NBA Playoffs Rooting Guide For Utah Jazz Fans

Apr 19, 2024, 3:45 PM | Updated: 3:47 pm

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket against Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mave...

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket against Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – If you’re a Utah Jazz fan wanting to watch the NBA playoffs, but don’t know who to cheer for, this rooting guide is for you.

While the Jazz have missed the postseason for the second straight season, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty at stake for the franchise over the next two months.

Here’s a handy guide on how to watch the playoffs for Jazz fans.

Utah Jazz Playoff Rooting Guide

First and foremost, the best result for the Jazz in almost every series is chaos.

That means first-round upsets, that means unhappy teammates, that means high-priced roster disappointments.

As currently constituted, the Jazz front office is lying in wait for superstars to be made available for trade this summer, and the best way for that to happen is for teams and superstars alike to close the season with a bad taste in their mouths.

No different than their 2022 first-round exit to the Dallas Mavericks that led to the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert trades, the Jazz are rooting for 29 other teams across the league to sour on themselves heading into the offseason.

Root Against Your Former Favorites

Speaking of Mitchell and Gobert, the toughest pill to swallow is that it’s in your best interest to root against the former Jazz All-Stars, and that includes Mike Conley.

With the Jazz owning the majority of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves draft capital over the next six seasons, the worse those franchises perform the better.

Rumors have already begun to swirl about Mitchell’s future with the Cavaliers, while the Timberwolves are facing an eye-popping luxury tax bill next season.

The less success they have, the more likely the Cavaliers and Timberwolves will feel forced to make dramatic moves, and those could significantly increase the value of the Jazz’s draft assets.

So cheer for the individual success of your former Jazz favorites, but root against their teams.

Root Against Tax Apron Teams

While the Timberwolves will face difficult decisions this offseason due to their rising tax bill, they’re not among the seven most expensive rosters heading into the summer.

The Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Clippers are all facing serious tax consequences this offseason, and an early playoff exit might make those payrolls hard to justify.

The Warriors have already been eliminated, but the Jazz will surely be watching the other six rosters closely to see who fails to make a deep postseason run.

With the exception of the Suns who face the aforementioned Timberwolves, Jazz fans should be rooting against these uber-expensive rosters each step of the way.

Series By Series Breakdown

Let’s take a quick look at each series to see who Jazz fans should be rooting for.

Easter Conference Playoffs

1. Boston Celtics vs. 8. (Miami Heat Or Chicago Bulls)

The easy answer here is to root for whichever team has the best chance of eliminating the Celtics coming out of the Play-In Tournament.

That means Jazz fans should hope Miami advances, and finds a way to somehow stun the Celtics without a healthy Jimmy Butler.

2. New York Knicks vs. 7. Philadelphia 76ers

Chaos would lead you to believe that rooting for the 76ers is the right answer, but had Joel Embiid been healthy all season, Philly likely would have been the East’s second-best team.

The 76ers have oodles of cap space this summer, so a disappointing loss to the Knicks may scare off some potential suitors, which is good for the Jazz.

Root for the Knicks.

3. Milwaukee Bucks vs. 6. Indiana Pacers

The Jazz were rumored to have kicked the tires on a Damian Lillard trade last season, and Giannis Antetokounmpo asking out of Milwaukee would be a dream scenario in Utah.

The Pacers beat the Bucks four times during the regular season, and Jazz fans should hope that continues against a Milwaukee roster that hasn’t looked right all season.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 5. Orlando Magic

As previously mentioned, what’s bad for the Cavaliers is good for the Jazz, making Orlando an easy rooting favorite.

Western Conference Playoffs

1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 8. (New Orleans Pelicans or Sacramento Kings)

Not unlike the Eastern Conference, an early exit from the West’s top seed is probably the best option for the Jazz, but it’s not quite that simple.

Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, the Thunder will remain one of the NBA’s top young teams, so a lopsided win over the Pelicans or Kings could spring a few intriguing players loose from those rosters.

On the flip side, the more early exits for the Thunder over the next few seasons the more likely it is that pieces from their core grow unhappy in Oklahoma City.

Fans should probably root against the Thunder, but this might be the most inconsequential first-round series for the Jazz.

2. Denver Nuggets vs. 7. Los Angeles Lakers

The Nuggets are a tax apron team, so the harder that bill is to justify the better. However, I am not going to try to convince Jazz fans to root for the Lakers.

A desperate offseason in Los Angeles could up the value of the 2027 first-round pick they owe the Jazz, so root for your Rocky Mountain neighbors in Denver.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves vs. 6. Phoenix Suns

As I’ve explained, rooting against the Timberwolves is the easy answer here.

But, this series is a win-win for the Jazz as the Suns could find themselves very desperate very quickly, with only Devin Booker to trade to recoup their lost draft capital.

4. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 5. Dallas Mavericks

The Clippers are a tax apron team, and have a bevy of interesting role players outside of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and James Harden that could interest the Jazz this summer.

However, there’s no better-case scenario for the Jazz than Luka Doncic growing tired of his time in Dallas and asking for a trade.

Root for the Clippers more than any other team in the first round.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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NBA Playoffs Rooting Guide For Utah Jazz Fans