On Monday it looked like the Jazz would be matched up with Houston and everyone started to panic in Jazzland (although panic in Jazzland is as common as fry sauce and abuse of a fast food dollar menu). Yesterday the Jazz were matched up against Portland again.
As the The Rock used to say in the ring, “IT DOESN’T MATTER!”
The fact is Jazz fans shouldn’t worry about matchups. Contenders don’t worry about matchups, they worry about championships.
Sure, it would be nice to face a Portland team that is missing key pieces. It would be easier to scheme. But the Jazz will still have to face Damian Lillard. The next round will have the Jazz facing a more difficult task, as well.
But if there’s one resounding characteristic of this Jazz team it’s resilience. Also, a love of Chip Cookies.
How many people counted Utah out against the Oklahoma City Thunder last year? I can name a few nationals who ended up deleting a LOT of tweets because there was no way this Utah team, without an “all-star,” could ever beat a Thunder team with the likes of Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
They beat them 4-2. And it would have been 4-1 if Rudy Gobert hadn’t been taken out of the game by referees when the Jazz were up 20 in game 5.
If the Jazz do end up facing the Rockets in the first round, it’s fair to ask what makes them better than last year? The difference is not going to be in team makeup, but experience. Last year the Jazz were happy to be there. Getting a first round victory felt like a massive victory for a surprisingly good team overcoming a loss in free agency. This playoffs the Jazz won’t be just happy to be there, they’re ready to do damage. And there’s going to be a lot of nationals out there deleting more bad tweets.
The fact is, to beat the Utah Jazz in the playoffs means you have to beat Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell four times. The Thunder couldn’t do it last year and the Rockets dropped one to that young squad.
And this team IS better than last year. Looking at the record, would we consider the Jazz more elite if the ball doesn’t bounce to Jonas Jerebko or if Paul George misses one more jumper? No, because that’s absurd. Basketball isn’t a math equation and simulated on a computer. In the end, talent wins out and the Jazz have two of the most talented players in the game.
At the beginning of the season, the big storyline for the Jazz was their continuity. That storyline fizzled out when the Jazz faced the most difficult first half schedule in the league. Now, with the Jazz playing the other lopsided half of their schedule, it’s looking like that continuity is paying off. Weird how that works.
But that continuity will actually benefit them in the playoffs like we hoped it would during the season. The Jazz have been there before and will be more than ready for game 1.
So don’t worry too much about who the Jazz face in the first round, Jazz fans, the Jazz are ready.