight before taking out the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.
Utah currently sits in the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff picture. They trail Golden State by half a game, but Houston and the Kobe-guaranteed Lakers have been rising to the times. Ideally, the Jazz were banking on the previous stretch to put them in position to have home court advantage heading into the playoffs. As we have come to know very well about the Jazz, home court arguably means more to them than anyone. As we also know now, this will not be the case entering their final 23 games of the season.
The way many are seeing it is that the Jazz are playing their way out of the playoffs. They made no moves before the trade deadline and they remained in the same position in the standings, while competitors have slowly inched closer and closer. The greater half of their schedule will be played on the road, while 13 of their remaining opponents have winning records. This scenario has disaster written all over it.
The Utah Jazz will miss the playoffs. Too many of the good things that they have had going for them before have been lost in translation and with the luxury of playing at home gone now, there is no hope for what remains in their season. It was critically critiqued before the trade deadline that the Jazz did not have a sufficient roster to do any damage in the post season if a birth even existed in the first place.
I’d like to meet the loner fan(s) who claims to be informative and says that the Jazz will make the post season. Before spin kicking him in the head I would lay out on paper the rosters of the Lakers and Rockets that they will be competing with down the stretch. If there were one to three games left, sure, I would think that they’d have a better likelihood of holding off the storm, but with this much time to go, the storm will be far too long for them to survive.
In the case that I am proven wrong, which I will admit, has happened a couple of times in my life (ask my wife), the Jazz making the playoffs would only prolong the agonizing inevitable. Clinching the seventh or eighth spot would potentially match them up with high-flying San Antonio or the young and the restless Thunder, who are itching badly for a title. Those are two forces that the Jazz will have no business messing with. If Kobe is still making guarantees then, he could easily call a sweep in that case.
The way I see it, teams one through five are locks for the playoffs, with minimal shuffling around. Teams 6-9 from now until the final regular season game are what will make the next month and a half interesting.
Here is how I see it unfolding:
7. Golden State
8. LA Lakers
Better luck next year and with a new roster, please.