The Utah Jazz have entered the all-star break on a high. A week ago pundits were looking at the Jazz as the team that the Los Angeles Lakers or the Dallas Mavericks would catch for a playoff spot. Fortunes have changed and now the team has a five game gap over the ninth place Portland Trail Blazers.
Winners of two in a row against the Oklahoma City Thunder at home and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the twin cities see the team is on a high. For weeks rumors of trades for any one of their big man have come on gone. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap have been mentioned with almost every team as their expiring contracts are a boon. As they continue up the standings the rumors should slow down.
The Jazz with their front court strength were never known as an up tempo team or having the ability to score many points. The past two games have changed that mentality. They scored 109 against the Thunder and the 97 against the Timberwolves. It has been the play of both Jefferson and Millsap and the improved work of the bench that has lead to the upswing in fortunes.
Randy Foye, not the ideal man for the job of point guard, is beginning to understand that the team needs to pound the ball inside to his two stars. Derrick Favors off the bench has been demanding the ball and it’s his play that might make Jefferson and Millsap expendable.
The key to any successful season is making the playoffs. The key to make the playoffs is to beat teams first in your division and then your conference. In beating the Thunder and the Timberwolves on successive nights the Jazz have done just that. They also have proven that they aren’t going away.
Their play has made their front office think twice about the direction of the team. Should they bring in some back court help to help the bigs but that would mean losing some talent. It’s the decision that haunts many middle of the road teams. Should they just try and make the playoffs or should they rebuild and get stronger? It will definitely be an interesting couple of weeks in Salt Lake City.
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