The Utah Jazz get back underway in the second half of the season on Friday, as they travel to OKC to play on ESPN. The Jazz have 25 games remaining, and currently have the sixth best record in the West, sitting at 32-25.
The Jazz are one game back of the Houston Rockets, two games back of the Portland Trailblazers, and five games back of the Thunder. Truthfully, over the a 25 game stretch, minus serious injuries, its nearly impossible to make up give games over a 25 game stretch, so the highest the Jazz may be able to climb is the 4th seed in the West.
With that said, here’s the strength of schedule of the teams just ahead, and behind the Jazz in the standings.
The Jazz have the easiest strength of schedule of any Western Conference team the rest of the way, and the second easiest in the entire league. The Jazz will have opportunities to make up room on both OKC and the second seeded Denver Nuggets, playing both teams twice. Even if the Jazz were to sweep those matchups, they’d be three games, and five games back.
The Lakers currently have the 10th seed, and unfortunately for LeBron fans, have the 9th toughest schedule remaining. The Jazz are four games up on the Lakers.
The 9th seeded Sacramento Kings have the 21st toughest schedule remaining, with games against Milwaukee, Golden State, OKC, Boston (2x), and Philly. The Jazz are two games up on the Kings.
The 8th seeded Los Angeles Clippers have the 23rd toughest schedule remaining, but basically blew up their roster for the future of the franchise. They’ll still play hard, but likely aren’t talented enough to win enough games to stay in the playoff picture. The Jazz are one game up on the Clippers.
The Spurs own the 7th seed in the West, and the 19th toughest schedule remaining. The Jazz are tied with San Antonio in the standings.
The Rockets are one spot ahead of the Jazz in the standings, and have the 15th toughest schedule remaining schedule. Houston should get Chris Paul and Clint Capella back to start the second half of the year, and could go on a tear.
The Trailblazers have the fourth best record in the West, and the 17th toughest schedule remaining. The Blazers were the only team in the Western Conference playoff picture that actively tried to get better at the trade deadline, adding former Jazzmen Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter.
You can find a full list of the rankings here.
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