After a weekend of misery it was nice to see the Utah Jazz bounce back against a very respectable Philadelphia 76ers team on Monday night in Salt Lake. The Sixers have had a surprisingly good season under head coach Doug Collins who decided to return to bench this season after several years away from the game of basketball (being an analyst doesn’t count). Philly sits in the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference and they will likely make the playoffs. That being said, the Utah Jazz deserve a ton of credit for battling this team all the way through and pulling out the victory.
Now it’s not like the Jazz should have struggled to snatch the victory against the Sixers as they led by 18 going into the half and by 13 going into the 4th. But be it as it may, they did have to have CJ Miles hit a huge bank shot in the lane with under 10 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime where they eventually won the game by 5.
“I guess we don’t want an easy game. We try to make it hard on ourselves to win, but we’ll take it any way we can get it,” said Al Jefferson who scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in Utah’s 35th victory of the season.
Some people can walk away from this game thinking that the Jazz are a lost cause, while others can say that the Jazz have not quit on their season just yet, and they are going to fight until the bitter end. I, personally, have a combination of the two.
After the weekend I said that the Jazz were officially done this season in terms of making the playoffs. I said that they had no gas left for the final stretch of the regular season, and I certainly thought that they would not even show up against the Sixers on Monday. Seeing the way that Utah performed in the first half, I started thinking that maybe the Jazz had some more mental toughness than I had originally given them credit for. However, after seeing them blow their big lead to the point of actually trailing the Sixers in the final moments of regulation, my original thoughts of doubt had returned. But just as the Jazz hit rock bottom on a disappointing season, CJ Miles hit the shot that might have saved their season, at least from a mental standpoint. To be so deflated and have a player lift your spirits like that has to mean something big. And if the overtime period was any indication of that, it definitely was.
But the reality of things, in totality, is that Utah is on the outside looking in. Their recent stretch games has made things much harder for them moving forward, and their chances of making the playoffs are still slim as they trail the Grizzlies by 2 games with 14 to go.
So do I still think that the Jazz will miss the playoffs this season? Yes I do. But what I realized after last night’s game is that the Jazz are not going to go out without a fight.