With so many ups and downs this season the Jazz find themselves in a spot desirable to many teams in this league; in control of their own destiny. What a great position to be in at this time of year. After things started to look fairly bleak with a 34-36 record, the Jazz have now gone 7-1 in their last 8 games to put them in the driver’s seat for the 8th and final playoff seed. Things seem to be clicking for this team just at the time of the season when you want it to happen most. Mo Williams has scored 20+ in 3 of the past 5 games. Derrick Favors has averaged 12.2 pts, 9 reb, and 2 blks, Gordon Hayward has averaged 14.8 pts, 3.6 ast, and a scorching 42.3% from 3 over that same span. Randy Foye has been shooting 44.7% from 3 however he was 11-15 from 3 in the first 2 games of this 5 game stretch and 6-23 in the last 3 so that is a bit misleading. Big Al continues to do what Big Al “do” averaging 18.6 pts and 8.6 rebs and Paul Millsap has chipped in 14.4 pts, 5.4 rebs, and 4.8 ast.
One of the biggest things that has helped this team over these past couple of weeks is it seems they have come together. They are playing with a purpose and it’s the same purpose. To make the playoffs and make some noise. It no longer seems like contracts and playing time are being worried about. Each game the Jazz have played during this run has had a playoff feel to it. As my friend and editor Josh Haslam pointed out in his article http://purpleandblues.com/2013/03/28/enes-kanters-injury-might-actually-help-jazz-in-short-term/, the tightening of the rotation has been good for the Jazz in the short term. Players have a better idea of the minutes they are going to play and are putting forth a more complete effort on the court. There is a sense of urgency and it is producing positive results.
Tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder is a huge game. Not quite in the must win category but a win tonight could potentially do 3 things: Give the Jazz big time confidence, give them a bit of a “cushion” in the battle for 8th, and it could all but extinguish any hopes the Los Angeles Lakers have of catching the Jazz. This is not going to be an easy game. The Thunder have a lot to play for as well. A win tonight would put them only 1/2 game behind the Spurs for 1st in the west (Thunder own the tie breaker) and a loss would put them 2 games back in the loss column. Big playoff implications are on the line tonight but if you’re a fan of big time basketball, these are the games you crave. Let’s sit back and enjoy the ride!