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NBA Power Rankings: Utah Jazz arrow still pointing up

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Utah went 3-1 last week, have won 9 of 10

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NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are on a roll. If not for a second half at home against Portland where the Jazz shot 16-of-47 and 3-of-18 from 3, they would be on a 10-game win streak. As it stands, Utah has still won 9 of their last 10 after an impressive home win over the West’s No. 2 seed Denver Nuggets and a home-and-home sweep of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even though the Wolves have had the injury bug and have fallen off lately, beating an opponent twice in the span of three days is hard to do.

Utah’s play of late has them in a prime position for a third straight season of playoff basketball. The Jazz sit in 6th place in the Western Conference, just two games out of home court advantage in the first round with 31 games to play. In the media, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann is the sole holdout keeping Utah out of the top 10 in his latest power rankings.

NBA Power Rankings

Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
ESPN.com 7 7 7 6 5 6 7 12 12 13 12 11 9 6 5 3 8 9 7 9 12 7
CBS Sports 6 6 9 13 7 8 8 12 13 12 12 8 6 3 4 4 10 8 6 10 13 6
SI.com 6 6 9 13 8 8 11 11 12 12 12 11 9 7 6 6 8 7 7 8 8 8
NBA.com 5 7 7 11 7 8 10 12 13 12 13 8 6 3 3 3 7 7 6 9 9 6
Rotoworld 7 7 7 9 7 5 6 12 12 12 12 7 7 3 4 3 9 8 7 9 12 7
USA Today 4 4 4 6 5 7 9 12 12 12 11 9 4 3 3 3 9 6 6 12 12 9
FiveThirtyEight 5 6 8 7 5 6 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 5 4 4 5 6 5 11 11 10
SLC Dunk 4 4 6 7 4 6 8 11 13 12 11 8 6 3 3 3 8 6 6 10 10 8

ESPN.com

Donovan Mitchell’s sophomore slump seems like a distant memory. He has performed at a superstar level while the Jazz have won nine of their past 10 games, averaging 30.4 points and 6.1 assists in that span. The only players in the league with a better plus-minus than Mitchell’s plus-127 in the past 10 games are three Warriors (Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green) and Utah teammate Rudy Gobert. -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

Single biggest question: Can this team make one more move to improve an offense that’s only 20th in the NBA (but improving -- they rank 12th in offensive rating over the past 15 games)? Otto Porter would look really good in a Jazz uniform (though his contract may not look great on their books). Ditto for Mike Conley. Add one more scoring option and the Jazz could make the Western Conference finals. That’s how good this defense -- and this coaching, and Donovan Mitchell -- is.

SI.com

Donovan Mitchell went off to help take down the Nuggets for a big bounce-back win.

NBA.com

The Jazz, who were in 14th place in mid-December, are now just two games out of a top-four seed, with their final meetings with the fourth-place Blazers, fifth-place Rockets and sixth-place Spurs all in the next two weeks (and with the tiebreaker with all three teams still up in the air). The Jazz have had the league’s No. 2 defense as they’ve won 15 of their last 20 games, but the bigger difference between their first 31 games and the last 20 has been on offense, where they’ve cut down on turnovers (15.9 per 100 possessions through the first 31 games, 13.7 over the last 20) and where Donovan Mitchell continues to get to the line like he never has before. Seven of his 19 career games with at least eight free throw attempts have come in the last 16 days.

Rotoworld

Winners in nine of their past ten games, the Jazz are playing their best basketball of the season right now. And sophomore Donovan Micthell is a significant reason why. During Utah’s current ten-game surge, Mitchell is averaging 30.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.9 made 3-pointers.

SLC Dunk

The Jazz need to keep playing well because the upcoming stretch is going to be crucial for playoff positioning. This week Utah faces the Trail Blazers (down 2 games) and Rockets (down 1 game). Next week they face the Spurs (currently tied). All of those games will be the final matchups with those teams and all of them will determine the tiebreaker for playoff seeding. Go 3-0 there and home court is still in reach.