clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

If the NBA Playoffs ever happen, the Utah Jazz could be a dark horse contender

New, 173 comments

If basketball comes back, the Jazz could be the team everyone expected.

Utah Jazz v Detroit Pistons Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

There’s no way to know when, or if, the NBA season will return for this season but NBA players and owners seem determined to come back.

If they do come back, it’s going be interesting. Nothing is going to look the same. There’s a “bubble” scenario where all teams stay somewhere like Las Vegas or Orlando and play and stay in the same hotels every night to avoid any sort of contamination.

If something like that happens, and the playoffs do happen, it looks like there will be all sorts of changes to the playoffs.

First off, what about the teams that are on the verge of a playoff spot? It seems unfair to not allow fringe teams a chance to play their way in. It’s likely we see some sort of play-in tournament between those teams to see who gets the final spots.

A single-elimination tournament between those fringe teams would be fantastic, if you ask me and would create some great momentum into a playoff that would assuredly have massive ratings. If the Jordan “Last Dance” ratings can be around 6 million then how will actual playoff basketball do? The odds are very good.

How will all of this affect the Utah Jazz? Very Good! Here are a few reasons why the chaos of an unusual playoffs can help the Jazz sneak their way through the playoffs.

A shortened playoff series is good for upsets.

It wouldn’t be the first time that the NBA has had best of 5 series. In 2003 the NBA went from a best of 5 to a best of 7 format for the first round. This was obviously a move to make more money for the league. One of the downsides? Less big upsets.

One of the most memorable upsets from that era was the Denver Nuggets, led by Dikembe Mutombo, beating the Seattle Supersonics (the #1 seed).

I know a team led by a dominant defensive center here in Utah.

The thing about a best of 5 series is that if an underdog steals a game from the home team, they have an incredible advantage at home. The reason this helps Utah is that with Rudy Gobert, the Jazz are in every game they’re in. A few lucky bounces and you could see some crazy finishes.

What had me most excited about this season was the makeup of the Jazz. It’s perfect for the playoffs. With Gobert on the floor the Jazz will always be in the game defensively. With the spread floor they have with shooters like Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles on the wings, and Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley penetrating, the Jazz will be able to manufacture points.

It’s not out of the question to see the Jazz steal some close ones against the league’s best. In a best of five? They could steal a series.

The Jazz never hit their potential

There was so much hype for the addition of Mike Conley to this Utah Jazz team at the beginning of the season. On paper it seemed like the perfect fit for what the Jazz needed.

On the court it looked like something else.

Conley’s shot struggled this season and he struggled to find chemistry with one of the best rolling bigs in the league in Rudy Gobert.

But post all star break it was looking like Conley was starting to finally hit his stride. The problem was the team chemistry took a nose dive and there was no way to know how good the Jazz could be with Conley at full speed.

There’s a scenario where the Utah Jazz would become the team everyone predicted, it just never got a chance to happen.

Chemistry won’t matter as much in the playoffs

Whatever is going on with the team, and it’s obvious that it’s something, the playoffs will help.

If players want out of Utah, they’re going to try to play their way into a contract and that goes from top to bottom. Rudy Gobert will be playing to earn his super max, Mike Conley will be trying to show his long term viability at point guard either for the Jazz or someone else, etc.

When the playoffs start, teams are less likely to let petty disagreements get in the way of winning. So whatever conflict is going on in the locker room will be put aside as the Jazz fight their way through the playoffs.

Another side effect from the playoffs could be a cured locker room. What if the Jazz do get the western conference finals, or beyond? Winning cures a lot of problems and going deep in the playoffs could be the cure for the dysfunction in the locker room.

Obviously this is all hypothetical because we may not even see a playoffs. But if we do, the Jazz have a real shot at shocking the league.