The Utah Jazz have been knocked out of the NBA Playoffs and there are suggestions they are headed for major surgery to their roster.
Is that it for the Utah Jazz as we know it?
The Jazz have been knocked out of the first round of the playoffs after a 98-96 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, losing the series 4-2.
Bojan Bogdanovic had a chance to win it for the Jazz with an open look at a 3-pointer in the dying seconds but missed, seeing Utah crash out of the playoff and the ramifications could be dramatic.
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Utah has now made it to the playoffs for six-straight seasons but has continually bowed out early in the post-season and that was the case again this time around. It was even worse considering Mavericks star Luka Doncic was injured for the opening few games of the series.
ESPN NBA personality Michael Wilbon suggested earlier in the week that Utah would have to “blow up” the team and start again should it go down to Dallas.
“Utah is going away. They are going to blow that team up,” Wilbon told The Tony Kornheiser Show.
“I don’t know if they are going to keep Donovan Mitchell and try to build around him or if they’ll trade Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. I don’t know the answer to that or if anybody does. I think it depends on the offers that are out there.”
Donovan Mitchell is the most likely piece to be on the trade table given he would attract a lot of league-wide interest although Rudy Gobert is another option.
Matt Barnes also predicted there would be big changes at Utah should they not make it past the second round, let alone the first, and maintained that on Twitter on Friday.
“They’ve been one of the better teams in the Western Conference for the last two to three years and all they have to show for that is two first-round exits and a second-round exit,” Barnes said on ESPN’s ‘NBA Today ‘ earlier in the month.
“I’ve continually said: ‘Who is going to be their consistent next second guy?’. They’re missing that second key guy and don’t be surprised if this falls flat on his face again, if Donovan Mitchell leaves Utah.”
Mitchell had 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds on Friday to lead the way for the Jazz but it was not enough with Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson (24 points) coming up big for Dallas.
The Mavericks will face the Phoenix Suns in the second round.
PAUL ROLLS BACK THE CLOCK AS PELICANS BOW OUT
Chris Paul rolled back the years to finish with a perfect shooting game as the Phoenix Suns beat the New Orleans Pelicans 115-109 to eliminate them from the postseason.
The Suns had the added boost of Devin Booker returning to the team after missing games due to a hamstring injury, but it was Paul who stole the limelight from his superstar teammate.
Paul, who turns 37 next week, was 14-from-14 throughout the four quarters, finishing with 33 points along with 4 rebounds and 8 assists.
Booker was understandably slow to start the game, but he came up clutch in the fourth quarter to finish with 13 points.
It wasn’t an easy victory by any means as the Suns had to put on an offensive clinic in the third and the fourth, outscoring the Pelicans 77-51 in the second half to lock up the victory.
New Orleans star Brandon Ingram was once again the leading light for the Pelicans, with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 11 assists.
It marked an emotional return to New Orleans for 12-time NBA All-Star Paul, who began his professional career in the city with six seasons for the then New Orleans Hornets.
“I always say this city raised me,” Paul said afterwards. “It’s nice to do it here in New Orleans… It’s home for me. I root for this team when I’m not playing against them. So to beat them was nice.” The Suns were also buoyed by the return from injury of Devin Booker, whose 13-point haul included a crucial three-pointer late in the fourth quarter to edge Phoenix ahead.
“Having Book back was everything,” Paul added. “Down the stretch they started to blitz and they forgot we had Devin Booker standing over there on the wing.” Booker meanwhile paid tribute to the performance of the 36-year-old Paul. “I’ve been watching him since I was eight years old,” Booker said of Paul. “It doesn’t surprise me.
“The most surprising thing is after the games we dropped, the disrespect that was put on his name. He’s a first nerd Hall-of-Famer, arguably the GOAT in his position. And he deserves those flowers.”
SIXERS, HARDEN SILENCE CRITICS WITH 35PT RAPTORS THRASHING
The Philadelphia 76ers are marching on to the Eastern Conference semis after defeating the Toronto Raptors 132-97 at the Scotiabank Arena to secure a 4-2 series win.
The Sixers will now face the East’s No. 1 seed Miami in the next round.
The contest was a neck-and-neck affair for the first half, with the Sixers gaining the upper hand in the opening quarter before Toronto hit back in the second as Philadelphia held a slender one-point advantage at half-time.
However, the Sixers managed to limit the Raptors to just the 17 points in the third while racking up 37 of their own to blow out their lead to 21 points.
It was a similar story in the final quarter, with Philly virtually on cruise control as James Harden, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey took the wheel to end Toronto’s postseason hopes with a 37-point differential.
The victory was the perfect response possible for the Sixers and especially Harden after the star was accused by ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith of potentially tanking games in order to remove Doc Rivers as Philly coach and bring in Mike D’Antoni.
Harden ended the game with 22 points, 15 assists and 6 rebounds and was perfect from the charity stripe.
Embiid, who has been bothered by torn ligaments in his thumb in recent games, delivered a dominant display which also included 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
“As soon as we lost game five and knew we were going back to Toronto, we knew it was going to be a fight,” Sixers star Tyrese Maxey said afterwards.
“Whether we get hit in the mouth we get back up and keep fighting, and that’s what we did tonight.
“I just knew I had to be extremely aggressive. Joel (Embiid) told me on the plane on the way up here ‘We lose if we don’t be aggressive.’ And that’s what I tried to do.”
The Sixers edged into a 62-61 lead at halftime after two hard-fought opening quarters.
But Philadelphia erupted after the break to outscore Toronto 37-17 in the third quarter and effectively ice the contest.
The Sixers kept the hammer down in the fourth quarter, never giving Toronto any kind of opportunity to cut into Philadelphia’s double-digit lead.
RAPTORS 97 SIXERS 132 (PHI wins 4-2)
PELICANS 109 SUN 115 (PHX wins 4-2)
JAZZ v MAVERICKS (DAL leads 3-2)
Originally published as ‘They are going to blow it up’: NBA team crashes, faces major surgery