NBA, sports, Utah Jazz

What’s at Stake Tonight in the NBA

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1. If Utah wins at home against the Phoenix Suns, the Jazz can be no lower than the #3 seed in the West. (Utah gets #2 if Dallas flubs it at home against San Antonio, which is resting both Duncan and Ginoboli. Curse you, Gregg Popovich.) If Utah loses, it will take the #5 seed and open on the road against those very same Suns Denver. With a win, Utah’s first round opponent would be either San Antonio or the Portland Trailblazers, who may be without the services of Brandon Roy. The Jazz should beat either team (although I would dread a match-up with the Spurs); more importantly, it would not draw the Lakers until the Conference Finals.

2. If Oklahoma City wins at home against Memphis (a given), all eight playoff teams in the West will have no less than 50 wins. Not too shabby. And yet the Finals champ will still probably come out of the East (Cleveland).

3. The eight seed in the East belongs to Chicago if the Bulls can win in Charlotte, or if the fast-fading Toronto Raptors lose at home to the Knicks. Regardless of the outcome, John Paxson and Vinny Del Negro apparently do not get along.

4. Not dependent on tonight’s action is the fact Kevin Durant will become the NBA’s youngest scoring champion at 21 years of age. Durant will be rewarded with a first-round draw against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, which have lost 6 of 10 going into tonight’s finale. It will not matter. (Although a Thunder upset would be the greatest thing to happen to the NBA since The Book of Basketball came out last fall.)

5. Sundiata Gaines’s three-pointer to beat the Cavs was ESPN’s #3 highlight of the regular season. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to this tonight.

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18 thoughts on “What’s at Stake Tonight in the NBA

  1. The Jazz stunk up the joint, losing 100-86. Way to go guys!

    Of course, Utah would not have been in that position last night had it not lost to the Timberwolves — twice.

    As Basketball John put it over at SLCDunk.com, “To me, though I’ll be cheering on the Jazz as hard as I can in the playoffs, tonight’s loss signifies the end of the season.”

    Utah opens in Denver on Saturday. The Jazz were 1-3 against the Northwest Division champs this season.

    Chicago beat Charlotte to clinch the #8 seed in the East. Well played, BM. Well played.

  2. I need to modify a statement from earlier this season. Taj Gibson is no longer the worst Bulls starter in history. He works hard. He tries. He’s actually not bad for a 45-year-old rookie. But he’s still not a starter. He’d be a nice 8th man on a good team, a Cliff Levingston type.

    The bad thing about the Bulls making the playoffs (and don’t get me wrong — I’m delighted) is that it validates all of the organization’s really crappy decisions this year. Letting high draft picks (Gordon and Ty Thomas) go for nothing. [Getting a draft pick back from Charlotte would be nice if it weren’t the same people that drafted James Johnson deciding what to do with it.] Valuing “scrap,” “heart,” and “hustle” (Kirk Hinrich at $50M and JANNERO PARGO) over actual talent. This organization is a mess. But I still love them so. Go Bulls.

    Seriously, though, who wins the VDN / Johnny Pax fight?

    Denver can be had. They’ve been playing like poop lately. Hang in there, Stock.

  3. How dare you scare quote Kirk Hinrich’s scrap, heart and hustle.

    How. Dare. You.

    Denver can be had, but not by Utah anytime during the last two seasons. The other mile high NBA town is like kryptonite to the Jazz. And I still have nightmares about Birdman.

    This all could have been avoided. Just win the game on your home court. Siiiiiigh.

  4. They weren’t scare quotes. Gar Forman actually used those words to explain why the Bulls turned down the C’s offer of expirings for Hinrich at the trade deadline, which would have positioned the Bulls nicely to sign two max guys. Because “Kurt” (VDN’s name for him) has heart. And hustle. Whaaaaa? This contradicts your own stated purpose for the stinkin’ season. IT MAKES ME SO ANGRY. And I LIKE Hinrich. (Gotta stay loyal to Kansas whities.) Even if he is the starting shooting guard, and averages less than 41% from the floor.

    Yeah, the Jazz really pooped their pants last night. What happened there?

  5. I still don’t know what happened to the Jazz last night. I’m composing a letter to David Stern today requesting that the NBA season be shortened to 81 games, because this isn’t the first time the Jazz have blown a key regular season finale. In ’99 it lost the finale and relinquished the #1 seed to the flippin’ Spurs. (You’ll recall Utah slipped to #3 that year and barely beat an upstart Kings squad before bowing out to the Blazers in six games.) It happened back in the late 80s, too, although my rigorous, lunch hour Googling has not revealed which year that was. I’m bitter.

    GAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

    Kansas white boys have a special place in my heart too, unless they’re Greg Ostertag.

  6. You know what else I don’t get? In the last 37 days of the season (beginning March 9 when Utah played at Chicago), Utah played 20 games — and had six back-to-backs. Take the back-to-back nights out and the Jazz played those remaining 8 games over 25 days.

    Why? Does this make any sense from a scheduling standpoint?

    Oh, right — we can’t play at home on Sundays.

    Siiiiiiiiiigh.

  7. Because I can’t let it go, here’s some additional background on those crippling regular season finale losses:

    1999 – Road game at San Antonio in the lockout year. Jazz lose 84-78 and SA gets the #1 seed. Malone was the only starter in double figures. Craptastic.

    1990 – Lost 100-88 in Houston, while the flippin’ Spurs beat the Suns 108-93 to clinch the Midwest. (The Spurs finished that season on a 7-game winning streak; Utah was 3-4 during the same stretch.) Utah went on to lose in five games to Phoenix in round one, dropping the decisive fifth game at home, 104-102.

    Thank you, Basketball Reference.com.

    I needed to relive that pain in this sad echo chamber of a comment thread.

  8. Echo chamber? What am I, chopped liver?

    The Bulls have also had some pretty sorry season finale defeats, including just last season when they could have secured a 6 seed and a winning record, but “get be blowed out” [Magic Johnsonism] by the Raptors. and 2006-07, when they coughed up not only a potential 50 win season, but also the 2nd seed, by losing to the lowly Nets.

    That’s why I was so delightfully surprised by the win last night. I really didn’t see it coming.

    But your Jazz have 53 wins. Don’t be so glum, my man. I think they can win. Deron Williams is gonna play out of his mind. Believe, Stock, believe.

  9. And where is Yellow Thunder when you need him? Thanks to League Pass Broadband, I watched Steph Curry put the finishing touches on a not-quite ROY campaign by scoring 40 last night. Did you hear about that game? How Nellie played Devean George AFTER he had fouled out, and ordered the rest of the dudes on the bench (guys he apparently hates) to go to the locker room? Can we get some expert analysis on this, please?

  10. Yeah, seriously, where is Yellow Thunder on this?

    You, my friend, are of course not chopped liver. I was just worried that after three consecutive comments marked by increasing self-pity, you — nay, everyone — had silently renounced my friendship and resolved never to think of me again.

    I hope I’ll be in the believin’ mindset come Saturday. Until then, I’ll be on the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s watching 13 Going On 30.

    (Does VDN really call Kirk Hinrich “Kurt”?)

  11. I think it’s funny that Jennifer Garner went to Denison. I feel like it settles an important debate. We have Allison Janney, multiple Emmy award winner; they have Mrs. Affleck. (Although seasons one and two of Alias were pretty stellar.)

    And, yes. VDN has called Hinrich “Kurt” many times. Probably reason number one why Paxson wants to fire him so badly, not to mention jam his finger into his chest and grab his tie.

  12. I had a boss who began conference calls by doing roll call and asking if “Stephen” — my buddy Steve — was there. He hated being called Stephen. He corrected her the first four or five times it happened, and it actually stuck for a couple weeks, then she flat out forgot again (or just didn’t care) and called him “Stephen” for over a year. He just gave up. The poor guy. You could literally hear him sigh every week before he said, “Here.” I bet that’s what Kirk Hinrich feels like.

    He and the team should start calling Vinny Vance Del Negro.

  13. I am here friends. What am I supposed to add here? My team didn’t make the playoffs for the 3rd or 4th straight year. The coach and ownership is a punchline. Following them is like taking a really close look of a turd I just laid down – sure it’s fun for a few moments but after that it just stinks. You might call it a crappy experience.

    We are drafting 4th next year – even when your team is good at something (sucking), it isn’t good enought at that to let me get excited about the John Wall era. Wake me up when Kobe wins another one and shows me that there is no justice in the world. [Sobs silently and slinks off the bed, cradling a pint of Haagen-Daaz.]

  14. I can’t get behind Curry – not that he wasn’t the best choice at that slot but we need toughness around here. A modern day Anthony Mason or Xavier McDaniel if you will. I’d settle for Ari when someone owes him money. Oh wait – we pay 6’9″ career backup center Ronny friggin Turiaf a bazillion dollars to log 20 minutes/5 pts a game. [Slinks off to sleep, morose.]

  15. In the words of the guy who sings at the Miss America Pageant every year, “There she is.”

    Don’t despair for your Warriors, Coach — I think Jon Scheyer will still be available at #4.

    I was actually looking at the Warriors payroll the other day (do not ask how or why this scenario played out), and when I saw Turiaf’s salary I could not contain myself from exclaiming, “Rothballs!”

    Surely you must be pulling for someone these playoffs, Coach. Perhaps the Oklahoma City (Yellow) Thunder?

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