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Update: Race for First Place

The Utah Jazz need to win their final two games to clinch the one-seed in the NBA. Can they do it?
Joe Ingles (2) lays a ball up over Jae Crowder (99)

Joe Ingles (2) lays a ball up over Jae Crowder (99)

Two games remain in the 2020-2021 regular season for the Utah Jazz, and they haven't made things easy on themselves when it comes to locking down the number one seed. 

Looking back, the Jazz would've, and still need to win two of the final four games of the year to secure the number first seed in the NBA Playoffs. Unfortunately, losing to the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers in back to back games hasn't helped their cause. 

Thankfully, the Phoenix Suns have lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors in consecutive games which allows the Jazz to remain in the first place spot by one and a half games.

Unless the Suns lose to the Portland Trail Blazers or San Antonio Spurs, the Jazz will need to go undefeated through the final two games of the season to lock up the top spot in the Playoffs.

How likely is it that the Jazz can finish with two wins in their last two games?

 Very likely. 

But it would've been really nice to snag at least one win earlier this week to allow for some breathing room before postseason play begins.

Utah has a combined 4-0 record against Oklahoma City and Sacramento during the year, and Phoenix has a combined 2-1 record against Portland and San Antonio this season. 

Here's who the Jazz and Suns have left on their schedule.

Utah Jazz:

Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder (May 14, 2021 at 6:00 PM)

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Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings (May 16, 2021 at 7:00 PM)

Phoenix Suns:

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers (May 13, 2021 at 7:00 PM)

Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs (May 15, 2021 at 11:00 AM)

Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs (May 16, 2021 at 11:00 AM)

Here's a few notes to keep in mind: 

1. Phoenix does have the tie-breaker over Utah. This means that the Jazz will need to win by at least one full game in order to lock the first seed. 

2. On paper, the Jazz have a much easier route to obtaining the first seed than Phoenix does. Oklahoma City is currently in fourteenth place in the Western Conference, and Sacramento sits in the eleventh spot in the Western Conference. The Portland Trail Blazers on the other hand, are in fifth place in the Western Conference, and the San Antonio Spurs are in tenth place in the Western Conference.

3. Donovan Mitchell wont be available until at least the first game of the playoffs for the Jazz, and it looks likely that Mike Conley wont be available until then either. If the Jazz are going to do this, they'll have to do it without two of their biggest stars.

4. Just like the Jazz, the Suns have slipped up through the last two games and have showed signs of fatigue. Do both teams have a very good chance of winning out the rest of the year? Absolutely. Could there also be some fireworks made by teams trying to make, or increase their seed in postseason play? Without a doubt. Both teams will need to bring their A-games to finish the season on a high note.

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