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Downbeat #1851: On the Verge of Relevance

We should have been drawing plays for Hood over and over at the end of last night's game, but that's just my lowly opinion.
We should have been drawing plays for Hood over and over at the end of last night's game, but that's just my lowly opinion.
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Jazz played in a heartbreaker against the super hot Trailblazers. Amar's got you covered with the recap of the close 111-115 loss in Portland here.

I'm glad the Jazz made it a game against a hot team in their own house, even if the ending was deflating.

The Jazz now sit just outside of a playoff spot in 9th place, 1/2 a game behind the Rockets. Guess who the Jazz play next? That's right, the Rockets.

The Jazz play 3 games for the remainder of this week, I'm hoping the Jazz can win at least 2 of them for playoff chances' sake.

All 3 of the Jazz games this week are at home.

Jazz play the Rockets tomorrow at 7 PM.

Then against the Spurs on Thursday at 8:30 PM

And finally against the lowly (TRAP GAME!!!) Nets on Saturday at 7:30 PM.

It's not too far-fetched to say that the status quo for the Jazz will be to beat the Rockets and Nets while the Spurs will probably continue to have our number as they do for most teams.

Not sure how many of you got to catch last night's game, but let's just say that Gobert and Favors were receiving some constant physical plays from the Blazers last night.

I try not to complain about the refs too much anymore despite them still frustrating me no less than a handful of times each game. Rudy Gobert, however, sounds to be close to his breaking point with the shenanigans going on:

The Jazz are on the verge of relevance again in the NBA. I think it's safe to say the Jazz really haven't been a relevant team for a good 6 years now. The Jazz made 4 straight playoffs from 2007-2010 and even won 4 playoff series over that stretch. They looked to be a top 10 team if not better during the majority of that stretch.

Since then, the Jazz have been gasping for air to even be a team worthy of the top half of the league.

We're almost there.

Injuries, lack of depth, and the curse of the PG spot since Deron has kept us from rising up the standings as previously envisioned.

But the rest of the 2nd tier teams of the West are crumbling around us.

The Clippers are being held back with Doc Rivers as their President of Basketball Operations.

The Grizzlies have lost 3 of their starters in the last 2 weeks (2 to trades, 1 in Marc Gasol to injury for the year).

The Mavericks poster child ... veteran ... dinosaur is starting to finally decline as he approaches his last playing years.

The Rockets have chemistry issues that no teams envy.

The Trailblazers are the surprise team with a questionable future.

And that leads us to our team. The Jazz. We are the team that have been taking things patiently, not skipping steps, the team playing it safe if you will. We're not going to be a Spurs or Warriors behemoth contender anytime soon. But things are looking up after this long drought of successful Jazz basketball. The looming issues of upcoming summers and the possibilities of losing our best players such as Hayward to free agency lay in the back of our minds as we hope that the Jazz can climb back to relevance and be a team that our players can be proud to be a part of.

Here's to hoping the Jazz can climb as much as they can up those standings and maybe even sneak in a win in the playoffs this year and hopefully build enough momentum to win a series next year before our core is transformed before even being close to peaking.

Anybody want to guess how many times we had a point guard record at least 16 points, 6 assists, with a FG% of at least 50% from the field in a game this season before last night?

If you guessed 0, you were right. Then a wild Shelvin Mack suddenly appeared.

Shelvin Mack made his Jazz debut and already appears to look like the best (healthy) point guard on this roster. Pretty sad that a guy who was a 3rd stringer for the Hawks and barely cracking their rotation (7.5 MPG while playing in less than half the team's games) already looks better than Neto and Burke.

This is likely to be a blip in small sample size theater, but it just goes to show to add to the evidence that the point guard spot is still a huge problem for the team this year.

Losing Exum hurt us big-time in being able to thoroughly evaluate this team's options. We now have to wait another year before seeing if Exum's trajectory is continuing to look towards the better or not.

Come back soon, sweet prince

Shelvin Mack appreciation time? Shelvin Mack appreication time!

Below are his highlights from last night's game: