The Utah Jazz maintained the top spot in the Western Conference last night with an entertaining victory over the Denver Nuggets. The Jazz, who have held the top spot out west for most of the season, have been battling with the Phoenix Suns for the #1 seed. They currently hold just a 1.0 game lead over Phoenix in the standings.
The Jazz will look to extend their winning streak to five when they take on the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. First and foremost, the Jazz need to take care of business tonight on the second night of a back-to-back. After that, they could really use some help from other teams around the league. Here are the NBA games this weekend that could impact Utah's playoff seed.
Spurs @ Trail Blazers 8:00 PM MDT
The Lakers are competing with the Blazers for the #6 seed in the playoffs. For reasons explained below (see Suns @ Lakers), the Jazz need the Blazers to lose and fall to the #7 seed.
Nets @ Nuggets 8:00 PM MDT
If the playoffs started today, the Jazz would be the #1 seed. They would face the winner of the #4/#5 matchup if they advanced past the first round. As things currently stand, that would be the Dallas Mavericks against the Denver Nuggets. However, the Nuggets are only one game behind the Clipper for the #3 seed. Jazz fans should cheer for the Clippers to maintain the #3 seed. In other words, go Nets.
Suns @ Lakers 8:00 PM MDT
This is the most important non-Jazz game this weekend. The Lakers host the Phoenix Suns in a game that could impact the Jazz in two ways:
1. The Jazz are battling Phoenix for the #1 seed. Obviously, a Suns loss helps the Jazz in a major way.
2. If the playoffs started today, the Lakers and Warriors would face off in the play-in tournament. That means the reigning champs could face the Jazz in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. That is less than ideal - Jazz fans should be cheering for the Lakers to reach the #6 seed, therefore escaping the play-in tournament.
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