After another convincing week of winning, the Utah Jazz continue to ascend the power rankings across the nation.
In case you haven’t noticed already, here at The J-Notes we cover how the Utah Jazz perform in the weekly power rankings across various media sites every week. After eight weeks of analyzing these weekly articles, it accurately paints a picture of how the Jazz’s season has gone so far.
At the very beginning it was all positive. The Jazz were primed to go deep in the playoffs despite three star duos forming in the Western Conference. Tim McMahon of ESPN even suggested the Jazz could be the no All-Star superteam, a rarity in today’s world of sports.
Once the games actually started that pumped the brakes on the hype train. It was clear that the new players, Mike Conley in particular, needed time to adjust to Quin Snyder’s system. Despite the fact that they didn’t play smoothly together they were winning games.
Then there was a tough road trip that rattled their cage. The Jazz were gone from home for over a week, including the Thanksgiving holiday, and dropped four of their five games on that road trip. The defense had taken a turn for the worse it seemed, and the offense wasn’t doing much to help either.
Then the Jazz came back and started a five game winning streak, albeit with too-close for comfort wins against sub par competition. After making some roster changes, Utah has built up another six game winning streak and is one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment.
Their bench play has improved, as has their defense. Their competition hasn’t been the best, but their fashion of winning hasn’t been hollow either. Utah finally got a blowout win versus the Detroit Pistons at home, and held off mediocre but hungry teams in Chicago and Orlando. Their biggest win of the season was against the Los Angeles Clippers, which really kick-started the hype train up again.
ESPN: 7th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 12th, 13th, 12th, 11th, 9th
CBS Sports: 6th, 9th, 13th, 7th, 8th, 8th, 12th, 13th, 12th, 12th, 8th, 6th
NBA.com: 7th, 7th, 11th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 12th, 13th, 8th, 6th
Bleacher Report: 5th, 7th, 7th, 7th, 9th, 8th, 12th, 13th, 12th, 12th, 11th, 6th
Sports Illustrated: 6th, 9th, 13th, 8th, 8th, 11th, 11th, 12th, 12th, – , 11th, 9th
Hoops Habit: 6th, 9th, 12th, 10th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 12th, 12th, 12th, 11th, 11th
via Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report:
In a return to familiar trends, the Jazz held all three of their opponents under 100 points this past week. That’s the first time Utah has managed the feat since October. As a result of their recent defensive uptick, the Jazz now check in at No. 7 in defensive efficiency.
That’s more like it.
Just as encouraging, Utah punctuated its win over Orlando with a bench-fueled scoring burst—a rare occurrence for a team whose reserves have consistently surrendered leads rather than build them.
via John Schumann of NBA.com
Their starting lineup has been generally strong (the Jazz have the two lineups that have played 200 minutes and outscored opponents by at least 15 points per 100 possessions) and when it had a rough first half (minus-14 in less than seven minutes) in Chicago on Thursday, the Jazz got some good minutes from their new bench. That victory gave them more wins in games that were within five points in the last five minutes (they’re 16-6) than they had all of last season (15-18).
Keys to a successful week
Since the Utah Jazz beat the New Orleans Pelicans last night, they are already on track for a successful week racking up the wins. Tomorrow night Utah plays the Knicks at home. The New York Knicks are a dreadful team this year (surprise, surprise), but of late have picked up their play.
They recently blew out the Portland Trail-Blazers in Carmelo Anthony‘s return to the Big Apple, and nearly knocked off the Los Angeles Clippers in a heavy scoring match.
On Friday the Jazz play the Charlotte Hornets within the friendly confines of Vivint Smart Home Arena. Last time they met the Hornets kept the game competitive but were put away by a vintage Joe Ingles performance. The playoffs are slowly slipping out of grip for Charlotte as the season winds down, and Utah has to take advantage of this game especially on their home court.
The Jazz will wrap up the week Sunday night in Washington D.C. The Wizards have played blazing hot offense this year thanks to a career year from Davis Bertans and another great season from Bradley Beal. They have no defensive integrity however, and are not in contention for a playoff seed.
Since the Jazz are playing every other day of the week this will be a tough one to finish undefeated, so I’ll set the bar at 3-1 for a successful week. It probably won’t be enough to get the Jazz in the top five of the power rankings, as these writers seem completely sold on their top teams to hold the spots forever.
The Jazz can’t afford to let their guard down on any of these upcoming opponents and lose more than one of these games. They are closer than ever to the second seed in the West, and need to have things running smoothly for Conley’s eventual transition back into the rotation.