The Utah Jazz have won 19 of their last 20 games. I don’t know how many times that has happened in NBA history, but it is an insane number. Sometimes teams click just right. For a string of games everything just goes right and they rack up a bunch of wins. That’s been partially true for this squad, but certainly hasn’t been the case every single night.
The fact that this Jazz team has had to find wins in a multitude of ways demonstrates just how real they are. They’ve had games where their shot wasn’t falling, they’ve had games where the other guys couldn’t miss, they’ve given up career highs, they’ve been missing starters, they’ve had to fight through foul trouble, they’ve done it on back to backs and 3 games in 4 nights, they’ve beaten bad teams and playoff teams. They’ve honestly done just about everything at this point.
Let’s review a few of these.
131-118 W @ Milwaukee Bucks
This is more an instance of when things went right. Utah set a franchise record for three pointers made in a game with 25. A record which would be beat yet again just a month later. This was on the road against one of the best teams in the league last year and a team that defends extremely well at home. This also wasn’t when things had been going well for the Jazz. This was the first win in the turnaround. They had just lost back to back games and were in the middle of a long road trip. Apparently a loss to the New York Knicks is just what the doctor prescribed because they came out swinging that night. The Jazz top 6 players dominated and led the charge to a big road win.
96-86 W @ Detroit Pistons
Let’s just go with the very next game following the Bucks win. After breaking the franchise record for 3’s they only made 11 in this game. But they took 35. It was not a good shooting night. They also only shot 68% from the free throw line, so they didn’t help themselves there either. Now, they started off really well jumping out to a 34-19 first quarter lead. But it pretty much crumbled from there. It got within 5 a couple times in the 4th but they were able to grind it out. Thanks to their best defensive effort of the season, they didn’t completely collapse and they did just enough offensively to go home victorious.
109-105 W @ Denver Nuggets
Another big road win, this one within the division. Denver’s stars came to play with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray combining for 65 points, 19 rebounds, and 13 assists. Usually if you get that effort from your best players you’ll come away with the win. Especially if the opposing team’s star doesn’t perform as well. Donovan struggled this game, going 7/20 from the field, including 0/7 from 3. Mike Conley worked his +/- magic in this one, going +17 in a 4 point win. Georges Niang contributed an important 11 points off the bench and the Jazz had 6 guys score 10+. The balanced scoring load was just enough to squeak this one out.
129-118 W New Orleans Pelicans
This one was the Donovan Mitchell show. The young star had a huge night that was too much for the Pelicans. He put up 36 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. It pays to have All Stars on your team and this one was an obvious reason why. Sometimes a team simply has the best player on the court and that’s all you need that night.
112-94 W Miami Heat Heat
The Heat jumped out of the gate on this one ready to go against some potentially tired Utah Jazz legs. The Jazz were on the 2nd night of a back to back, so a quick 9 point deficit was not ideal. You could tell they were digging for some energy early on. They climbed their way back into it and had a 5 point halftime lead. Then the 2nd half happened, where the defense didn’t let Miami score a single point until more than halfway through the 3rd quarter. The Jazz shot terribly, going just 12/46 (26%) from three. You aren’t supposed to even be in a game with a shooting performance like that. Especially if one of your near All Star starters is out with a hamstring injury. They ground it out and won comfortably in the end.
Another important point here was that the Heat came out with a solid defensive strategy. They were blitzing the pick and roll and the Jazz got off to a terrible start because of it. But by the mid-2nd quarter Quin and the guys had figured it out and countered successfully.
134-123 W Philadelphia 76ers
The Jazz gave up 123 points and still came away with a win. That’s the most an opponent has scored in a win this season, so it wasn’t necessarily the overall defense that got them this one. In fact, Ben Simmons had a career night with 42 points, 9 rebounds, and 12 assists. Another 36 points from Tobias Harris and it would be easy to assume that Philly won this won. They even had a 12 point lead at one point. But Jordan Clarkson countered with a big 40 points of his own, so the bench was huge in this game. This was the 3rd game in 4 nights so the guys were likely beat. Royce O’Neale was a huge spark with his defense and energy in this one, something that’s becoming a theme as of late. Again, this was not a typical win for the Jazz in this run. Sure they still won by double digits in the end, but this one was tough. They had to fight back and overcome a career night. Demonstrating yet another way this team has manufactured wins this season.
The Jazz are off to the best start in franchise history. You don’t do that by being lucky. You do that by being extremely good and very versatile. This isn’t just a team catching fire from deep for 20 straight games. Or having perfect health. Or having a soft schedule. Or facing rest advantages.
This is a complete basketball team with coaching that knows how to maximize talent. This is a team with the best defensive player on the planet in Rudy Gobert. This is a team with elite playmaking and outside shooting. This is an offensive and defensive system that capitalizes on the opponents’ weaknesses. This is a team with multiple weapons both young and experienced. This is a dangerous team.
This is a contending team.