The Utah Jazz need Lauri Markkanen to step up over the next stretch of games

Lauri Markkanen is going to need to play better if the Utah Jazz are to thrive over the next few games.
Miami Heat v Utah Jazz
Miami Heat v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages
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The Utah Jazz have a host of games over the next couple of weeks that includes the likes of the Dallas Mavericks, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics, and the Denver Nuggets, among a few others. It's a seven-games stretch that now includes a win over the Miami Heat, making the Jazz 1-0 over this potentially season-making or breaking a stretch of games.

Now, the Jazz were lucky to get a big outing from Keyonte George against the Heat, as the Jazz's best player, Lauri Markkanen, did not play up to form. George went 6-10 from the floor, and 5-8 from three, to finish with 21 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Markkanen, on the other hand, shot just 4-13 from the floor, 1-8 from three, and finished with just 12 points.

Markkanen, who is supposed to be the team's best player, played more like John Collins (4-11/2-6 from three for 10 points) than he did himself. Nights like this are going to happen as the season carries on, but the Jazz can't keep getting these middling nights from Markkanen if they're hoping to come out the other side of this murder row's stretch with a better record than not.

A run of 4-3 over the next seven games will be key to keeping the Jazz in the playoff race, a pace that would set the currently 14-19 Jazz at 18-22, and well within shot of the playoffs. But they're not going to maintain a 4-3 pace if Markkane has more games where he's just scoring 12 points.

He's supposed to be the driving force behind the offense, and the Jazz is not going to be able to last in many games without him putting up his fair share of the shots, and being more efficient with his scoring. You can't rely on Keyonte George to have a career-defining outing every time you're struggling.

Markkanen has to be the top dog or the Jazz are screwed.

Next. Keyonte delivers in the clutch for the Utah Jazz. Keyonte delivers in the clutch for the Utah Jazz. dark