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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...
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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

See...
One of the questions that bubbled up after the Jazz on Sunday got that X next to their name, qualifying for the playoffs by winning 28 of their past 33 games, was this: How would they react now — with two regular-season games to play, with jostling for favorable playoff positioning still in the mix?

Full Story from The Salt Lake Tribune...
The NBA updated a scenario chart (after releasing one earlier with errors) of the scenarios entering Tuesday night's games.

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The Donovan Mitchell-Rudy Gobert era produces its first playoff team.

EXHALE.

Utah’s improbable season after the loss of Gordon Hayward just received its capstone achievement: a playoff berth. With today’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Utah Jazz clinched their second playoff berth in as many years. While last year’s Jazz team was the first Jazz team since the Corbin lockout year team led by Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to make the playoffs, this year’s team was written off before the season began.

Most of us—myself and most of our site included—had written this Jazz team off either before the season or by January after the Atlanta Hawks loss. But the Utah Jazz have proven everyone wrong while going on win streak after win streak to amass a 28 and 5 record over their last 33 games to get to 12 games over .500 and clinch a playoff berth. For those that believed this was possible in January, kudos to you. We will gladly eat all the crow you serve us.

Full Story from SLC Dunk...