The Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets have some playoff history, but not a lot of it
Tribune file photo
Utah Jazz's Carlos Boozer (5) and Utah Jazz's Deron Williams (8) keep an eye on Denver Nuggets' Ty Lawson (3) in the second half as the Jazz face the Nuggets during in the third game of the first round playoff series at EnergySolutions Arena in 2010.
As longtime division rivals, first in the NBA’s old Midwest Division and again the current Northwest, the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets obviously have quite an extensive history together.
The weird thing is, that extensive history doesn’t really extend to the postseason.
When the teams kick off their first-round matchup on Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., it will mark just the fifth postseason series between them. This will be the third time they’ve met in the first round, and their first playoff matchup since 2010. Here’s a look back at how those previous four series went:
1983-84: No. 2 Jazz 3, No. 7 Nuggets 2 (first round)
After nine years of mostly mediocrity, the Jazz won the Midwest Division and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history
. Their first-ever postseason game, on April 17, 1984 at the Salt Palace, saw them claim a 123-121 victory. However, the Nuggets won Games 2 and 3, putting Utah on the brink of elimination in the best-of-five series and prompting Denver Post columnist Woody Paige to write, “The Jazz have no heart.” League scoring leader Adrian Dantley scored 39 points to carry the Jazz in Game 4, and in the finale, they blew Denver out 127-111. The Jazz were then defeated 4-2 by the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals.
1984-85: No. 2 Nuggets 4, No. 6 Jazz 1 (Western semifinals)
After going just 41-41 in the regular season, there were not high expectations surrounding the team. That changed, though, with a shocking first-round upset of the Houston Rockets team led by the then-Akeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. Utah was quickly brought back down to earth in the second round by the Midwest champion Nuggets, though. Denver averaged 125 ppg in the series and constantly overwhelmed the Jazz with their offense. Utah’s only victory in the series was a 131-123 win in Game 3 that briefly gave them some hope. Rookie guard John Stockton averaged 7.8 points and 4.8 assists in only about 19 minutes per game in the series.
1993-94: No. 5 Jazz 4, No. 8 Nuggets 3 (Western semifinals)
After knocking off the Spurs in the first round, the Jazz were suddenly matched up with a Nuggets team that was the first in NBA history to pull off a No. 8 upset of a No. 1 seed, as Denver had shocked the SuperSonics. And initially it seemed as though Denver had used up all its magic against Seattle, as the Jazz rolled to a 3-0 series lead. However, on the verge of a sweep, the Jazz fell 83-82 in Game 4, then also dropped tight contests in Games 5 and 6, and suddenly were facing a winner-take-all Game 7. There, Karl Malone racked up 31 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, and the Nuggets were held to 38.4% shooting in a 91-81 Jazz victory. In the subsequent Western Conference finals, the Jazz lost 4-1 to the Rockets.
2009-10: No. 5 Jazz 4, No. 4 Nuggets 2 (first round)
The top two teams in the Northwest Division finished with identical 53-29 records. Carmelo Anthony’s series-high 42 points in Game 1 staked Denver to an early lead, while the Jazz were dealt a double-whammy when sharpshooting center Mehmet Okur was lost to a torn Achilles. Still, with stars Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer leading the way, and a key bench performance from (now-Nuggets forward) Paul Millsap, Utah won the next three games. Denver staved off elimination in Game 5, but in Game 6, Boozer poured in 22 points and 20 rebounds as the Jazz closed out Denver. The Jazz’s playoff run was brought to a sudden halt in the Western semis, as the eventual champion Lakers earned a four-game sweep.