Well, the 2020 NBA Playoffs are upon us. With its Disney Bubble premise in full effect, the 16 teams are squaring off to determine this year’s champion.While it’s hard to think that there won’t be an asterisk next to the 2020 title, a champion will be crowned.
The NBA is a fickle beast.Star-driven and tank-friendly, teams in the dumpster one year can be the king of the mountain the next. With that, stakes are high for almost every team as they make their playoff run, with sought-after stars often heading for greener pastures if they feel their squad can’t get over the hump.
We’re looking at each of the NBA playoff contenders and diving into what’s at stake for each team, the odds of making a deep run, and key storylines to watch.
Let’s hit the Utah Jazz.
Expectations: Be Better in the 2020 Playoffs
While that may seem like a harsh sentiment, the Jazz should be shooting to be better in the playoffs than last year.
The Jazz struggled in the Bubble’s seeding games, going 3-5 and dropping down the standings to the 6th-seed. This just isn’t the same team from the Pre-Covid Era. On the small scale, they need to find their footing.
Big picture, success for the Jazz means getting out of the first round. Last year, Utah brought the league’s second-highest rated offense into their series against the Houston Rockets and got smoked in the first two games. The Jazz would never fully recover and drop the series 4-1.
This year, while their defense has suffered, their offense has improved. Can they get past the Nuggets in the first round? It’s possible. They only finished 1.5 games back from Denver, but did drop their previous three meetings, albeit in tight games.
What’s Working for Them
The Utah Jazz are a cohesive team with weapons everywhere. Being proficient shooters all over the floor, the Jazz also spread the ball around to everyone. The only Jazzman who takes significantly more shots than his teammates is Donovan Mitchell. Put all your efforts towards guarding him and he’ll dish it off to an equally potent shooter. When the Jazz gets hot, they stay hot. And with the NBA’s best three-point percentage, they can burn you.
What Might Hold Them Back:
However, while they boast some of the league’s top shooting percentages, the Jazz are in the bottom of league in field-goal attempts. So when they shoot, they’re golden. They just don’t shoot. The Jazz need to be better at that. That’s obvious.
The Jazz are also heading into the playoffs with Bojan Bogdanovic, who had wrist surgery before the Bubble. Add that in with Michael Conley’s decision to leave for the birth of his son, and Donovan Mitchell’s shoulders must be starting to hurt. It can’t be all Mitchell all the time. Guys like Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles need to step up.
Storyline to Watch
The Utah Jazz was thrust into the spotlight as their coronavirus positives shocked the sports world. Personally, I mark my quarantine time by Rudy Gobert‘s positive test result. That was the moment I felt the world stop turning.
Because the spotlight was turned on Utah, there was a lot of talk about how Gobert and Mitchell were getting along. “People don’t have much to talk about for months. That was the topic of the moment,” Gobert said. “That’s not a bad thing. It’s time to put it behind. I get asked about it every day. I can understand. But I hope they have some more interesting topics.”
The beef between the two Utah stars boiled over into the press, as reports of their rift flooded the news cycle. “”The Jazz are fortunate that they don’t have to get back together and start playing games again right now,” Wojnarowski said on SportsCenter during the shutdown. “There is a lot of work to do to repair relationships. … There’s a lot of frustration with Gobert.”
There are a lot of relationships being strained by the current state of the world. There’s a lot of anger, some good and some distracting. But if Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell can put aside their past faults and transgressions and get to work on their relationship, so can we all. We all need to do better and be better. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are showing us we can.
- / 2 years ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.