The NBA season is down to its final three and a halfweeks of the season, with teams having anywhere from 11 to 13 games left in their regular season. In the Western Conference, the top four seeds of the playoff bracket are nearly set, with Golden State and San Antonio the clear one and two seeds, followed by the Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers who are basically set in stone as the three and four seeds.Where the real fun begins is looking at the teams who are going to spend the final games fighting for a playoff spot and the right to miss out on playing the two juggernauts at the top.Right now, it looks like Memphis will make the playoffs, but with how many injuries they have faced of late, they could potentially tumble into one of those dreaded seven or eight seeds. Then you get to the jumble of 4 teams fighting for the last three spots, all currently separated by a mere 1.5 games.These teams are going to be fighting like hell to avoid the last two spots and at least, give themselves some hope of winning the first round series vs the Thunder.
#5 9th Seed
Currently: 9th place, 1 game back from 8th seed.
The Utah Jazz are going to be the team that was snake bitten by injuries to some of their best players early in the year and it is going to be what ultimately keeps them out of the playoffs. They have had Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert miss significant portions of playing time this year, while they watch young guards Alec Burks and Dante Exum suffer injuries in the offseason that have kept them out this year.
It is a tough pill to swallow for a team that many were picking to supplant a perennial Western Conference playoff team this year.
It doesn’t help that the Jazz gagged two games away earlier in the season vs the Houston Rockets a team directly ahead of them that would have catapulted them into the current playoff picture. The Jazz have been plagued with late game struggles all season, as they have both failed to score and defend consistently.
While the Jazz have two games against the teams ahead of them, one each vs the Rockets and Mavs, I do not trust them to win both of those games against more veteran teams.