The peaks and valleys for the Utah Jazz in 2022 have been about as drastic as it gets. January was one of the worst months in the history of the team in both record and morale. With half the team dealing with injury and positive covid tests, the record was an abysmal 4-12 and they saw one of their locker room leaders, Joe Ingles, go down with a season-ending ACL tear.
For as bad as January was, February has been the opposite. Utah has gone 8-1 in February, with only one loss in a collapse against a bad Lakers team, and has seen Donovan Mitchell go on a tear scoring 27.9 points shooting 49.7% from the field and 46.9% from three. He’s also dishing 5.4 assists and grabbing 5.0 rebounds in that span with 1.8 steals per game. They’re All-NBA type numbers and it’s powered the Jazz back to contention.
But how much of a contender are the Jazz? What are the odds for them to go all the way this season? Let’s take a look at the odds that the Jazz accomplish the following finishes to the season.
Make the playoffs - 100%
This is easy, the Jazz would have to absolutely collapse for the rest of the season to not make the playoffs. This is a lock and I probably shouldn’t have even had this one but it felt necessary.
If the playoffs started today, the Jazz would be facing off against the Dallas Mavericks in the 4/5 matchup with Utah having home-court advantage. The Jazz have one of the most difficult schedules to finish the season but have so far racked up two nice wins, post-all-star break, against the Mavericks and Suns. It’s possible the Jazz give up their 2.5 game lead on the Mavericks if they have something go wrong, but it’s hard to see the Jazz falling lower than the 5-seed. As good as Luka Doncic is, Utah has had his number for some time now. Doncic has never won in SLC and this looks like a preferred matchup for the Jazz. Still, Doncic is capable of fantastic things in the playoffs and so this isn’t a given. 65% chance to win this series seems fair.
Going with the same scenario of if the playoffs started today, It’s almost certain that the Jazz would be facing the Phoenix Suns in the second round. Yes, the Jazz got a win against the Suns most recently in Phoenix but it was without Chris Paul, and it was still a struggle. In their last 6 games, Utah has gone 1-5 against the Suns. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and maybe the Jazz figure things out on the biggest stage, but if Chris Paul is healthy it’s hard to see the Jazz advancing in this one. 35% might be generous here, but this is a Jazz-friendly site so we’re going with it.
If the Jazz actually make it to the Western Conference Finals, it likely means a series against the Golden State Warriors. We’ll see how healthy the Warriors will be but in the last 2 seasons, Utah has gone 2-4 against the Warriors. It’s not an encouraging sign especially since that record has been mostly against an incomplete Warriors roster. Like we said before, the Jazz could always catch fire, and maybe they will if their whole team stays healthy, but it feels far-fetched to expect this team to go beyond the Western Conference Finals.
So you’re saying there’s a chance!?
Yeah, there’s always a chance, and I guess stranger things have happened than a 4-seed getting hot in the playoffs and rolling to a title, but it’s hard to imagine this team winning it all. There have been too many times this season, and in years past, where we’ve seen them lose in the clutch. Heck, we’ve seen them give up series leads in the playoffs the last two years. For this year to be different it will take two things. Can they miraculously stay 100% healthy from the start of the playoffs to the end? And can they play with the mental toughness to avoid bad losses in the clutch? Both of those are big asks for a team that hasn’t shown the ability the last two years with either. Now, that doesn’t mean they can’t, it’s just a long shot for everything to work out perfectly for the Jazz.