Last year with 10 games to go the Jazz were in a 3-team race with the Suns and the Rockets for the last and final playoff spot. They were down 2 games to the Rockets and tied with the Suns. The Jazz finished winning 7 of the last 10 and ended up finishing 2 games ahead of the Rockets and 3 ahead of the Suns. Flash forward one year and with 10 games to go the Jazz are in a 3 team race for the last and final playoff spot with the Lakers and the Mavs. With 10 games to go the Jazz were down 1 to the Lakers and 1 game ahead of the Mavs. Two games later the Jazz and Lakers are tied and the Mavs are 1 1/2 back.
This week could be the difference in what plays out as the Lakers and Mavs face each other tomorrow night at the Staples Center. If Lakers win they will own the tie breaker and since the Jazz also own the tie breaker over the Mavs, the Mavericks would almost certainly be out of contention. If the Mavericks win then the tie breaker will be best conference record which currently the Lakers hold the advantage with a 21-23 record compared to a 19-24 held by the Mavs.
I can’t stress how important this week is between the Jazz and Lakers. The Lakers play home against Dallas and Memphis and on the road against the Clippers and the Jazz play 3 home games against Portland, Denver (without Lawson) and New Orleans. If the Jazz win all 3 like they should and the Lakers lose 2 or 3 that would be enough most likely to cripple the Lakers and their chances of getting in. On the flip side if the Jazz falter and the Lakers somehow win all 3 or even 2 of them then the Lakers will hold the advantage with the remaining games.
With the Jazz playing the way they are right now I don’t see them losing any of the 3 games, but I also didn’t see them losing to the Knicks at home without their best 3 players. April is here and the playoffs feel like they have already started. Time to be clutch