Today is the last day of the preliminary round of the Las Vegas Summer League. The tournament starts after, and the best teams advance, and keep playing games. The losers are done. The more games you play the more you gain from the summer league experience. The more practices you have. The more minutes there are to evaluate players. The more you play the more it benefits your franchise. And it's easier to play for longer if you're playing against bad teams. And what's up for grabs today is actually instrumental to future LVSL success: a first round bye. That's right folks, the top eight seeds get a first round bye in this tournament. And the Utah Jazz still have a chance to be one of those teams. Here are the standings so far:
|3||New Orleans Pelicans||3||0||100.0%||7.5||12||4||6||22|
|4||NBA D-League Select||2||1||66.7%||7.0||-7||20||10||23|
|7||New York Knicks||2||0||100.0%||4.5||5||10||x||15|
|8||San Antonio Spurs||2||0||100.0%||4.5||-5||15||x||10|
|10||Portland Trail Blazers||1||1||50.0%||3.5||-9||13||x||4|
|17||Golden State Warriors||1||2||33.3%||6.0||8||-1||-19||-12|
|18||Los Angeles Lakers||1||2||33.3%||7.0||-13||8||-10||-15|
I've grouped these teams mainly by the most obvious method, wins and losses. There are three groupings, teams better than Utah, teams Utah is in direct competition with, and then teams current worse than Utah. As you can see the Jazz are #9, and the top #8 get that first round bye. The teams with an "x" for their final, tie-braking, +/- for Tuesday have a game left to play. That's 6 teams. Three of them are the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, and San Antonio Spurs. The Jazz beat two of those teams head to head in Utah last week. But right now they are ahead of the Jazz. Utah will need to win their last game of the prelims, hope one of those three teams loses today, and end up with a higher, positive +/-.
So who do the Jazz play today? And is is possible to win by enough to get that first round bye?
Las Vegas Summer League Games: Final Preliminary Round
- 1:00 PM MT: Trail Blazers vs. Spurs -- Portland is in "win now mode" just as much as Utah is. So at least they'll put up a fight
- 1:30 PM MT: Wizards vs. Mavericks -- This game doesn't concern us
- 3:00 PM MT: Nets vs. Bulls -- This game matters for both of them, they are right next to one another
- 3:30 PM MT: Knicks vs. 76ers -- I expect the Knicks to win here, so don't expect any help from Philly
- 5:00 PM MT: Heat vs. Celtics -- What matters here is who is playing. If Marcus Smart is having a night off, this could work out for the Jazz . . . as long as the Heat stay below the Jazz. If Justise Winslow and company have the night off, no luck
- 5:30 PM MT: Suns vs. Jazz -- If one of the three teams ahead of Utah falls, the Jazz will be masters of their own destiny. The Suns have been bad, having lost by a billion earlier on in the prelim round. They are getting production from and , but has looked very off-target. If he gets on-targed and is making shots they'll be hard to beat. Of course, you gotta figure the Jazz bring out mothballed for one Vegas game, right?
My hope is for the Spurs to lose, and the Jazz to win, and win by enough to supplant them. The 8th seed is a good start for Vegas. The team gets to have a breather, as this will be their third game in four nights. The team gets to have another practice. And the team will be better prepared to advance. Last season the Jazz didn't get that first round bye, didn't have any rest, and lost very easily. They gave up the ghost early in that game, and Vegas was over before you knew it. I don't think the Jazz set up this roster with the intent of being in Vegas for only four games this time around.
Utah has to take care of business tonight. Phoenix beat the 2nd worst team in Vegas, and got trounced by Houston. Hopefully we can do the same.