As of Tuesday morning, the Jazz sit atop the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoff standings. Sunday’s victory over the Lakers clinched a playoff birth, now with just two games to play, all that’s left in the regular season is finalizing each teams post-season position.
Today we’re going to go through the Jazz’s potential playoff matchups, because from now until Saturday when the post-season begins, a lot can happen.
We start with the possibility of the Jazz having the third seed in the West. Back in January, the scenario seemed lightyears away, however, now, its a real situation. The Blazers, who currently hold the third seed, have lost four in a row, including a Monday night defeat to the Nuggets. A Jazz win on Tuesday at home against Golden State, would mean that Portland and Utah’s game Wednesday in the regular season finale against each other would determine the third seed.
If the Jazz were to lock up the number three seed, if the playoffs started today, they’d face the Spurs. Utah is 3-1 against San Antonio this season, losing in overtime in their most recent matchup in Texas.
Though its still the Spurs, this isn’t the same Gregg Popovich team you’re used to seeing. Their 50-win season streak is over, and Kawhi Leonard’s playing status is still uncertain. This would be a tough series, however, given Utah’s success against them in the regular season, the Jazz should be able to close out San Antonio. That being said, all that could change depending on the availability of Leonard.
If the Jazz were to get the fourth seed, as of today, they’d face up against the Pelicans. This is a matchup that most fans are wanting. Not only has Utah defeated New Orleans three times this year, two of the wins have been over 15 points.
Though the Pelicans have been playing well recently, including winning four straight, their success doesn’t go much further than the play of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. This matchup would pair Davis up against Rudy Gobert, in a battle of two of the league’s best big-men. This is a series that I personally couldn’t see going longer than six games, in favor of the Jazz.
“With the Pelicans, the Jazz I think would be fine,” says Jazz play-by-play commentator Craig Bolerjack. “AD (Anthony Davis) is a terrific player, but there’s not a lot of depth there.”
Listen to the whole interview Bill Riley had with Craig Bolerjack on Monday:
Finally, the other team that the Jazz could potentially face in the first round is the Thunder. OKC is 3-1 against the Jazz this season, and two of those wins are of twenty-plus points. Then again, they haven’t played since December, and the Jazz are obviously a much different team now.
The trio of Westbrook, George and Melo are still a daunting presence however, with playoff experience in all three of those players. However, the Thunder have experienced major problems in trying to fit these superstars together, and the Jazz would most likely have home court advantage .
Fun stat line: Utah hasn’t held home court advantage in the first round since the 2001 playoffs.
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