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Down the stretch the Utah Jazz come

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It’s time for the Utah Jazz take control of their destiny and solidify their playoff entry.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks
The former Celtics fan favorite could be an x factor in the upcoming Jazz vs. Celtics game.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll start today with a pretty cool moment from Sunday’s game. I don’t think two free throws in the history of the Jazz have ever meant as much as David Stockton’s two makes the other night.........okay maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but how cool was it to see the son of such a HUGE Jazz legend get in the game and record points for the same franchise that his dad was a cornerstone of for so long? Although it would be very cool to see, I will be the first to admit that David probably won’t be able to live up to even half of his Dad’s legacy but I would love to see him stick with this team and be even a quarter of what John was. I’ll even take 10% at this point, I just think it would be cool to have another Stockton with the Jazz for years to come.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a pretty cool quote from a national tv “shock jock”:

Skip: “We had the game of the year. The best regular season game I saw all year long, was played Friday night at San Antonio and it went to overtime. And that Utah team is really good. And I tweeted this and many, many people responded, because I got lots of volume off this tweet, and I said ‘if Utah were in the East, Utah would be in the NBA Finals.”

I’ve never been a huge fan of Skip Bayless, but he has a valid point. It’s not to say that the Jazz would just steamroll through everybody because there are some legitimately good teams in the East but the way the Jazz are playing right now, there is no matchup that you could point to and say “Oh the Jazz have no chance”. Other than the Cavs, Raptors and maybe the Celtics, (although I think they are just a great regular season team this year), I would take the Jazz over anybody and I think out of those three, the Cavs would be the toughest match only because of Lebron. If the Jazz could scheme defensively to slow Lebron down more than he is used to in the Playoffs, then there is no doubt that they could beat the Cavaliers.

As the regular season winds down and the rookie of the year race is as heated as ever, we can start to see what Donovan Mitchell’s final stats of the season are going to be. As mentioned on another SLC Dunk article earlier, we don’t need to tear another rookie down just to appreciate the kind of season that Donovan Mitchell is having. It’s truly amazing that he has come to this team and not only led the team in scoring but averaged about one 3 point shot less than what Hayward did last year. Not even the biggest homer would have guessed that he could do that. But aside from that, I think what most Jazz fans are excited about is the fact that he is so good in the 4th quarter and clutch time. These are the per 36 minutes stats for Mitchell in 4th quarters:

Again, not to put down any other rookies out there, but those numbers speak for themselves as to why Donovan is generating so much hype.

As far as stories go, nothing is bigger right now than the western conference playoff race and seeding. There are a lot of theories out there about teams posturing for matchups and who wants to face who, but I think we can all agree that it would be best to avoid the 8th seed and Houston in the first round. With the news that Stephen Curry is going to be out for the first round, everyone is getting their hopes up that there may be an opportunity to take the Golden State Warriors out, but that is still going to be a tall task. There is the outside chance that the Jazz win all of their remaining games, finish 50-32, and snag the 4th seed so that we can upset Houston when they are ready to choke in the second round.

Since we are in the final 1/10th segment of the season, and as mentioned before, all Jazz fans are scoreboard watching whether they want to admit it or not, here is a quick breakdown of tonights games that matter:

Spurs @ Wizards- This is the one that I predict will not work out in the Jazz’s favor. I hope I’m wrong, but the Spurs seem to be the Spurs again and the Wizards are really hoping that John Wall comes back soon.

Nuggets @ Raptors- A loss for the Nuggets here would be demoralizing, but not in the same way as for the Clippers because of the relative softness of their schedule. But a loss for them would stillbe pretty hard to overcome.

Trail Blazers @ Pelicans- I know a lot of people don’t think that the Jazz can catch the Blazers, but they have a pretty rough schedule these last couple of weeks. If the Jazz beat them on the last night of the season and they end up with the same record then the Jazz move ahead. So if either team loses it is good, but admittedly probably better if the Pelicans lose.

Bucks @ Clippers- A loss by the Clippers here, puts them on the ropes, and in all reality puts them out of the picture. They would have to pretty much win out and hope that all three teams directly ahead of them collapse.