Utah Jazz’s Self-Destruction Costing Them Spot in NBA Playoffs
As the Utah Jazz came into the NBA All-Star Weekend in mid-February, they were 30-24 and had a hold of the seven-seed in the Western Conference. They weren’t making noise like they were a team that could contend for a championship, but they were definitely playing like a playoff-team. They would probably give away limbs to get back to that place now.
Since the All-Star break, the Jazz are just 4-10. This skid has dropped their record to 34-34 overall and has the Jazz positioned a game and a half behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth playoff-seed in the West. One and a half games normally isn’t a huge deficit to have to overcome, but with how poorly Utah have been playing over their last 14 games, that gap seems almost insurmountable.
The Jazz played 54 games before the All-Star break and have played 14 since then. In comparison their defense has been relatively the same over both stretches, allowing almost the same number of points per game and allowing opponents to shoot around the same percentage from the field over both stretches. The primary difference from before the All-Star break to after it has been their production on offense.
In their first 54 games the Jazz averaged 98.3 points per game, shot 45.2 percent from the field, and shot 36.3 percent from beyond-the-arc. That’s not other worldly production, but it was obviously getting the job done. In the 14 games since the All-Star break, however, the Jazz have noticeably fallen off offensively, averaging just 95.9 points per game, shooting 43.7 percent from the field, and shooting 34.5 percent from three. With their defense and pace staying the same, the dip in their offensive numbers is obviously in correlation with their struggles.
There are a couple of reasons why Utah’s offense has been sputtering. One is the fact that they haven’t been healthy. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap have both missed time since the All-Star break, which completely threw off the rhythm of the team. Another thing to consider is that Mo Williams returned from thumb surgery after the break and he hasn’t performed at his normal level since getting back to action.
If the Jazz continue to play like this for their remaining 14 games this season, they can forget about their chances at making the postseason. They have to change something in their scheme so that they can get their offense flowing better and producing like it was before All-Star Weekend. Maybe that will happen when Williams gets back to feeling and playing like himself, but it still might even be too late then.