Having been ravaged by injuries this season, the Utah Jazz finally appear to make a run with a clean bill of health. While it will take Jazz forward Carlos Boozer a few games to get his legs under him, just having him in the lineup has been refreshing to Jazz players and fans alike.
In Boozer’s absence Utah has found itself struggling to stay in the playoff picture in a tough Western Conference, but have also been able to give young talent extended minutes, which could benefit the Jazz come the postseason. Paul Millsap has stepped up in the two-time all-star’s absence and has filled the void nicely. Millsap has been a double-double machine and has averaged over nine boards and 14 points a game, both career highs. The benefit will show itself when a newly improved Millsap runs with the second team along with former starter Andrei Kirilenko, thus giving Utah one of the most potent benches in the entire league.
With the Western Conference so tightly contested, Utah will look to string together a host of victories that could propel them into a playoff spot and might even result in home-court advantage come April. After Utah’s runaway-win over the Atlanta Hawks last week, the Jazz sat just two games behind Portland for the fourth seed in the conference. The hype around the Jazz has been heightened with the recent wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA Champion Boston Celtics, but Utah’s fate will be sealed in games played on the road and in games that come on the second night of a back-to-back, both situations in which the Jazz have struggled this season.
As the Utah Jazz attempt to make a run in the latter half of the NBA season, they will be doing so without long-time owner and Utah business mogul Larry H. Miller, who passed away last month due to complications from diabetes. Miller never asked his team to win one for him, but there’s never been a better time for the Jazz to honor their beloved owner than by making some noise in the Western Conference playoff picture.