Jazz Nation Ends Season On A High Note

Apr+23%2C+2017%3B+Salt+Lake+City%2C+UT%2C+USA%3B+Utah+Jazz+forward+Gordon+Hayward+%2820%29+shoots+the+ball+over+LA+Clippers+guard+Chris+Paul+%283%29+during+the+first+quarter+in+game+four+of+the+first+round+of+the+2017+NBA+Playoffs+at+Vivint+Smart+Home+Arena.+Mandatory+Credit%3A+Chris+Nicoll-USA+TODAY+Sports
Apr 23, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots the ball over LA Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) during the first quarter in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 23, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots the ball over LA Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) during the first quarter in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 23, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots the ball over LA Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) during the first quarter in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Boren, Sports Editor

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 It had been several long years since the Utah Jazz made a postseason appearance going into this year. Over the course of those trying times, the Jazz roster saw dramatic changes, as did the head coaching position. For what seemed like an eternity, the team looked to pick up the pieces and rebuild their organization after the Deron Williams, Paul Millsap, and Carlos Boozer era.

The young team showed signs of promise early on, and excitement grew as draft pick Gordon Hayward slowly began developing as a player. Other acquisitions such as Frenchman Rudy Gobert and Rodney Hood added to the improving Jazz lineup.  While the team seemed steadily improved, there was still one thing missing — experience.

Although the individual players on the Jazz were fast improving, they still could not find ways to win. The margins of defeat were shrinking dramatically from years past, but they still couldn’t get over the hump. Then, Dennis Lindsey the general manager of the Utah Jazz made an aggressive move bringing in two veteran players, George Hill, and Boris Diaw. It seemed like the pieces were finally falling into place as the Jazz started to win games. However, injuries plagued the team this year limiting some of the key players.

“It’s not really fair to say we weren’t playing to our full potential with all of the injuries we had this season,” Gordon Hayward said in a post-season interview. “Because if some of those players hadn’t have gotten injured it wouldn’t have given other players a chance to step up and play a role in our success.”

Despite the odds, the Jazz overcame adversity and landed 51 wins in the regular season, the most since the 2009-10 season. As the playoffs grew near, excitement filled the air. In a state so divided between BYU and Utah, it’s something special to see when Utahans all come together on common ground to support the their home team, the Jazz.

Even at Highland, students and teachers are able to bond over their love for the team. Jazz Shirts and jerseys were in abundance at school over the course of the season, especially in the playoffs. Chatter about the Jazz’s odds of winning and the future of the team were hot topics of debate in classrooms and hallways.

When game three of the first round of playoffs against the clippers rolled around, fans were eager to watch their team play in their first home playoff game since 2012. The atmosphere in Vivint arena was electric and several players on the Clips even commented on Utah’s top-notch crowd noting how hard it was to get a win in our building.

After a very physical matchup with LA that lasted the full seven games, the Jazz came out on top, winning their first playoff series since 2010. Unfortunately, Utah was not able to carry its momentum over into the next series against the well-rested Golden State Warriors. The matchup against the super team did not go well for Jazz nation, but players were grateful for the experience and hope it will help in years to come.

While there is much to celebrate, there are also several questions left unanswered. With All-star Gordon Hayward, and veteran George Hill’s contracts expired, Jazz fans are holding their breath to see whether they resign with the Jazz or look to move on elsewhere.

“I really hope Hayward stays,” Jazz fan Max Oakland said. “I mean, he’s the backbone of our squad, we would really be missing him if he left.”

Despite being bombarded with question as to what his future holds, Hayward remains quiet as to what his plans following this season are. All fans can do now, is wait and see.

Between a new stadium, and a successful young group of players and coaches for that matter, the future of the Jazz organization is very exciting.

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