Utah Jazz history revised – What if? – 2007 Playoffs

Utah Jazz (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Utah Jazz (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz had a surprising playoff run in 2007 to the Western Conference Finals.  What if they made it a step further?

It was 4 years since the end of the Stockton to Malone era, and the Utah Jazz had missed the playoffs 3 years running. That Jazz team was headlined by Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, and Mehmet Okur.

Though they had added some good young players, few thought they would compete in a stacked Western Conference in 2006-07.

Surprisingly, they finished 51-31, good for 4th in the Western Conference.  They faced off with the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.  The Rockets had homecourt advantage owing to a tiebreaker, and led by Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, they were a formidable opponent.

Boozer carried the Jazz, averaging 24.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists against the Rockets as the Jazz won in 7 games, per Basketball Reference.

In the next round against the Golden State Warriors, Boozer was similarly strong, averaging 24.2 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 3 assists as the Jazz took the series 4-1.

The Western Conference Finals loomed for the young Utah Jazz. The opponent? The 3 time NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. The first 2 games went the Spurs way and they jumped to a 2-0 series lead.

However, Game 3 showed the Jazz could beat the Spurs, winning that game by a 26-point margin. That would be the highlight for the Utah Jazz, as the Spurs won the series 4-1 and advanced to the NBA Finals.

What if THAT Jazz team had prevailed in the series and beaten the Spurs?

It could have happened, granted that the Spurs struggled to find a way to stop Williams, and Boozer had already had 27 and 33-point outings against the Spurs in the series.

It is feasible the Utah Jazz could have turned the series around.

So in this scenario, the Utah Jazz could reach the NBA Finals and face the Cleveland Cavaliers, winners of the East, in a season that the Eastern Conference was notably weak.

With only 5 teams in the East having winning records in 2006-07, Cleveland advanced to the NBA Finals with little competition, taking out two 41-41 squads in the Washington Wizards and New Jersey  Nets in the first two rounds of the playoffs, before downing the Detroit Pistons 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

In the Utah Jazz’s two games with Cleveland that season, they had some success in defending LeBron James, holding him to 36% and 38% shooting and no more than 24 points in either meeting.

The Jazz arguably were deeper than the Cavaliers that year, and with Derek Fisher and Coach Jerry Sloan having previous Finals experience, they would have an equal chance at winning the series.

Did the Jazz miss a golden opportunity in 2007 to win the NBA title? It certainly seems like the stars aligned a bit for that playoff run. If they could have beaten San Antonio, they would have had a chance.

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