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NBA Power Rankings: The Utah Jazz end on a high note

How does the media view the Jazz at the end of the regular season?

NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, let’s put a bow on this thing. It’s the final week of the regular season, and the Utah Jazz have taken advantage of their schedule down the stretch. They may have lost to Houston last night—blown out actually—but the season was fun, right?

NBA Power Rankings

Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
ESPN.com 7 7 7 6 5 6 7 12 12 13 12 11 9 6 5 3 8 9 7 9 12 7
CBS Sports 6 6 9 13 7 8 8 12 13 12 12 8 6 3 4 4 10 8 6 10 13 6
SI.com 6 6 9 13 8 8 11 11 12 12 12 11 9 7 6 6 8 7 7 8 8 8
NBA.com 5 7 7 11 7 8 10 12 13 12 13 8 6 3 3 3 7 7 6 9 9 6
Rotoworld 7 7 7 9 7 5 6 12 12 12 12 7 7 3 4 3 9 8 7 9 12 7
USA Today 4 4 4 6 5 7 9 12 12 12 11 9 4 3 3 3 9 6 6 12 12 9
FiveThirtyEight 5 6 8 7 5 6 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 5 4 4 5 6 5 11 11 10
SLC Dunk 4 4 6 7 4 6 8 11 13 12 11 8 6 3 3 3 8 6 6 10 10 8

*CBS Sports has apparently elected to forego the last week of power rankings

ESPN.com

The Rockets are the only team with a better record since the All-Star break than the Jazz, who lost Sunday for only the second time in the past 14 games. But Utah has significant health concerns as the playoffs near. Starters Ricky Rubioand Derrick Favors and key reserves Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and Raul Netoare nursing nagging injuries. On the other hand, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale have played every game this season. -- MacMahon

SI.com

Worst Rank: 22

Best Rank: 4

Best Case: The Jazz slip down to sixth and win a matchup with either Portland, Houston or Denver in the three, and then takes down the winner of the two vs. seven series to get a shot at the Warriors in the Western conference finals. But that’s as far as it goes.

Worst Case: All the games everybody is currently playing for seeding leads to a meeting with the Rockets that ends quicker than last season’s.

Prediction: If Utah gets Houston, this season ends before May. But if they can get the Trail Blazers or Nuggets, the Jazz will win in the first round, and then go down to the Rockets or Warriors in the second.

NBA.com

The Jazz were riding the easy-stretch-of-schedule wave to a possible top-four seed ... until they allowed the Lakers’ skeleton squad to shoot 52 percent in a loss (on Sunday). That defeat may have illustrated the value of Derrick Favors (who has missed the last four games with back spasms) on defense. Their Jae-Crowder-at-the-four lineup has been much better offensively, but Favors ranks as the league’s best rim protector (opponents have shot less than 50 percent at the rim when he’s been there) and is the only player who has averaged at least 20 minutes in 40 games or more with his team allowing less than a point per possession with him on the floor. The Jazz won two road games in last year’s playoffs and they need just one win to finish no worse than fifth, but the easy stretch of schedule is over and both of this week’s opponents still have something to play for.

Rotoworld

The Jazz was riding a league-leading seven-game win streak when they arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday. Playing the lowly Lakers, it was assumed that streak would be extended to eight. However, L.A. bested Utah, 113-109. As a result, the Jazz is now two games behind the fourth-seeded Blazers. Utah would need to win it’s final two games, and the Blazers would need to lose their last two in order for the Jazz to jump back into the four slot.

SLC Dunk

Despite sky-high preseason expectations, it’s hard to call this regular season anything less than a success from the Jazz. Could it have gone better? Sure. Does the team need some improvements this summer? Absolutely. But for the time being, Utah has a chance to match or exceed what they accomplished last season. That’s a win in my book, especially considering how things were looking in January.