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5 games to watch as Jazz fans prep for the NBA Playoffs

With no Jazz basketball for a week prior to the NBA Playoffs, fans should watch these 5 games to prepare for a memorable postseason.

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers
Quin Snyder reminds fans to watch 5 games prior to the NBA Playoffs in preparation for an exciting run
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

They’ve done it! #1 seed!

For the first time in franchise history, the Utah Jazz are the lone holder of the league’s best record. They’ve dominated all year long, even with injuries to their starting, All-Star backcourt this past month.

Credit goes to the whole team and they’ll need the strength of the team as they gear up for the playoffs!

Much like the All-Star break deprives us of Jazz basketball for a week, the NBA’s Play In Tournament format means fans won’t see the Jazz in uniform again for a week when the NBA Playoffs round 1 begin.


To help pass the time, consider watching five games this week, one each day, to prepare for the playoffs. Ask yourself how these matchups and the results from these games will impact Utah’s ability to push through the West toward a Finals berth.

Throughout the week, we’ll remind you of each game and how to watch!

Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell looks to score on Alex Caruso in one of many games between UTA and LAL where one or the other had a significant injury
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

MONDAY - UTA vs LAL - 2/24/2021

To kick off the week leading up to the playoffs, turn back the clock to earlier this season when the Utah Jazz hosted the LA Lakers.

The trouble with this game is the same issue resurfacing this year and last in matchups between these two—injuries on both sides.

Not since the first game of the 2019-20 season has this version of the Jazz and the Lakers faced each other healthy and is interestingly the first regular season game ever for each’s squad respectively.

The truth is there are no great games to watch for a glimpse into a potential series. However, this matchup may indicate what the Jazz would have to do on offense to survive against a stout Laker defense.

Without Anthony Davis, the Jazz hung a 125.9 ORTG on the Lakers, their 5th worst defensive outing of the season. Interestingly, there’s a two year pattern where LA is no worse defensively without Davis (2021 season: 108.5 w/ Davis -> 108.0 w/o Davis, 2020 season: 107.3 w/ Davis -> 105.4 w/o Davis) per Cleaning the Glass.

Therefore, Utah’s offensive success in this game is of particular interest and could be a pattern for a potential matchup in the 1st round of the playoffs.

Re-watch the game HERE.

(Don’t have a way to get the full game? Watch a summary below)

As you watch this game, ask yourself:

  • How did the Jazz get their points?
  • Was Utah making some abnormal shots?
  • How did Jazz deal with the Lakers length and athleticism?
  • Was there anything unsustainable in free throw shooting or otherwise?

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz
Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert look to contain Steph Curry earlier this season
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

TUESDAY - UTA vs GSW - 1/23/2021

Come Tuesday, take some time to watch a previous game of the other most likely team for the Utah Jazz: the Golden State Warriors.

Fans may remember the latest two matchups against the Warriors where Utah fell in the final minutes, but earlier this year (with both squads healthy) they Jazz had some better success.

On January 23rd, the Jazz blitzed the Warriors on both ends, boasting a 139.7 ORTG and a 92.3 DRTG in non-garbage time per Cleaning the Glass. This was a thorough beatdown and likely an abnormally poor performance from Golden State.

In every matchup between GSW and UTA, Stephen Curry was held to virtually the same points and assists per minute played. The big difference? The free throw rate.

Curry attempted just 2 free throws in the January 23rd matchup, but attempted 12 and 7 in the subsequent outings. Free throws may be the way to bring Steph’s otherworldly impact to some level of normalcy.

Re-watch the game HERE.

(Don’t have a way to get the full game? Watch a summary below)

As you watch this game, ask yourself:

  • How did the Jazz avoid fouling Steph?
  • How did the Jazz do defensively in what little transition opportunities the Warriors had?
  • How did Utah get their shots? Was there anything unsustainable in their shot profile?

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
Stephen Curry and the Warriors take on LeBron James and the Lakers in a much anticipated play in tournament matchup
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images


The NBA Play In Tournament kicks off on Tuesday, but the games affecting Utah will begin Wednesday. While the Memphis Grizzlies vs San Antonio Spurs matchup will undoubtedly be entertaining, there’s little difference from a Jazz perspective of who we want to win.

Instead, the matchup worth watching that night will be the Golden State Warriors and the LA Lakers—Stephen Curry and LeBron James.

The Warriors are hot! They boasted the best eFG% advantage in May at +10.6%. They’re hitting on all cylinders right now. Meanwhile, the Lakers are trying to get healthy. Both James and Davis appear set to play but LeBron tweaked his ankle late Sunday night.

There are viable arguments for wanting either team to advance to the 7th seed. Ultimately, neither is a good matchup for the Jazz but Utah has proved they can beat anyone.

This game will be especially interesting having just watched two games where the Jazz got the best of both teams. How the Lakers and Warriors fare against each other could be a microcosm for Utah in defending the Warriors (from LAL’s perspective) or how to score on the Lakers (from GSW’s perspective).

The game will tipoff at 8:00 pm MST on ESPN in Los Angeles.

As you watch this game, ask yourself:

  • How did the Jazz avoid fouling Steph?
  • How did the Jazz do defensively in what little transition opportunities the Warriors had?
  • How did Utah get their shots? Was there anything unsustainable in their shot profile?

Utah Jazz v Phoenix Suns
Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker dueled in the desert earlier this year in an exciting game up until the final buzzer
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

THURSDAY - UTA at PHX - 4/7/2021

Come Thursday, put on your brave face and watch the heartbreaking loss to the Phoenix Suns from April 7th.

Coming into this matchup, both teams were healthy and clicking. It was an awaited matchup and met almost every expectation (except a win for Utah).

Donovan Mitchell balled out with 41 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists while Devin Booker kept pace with 35 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Ultimately, Chris Paul’s 29 points and 9 assists doomed Utah.

The day after the game, many in Jazzland (including yours truly) erred on the side of the outcome not being that big of a deal in that Utah got a bit unlucky while Phoenix had some good luck.

No doubt that the Suns got right into the Jazz and prevented them from getting open shots. However, the efficiency Utah boasted that night was dismal. Despite going 0-3 against the Suns this year, April 7th’s game is a case study in “should we really be panicked”?

Re-watch the game HERE.

(Don’t have a way to get the full game? Watch a summary below)

As you watch this game, ask yourself:

  • Did Utah not get open shots because of our lack of aggressiveness?
  • How did the Jazz do defensively in transition against the Suns?
  • How do the Jazz defend Booker and Paul in the midrange? What adjustments are necessary to be successful there?

Friday’s action between the West play in teams to determine the 8th seed, and Utah Jazz’s 1st round opponent, will be incredible
Photo by Scott Strazzante/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

FRIDAY - TBD - Play In

The NBA Play In Tournament wraps up with the West on Friday. The loser of GSW-LAL will face the winner of MEM-SAS in a battle for the 8th and final playoff spot. The winner of this game will face the Utah Jazz in the 1st round.

While the Lakers and Warriors are heavy favorites to claim the two playoff spots in some combination, there are certainly paths to the Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs stealing a spot if they get hot in the Play In Tournament.

Such an outcome would prove incredible for the Jazz since the drop-off in performance from LAL-GSW to MEM-SAS is tremendous.

NBA eFG% advantage
After 72 games, the 2020-21 NBA season eFG% advantage ranks come out with the Utah Jazz as the #1 team
Stats via; Adam Bushman, SLC Dunk

Golden State ranks 6th in the NBA in shooting (eFG%) advantage while LA Lakers (due to injuries) rank 12th. Memphis and San Antonio rank far behind at 18th and 25th, respectively.

Here are each’s season record facing each other:

GSW: 5-4
LAL: 7-2
MEM: 3-6
SAS: 3-6

Jazz fans will want to root for either the Grizzlies or Spurs with all the fervor they can muster. It could mean the difference between a nice 4-1 series win or a dog fight 7 game series.

The game time, network, and teams are all to be determined (TBD).

While the Jazz won’t be playing live for another week when the NBA Playoffs commence, there’s 5 games to watch every night to feed your hankering for basketball and muse about how a Jazz to the title would look.

The Jazz have had an amazing season and that will carry to the postseason with the Jazz retaining home court advantage throughout a path to the Finals.

Don’t let your Jazz fire die down during this brief break. Watch Jazz-Lakers, Jazz-Warriors, Warriors-Lakers, Jazz-Suns, and TBD-TBD.