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5 Reasons why the Utah Jazz could be a lock to reach the Finals | 2020-21 NBA Season

The entire Utah Jazz roster have been on fire this season
The entire Utah Jazz roster have been on fire this season
ANALYST
Modified 27 Feb 2021
Feature

After routing the LA Lakers 114-89 on Wednesday, the Utah Jazz extended their record as the NBA's best side, winning 22 of their past 24 matchups. Slowly but surely, having been written off prior to the season, the Jazz are proving their worth as a Championship-worthy side.

It was just over a month ago when Steve Kerr likened the current Jazz side to his Championship-winning Golden State Warriors team. Now with Utah sat comfortably ahead of both Los Angeles outfits, there is a growing belief that Quin Snyder's side could make this year's NBA Finals.

With that in mind, we have put together 5 reasons why we believe the Utah Jazz could be a lock to go all the way this year.

2020-21 NBA Season: How the Utah Jazz are proving they have what it takes to win a Championship

#1 Bench scoring

Part of the Utah Jazz' success so far has been down to the prolific scoring from their bench depth. Come the postseason, the importance of sharpshooters Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson will be essential to the Jazz' hopes of reaching the NBA Finals.

Both players would walk into most NBA sides' starting lineups given their recent performances. Clarkson is on course to be named Sixth Man of the Year, currently averaging 18.3 points and would not have looked out of place were he to have been selected as an All-Star.

The importance of the Utah Jazz bench has been no more obvious than in their comeback win against Charlotte this week. Up 1 point heading into the last quarter, Ingles, Clarkson and Niang lit up from downtown and made a close encounter look like a blowout by the final score (132-110). The three combined for 62 points, including 19 threes.

#2 3-point productiveness

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Utah Jazz 3-point specialist Joe Ingles (R)
Utah Jazz 3-point specialist Joe Ingles (R)

That brings us onto our second reason the Utah Jazz could be a lock for the NBA Finals - their 3-point accuracy. So far, the Jazz have broken their own franchise 3-point record three times this season, their latest in Tuesday's win over Charlotte in which they drained 28.

The Jazz rank 3rd in the league for %3PM, with Joe Ingles, Mike Conley and Royce O'Neale all averaging an accuracy rating of over 40%. Utah have taken the most 3-point efforts of any team in the league, 38 more than the next highest - the Toronto Raptors - and have the highest percentage of points attributed to their point attempts with 44%.

Most importantly for the Utah Jazz, heading into the second half of the season, is the improvement their players have made from beyond the arc. Ingles, O'Neale, Conley and Mitchell are all averaging career-high consistencies with their 3-point efforts.

#3 Consistent starting 5

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As with their 3-point shooting, the Utah Jazz have also remained consistent in their starting line-ups. Without serious injuries to any of their stars, their regular starting 5 have taken to the floor on 24 occasions and have the best net rating of any 5 that have played more than 250 minutes together this season.

Comparisons have been made already between the current Utah Jazz side and the San Antonio championship sides of old. This is quite an association to make, but it goes without saying that if the Jazz can keep their regular starters healthy, they have an incredible chance to go all the way.

They are one of the strongest starting units in the league and can hurt sides in a multitude of ways, not only from beyond the arc but down low with Rudy Gobert too.

#4 Coach of the Year contender

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder with stars Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson
Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder with stars Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson

Behind every great team is a group of great coaches and so far, Quin Snyder is getting the plaudits he deserves by leading the Utah Jazz on this current run.

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Snyder was recently named as an All-Star coach after winning coach of the month for January. The Jazz have enjoyed one of their most successful periods as a franchise under Snyder, consistently finishing among the top-6 sides in a packed Western Conference over the last 4 seasons, twice losing in the Conference Semi-Finals.

Given their current form and Snyder's development of the whole Jazz squad, he could well lead the franchise to its first NBA Finals since 1998.

#5 Momentum

There's a lot to be said about the momentum teams can gain from a successful regular season and how they carry that into the postseason. Obviously, there is the advantage of having home-court throughout the playoffs.

However, last year, we saw the bond the Miami Heat side had with one another and the momentum they gained as they progressed through the playoffs - to most fans' surprise.

The Utah Jazz seem to be on an unstoppable role where every player understands his importance to the side and has a responsibility on both ends of the floor. There's a reason they are the only team to be ranked inside the top-5 for both offensive and defensive efficiency.

If they are able to carry this through the remainder of the season, we could be looking at the Jazz dominating their way to the NBA Finals.

Published 27 Feb 2021, 04:36 IST
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