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NBA Power Rankings: Utah Jazz falter against playoff opposition

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A 1-2 week has the Jazz being bumped down the power rankings boards

NBA: Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into this week having won 9 of 10, the Utah Jazz had a great opportunity to close out some tiebreakers on some playoff rivals. Instead, those chances were squandered and we’re left wondering again if a move needs to be made before the trade deadline to make Utah a real postseason competitor. Aside from Rudy Gobert’s All-Star snub performances of 25 points and 13 boards in the week’s sole win, it was a lackluster week from the Jazz.

Saturday night’s 125-98 drubbing at the hands of the Houston Rockets reaffirmed my belief that Utah has to bring in a third cornerstone piece to complement Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. When either of those two are off their game, it’s hard to win. When both of them are off, it’s impossible. Donovan finished with 26 points, but on 7-of-24 shooting. Rudy put up 10 points and 13 rebounds, but conceded an unusual amount of shots at the rim.

The temporary stiffening up of the schedule also made the media question the Jazz’s postseason viability, in addition to bumping Utah down this week’s power rankings boards.

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

The Jazz roared into the week with nine wins in their previous 10 games and then got blown out twice by potential Western Conference playoff foes missing core pieces -- Portland without Jusuf Nurkic and Houston without Chris Pauland Clint Capela. Do those disappointing results add a sense of urgency in Utah’s discussions with Memphis about Mike Conley? -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

What other Western Conference teams are better positioned than the Utah Jazz to make a run to meet the Warriors in the conference finals -- especially if the Jazz add one more big scoring option? Mike Conley would do wonders for the Jazz, and Nikola Mirotic could, too. Conley’s price would be steep, and the salary is huge, but Dante Exum (who’d fit well into Memphis’ defensive mentality) plus a first-rounder could get it done.

SI.com

I don’t care what the haters, media, fans or coaches said when they voted for All-Stars. This line right here makes Rudy Gobert an All-Star if you ask me.

This, and the 7-for-7, 25-point, 13-rebound night he had right before giving that quote.

NBA.com

Losses to the Blazers and Rockets (by a total of 54 points) last week kept the Jazz from moving up from seventh place in the West or clinching the tiebreaker against either. They’re just a game in the loss column ahead of the ninth-place Kings (who they play once more) and just two ahead of the 10th-place Lakers (who they play twice more). But the Jazz are still tied for the league’s third-best record (12-4) over the last month. They still have a favorable schedule going forward, and would arguably be the second-or third-best team in the West with the right upgrade at point guard (Mike Conley?) or power forward in the next few days. The current backcourt -- Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell -- has combined to shoot 38 percent (including 12-for-49 from 3-point range) over the last five games and another tiebreaker is on the line when they host the fifth-place Spurs on Saturday.

Rotoworld

According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, Utah’s interest in Mike Conley is “very real. Utah can build an offer around Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors -- both on effectively expiring contracts -- and a lightly-protected future first-round pick. That is going to be Memphis’ floor.” Adding Conley at point guard would make the Jazz a very dangerous team in the postseason.

SLC Dunk

Count me in the “get Mike Conley to SLC” camp, because if the Jazz stand pat at the deadline, I don’t see this team doing any better than a second round exit again at best. I love the players we have on the current roster, but there’s no question the ceiling could be raised with some moves.