On Tuesday, November 21st, the Utah Jazz will play the Los Angeles Lakers in an In-Season Tournament group stage game. It will be the final group stage game for both teams. The Lakers currently lead West Group A with a 3-0 record. Utah is in second place after their loss to the Phoenix Suns made them 2-1. The full standings can be found at NBA.com.
The winner of each group and two wildcard teams will move on to the knockout rounds, which are the single-elimination stage of the In-Season Tournament. For the Jazz, this means they will either have to win their group or lead the Western Conference wildcard teams to make the knockout rounds. Despite only three games remaining for West Group A teams, there are many different ways it can play out. So here is a breakdown of Utah’s scenarios this week.
Best case scenario: Utah win, PHX loss on either Tuesday or Friday
If the Jazz beat the Lakers on Tuesday and Phoenix loses to Portland on Tuesday or Memphis on Friday, the Jazz will be the group leaders and move on to the knockout rounds. That would be the case due to the tiebreaker rules. Utah and LAL would be 3-1, but the first tiebreaker is the head-to-head record in the group stage. If the Jazz win on Tuesday, they not only even up the records with the Lakers but also win the tiebreaker.
Phoenix would then have to lose for Utah to clinch the group win.
Other possible scenarios for Utah to advance: Utah wins, PHX wins out
In this scenario, all three of the Lakers, Suns, and Jazz would end group play with 3-1 records. The first tiebreaker, head-to-head records in group play, would be even with each team having one win and one loss. The second tiebreaker, point differential, would then determine the standings. The Lakers currently boast a +42 point differential, while the Jazz are +19 and the Suns are even.
If the Jazz beat the Lakers by 12 or more, they will overtake them in point differential and thus ensure no worse than second place in the group. Phoenix would then have to gain a point differential greater than Utah’s to win the group.
If the Jazz beat the Lakers by 11 or fewer points (and the Suns win both remaining games), the Jazz will not be able to win the group but could have a chance at the wildcard spot in the Western Conference.
Worst case scenario: Utah loss
If the Jazz lose to the Lakers on Tuesday, they will be eliminated from the chance at winning the group, and very likely eliminated from wildcard contention. The Lakers would win the group with a 4-0 record.
@McCadeP8 clearly and concisely explained all of these scenarios on Twitter.
Scenarios for Jazz on Tuesday:— ❌cCade Pearson (@McCadeP8) November 20, 2023
Clinch Group Champion with Win + Phoenix Loss
Clinch Top 2 Group Finish with Win by 12 or more
Stay alive with with Win by 11 or less
Eliminated with Loss
The knockout rounds will be held from December 4th through December 9th. For more details on the Tournament, check out my breakdown from earlier this year.