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Utah Jazz Playoffs Outlook: Two weeks out

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16 days to go, how will the West settle?

NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Playoffs are *checks calendar* JUST SIXTEEN DAYS AWAY. Truly, they are only 12 days away if you count the play-in tournament, but 16 to when the Jazz will play. As my kids would put it, that’s 16 sleeps until we get to watch NBA Playoff action, which in my humble opinion is the best sporting event out there. With the playoffs beginning two weeks from this Saturday, we are right in the THICK of the playoff race, and it seems like things are rapidly changing on any given night. As of the close of games last night, here’s how the standings and playoff picture is looking:

After the Suns surprisingly lost last night to the Hawks, the Jazz have a full one game lead on them on the 1-seed. Looking at the standings, here’s what we know. The Jazz and Suns are going to be the one and two seeds. It’s going to come down to the last game to decide which team has the 1 seed, but that’s pretty much a lock right now. Same thing with the Clippers and Nuggets, but with the 3 and 4 seeds. This is where it gets a little crazy. Seeds 5-7 right now are all within .5 games between the Mavericks, Lakers, and Blazers.

Where it gets really interesting, is that whoever of those three finishes with the worst record will actually end up in the play-in game, and could actually MISS the playoffs. It’s kinda wild, and that’s why we’ve seen a little bit of criticism on the play-in format from several NBA players and personalities, including the King LeBron James himself.

Can you imagine if the Lakers finished 7th, and lost two play-in games and got knocked out? Beautiful chaos. It’s unlikely to think that a LeBron-led team would lose back-to-back games to Grizzlies/Warriors/Spurs/Pelicans/Kings, but we’ve seen crazier things happen. It’s pretty crazy to think that there are still that many possibilities with the play-in seeds as well. The Kings, who are 29-37 right now, could still technically squeak into the play-in, win two games and find themselves in the playoffs. This play-in tournament has definitely sparked a lot of conversation lately, and that’s exactly what the NBA wanted.

For the Jazz, all you can really do is just try and win out and secure that 1-seed. Trying to dictate and control your playoff position when it’s so tight like this is so difficult. Say they were wanting to try and fall to the 2-seed if they thought the Clippers and Lakers were finishing 4 and 5, but then on the very last night something crazy happened and Clips/Lakers finished 3 and 6. The Jazz have shown that they are a good enough team to really compete with anyone, and I truly believe that. In the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, you are going to run into a great team in pretty much every scenario, so you’ve just gotta win.

The biggest thing right now is making sure that everyone is healthy heading into the playoffs in two weeks. That’s why we’ve seen the Jazz be very cautious bringing Donovan Mitchell back into the lineup with his ankle injury, and continuing to rest Mike Conley and others in back-to-back and other scenarios. So much of success in the playoffs depends on player health, especially star player health. The Jazz need Don and Mike 100%, along with the rest of the crew if they are going to make a run at this thing.

With the playoffs just over two weeks out, it’s going to be a fun time to follow the games each night and see what goes down. With this new playoff format, it’s going to put extra pressure on teams to win games, which always makes it fun as a general NBA fan.

WHO IS READY FOR MADNESS??