Utah Jazz-San Antonio Spurs: Keys to a double-digit win streak

PORTLAND, OR - FEBRUARY 11: Rudy Gobert plays against the Portland Trail Blazers. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - FEBRUARY 11: Rudy Gobert plays against the Portland Trail Blazers. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Following another big win in Portland, the Utah Jazz return home with a chance to extend their win streak to 10 games.

Less than 24 hours after notching their latest win, the Utah Jazz will be back at it again on Monday night. Returning home with their longest winning streak in a decade intact, the Jazz band will do battle with the injury-saddled San Antonio Spurs. If they can pull out the win, they’ll extend their streak to 10 games and cross the .500 mark.

The Spurs are without superstar Kawhi Leonard, who has only played nine games all season, 2018 All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and scorer Rudy Gay. However, just because they are missing some valuable players does not mean I give an automatic win to the Jazz. This is Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Jazz-killers we are talking about.

Granted, the Jazz have outplayed San Antonio in both of the previous match-ups and in their next game are being given the chance to clinch the season series.

Something to note is that this is the third contest with the Spurs this season and is also the third game against the Spurs where the Jazz are playing on the second night of a back-to-back, but somehow the Jazz were still able to come out on top previously.

Key No. 1: Don’t get complacent

The Utah Jazz are having some fun right now. After his first game in a Jazz uniform, Jae Crowder said the following:

Of course, who wouldn’t have fun after a nine-game winning streak? That said, this isn’t the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets. It’s the Utah Jazz who lost their All-Star in free agency and were projected to have a league-worst, or at least a bottom five, offense.

As of right now, the Jazz have the 14th best offense in the NBA. The picture is even brighter if you take out the miserable month of December. So now that the team is having fun and winning games, you run the risk of the team thinking they are untouchable.

I’m not necessarily worried about this group, but complacency is always a risk when you’re riding high.

If the Jazz can remain engaged against a depleted Spurs team, they should come out with a win.

Key No. 2: Play elite defense, regardless of shooting

In the last 10 games, the Jazz are shooting a ridiculous percentage from the 3-point line. They are league-leading at over 44 percent, while the Warriors are at 41% in second; Joe Ingles is over 55 percent during that span. This shooting is unsustainable. I would love if it wasn’t, but no team can keep up that kind of shooting.

The good news is that the Jazz also have the second best defense over that same span of games, and that defensive rating is while playing top teams such as San Antonio, Toronto and Golden State. With an easier schedule coming, I’d suspect the Jazz defense could be numero uno over the home stretch.

Of course, without Rudy Gobert, none of that would be possible. Watch this play —

Gobert is out on the perimeter and still recovers in time to get the block. His awareness is outstanding and his timing was perfect.

Key No. 3: Stay focused and take it game by game

As the age-old adage says, “Don’t play your best basketball before the All-Star break”. The Utah Jazz are on a course, potentially, to head into the break on an 11-game win streak. Obviously, this would be fantastic. The downside is that it leaves a lot of time for the team to cool off.

The Jazz also have to be very careful not to look ahead to the upcoming break thinking that they’ve already “arrived” by winning some tough games.

With so many key players missing for the Spurs, and despite having a future Hall of Fame coach, the biggest opponent the Jazz will face tonight is themselves.

Now, because we don’t have to play the actual game or focus on staying focused, please reminisce the last nine games of Jazz basketball with me.

More from The J-Notes

The Utah Jazz look to extend the streak on Monday night at 7pm MST.