Utah Jazz: Fourth Seed Within Reach After Win Over Clippers
The Utah Jazz picked up a crucial win over the Los Angeles Clippers to keep fourth place in the West for a little longer.
While it’s likely going to be a series against the Clippers anyway, home court could be vastly important for a Jazz team that before Monday had lost 14 of their last 15 to Chris Paul and Co.
The calculation was simple for the Jazz: lose to the Clippers on Monday night and relinquish fourth place as well the tiebreaker.
In a game where the Clippers threatened to get away on numerous occasions, the Jazz hung in there to steal the 114-108 victory late.
The win sets the Jazz up for their four-game road trip, but Utah also has the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA.
The Jazz visit the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers this week, play the Clippers again the following Saturday and end the season with a trip to the Golden State Warriors. All that before hosting the now-Western Conference leading San Antonio Spurs in the regular-season finale.
Of all the remaining games, it’s the visit to Los Angeles that might be the deciding factor in who has home-court advantage in this seemingly inevitable first-round matchup.
If the Jazz can win and even up the season series at 2-2, the tiebreaker is decided on conference record, which the Jazz lead at the moment.
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The problem for the Jazz is the ease at which the Clippers finish their season. With plenty of winnable games, a strong finish is in order and with it, the fourth seed and home-court advantage.
The Clippers play just five more games against teams with a record better than .500 and only one of them is on the road.
Comparatively, the Jazz play nine games against teams better than .500, six of them on the road.
Given the recent history and struggles the Jazz have had matching up with the Clippers, home-court advantage could end up being the difference. With the return of playoff basketball to Utah on the horizon, the fans are anticipating it begins at home.
“Tonight had that home-court advantage feel and every time the crowd’s like that, we feed off that.”
The celebrations have already begun with the Jazz all but guaranteed postseason basketball, but it could be short-lived playing on the road against a team that has recently had their number.
It’s a season-defining period for the Jazz, who will need to finish the season strong while others, such as the Warriors and Spurs, have the luxury of resting players and easing into the playoffs.
Playoffs were a must for 2016-17 and that box has now all but been checked off. In doing that, Jazz fans now have a newfound expectation of reaching the second round. The playoffs start now in Utah, with the quest for the fourth seed being just the start.