by Ilan Kapps
The Utah Jazz are well on their way to booking their spot in the postseason for the sixth season on the bounce after a superb run of wins on the road. Head coach Quin Snyder’s team picked off the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards in impressive fashion.
The Jazz now sit five games clear of the Denver Nuggets in the Northwest Division and are in the middle of a six-game home stretch at Vivint Arena, where they are sure to improve on their already impressive 20-9 record. While they have lost the last two since the win streak, they are confident that they can turn it around.
Perhaps this year could be the one where Utah picks up the first NBA title of their near 50-year existence. Those interested in the Utah Jazz live odds to win the Championship will see that Snyder’s team is now (+1100) with only the Brooklyn Nets, the Golden State Warriors, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Phoenix Suns ahead of them in the betting odds.
The wins on the road, with the exception of the one-point victory over the Cavaliers, were not even close. The Jazz stomped all over the other teams, and Donovan Mitchell impressed with his consistent displays while being supported by defensive anchor Rudy Gobert.
Mitchell, the two-time All-Star, knows the regular season is far from done and dusted and is calling on his teammates to keep up the pace.
“We’ve got to stay locked in and do what we do,” Mitchell said. “But we’ve got to continue to pick it up.”
Indeed complacency is always something to watch out for when you are in a fine run of form, but perhaps the fact that the Jazz is going for a first-ever title is more than enough to keep minds focused.
The consistency they’ve displayed thus far is there for all to see. In securing their 136-104 win over Minnesota, Utah Jazz set a new NBA record when they sank 20 plus threes in three consecutive games, which has never happened before in NBA history.
There have been criticisms. Prior to this season, Snyder’s roster didn’t have the strength in depth to mount a push. Thus far, they have done just fine, and role players in the organization are playing the supporting role very well.
What’s also worked very well is the collective camaraderie within the Utah Jazz group. Coach Snyder has the respect and backing of his team, and that could help as the season progresses.
With Mitchell providing the attacking impetus, a lot of credit is rightfully focused on the defensive capabilities possessed by outspoken French center Rudy Gobert, whose value to the team is not lost on Mitchell.
“Obviously, we all know he’s our defensive anchor,” Mitchell said. “But him being there on the glass, we’re getting the ball, we’re getting outlets, we’re running. In a game where Hassan Whiteside’s not playing, it’s not solely on him, but a lot of that pressure’s put on him, and he rose to the occasion on the glass for us.”
Those compliments have been echoed by point guard Mike Conley.
“We’re lucky to have that luxury in a guy like that, who’s so selfless,” Conley said. “He doesn’t need to score points to affect a game.”
All in all, things are trending well for Utah, and it will be interesting to see if this year they can convert success to the postseason with a run that takes them all the way.
Featured image courtesy Tony Dejak, Associated Press