NBA Playoff Obituary: Utah Jazz drop the ball again

The Utah Jazz let a giant lead over the LA Clippers go in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals and subsequently were eliminated from title contention.

Now that seasons are coming to an end, it is time to write the obituary for the 2020-2021 NBA seasons that were. Looking back on each team that made the playoffs will give a chance to look at what went right and what went wrong. It will also allow us to look ahead to what’s to come during the offseason to come.

What happened to the best-record Utah Jazz?

After a truly special regular season that seemed to change the narrative around the Utah Jazz there was an all too familiar bitter taste in their mouths last night: going out earlier than expected in depressing fashion.

What Happened to the Utah Jazz?

Despite the end of the season, the Jazz had a fantastic regular season. They had the best record in the league (52-20) and were only the only team to finish in the top five of offensive (fourth) and defensive (third) rating. Jordan Clarkson was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year and Rudy Gobert won his third Defensive Player of the Year award. Mike Conley Jr. and Donovan Mitchell joined the big man in the All-Star Game.

Then came the playoffs. They were able to get past the Memphis Grizzlies, but even then they dropped the first game. Rumors swirled that Donovan Mitchell was reportedly unhappy that he was held out of the game. In the second round, the Jazz won the first two games and were tied at 2-2 when it was announced Kawhi Leonard was out indefinitely. Yes, Mike Conley missed the first five games of the sires and Donovan Mitchell was clearly not himself but the Jazz were still clearly favored to come out of the series.

Losing four games in a row to a team without their best player is disheartening. Seeing the same issues arise around Rudy Gobert in the playoffs in the deciding game is the kind of thing that can change a franchise.

What Comes Next for the Utah Jazz?

This is becoming a common trend of teams in the league. Teams put together fantastic regular season only to find themselves dismissed early in the postseason. Fans will likely be desperate for changes but figuring out what to fix with the Jazz is not that easy.

The Jazz are built to be fantastic in the regular season. They are an elite shooting team and have one of the best interior defenders in recent memory (though he did not block a single shot in the final two games). So what are their options this summer?

Mike Conley is one of only two regular rotation players who is a pending free agent. In a relatively shallow free agent pool, he is likely to have a strong market and is essential for the Jazz to bring back. Beyond that, it may finally be time to listen to listen to trade calls for Rudy Gobert as he again looked to get played off the court. Finally, if questions swirl around other coaches who are great in the regular season but fail to adjust in the postseason, how far should those same questions be from Quin Snyder?