by Daniel Olsen
Success doesn’t last forever. Only a few teams have recorded a win-streak that spanned at least quarter of a season. The 1972 Lakers, 2013 Heat, 2016 Warriors and 2008 Houston Rockets have all won more than 20 regular season games in a row.
While the Jazz haven’t gotten there yet, they’ve been consistent. Their longest win streak was 15 in a row which they did twice. They have also recorded a 14 game and 12 game win streak. 10 or 11 seems to be the magic number as they have recorded each of those streaks four times apiece in franchise history. Since the 11-game streak unfortunately came to an end, it’s time to take a look back and see how it compares to the other times the Utah Jazz have won 11 in a row.
2018: The Greatest Comeback Ever
This was a much needed streak for a team that seemed destined for the NBA Draft lottery at the time. With a 19-28 record, the #TankNote campaign was in full swing on social media. Rudy Gobert used Twitter to promote his own “We will be fine” campaign.
During this streak, six of the games were against teams that would qualify for the playoffs that season. This included wins over the top seed Raptors, the 2018 NBA Champion Warriors, the six seed Pelicans, three seed Blazers and the seven seed Spurs (twice).
It is especially impressive considering the Jazz were able to beat teams in a variety of ways. On January 30, 2018, the Jazz beat the Warriors 129-99. There were no excuses either as KEvin Durant was playing on the other side.
Another memorable win in this streak was a road win over the Detroit Pistons. Rubio, who had been struggling with the Jazz in his first season with the Jazz, was wide open from three. Instead of force the shot, rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell dished it out to Rubio to beat the buzzer. The three gave the Jazz a 98-95 victory in overtime.
This was an impressive streak that was the first 11-game win streak in almost 20 years. Ironically the Jazz had a 12-game streak in 2009 but no 11-game ones in two decades. When they went streaking, 10 games was usually the limit.
1999: Looking good in the NBA Lockout
This was during a strange time in the NBA. Michael Jordan had just retired for the second straight time and the NBA had one of the longest lockouts ever due to a failure to agree on salary rules. The season was shortened to 50 games and began in February of 1999.
While this was difficult for a Jazz team that was just starting to age, they did catch fire in what would usually be their final month before the playoffs. From April Fools day until April 18, 1999, the Jazz did not lose a game.
This streak included zero Eastern Conference teams and seven wins over teams that would make the playoffs. However, most of these teams were on the lower half of the Western Conference playoff teams. The Jazz would beat both Houston and the Lakers twice in this stretch. They also beat Phoenix, Sacramento and Minnesota.
The wins over LA and Houston were big as the Jazz needed them to surpass them in the Western Conference Standings. The Jazz would get the three seed in the Western Conference that year while the Lakers and Rockets were in the four vs. five matchup. The Jazz would defeat the Kings 3-2 in a tough playoff series that year before losing 4-1 to the Trailblazers in a disappointing series. This was the brightest spot in an otherwise disappointing series. This is when Jazz fans realized the championship window had shut and they had to start looking to the future.
1998: The Jazz seek to go for two
By go for two, this doesn’t mean the 2-point conversion in football. The Jazz, led by the dynamic duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone, were seeking to win back-to-back Western Conference Championships. From the end of February until the middle of March, the Jazz did not lose a game. It was their longest win streak of that season. They also would go on to record a 7-game streak in the playoffs that year.
Not only was the streak impressive, but the entire two months were impressive. They only lost four total games in February and March combined.
The list of teams they beat wasn’t super impressive but the way in which they dominated was. They beat mostly teams either not in the playoffs or in the back half of the playoff standings. The best team they beat was the four seed Phoenix Suns. They also beat Houston (twice), Minnesota and New Jersey.
Five of the wins in this streak were by double digits. While this 11-game win streak wasn’t the most impressive streak ever, remember how successful this season was. They would finish the top seed in the Western Conference for the second straight year.
The Jazz started off the 2020-2021 season with lofty expectations for themselves after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the first round. They learned from their experience and have resolved to quit losing in the first round.
The jury is still out on how many of the teams the Jazz beat will make the playoffs. If the season ended today, we can assume that roughly half of the teams would be in the playoffs. The best team the Jazz beat in this streak was a close call between the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets. The Bucks seem like the best win because the Jazz had to have a historic night to win. The Jazz made a franchise record 25 threes en route to a 131-118 victory.
Of these 11 wins, nine were by double digits. The offensive rating for the Jazz has simply been off the charts. In their final win of the streak, they made 20 threes for the seventh time in the season. Although the Denver Nuggets broke the streak, the Jazz made 20 threes in that game as well. The Nuggets had to have the most accurate first half in NBA history from deep to win this game. They ended 15-17 from three at the break.
Ranking the Eleven Streaks:
This may be tougher than ranking the seasons of Stranger Things in which the girl named Eleven stars. It may seem like recency bias but the two win streaks in the last three years have been epic. The Jazz in 2018 came back from the bottom to make the playoffs. The Jazz in 2021 have been a better offensive team than we have ever seen. They all know how to shoot and they make it at a high clip.
1999 doesn’t seem as impressive to me just because it was a shortened season and felt overwhelming given where the Jazz were the previous season. 1998 was a great win streak but again, the season as a whole and the dominant stretch from February to March was much more impressive than the streak itself.
With that being said, here is how I would rank the best of the times the Jazz won eleven straight games:
1. 2018 Jazz: Teams don’t come back from the lottery to win a playoff series and that’s exactly what the Jazz did. Because of the magnitude of what they did, and how important a streak like this is in a dominant stretch, I pick this as the most impressive streak. Also remember that they beat two of the top teams in the NBA during that stretch by a combined 34 points.
2. 2021 Jazz: This stretch was impressive because these Jazz made history in a different way. You can argue that no Jazz team has been as offensively dominant as this team was during this eleven game stretch. The Jazz are embracing the three-point shot and changing the game more than it’s already been changed be the three. They are shooting over 40 percent of their shots from beyond the arc and are still shooting well above the league average. That means a plethora of points were scored. Through these 11 games, they made 204 threes. That is an average of 18.5 threes per game. This team was on fire and if they continue to play their game, they will have many great nights to come.
3. 1998 Jazz: While the streak itself wasn’t as impressive as the other two, this was still one of the best teams in Jazz history. 62 games is hard to beat. In this shortened 72-game schedule, the Jazz have lost five games already. They seem to have figured it out but that doesn’t mean they won’t be tested. The 1998 Jazz may not be streaky but that’s because they were just really good. They had an 11-game win streak and put together plenty of wins. Whether it was winning one, seven, or 11 games in a row, this team just won and they did it at a high level.
4. 1999 Jazz: It’s unfortunate that this team doesn’t get as much credit because they were still really good. They had just hit their peak the previous year though so this streak didn’t seem to mean as much. These other streaks had some impressive storylines and this streak was overshadowed by a difficult lockout season. There wasn’t a moment when the Jazz did something that was unexpected in this streak. They best teams they were expected to beat and jumping up from fourth to third in the standings didn’t turn any heads after the Jazz spent the previous two years being the best in the West.
Until the next big Jazz win streak, fans can appreciate every game one at a time. Every matchup is a new opportunity for moments that will become memories in the fandom of the Utah faithful.
Featured image courtesy USA TODAY