The Western Conference playoff race is insane. When was the last time that games have meant so much to so many teams this far out of the actual playoffs? Seeds 3-8 are all essentially up for grabs, and things will just not settle down at all. Just when you think things are starting to solidify, a playoff team loses to a 20-win tank squad and everything gets shuffled around. You probably felt pretty good the other night after the Jazz beat the Warriors and then got help in several other teams’ losses. Welp, after last night we’re back in the “will the Jazz even make the playoffs?” boat. It’s been a crazy ride.
Every single night games matter so much. We don’t know anything about what’s going to happen in the Western Conference playoff picture, because it is literally changing every single night. But here is how things look with 13 days left in the NBA regular season.
With the Jazz’s heartbreaker they lost to the Celtics last night, they move back down to the 8 seed. Had they won last night, they would have been in a three-way tie for fifth, just one game back from a home-court seed. But Jaylen Brown had to spoil everything with his insanely clutch three-pointer that cut to the souls of Jazz Nation.
The Jazz are still only a game back from being in the 5 seed, but the Clippers have sneakily crept up and are only one game back from the Jazz for the final playoff spot. The Jazz host the Clippers next week in what could be a playoff-deciding game for both squads. 538 is still giving the Jazz an 89% chance to make the playoffs, which seems pretty generous given the fact that they are only up one game in the standings.
It’s easy to get caught up in each team’s remaining schedules, future opponents, and win probabilities. But keeping it simple, the Jazz just need to focus on winning every single time they step foot on the court. Everybody hold on to your britches, it’s going to be a wild two weeks.
Pretty cool moment during a break of the Jazz-Celtics game last night, caught on video by Kyle Goon.
With a special tribute from Ricky Rubio, the Jazz gave some time during the break devoted to the battle against cancer and honoring all affected by it.
Rudy Gobert earned some more DPOY love from a national NBA writer in Tim MacMahon. MacMahon featured Gobert in his latest piece of ESPN, with some good insight on Gobert’s impact as a defender and Gobert’s own opinion on who should win the award.
“I’ve been the most impactful player this year,” Gobert told ESPN, reiterating his recent comments to local reporters that there is “no question” that he deserves the award after finishing as runner-up to Golden State’s Draymond Green last season.
”It’s a team game. The Defensive Player of the Year is the guy that makes his team better. Not only gets stats, it’s the guy that also has an impact on his teammates and leadership.
Some intesting information surfaced on Wednesday afternoon regarding Jazz guard Dante Exum. With Exum’s free agency approaching this summer, an anonymous NBA GM was quoted giving his opinion on Exum’s value. Originally reported by Sporting News’ Sean Deveny, with additional details coming from a piece from Hoopsrumors.com
“I think you have to look at him as a physically gifted guy who is only 22 (he turns 23 in July) and has already gone through the huge NBA learning curve,” the GM said. “There are guys in this year’s draft who will be 22 but aren’t going to have the kind of knowledge of the league he has, and don’t have the physical gifts.”
According to Deveney, one front office executive estimated that a two-year deal in the $18-20MM range might be enough to pry Exum away from the Jazz. That would be a steep price for a fourth-year player who has yet to deliver on the promise he showed heading into the 2014 draft, but overpaying a restricted free agent is often necessary to avoid having his old team match.
“He’s a gamble,” that same executive told Deveney. “But $10MM a year is not as big a gamble as it once was. He could show something here.”
It will be interesting to see what happens with Exum and the Jazz this summer. The Jazz front office has made it clear that they see Exum as a focal point of the Jazz’s future, but much will depend on the amount of an offer he gets from other potential suitors.
So, about that loss last night. It still hurts. What could have been a huge win that provided much-needed space in the standings turned out to be a heartbreaker. It was a game of runs in what ultimately ended up with the Celtics getting the last word.
The Jazz will get an opportunity to put that game behind them with the WORLD BEATING Grizzlies coming to town tomorrow night. These Grizzlies have defeated both the Timberwolves and Blazers in their last two games. Games like these are hard to get past, but it’s important to remember that the Jazz still control their own destiny in making it to the playoffs, which was their original goal when the season started.