I did not see this coming! Collectively, the Utah Jazz are doing most everything right right now. After sputtering in December, the Jazz have won seven of their last eight games. In January they’ve limited opponents to an average 89.1 points per game. A big factor in this is that Utah is making defense a priority. They beat Denver in Denver at a time when Denver was shooting 55.1 percent. They look sharp in their rotations and are getting in position in stellar fashion. On the other end of the court, five times in twelve games they’ve scored 100 or more points. (Jefferson and Millsap averaged 21.75 and 18 points respectively in those games.) In short, Utah has come together much better and faster than I ever would have guessed they would.
If Utah can maintain this momentum, anything is possible. With that said, I cannot foresee the tight race in the West loosening between now and May. The Lakers and Dallas are two teams that I believe are playing below their potential and will undoubtedly improve as the season moves on. The Spurs are where I’d have guessed, and the Clippers…only time will tell if Griffin and company can pull anything together long-term. They’re three games behind the Jazz and they play the way you’d expect them to play night-to-night. They had big losses to the Spurs and Chicago in December, and then they squeaked out victories to teams like Milwaukee and Portland in January.