Ranking the 5 Must-Watch Utah Jazz Games of February
After a pretty up-and-down start to the season, the Utah Jazz seem to have found some solid footing in the Western Conference as of late.
Standing at 25-21, the Jazz have won seven of their last 10 games and are sitting on the seventh seed in the West poised for another run at the playoffs.
With the second half of the season coming up in February, the games are becoming more meaningful and will become more intense as a result.
So with that, let's go through and rank five games in particular during February that should be especially noteworthy for Utah.
5. Feb. 19 vs. Golden State Warriors
The last time the Golden State Warriors were in the postseason, the team that stopped their miraculous eighth-seeded-run was the Utah Jazz.
With that history already in mind and with both teams hunting for the postseason, there shouldn't be too many pleasantries exchanged between these squads.
The Warriors should be back at full force by this game as well, with Stephen Curry nursing an injury as of late and center Andrew Bogut just returning from his injury also.
Utah and Golden State matched up earlier this year in December, a game in which the Warriors handled the Jazz fairly easily in a 94-83 victory at the Energy Solutions Arena. The Jazz will surely be looking for a measure of revenge here, especially since the game is on their home court once more, a territory with a reputation for loudness and a rough place to play on the road.
4. Feb. 2 at Portland Trail Blazers
This year's Groundhog Day will be much like the movie, as the Utah Jazz will have a repeat in their schedule, playing the Portland Trail Blazers on back-to-back nights.
On this particular date, the Jazz will be playing the second part of that two-game series the night after hosting Portland in Utah. Playing a team back-to-back is always intriguing, especially since it can have the feel of a postseason series.
An interesting part to watch here will be the battle of these two talented frontcourts, featuring matchups like Paul Millsap against LaMarcus Aldridge of the Blazers. These two teams are also in the running for one of the lower seeds in the postseason, so this game could prove to be crucial once the season starts winding down.
3. Feb. 9 at Sacramento Kings
The Jazz and the Kings have gotten to know each other pretty well this year thanks to a back-to-back mini-series similar to the one the Jazz have coming up against Portland.
In those two earlier games against Sacramento this year, Utah has split the series, barely scraping out a home win before losing the next night on the road.
One thing to note is that highly emotional but talented Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was ejected from the last game between these two after he slapped the ball away from Jazz center Enes Kanter. Cousins was quickly hit with a technical foul, and his arguing led to the second technical that automatically ejected him from the game.
There could be some bad blood boiling here as these two teams meet again, so look out for some possible fireworks between these Western Conference foes.
2. Feb. 8 vs. Chicago Bulls
The Jazz will receive some good viewership outside of just those in Utah for this one, as the game will air on ESPN as they square off against the surprisingly good Chicago Bulls.
Even though the Bulls have been without MVP point guard Derrick Rose for a good portion of the season, they have managed to fight their way into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture and looked poised to make noise once Rose does return.
Chicago center Joakim Noah was recently selected to become an All-Star for the East, playing better than he ever has, and it will be a lot of fun to see him matched up with Al Jefferson of the Jazz, an All-Star-caliber player in his own right.
Combine this momentum of the Bulls and their players with the Jazz getting the chance to show off their home-court advantage on national TV, and you have a pretty tantalizing game ahead.
1. Feb. 12 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Nothing beats out the intensity of division rivalry games, especially when the Jazz have the chance to make a statement against one of the biggest contenders to win the Western Conference Championship.
Earlier this season, Utah was unable to top Oklahoma City on the road but will now have their chance to change that at the Energy Solutions Arena in the near future.
Both of these teams have displayed their ability to light up the scoreboards (Thunder rank first in scoring; Jazz rank 11th), and this game should be no different than their pretty-high-scoring game from November, a 106-94 victory for OKC.
This opportunity to make a juggernaut like the Thunder stumble will have the under-the-radar Jazz salivating, and you can bet this is the game that they have circled on the calendar. For Oklahoma City, this will also certainly be a good test of their grit playing in hostile road situations, especially with the playoffs fast approaching, where there will be plenty of loud fans packed into every arena.