The Utah Jazz’s possible upcoming conference foes are bruising one another.
Let’s just assume the No. 1 seed Utah Jazz slam the door on any unwelcomed flashbacks to the franchise blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Yes, the Jazz can do so right away by wrapping up their opening series against the No. 8 seed Memphis Grizzlies at 7:30 p.m. MT Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
If so, then Utah will be sitting pretty — to say the least — in its quest to reach the NBA Finals for the third time in history and the first time since 1998.
Following Monday night’s 120-113 road victory, the Utah Jazz ought to have their sights on a potential full week of rest that would come from winning the next bout.
After all, just take a snapshot look at the other three Western Conference playoff series:
- The No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns and No. 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers are in a 2-2 tie
- The No. 3 seed Denver Nuggets and No. 6 seed Portland Trail Blazers are in a 2-2 tie
- The No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers and No. 5 seed Dallas Mavericks are in a 2-2 tie
Each of those battles might require seven games.
Utah Jazz R & R on the horizon
Those six all-squared-up squads in the West, many of which are already a bit banged up, could be beating each other up through the beginning of next week. Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz’s completely healthy nine-man rotation — you know, the one that powered a league-best 52-20 record this regular season — could be 100 percent focused on recharging and strategizing.
Simple as that.
Starting guard Mike Conley, who is now a 33-year-old playoff veteran, could refuel his clutch engine. The 33-year-old versatile reserve Joe Ingles could spend some time fixing any minor dings to his slew of swish-producing parts. And the 32-year-old starting forward Bojan Bogdanovic could do whatever it is he does to keep his reliable bucket-making machine well-oiled.
What about the five fellas approaching their 30s?
Well, the 29-year-old backup center Derrick Favors could just allow himself some well-deserved naps.
The 28-year-old reserve guard Jordan Clarkson could polish his Sixth Man of the Year trophy, listening to his recently preferred 80s tune, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” while loading up on even more inner confidence and learned wisdom in serving as the team’s constant green-light superhero.
The 28-year-old starting center Rudy Gobert could just make room on the shelf for his third NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, which should be arriving shortly.
The 27-year-old reserve forward Georges Niang — aka “Minivan” — could just make sure his 3-point horn remains in full working order.
The 27-year-old starting forward Royce O’Neale could protect his hot-of-late shooting hand from harm around the house and, as a lockdown defender, begin studying all of the possible weapons that he may have the task of disabling in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Now, this brings us to the 24-year-old star of the Utah Jazz show in starting guard Donovan Mitchell. Since returning for Game 2 after a 40-day absence, he has put up three consecutive point totals that eclipse his age. With a blowout at home over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 5, he could then go ahead and get his clearly healed right ankle to the tune of, say, 110 percent.
So there you have it: a unit that is already firing on all cylinders with the chance of enjoying a most opportune time to fine-tune individual pieces.
The advantage with respect to rest should stir up scary thoughts for the rest of the West.