The Consistent Inconsistency of the Utah Jazz
Mike Conley's recent play has helped the Jazz right the ship, but is this yet another mirage on Utah's horizon?
If one had to choose a single word to describe the 2019-20 Jazz team it would probably be
After going on a recent four game skid, the Jazz bounced back and went on a five
game win streak with four of those wins coming on the road before returning home to Salt Lake City and dropping a tough game to the Toronto Raptors.
Now with the recent win streak behind us it can only be natural for Jazz Nation to be thinking "Here we go again" with the inconsistent play. So what exactly led to that five game turnaround? Can the Jazz get right back up on the horse?
Improved Play of Mike Conley
It has been well documented that Mike Conley hasn’t been the same player that led the Grit n’Grind Memphis Grizzlies for 10-plus years. His struggles have maybe been more documented than any other single player this season.
As the year and the inconsistency has progressed throughout the season, many have been looking for someone to blame and more often than not Conley has had the finger pointed at him.
But over the past six games, Conley is finally starting to look more and more comfortable in a
Jazz uniform. A year ago he averaged 21.1 points per game, 6.4 assists per game, and a 3.27 plus/minus rating compared to this season where his numbers are 13.8 ppg, 4.3 assists, and a -0.82 plus/minus rating.
But over the past 6 games Conley is finding his footing and it is showing in the numbers.
In this six game stretch, Mike is has averaged 16.3 points, 5.6 assists, with a 2.5
plus/minus including an explosive 25-point performance with a season high 6-three pointers
netted against the Boston Celtics to lead Utah to the win.
So Conley is starting to show flashes just in time as there are just a few weeks until the playoffs begin.
After that win in Boston, Conley said: “I feel good. I feel really good. I’m in a great place. My
teammates have been behind me this whole time. It’s been a frustrating road for all of us,
because they know how good I am, and I know how good I am."
He continued: “I kind of have to just sit back and let people say what they want to say until it starts to work. Finally, things are starting to turn the corner.”
Donovan Mitchell added high praise for his back-court running mate saying, “... That’s Mike Conley, he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s one of the best players to play the game at his position. And you see it. He’s been playing well the past couple of games, and it’s continuing to go up.”
Following a blowout loss in late February to the Phoenix suns, Quin Sny wasn't please.
“Defensively we’re going to keep getting the same result if we don’t focus and execute on the
defensive end." Snyder continued, “And this is a group that has done that but that doesn’t matter right now. What that tells us is that we’re capable ... but right now that’s not who we are.”
Two weeks later following the win in Boston, Snyder was singing a different tune,
saying. “We were defending as a team ... and took it to another level.”
The Jazz as a whole have been allowing 106 points per game from opposing teams which is
much improved compared to the four game losing streak out of the all-star break when they
allowed 119.5 points per game. Their defensive efficiency upgraded from the 116.4 that it was at during the losing streak to 103.6 over the team’s most recent stretch of games played.
Overall, the defense has improved greatly over the last couple weeks. That can be in part because of lack luster competition but also because of a renewed energy and focus on that side of the ball.
Now we just have to wait and see if that defense can be sustained into the playoffs.
Improved Play on the Road
The Jazz are currently on a four game winning streak on the road. They haven’t had this sort of winning spurt on the road since late December when they won six straight in opposing arenas.
This has been one of the most noticeable improvements over the course of the season as they now are 20-13 on the road after a rough start to the season where the Jazz went just 4-8 away from Vivint SmartHome Arena.
With 18 games to play in the regular season, the Jazz continue to be one of the most
inconsistent teams in the NBA. We have seen this from Jazz teams in the past.
But unlike those previous Jazz teams that always seemed to turn things around after the all-star break, the current version of the Jazz still have moments where they look lost out there, where the offense goes stagnant, and the focus falls short.
With the playoffs around the corner, it feels like the Jazz have finally fixed so many of the problems that have plagued them throughout the season.
But everyone in Utah can’t help but wonder if the team has truly turned the corner or is this just another moment of fools gold?
Time will tell.