The Jazz are currently on a 4 game win streak, and have a record of 41-24 while sitting in the 4th spot in the West. They have already won more games than they won all of last year, and 17 games still remain. Can they make a push for 53+ wins and remain in the top 4 in the West? I think so.
The Jazz entered the all-star break losing 3 of their last 4 games, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous. But things are trending upwards. The Jazz are on a little hot streak, Dante Exum has started playing how he should (to an extent), and Hayward is showing why he deserved to be a first time all-star.
One Hill a game keeps the losses away
One crazy stat that stood out to me is the Jazz have only played 12 games with their true starting lineup, due to injuries. The Jazz need to get healthy, and stay healthy! Hill has been the biggest difference maker this year when healthy, and when he and Hayward are on the court together the offense works like a finely tuned machine. Hill is having one of his best years in his career, and is averaging 17.6 PPG and 4.3 APG. But he has only played 38 games. If the Jazz can remain healthy, they are a top 4 team in the West, and possibly a top 5 team in the league.
The Jazz are 28-10 when Hill is healthy! Compare that to 12-13 when Hill does not play.
Let’s get 53+
If the Jazz can have Hill in the starting lineup, they have a really good chance of winning 53+ games for the first time since the 2009-2010 season. With 53+ wins they should finish in the top 4 of the West, guaranteeing them home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Jazz need to get healthy, and stay healthy because the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Thunder are all within 5 games of that 4th seed which the Jazz currently hold. Luckily, Dante Exum and Alec Burks have been nice additions for Jazz and have allowed the Jazz to compete while Hill has been sidelined due to various injuries.
Playoffs here we come
I don’t want to speak too soon, but it looks like the Jazz are meeting all of my pre-season expectations, and will most likely (unless some crazy losing streak begins) be competing in the playoffs for the first time in 5 years.
What concerns me about the playoffs for the Jazz is their record against the current top 8 in the West: 7-13.
Here is how they fare against each of those teams individually:
1. Warriors: 0-2
2. Spurs: 1-1
3. Rockets: 2-1
5. Clippers: 0-2
6. Grizzlies: 1-3
7. Thunder: 1-2
8. Nuggets: 2-2
My overall take from this is that the Jazz need to avoid the Grizzlies and Clippers in the playoffs, and they need George Hill healthy. Other than that, get ready for the playoffs Jazz Nation.
– Jesse Thayne