There were a lot of first times for many players on the Jazz roster. First playoff berth. First playoff series win. First time sporting a new hairdo. While some Jazz fans with high standards focus on the fact that these Jazz haven’t accomplished what Stockton and Malone did, it’s time to recap what the Jazz did do.
They won their first division title in 9 years:
When the Jazz last won the Northwest division, George W. Bush was President, the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 was Touch My Body by Mariah Carey, and the Kansas Jayhawks had recently defeated the Memphis Tigers in the NCAA basketball championship. Since then teams like the Blazers and Thunder have taken the lead but Kevin Durant’s departure from Oklahoma City combined with bold moves by the Jazz front office led to 51 regular season wins and a date with the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA playoffs.
They won their first playoff game in 7 years:
The Jazz won their first playoff game since 2010 and boy was it in an exciting fashion. With Rudy Gobert injuring his leg in the first 17 seconds the Jazz were supposed to lose in Los Angeles. They kept playing tough though and after a rebound and a surprising lack of a timeout call, “Iso Joe” drove the length of the court and used a perfectly set pick on Jamal Crawford to get some space and sink a floater for the one point victory.
They went to the playoffs for the first time since 2012:
The last time the Jazz made the playoffs they had a date with a championship caliber Spurs team. Gordon Hayward shot abysmally and Tim “The Big Fundamental” Duncan led the Spurs to a four game sweep over a Jazz team that had barely survived the departure of Coach Jerry Sloan and All-Star Deron Williams.
They overcame the naysayers:
While pundits were writing them off in the first round series against the Clippers, the Jazz tuned out the noise and won. When Matt Barnes made fun of the lack of night life in Salt Lake City, the Jazz showed the nation that ball is life at night by the Wasatch Mountains. When know-it-alls like JT the Brick on Fox Sports said Gordon Hayward wasn’t a max player, he rebounded from his poor Game 1 12 point performance against the Warriors to score over 25 points in each of the remaining three games.
Overall Grade: A- The only thing that would have made this season perfect would be to have stolen a game from the Warriors. Had George Hill been healthy the Jazz might have done just that. The Jazz overperforned given their low preseason expectations as a young inexperienced team. Next year the expectations will rise and a three seed and second round series victory will be required to earn an A+ grade.