This Jazz team is lacking one big thing...

Without it, the Jazz won't be a winner

Feb 25, 2024; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) blocks the shot of San
Feb 25, 2024; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) blocks the shot of San / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

One thing has surfaced again and again during the 2023-24 season with the Utah Jazz. It's been maddening, as they have shown potential to be a good team, even a playoff team at times.

At other times, they look like they haven't played with each other before, or have no idea what it takes to win. It's back and forth, and must keep Will Hardy up at nights.

What do the Jazz lack that teams like Boston, Denver, and past champions like Golden State seemed to have in much greater supply than the Utah Jazz?

Killer Instinct.

When you have a team wounded, the best teams pull out the finishing moves and bury their dead. Once you have a 15-20 point lead, it's time to push that to 25-30 and keep it there until the other coach surrenders and pulls his guys.

This isn't the pattern for the Utah Jazz, however. Multiple times this season, they have given up leads to bad teams, often of 20 points or more.

It happened again tonight as they held a 20-point lead against the San Antonio Spurs for much of the game, only to let it slip down to 9 halfway through the 4th Quarter, requiring the starters to exert more energy and play until the 2:32 mark to get the lead back to 21, at which point San Antonio waved the white flag.

Why do the Jazz struggle to close out teams, especially when they have a big lead?

Mental toughness is part of it, this team does not have a true leader, as Jazz teams in the past have had. Even in the Donovan-Rudy era, they had Mike Conley or before that, Joe Ingles who filled that role. Jae Crowder also comes to mind.

Kelly Olynyk filled this role by default much of the last 2 seasons, but now is with the Toronto Raptors.

Some might say that offenses are so good now, it's truly impossible to close out a team, especially when a few 3 pointers can turn a 20 point lead into single digits. And the rules against hand-checking and defense make it easier to dig out of a deficit.

Yet, this Jazz team needs to improve their mental toughness and get that instinct to close out games, not allow teams to recover and get hope late in games.

At the end of the day, before they will become a consistent winner, they need to find that ability to close out games and impose their will. It's currently missing in action.

Next. Keyonte George is getting better, but it's too late to be Rookie of the Year. Keyonte George's improvement is welcome, but not enough to save the Jazz this year. dark