Ben AndersonSportsUtah Jazz

Jazz Drop To Second Seed After Loss To Suns

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz find themselves in unfamiliar territory after their loss to the Phoenix Suns — in second place in the NBA standings.

For the first time since February 1, the Jazz no longer own the top record in the NBA as the surging Suns overtook the Jazz with a commanding 121-100 win.

The Jazz were playing without Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley while the Suns extended their win streak to three games to take over the top seed for the first time this season.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 22 points while Devin Booker had 31 for the Suns in the victory.

Jazz Drop Out Of The Top Seed

The Jazz now find themselves tied for the best record in the NBA with just nine games left to play. The Jazz took over the best record in the league from the Los Angeles Clippers on February 2 after a 117-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons, moving to 16-5 on the season.

It’s a spot the Jazz held for 87 days and 32 games before the levy broke thanks to the play of the Suns over the last three months.

After opening the season 8-8, the Suns are 37-10 and now have the NBA’s top spot. The Jazz are just 5-5 over their last 10 games and 7-7 since April 5, playing their worst stretch of basketball as the postseason rapidly approaches.

The Jazz now play their next five games at home before finishing with three of their four final games on the road.

Here’s what the remaining schedule looks like:

Utah Jazz

vs. Toronto (26-37)

vs. San Antonio (31-31)

vs. San Antonio (31-31)

vs. Denver (42-21)

vs. Houston (16-47)

@ Golden State (31-32)

vs. Portland (35-28)

@ Oklahoma City (21-42)

@ Sacramento (26-37)

Based on current standings, the Jazz will only play two teams with above .500 and only one road game against a team with a chance to qualify for the postseason play-in tournament.

The Suns face a number of the same opponents as the Jazz, though their schedule is far more road heavy.

Phoenix Suns

@ Oklahoma City (21-42)

@ Cleveland (21-42)

@ Atlanta (34-30)

vs. New York (35-28)

@ Los Angeles Lakers (36-27)

@ Golden State (31-21)

vs. Portland (35-28)

@ San Antonio (31-31)

@ San Antonio (31-31)

The Suns will play seven of their final nine games on the road, finishing with seven consecutive teams who will be trying to play their way into the postseason play-in tournament, or improve their playoff seeding.

Phoenix owns the tie-breaker over the Jazz having swept the season series 3-0, so for the Jazz to retake the top spot in the West, they would have to finish one game ahead of the Suns in the win column.

For what it’s worth, FiveThirtyEight, the popular data analysis website projects the Jazz to finish the season with 52 wins and the top record in the NBA, while Phoenix finishes with 51 wins.

How the Jazz finish the season will be largely dependent on how quickly they got Conley and Mitchell back in the lineup, and how Quin Snyder chooses to rest his players down the stretch.

The Jazz are set to announce the findings from Mitchell’s re-evaluation on the ankle injury that has kept him off the floor for the Jazz last seven games. Conley meanwhile indicated his hamstring injury wasn’t dire on an appearance on ESPN.

Nuggets Might Hold Keys To The West

While the Jazz and Suns will battle for the top spot in the West, the Denver Nuggets may be the team both franchises will watch most closely to close the season.

The Nuggets sit one half-game back of the Clippers for the third seed in the West while the two teams have split the series 1-1 so far.

Denver will travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Saturday with an opportunity to overtake them for the third seed in the standings by a half-game while also wrestling away the season tiebreaker.

The Nuggets would then have eight games to fend off the Clippers in hopes of avoiding the LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

While the Nuggets will be chasing heavily after the third seed in the West, the top seed in the conference may become far less desirable as it would set up a second-round series against either the Lakers or Clippers.

Instead, both the Jazz and Suns may prefer to fall to the second seed, hoping to face the injured Nuggets in the second round rather than hosting either James or Kawhi Leonard.

Adding further intrigue, the Jazz host the Nuggets on May 7 and could give Denver a boost in the playoff standings with a loss.

Here is how Denver will close the season:

Denver Nuggets

@ Los Angeles Clippers (43-21)

@ Los Angeles Lakers (36-27)

vs. New York Knicks (35-28)

@ Utah Jazz (45-18)

vs. Brooklyn Nets (43-21)

@ Charlotte Hornets (30-32)

@ Minnesota Timberwolves (20-44)

@ Detroit Pistons (19-44)

@ Portland Trail Blazers (35-28)

It’s one of the tougher remaining schedules in the NBA, though it isn’t unreasonable to think the Nets, Jazz, and Trail Blazers could all be resting players over the final handful of games of the season depending on the standings.

This is what the Clippers schedule looks like to close the year:

Los Angeles Clippers

vs. Denver Nuggets (42-21)

vs. Toronto Raptors (26-37)

vs. Los Angeles Lakers (36-27)

vs. New York Knicks (35-28)

@ Toronto Raptors (26-37)

@  Charlotte Hornets (30-32)

@ Houston Rockets (16-47)

@ Oklahoma City Thunder (21-42)

The Clippers certainly have the more advantageous schedule to close the season but could feel added pressure should they lose on Saturday to the Nuggets.

With just nine games remaining on the season, the Jazz, Suns, Nuggets, Clippers, and Lakers will all be closely watching the scoreboards as they await the final playoff seeding.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker