The Utah Jazz went through an 11-game stretch in the middle of March where they picked up just two wins. Due to this slide, it seemed like they had self-destructed themselves right out of the NBA Playoffs, letting the Los Angeles Lakers overtake them for the eight-seed in the Western Conference.
Since the last loss of that 11-game span, the Jazz have dramatically turned things around and won their last five games. In fact, their decisive 112-102 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night gave them a half game lead on the Lakers in the West standings, something that really didn’t seem possible in as they were free-falling out of the playoff picture.
The Jazz have been playing absolutely phenomenal basketball over this five-game winning streak. As a team they have averaged 108.6 points per game on 52 percent shooting from the floor and 41.4 percent from beyond-the-arc. Moreover, they’ve also shown amazing ball-security, committing just 11.6 turnovers per game over their last five.
Their defense has been on-point over their recent winning streak as well. They have actually allowed their opponents to shoot 48.1 percent from the field and 41.6 from three, both of which are very efficient. However, it hasn’t entirely mattered because they have been forcing their opponents to commit 15.6 turnovers per game and have limited them to just 9.2 offensive rebounds per game. That’s why they’ve allowed just 96.6 points per game over this span.
The Jazz now have seven games remaining in the regular season while the Lakers have eight remaining in their year. Five of the Lakers’ games are against teams currently in the playoff-picture while only four of Utah’s games fall into that category.
It’s going to be a close race at the bottom of the West, especially when you throw the Dallas Mavericks into the mix. It has the feeling of a race that could legitimately not solve itself until the 82nd and final game of the season. However, if the Jazz are able to play at the same level that they have over their last five games for the remainder of their season, they have a really good chance of taking the eight-seed this year.