07 April 2013

Will the Lakers or the Jazz get the last playoff spot in the West?

The days are numbered in the 2012-13 NBA season and the only race remaining with real playoff implications is the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz, with the Dallas Mavericks still in the mix but a long-shot, are battling hard to get into the postseason. Who will get in?

So where are we right now? At the point of publication, the Jazz were in the eighth slot by a half of a game over the Lakers as they have won two in a row while Los Angeles is coming off a disappointing loss to the Clippers on Sunday. Utah has four games remaining, LA has five. Utah also has the tiebreaker.

Unfortunately, these two clubs do not play each other because that would be great. The Jazz host the Thunder on Tuesday night, have a home-and-home with the Timberwolves on Friday and Monday, and they then close at Memphis on Wednesday the 17th. The Lakers have a home game against New Orleans on Tuesday night, head up to Portland the next evening, then they close with three straight home games against Golden State, San Antonio and Houston on Friday, Sunday and Wednesday respectively.

Based on the schedule, I have to give the edge for the Jazz. That is a tough five game stretch for a beat-up Lakers team, even if four out of five are at home, and that final three game stretch is brutal considering all three are in the playoffs. It also helps Utah that they have been playing really good basketball of late, having won seven of eight after their four game losing stretch at the end of March. The Lakers went into today's game at Staples Center having won four of five and looking like they may get on a run, and then they look deflated against their crosstown rivals, who clinched a division title by the way.

Although you never know which Lakers team you will get, and their is plenty of talent there to make a run, I simply think that the Jazz are in a better place to reach the postseason for the second straight season.

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