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OKLAHOMA CITY — Now that the playoffs are here, the next item on the Jazz’s to-do list is beating Oklahoma City in their best-of-seven series.
No pressure, of course.
This year’s playoffs mean absolutely nothing in the big picture to the Jazz.
Except that the playoffs actually are the big picture.
Teams play the regular season so they can appear in the postseason. Ask the Golden State Warriors how concerned they are about winning regular-season titles. They don’t give it a second thought.
Meanwhile, all that Jazz success down the stretch will mean half as much if they don’t win at least one series.
Under the circumstances, going 29-6 over the final three months was quite an accomplishment. But fewer than half those wins came against playoff-bound teams (12 of 29). Seven of their last nine games were against teams that were already locked into a playoff spot, or entirely out of the picture.
In short, how big a deal was the Jazz’s historic finish on the season?
They’ll let you know this week.
This is where the Jazz can prove they’re truly moving forward after losing Gordon Hayward and George Hill; whether they’re a team of the future or simply an overachieving bunch that caught lightning in a bottle. Strip away the emotion from the Jazz’s late-season run and the playoffs will make it easier to see if they’re actually just the flavor of the month.
“There’s a lot ways to look at it,” coach Quin Snyder said. “Some of that, you guys (media) are going to determine. I think there’s success in the season independent of success in the postseason.”
In some ways, the Jazz caught a break with their early-season adversity. They got their injuries out of the way quickly. Rudy Gobert’s absences were contained to the first three months. That left him with plenty of energy for the stretch run. Dante Exum returned in time to get in shape for the playoffs. Only Thabo...
The Western Conference playoff matchup between the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder and fifth-seeded Utah Jazz is the embodiment of a Super Mario Bros. mystery block: No one really knows what to expect. And either of these hard-nosed defensive clubs could put a scare into the dominant ...
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PORTLAND — Front office executives, journalists and credentialed guests all huddled in front of the big-screen televisions inside the dining and media areas at the Moda Center on Wednesday.
As the final hours of the 2017-18 regular season ticked, there was so much uncertainty surrounding the first-round Western Conference playoff matchups that the live games were being watched in suspense on the screens.
Then finally, ahead of the Utah Jazz-Portland Trail Blazers regular-season finale, the announcer told the crowd “Denver is officially eliminated” as the Minnesota Timberwolves grabbed hold of the eight spot.
The local announcer also told everyone that Portland would be facing New Orleans with home-court advantage for the first time since 2009.
So as the teams approached midcourt for the tipoff, both the Jazz and Trail Blazers also became aware that the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans would be their opponents, but the final outcome would determine the seeding.
After 48 minutes of action, the Portland Trail Blazers came out on top, 102-93, entering the postseason as the third seed, which is the highest for the franchise since 2000.
Utah (48-34) is now the fifth seed in the playoffs against OKC after suffering the loss on the second night of a back-to-back.
The NBA playoffs will begin on Saturday, April 14th, but the NBA has yet to release the times and dates of each series.
The Jazz had no answers for former Weber State star Damian Lillard.
The three-time NBA All-Star set the tone from the opening half, dropping 19 points in the first two quarters as the Jazz fell behind 55-41.
Lillard would end with 36 points on the night, nailing all the big shots down the stretch as the Jazz trailed by as many as 24. Lillard went 4-for-6 in the fourth quarter with nine points.
“I think this year we really got a chance to show our growth and our hard work and...
Buckle up. There isn’t a single playoff matchup set yet.
There is nothing perfunctory about the final night of the NBA’s 2017-2018 season. There are 12 games on the schedule, including a de facto play-in game between the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves. Even the 15 teams with playoff berths clinched have plenty at stake as zero playoff matchups set. There are only teams even locked into specific seeds after 81 games.
Here is a rundown of the battle for seeding in each conference as well as a look at what is at stake for every team still in the playoff picture:
East No. 1 seed: Toronto Raptors (59-22)
This is locked in.
East No. 2 seed: Boston Celtics (54-27)
This is locked in.
East No. 3 seed: Philadelphia 76ers (51-30) OR Cleveland Cavaliers (50-31)
THE 76ERS ARE THE NO. 3 SEED IF: They beat the Bucks OR they lose and Cleveland also loses to the Knicks.
THE CAVALIERS ARE THE NO. 3 SEED IF: They beat the Knicks AND the 76ers lose to the Bucks. They would have the same record, but Cleveland earns the tiebreaker by virtue of being the Central division.
East No. 4 seed: 76ers OR Cavaliers
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