You won, Denver. You won. Your messed up Joker scenario of a boat of civilians and a boat of inmates each having the trigger to blow the other up worked. We all pulled the trigger. Kaboom. Somehow you knew the Jazz were just too vengeful to miss out on the opportunity of a Denver Nuggets beatdown, too altruistic to rest players, and too conservative to chance waiting until the last game to lockdown the 5th seed. You knew the Oklahoma City Thunder just couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to avoid falling to 7th or 8th. Your strategy of banking on the Portland Trail Blazers to easily beat the Los Angeles Lakers almost blew up in your face, but once again, your diabolical brilliance worked again. I hate you.
Now the Utah Jazz are on a collision course with the Houston Rockets, the very team that sent the Utah Jazz packing last year. The Utah Jazz will have all their players back for a rematch and won’t be down a point guard like last year, sure, but these are two of the hottest teams since All-Star break having to battle it out. One of the West’s top 3 teams will go home in the 1st round and proving once again that it sometimes pays more to lose in the NBA than it does to win.
The only way the Utah Jazz avoid a rematch with the Houston Rockets is if the Portland Trail Blazers inexplicably lose to the Sacramento Kings or if the Denver Nuggets lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Oh, both the Nuggets and Blazers play at home, so that’s a big nope on the upset scale.
The Denver Nuggets on the other hand will most likely play the San Antonio Spurs.
Once again, we’ve played ourselves.
Utah was hot on the pursuit of a 50th win to avoid falling to 6th. If they lost to the Nuggets then Clippers they risked falling to 6th. If they lost to the Nuggets, they would end up playing the Trail Blazers anyway. The Jazz were stuck in this mess because they dropped an easy game against the create-a-lakers on Sunday. If Utah wins that, they are able to avoid this side show and actually are not in peril of losing the 5th seed. But instead by their stupid loss in Los Angeles, Denver had Utah in a damned if the do, damned if they don’t scenario.
Which brings us to intentionally losing to gain an advantage. The NBA isn’t quite fond of it. They’ve adjusted lottery odds because they hate teams intentionally losing to gain an advantage in the NBA Lottery. The Denver Nuggets threw a game in Portland to keep the possibility of Portland rising to 3rd. If the Nuggets win and the Jazz win in LA on Sunday, Utah is looking at the 4 seed, Houston is looking at the 3 seed, and Denver is staring right in the face of OKC. If they beat OKC, Houston is there to meet them. Denver pulled a Doctor Strange and gave up to make sure they could get to the only scenario they could win in the playoffs. Good for them. Still doesn’t mean Jazz fans and the rest of the NBA front office can’t be mad about it.
How can the NBA front office fix it? They can allow the top 4 seeds to pick their opponent. 1st seed gets first pick and so on and so forth. Plus it adds intrigue as to seeing if a certain team WANTS to play another. There’s an element for spice and drama. It builds storylines and instant underdogs. That avoids this charade of throwing games intentionally this late in the season. These are the best teams intentionally throwing games, that’s a problem for the NBA. Fans don’t want to go to a game to see their team resting all their starters for playoff seeding. At least the fans in the seats who paid good money to be there.
Now the NBA has a problem with their three best teams in the West basically locked into the same bracket with one of them for sure going home by the end of the 1st round. That’s not exactly in the best interest of competition for the NBA, but good for Denver. They used a broken system to their advantage.
May the San Antonio Spurs bring the Nuggets their just reward in the playoffs. They are 2-2 against them so it isn’t a done deal.
As Wallace once said to Scott Pilgrim, “What a perfect asshole. Finish him.”