Did Sunday really happen? The Jazz winning streak seemed dead in the water with the Jazz down nine to the Pelicans in New Orleans halfway through the third quarter. Instead, Donovan Mitchell went nuclear and Rudy Gobert took Utah home on the defensive end, netting a massive win in the playoff race and pulling within 1.5 games of home court. Coming off another 4-0 week and with the next five games coming against teams that are, let’s say, not good, this is the week Utah fully climbs into the postseason picture.
This week’s NBA Power Rankings seem to agree that it’s only a matter of time before Utah finally starts hopping some of these teams in front of them. In the midst of another 6-game win streak, the Jazz jumped seven spots for ESPN and four spots for Sports Illustrated, two of the stragglers to put the Jazz into the top 10. They only moved from 16 to 13 for Rotoworld, though, who continues to just put the teams in order of standings more so than, you know, actually ranking how teams are playing right now.
The Jazz are 18-2 since Jan. 24 but still sit outside the top eight in the West, losing the tiebreaker to the Clippers. The good news? Four of Utah’s next five games are against teams at least 20 games below .500. -- Matt Williams
The Jazz are soaring and they aren’t cooling off anytime soon. They’ve won six in a row and everybody above them in the standings is struggling to maintain the same pace. Utah could start jumping teams in the standings soon.
The Jazz are streaking again, winning six straight to put themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot in the West. Utah enters Week 22 with the third-best defense in the NBA.
It’s all about the defense. The Jazz have allowed just 92 points per 100 possessions and outscored their opponents by more than 22 points per 100 possessions with DPOY candidate Rudy Gobert on the floor as they’ve won six straight games, including three against top-10 offenses. But at the same time, their frontline been pretty darn efficient offensively. Gobert, Derrick Favors and Joe Ingles (18-for-36 from 3-point range) have combined for an effective field goal percentage of 67 percent over the streak. Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell combined for 57 points in their big win in New Orleans on Sunday, and the Utah starting lineup has the league’s best plus-minus (plus-67) since the All-Star break. The Jazz are still on the outside of the playoff picture, but the streak will likely go on, because they play their next five games against teams with losing records.
Utah’s backcourt was flat-out dominant in their win over the Pelicans on Sunday. Ricky Rubio scored 30 points, grabbed ten rebounds, dished out seven assists and knocked down four 3-pointers. Donovan Mitchell tallied 27 points (including 18 straight during the second half), four assists, three rebounds, three treys and one steal.
The Jazz defense is straight up other worldly right now. We saw Sunday that with a defense like Gobert and company are providing, Utah can slug through some sleepy offensive stretches. The first half was as anemic an offense as we’ve seen in recent memory, yet the Jazz trailed by only three at the half. Jae Crowder is also finding his place within the system. He was a +22 in 32 minutes Sunday despite a poor shooting performance.