How the Utah Jazz might avoid ‘death lineup’ of playoff teams

LeBron James vs Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
LeBron James vs Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports) /

There could be an extremely dangerous playoff slate awaiting the Utah Jazz.

The Utah Jazz franchise has been to the NBA Playoffs in four consecutive seasons. However, the past two teams have lost in the first round. With the Jazz (48-18) currently fighting for one of the top seeds in the league with only six games left in their regular season, it looks like they are primed to get out of the first round this year.

It will not be a cakewalk, though. It is highly possible that if Utah gets the No. 1 seed, then the squad may have to beat four former MVP winners to earn the franchise’s first-ever Larry O’Brien Trophy.

So should the Jazz try to slip to the No. 2 seed to avoid some of these obstacles? It’s possible.

With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the “death lineup” of playoff teams that could stand in their way in this year of injury-ravaged rosters…

Utah Jazz’s potential first playoff opponent: Golden State Warriors

Imagine the “reward” for being the No. 1 seed: facing the only unanimous MVP in league history. Stephen Curry is having another year worthy of an MVP candidate. He won’t likely win the award. However, what he’s done this year from a statistical standpoint is nothing short of spectacular. He is averaging over 31 points per game, competing with Bradley Beal for the 2020-21 scoring title.

The Golden State Warriors might not be quite deep enough to beat the Jazz four games out of seven. Without Klay Thompson, Curry is just a solo “Splash Brother” surrounded by other role players. Draymond Green can have a good game, but he isn’t really a star; rather, he is just an ideal role player who looked like an All-Star when he was on a championship team.

Utah would probably win this series, but it could take about six games to do it. Curry is good enough to get one or maybe two wins in the playoffs. Of the teams vying for a play-in spot, this is the one that would be toughest for the Jazz to face.

The Portland Trail Blazers are another tough one, but the stardom of Damian Lillard seems manageable for a complete team like the Jazz.

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs have a five-time NBA champion head coach in Gregg Popovich, but judging from Utah’s lopsided two-game sweep of San Antonio this week, he seems to be in over his head this year.

The Memphis Grizzlies would be the ideal matchup for the Jazz. Utah has looked like the better team in all three of their regular-season matchups. Ja Morant is an extremely talented young player, but he’s still a young pup in the league.