Utah Jazz

Made to Chill presented by Coors Light: Utah Jazz become first team to clinch berth in 2021 NBA Playoffs

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The Utah Jazz have clinched a spot in the 2021 NBA Playoffs (NBA Illustration)

The Utah Jazz have become the first team to clinch a berth in the 2021 NBA Playoffs with the Portland Trail Blazers falling to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

Without leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, who missed his fourth straight game due to an ankle injury, Utah was still able to hold things together and continue its winning ways to clinch a playoff birth.

As moments like these are Made to Chill, let's take a closer look at what this achievement means for the Jazz franchise…

Make that five in a row

Despite a loss on Saturday night to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah has now clinched a playoff berth for a fifth consecutive season.

Only two teams in the Western Conference currently own longer active playoff streaks. The Trail Blazers are working to clinch an eighth-consecutive postseason berth this year, while the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have made five straight playoff appearances, are close to being mathematically eliminated after losing 13 games in a row.

With respect to the Jazz franchise, the five-year postseason streak is now the second-longest in franchise history, surpassing the four-year streak set from 2007-2010.

The Jazz have a ways to go before matching the longest streak in franchise history, as Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan led the team to 20-straight postseason appearances from 1984-2003, a span that included two NBA Finals appearances. More on that later.

With an established core of Mitchell, Mike Conley Jr., Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic, the Jazz have essentially become a mainstay on the postseason stage.

The race for No. 1

Naturally, as the first team to clinch a playoff berth, the Jazz find themselves atop the Western Conference standings with a small cushion over the Phoenix Suns. Not only is Utah owner of the West's best record but it also maintains a hold on the best record in the NBA.

Finishing first would be a bit of history for this franchise.

The Jazz have finished first in the West just twice in the franchise's 46-year history. Utah's first-place finishes came in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, which, you guessed it, were two years that ended with trips to the NBA Finals.

As an oft-slept-on team in the Western Conference, Utah will look to make history repeat itself by fuelling yet another Finals run with a first-place finish.

Home, sweet home

Even with a home loss to the Timberwolves, Utah still owns an NBA-best home record of 26-4 in the 2020-21 season. Crowds may be limited but it's no secret that Utah's altitude is an aspect that gives the team one of the best home court advantages in the league.

Home court advantage isn't reserved for the first team to clinch a berth, though, as the Jazz still have to pick up seven more wins to clinch a top-four finish as the Denver Nuggets, owners of the West's fourth seed, are five games back in the standings and the tiebreaker between the two teams is yet to be decided.

Given Utah's dominance at home this season, home court advantage could be the difference in a long, gruelling postseason series.

A potential Game 7 in Salt Lake City is nightmare fuel for many teams.

All in all, the playoff berth has been secured, but this Jazz team still has plenty left to play for.

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