Utah Jazz have chance to make important statement during next two weeks

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 8: Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz smiles after a game against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 8, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 8: Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz smiles after a game against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 8, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Considering the lackluster opponents the Utah Jazz face over the next two weeks, their upcoming seven games could present a massive opportunity.

After a clunky start to the 2019-20 season that had the Utah Jazz at a 4-3 record, they’ve bounced back nicely since with consecutive wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks to move to a commanding 6-3,  putting them a mere game out of first place in the West.

True, both wins were far too close for comfort and it’s obvious the Jazz still have work to do in order to get their offense where it needs to be and truly emerge as a top-tier title contender. But it’s also clear that they have the potential to get there.

And a major contributing factor to reaching that illustrious goal could very well hinge on their ability to finish the season with a top seed and home court advantage in the playoffs for as long as possible. To do so, they’ll have to thrive in the regular season.

While some teams, most notably the LA Clippers who continually pursue the load management route with Kawhi Leonard, feel they have the luxury of putting less emphasis in regular season success, every game matters for a squad like the Jazz who will need several things to go their way in order to reach their utmost potential. In other words, it’s critical that the Jazz take full advantage of every opportunity they get.

And, boy, do they have a big one over the next two weeks.

The Jazz’s first nine games of the season have been quite difficult as they’ve gone up against the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers (twice), a tougher-than-expected Phoenix Suns team and, of course, the aforementioned Sixers and Bucks. In some ways, it’s surprising they made it out with a 6-3 mark.

But their next seven games take a 180-degree turn from their initial slate, as the Jazz will take on a host of foes that are quite beatable. The stretch starts on Monday wherein the Jazz will visit the Golden State Warriors who have transformed from indomitable force to dud nearly overnight. After losing so many players to injury, the Warriors now more closely resemble a G-League team than the championship force they so recently were.

The Warriors sit at just 2-8, dead last in the Western Conference. My, how things change.

Still, the Warriors have a scrappy bunch of guys who won’t give up no matter what, as they proved in a recent surprising win over the Portland Trail Blazers, so the Jazz will have to use caution. But considering Golden State’s overwhelming lack of talent in their present state, it’s a game the Jazz absolutely should win.

Next, Utah will host perhaps the toughest squad of the bunch in the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have been hit and miss this year at 4-5, but with Kyrie Irving and a host of other talented young guns leading the charge, they’re still very much dangerous.

But on the Jazz’s home court where they’re undefeated, and considering the mercurial nature of the inconsistent Nets, this is yet another game that should produce a victory.

From there, the Jazz will visit the Memphis Grizzlies who are just 2-7, then they’ll take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in consecutive games both at home and on the road. The Wolves started out strong with a relatively easy schedule, but they’ve since lost three of their last four, including a loss to the Grizzlies, and the win came against the hapless Warriors.

In other words, the Timberwolves don’t even look daunting either now that they’ve dropped to 5-4 and out of the top eight in the West.

Finally, to close out the two-week stretch, the Jazz will play the Warriors yet again – this time at home – then take on the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans are a scrappy bunch, but with Zion Williamson sidelined with injury, and the likes of Derrick Favors, Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball all dealing with health issues during the early part of the year as well, they’ve faced a poor start. The Pelicans are just 2-7 and seem far from the fringe playoff contender many thought they could be.

So, while all NBA teams clearly must be taken seriously as any could get hot and be dangerous on any given night, it’s evident that the Jazz have a major chance to surge up the standings over the course of their next seven games during the upcoming two weeks. The seven games they’ll be playing feature the three bottom teams in the West, one of them (Golden State) twice, as well as the middle-of-the-road Nets and Timberwolves (twice).

The Jazz will be favored in each and every matchup. And if they can capture the magic they showed in the past two games that has allowed them to close out tightly-contested bouts while also gaining more cohesion on offense to simply outmatch opponents, there’s no reason why they couldn’t win all seven of them.

That’s probably too tall an order to make, but a win streak of that degree isn’t unheard of. And if the Jazz want to, first, prove that they’re a legitimate force in the league, they need to take care of business against lackluster opponents such as the next seven they’ll face.

Secondly, if they want to earn a top seed in the Western Conference, these are exactly the kinds of games they’ll need to win to maintain a formidable record and avoid slipping in the standings.

Elite teams find a way to defeat lesser opponents even when challenges arise or the cards are stacked against them. The Jazz will certainly have moments where it’s difficult to keep pace during these next seven games, but it should still be their goal to win each and every one.

Doing so would move them to 13-3 on the season, an incredible way to start considering all their new faces and the daunting challenge they face in the loaded Western Conference.

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It’s most likely that they’ll drop some of the seven and won’t quite reach those heights, but nevertheless the next two weeks still present a massive opportunity for the Jazz as they should at a minimum win the vast majority of these games. Ideally during that time, they’ll use the weaker opponents as a chance to further gel with one another and slowly wend their way into becoming an elite force in the NBA.

And hopefully, that streak will help them gain significant momentum and set an important tone for the rest of the season. The Jazz historically have gotten out of the gates slow under Quin Snyder. They’re already doing better than normal, and the next two weeks could very well help them buck that trend for good during the 2019-20 season.