The High Note: What This Years Playoffs Means to the Jazz


As we put another year of Jazz basketball into the books, we find ourselves in a unique situation. With the playoffs in sight, I’ve talked to many casual Jazz fans that think it isn’t that important to get into the playoffs this year. The purpose of this piece is to put some fire into the heart of the Jazz fans and to lay out why it is in fact incredibly important for us to stay hot these last 8 games, and roll into the playoffs with the desire to go as far as we can possibly go.


Now, the reasoning isn’t terrible as to why it may not seem important to the casuals that we make the playoffs:


  1. Two of our key players, Alec Burks and Dante Exum, are both out for the rest of the year.

  2. Our core players are locked up and will remain Jazzmen for at least the next few years.

  3. Since most of our guys are so young, it won’t be so hard on them to not make the playoffs, as they haven’t been there before.


Very solid points, which may be strengthened by the lack of any real playoff run these last few years, leading to some fan apathy (fapathy?...no…). The inner psyche of a Jazz fan isn’t what I would call fragile. In fact, years of near playoff makes and a sincere lack of any free agency or trade hype has conditioned most of us to look for the good in things, and settle for mediocrity. I will have you notice that I didn’t mention anything that involves pushing off or foul disparity in games, which would lead you to believe that I am as unbiased as they come…right?


Now that’s been said, I will push things along by saying this: THE HYPE TRAIN IS REAL BABY! (credit /u/SFW_developer) HOP ON BOARD OR GET LEFT SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN BIG WATER AND KANAB, UT!!!! (essentially the middle of nowhere)


Currently sitting at 7th place in the West, the Jazz sit 1.5 games behind Portland and a half a game in front of Houston. Now, this normally wouldn’t make any basketball fan feel comfortable, but with a healthy dose of teams we have previously beaten on the regular schedule, and the undying optimism of a man with nothing to lose (okay, I’m biased), I feel confident that we will (finally) be able to get some of these younger guys some playoff experience. Of course, a lot more than just happiness could ride on us making the playoffs.


In a recent “Ask Me Anything” over on the Jazz subreddit, Andy Larsen (Utah Jazz beat writer, Salt City Hoops) stated in response to whether we could keep our core guys (Hayward, Favors, Hood, Gobert) long-term, “All of those guys but Hayward are under Jazz control until at least 2018. Hood and Gobert are restricted free agents after that, and Favors is even eligible for an extension after 2018 if done correctly, a la Denver. I think Hayward is likely to stay in the summer of 2017. He'll definitely opt out, and he'll definitely get the max then, but I'm not sure he'll be able to find a better situation for him than in Utah. Winning is important, and I think the Jazz will be able to present a good case that he can do that in Utah. Plus, the Jazz will be able to offer him an extra year and more money. I think he cares about that too.


While the outlook is mostly positive, I do strongly believe that making a push into the playoffs now could cement this line-up as the Jazz team of the future. There are several teams that started their sustained success through an unexpected trip to the playoffs, where they made noise and sowed chaos. Gordon Hayward is a nice guy, but first and foremost he is a competitor. If he sees what these boys can do in the playoffs, it has a great chance of making the long-term plans of the team more solid.


So it comes down to this last stretch of games, battling it out with not only the Rockets, but the Mavs and possibly Portland. The Jazz schedule is not the easiest, but the post-season is within sight, and I firmly believe in Conductor Snyder pulling the hype train into Grand Playoff Station.


Once in the playoffs the plan is simple: cause chaos and sow destruction to any team we meet. If they get past us, they do so battered, bruised, and haunted by the ghost of Gordy’s perfectly placed hair and Gobert’s albatross wing-span.

 

GO JAZZ!

 

(Cover Image: credit hoopshype.com)

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