The nightmare month of December is over for the Utah Jazz. The schedule was horriffic, and while the results could’ve been better (A win over the Bulls would’ve been helpful, for example), they could’ve also been much worse. When you play projected playoff teams for essentially a month straight, you’ll have some upsets and the Jazz did accomplish that. Three of their five wins in the month came at Boston and at home over the Spurs and the Cavaliers. In the end, I believe the Jazz navigated the December schedule just well enough to stay afloat in the playoff race down the stretch of the season. However, the recent schedule certainly had an impact on how the Jazz are viewed by the media in the most recent NBA power rankings.
The Jazz have been abysmal on the road this season. Not only are they 3-15, tied for the worst away mark in the NBA, but they've lost each of their last four by an average of nearly 25 points per game. Even worse, they play eight of their 13 January games on the road. -- Vincent Johnson
Enter full tank mode. This team had a nice winning streak earlier in the year, but it’s clear by now they’re not making the playoffs. If they put the pedal to the metal, they might still be able to land a top-five pick.
It's not just that Donovan Mitchell is putting up numbers and producing highlights. It's that, with Ricky Rubio playing his best game in more than a month on Saturday, Quin Snyder had Rubio on the bench and Mitchell running the offense down the stretch of a close game against LeBron James and the Cavs. It worked and the Jazz got their first win in a game that was within five points in the last five minutes since Dec. 1. The Jazz have scored 102 points per 100 possessions in 551 minutes with both starting guards on the floor, and 109 in 525 minutes with Mitchell on the floor without Rubio. Since Thanksgiving, Mitchell has averaged almost 23 points per game (best among rookies by a wide margin) on an effective field goal percentage of 59 percent, the fifth best mark among 66 players who have attempted at least 200 shots in that time.
Utah had a truly terrifying schedule to close out 2017. 11 of their final 13 games in December were against teams in position to make the playoffs. Before knocking off the Cavs at home on Saturday night, Utah had lost 10 of those 12 contests.
Donovan Mitchell remains incredible. The Jazz were able to get their fifth win of December and leave 2017 on a high note because the Spida-man went toe-to-toe with the King and didn’t back down, willing the Jazz to a win. Rudy Gobert will remain out for another couple weeks at least, but if we’re being honest, the Jazz have played their best ball without him so far this season. Still, get well soon, Rudy.