Utah Jazz Can Climb to .500 With Win Tonight


After flirting with a .500 record all season, the Utah Jazz’s recent five-game winning streak has them in an ideal spot to finally hit the mark. One more victory will put them solidly at 25-25.

To say it’s been an uphill battle for the Utah Jazz this season would be an understatement. After a decent start to the year, the Jazz were quickly decimated by injuries and were plagued with inconsistent play and an inability to finish close games. However, as the Jazz have finally gotten healthier (of course with the exceptions of Alec Burks and Dante Exum), the exact opposite has been the case in their past three match-ups.

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Rather than collapse late in the game, Utah has come up big against the Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, and Milwaukee Bucks, winning each game because of clutch performances down the stretch. These key victories have helped the Jazz string together a five-game winning streak that has pushed their record to 24-25, just one short of what has been an elusive .500 mark. With a match-up tonight against the reeling Phoenix Suns, the Jazz have a great opportunity to claim victory and solidify their spot at eighth place in the West.

And who’s to say that they have to stop there? The Jazz currently find themselves just two games out of sixth place and will play both the seventh place Houston Rockets and the current sixth place Dallas Mavericks this month (Feb. 23rd and Feb. 9, respectively).

Utah lost its first game of the season against the Mavericks after a comeback bid fell short. The Jazz will take on the Mavericks in Dallas once again and although the Jazz have struggled on the road so far this year, it bodes well that the Mavericks are currently on a three-game losing streak. The Jazz will look to take advantage of Dallas’ mini-slump and extend their winning ways against a key opponent. Utah is currently 0-2 on the season against the Rockets after dropping two disappointing and very winnable games to them.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

Yet despite the 0-3 record against these teams just ahead in the standings, the Jazz are now a much different team than what Houston or Dallas faced previously. Rudy Gobert and Rodney Hood are both playing much better than they were when they faced the Mavericks in late November. In the first match-up against the Rockets, the Jazz were without both Favors and Gobert and in the second contest, Gobert only saw fifteen minutes of play. This year’s underwhelming Rockets will be in for a completely different ball game with both of Utah’s post stars healthy and ready for action.

Not to mention, that just as they did against the Chicago Bulls and the Denver Nuggets, the Jazz once again had an essentially perfect box score in Friday’s win against the Bucks with each of the starters contributing significantly. This well-balanced and efficient attack coupled with a smothering defense that has limited opponents to just 86 points over the last seven games shows just how dangerous the Jazz are becoming of late.

So while tonight’s milestone of finally getting back to .500 for the first time since early in the year would be an important step for the Jazz, that doesn’t mean they can get satisfied and become complacent. There is absolutely no reason for them to settle for the streak ending at five or six. With the chemistry, health, and consistency of the team all starting to come together, Utah hasn’t looked this good all season. It’s time for the Jazz to take advantage of recent success and a light February schedule and make a serious run up the standings.

While their sights have been on the .500 mark for most of the past month, with how well the Jazz have been playing over the course of this streak, there’s no reason that they can’t set their sights a little higher and attack the next opponents ahead of them in the standings.

Next: Utah Jazz Re-Sign Erick Green to Second 10-Day Contract

All stats courtesy of NBA.com/stats.