Utah Jazz: The most overdue franchise among remaining playoff teams

Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Utah Jazz must finally be deserving of a gift from the basketball gods.

No matter how it all plays out for the Utah Jazz and the other remaining active playoff teams, the league will see a relatively unusual battle for all the marbles this go-round. Consider that of the eight franchises that comprise this year’s conference semifinals, none have made it to the NBA Finals since 2003.

Yes, that almost seems statistically impossible. Nevertheless, that is indeed the case.

And another observation — perhaps either encouraging or discouraging to Jazz fans, depending on their individual personalities — is the fact that the Jazzmen are most overdue among the bunch when it comes to hoisting the 2022 Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

Utah has been to the NBA Finals on only two occasions (1997, 1998) but ultimately lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in both trips.

Meanwhile, the guys in Salt Lake City have seen postseason action in all but 11 of their seasons since moving from New Orleans in time for the 1979-80 campaign.

Yes, the Jazz’s success has been quite consistent in terms of the regular season. Yet they’ve never really sustained the status of a top title contender.

Comparing Utah Jazz success to the rest

As for the other seven organizations that are still alive this season, four have taken home either an NBA or ABA crown. Albeit, none of them have done so within the past 38 years:

  • Philadelphia 76ers: 1955, 1967, 1983
  • Brooklyn Nets: 1974, 1976 (both as the New Jersey Nets)
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 1971
  • Atlanta Hawks: 1958 (as the St. Louis Hawks)

Oddly enough, those are the four from the Eastern Conference. Now, here’s the number of all-time playoff and Finals appearances by the four championship-less franchises from the Western Conference that remain in the 2021 hunt:

  • Utah Jazz: 30 playoff appearances, two in the Finals
  • Phoenix Suns: 30 playoff appearances, two in the Finals
  • Denver Nuggets: 27 playoff appearances (in the NBA), none in the Finals
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 16 playoff appearances, none in the Finals

So why does Utah get the edge over Phoenix in the “most overdue” column? Well, simply put, while the Suns are fresh off a 10-year playoff drought, the Jazzmen are in the midst of their fifth straight postseason under seventh-year head coach Quin Snyder.

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The No. 1 seed Utah Jazz will host the No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinals clash at 8 p.m. MT Tuesday.