After a 4-year drought previous to last season, it’s looking like the Jazz have a fantastic shot of back-to-back playoff berths. This is one crazy end of season stretches and the Utah Jazz are hanging on to their playoff hopes by the skin of their teeth.
The 99-94 home-loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday was devastating. Just one game is the difference between being tied for the 5th seed with the New Orleans Pelicans and precariously riding the cusp at 8th place.
Right now—as of Wednesday the 21st, the gap between the 3rd seed and standing just outside the door in 9th place is only 6 games. The only teams truly secure in their seeding are the Warriors and Rockets who currently have 57 and 53 wins respectively. Everyone else is neck and neck. The Portland Trail Blazers are 44-27. The OKC Thunder are 43-30. The Pelicans, Spurs, and Timberwolves are all 41-30. The Jazz are 40-31. So … as you can see, this Western Conference battle is the race of all races.
The Jazz need to win as many as possible and we need a little help from those currently above to go on a bit of a slide. I say this because meeting the Houston Rockets in the first round isn’t optimal. The last time we’ve beaten the Rockets was back in early March of 2017. So far this season, the four meetings against Harden and crew have all resulted in double-digit losses.
Hoping for the 6th seed
A first-round showing against the Trail Blazers would be much better for a deeper run. Because of this, I almost feel that at this point, the 6th seed is strategically the best spot for Utah. The Jazz have been able to rip up Rip City and hold an advantage of two out of three so far this season. Conversely, we beat the OKC Thunder in our first regular-season meeting but have dropped the last three in a row against Oklahoma City. And even if we move past the Thunder we would face the Rockets in round two.
We have a great chance of beating the Blazers and then we would face the Warriors —assuming that Golden State moves into the second round. The Warriors are banged up and we have already traded wins with them. It looks like Steph Curry is about to come back. But we won’t see Durant or Klay Thompson until April. Thompson injured his shooting hand, so even if he comes back, his shot might be a bit off. This would be huge as far as their scoring depth is concerned and despite the mass amount of postseason experience this Warriors team has.
The Jazz have a legitimate shot at taking them down and moving into the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors actually aren’t as great of a shooting team as you would think. With Thompson, Durant, and Curry not at 100%, you just need to protect the middle. Iguodala and Green are only shooting around 30% and Patrick McCaw is roughly 24% from behind the tre line.
What do the betting odds say
When we look at who Las Vegas likes, injuries to the Warriors squad are still not scaring them off. Make sure to check 5Dimes for the latest odds and you'll see they still have the Warriors as the Odds-on favorites to win it all at -125 as well. The Rockets are second in line on the boards at +200 (two to one). The Jazz are +6600 to win the Western Conference which are fairly long, but they are better odds than the Pelicans, Timberwolves, Nuggets, or Clippers.
The Jazz can go on a deep run. We just need to be in that second bracket. Come on 6th seed!