Utah Jazz fortunate to know what’s needed in final regular-season game

Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

The schedule for all regular-season finales ought to benefit the Utah Jazz.

Luckily for the league-best Utah Jazz (50-20), it looks as if one recent tweet from Shams Charania of The Athletic is now erroneous. He had reported last week that the NBA was planning to squeeze all 15 Sunday regular-season finales, featuring all 30 teams, between 10:30 a.m. MT and 1:30 p.m. MT tip times.

This, of course, would have helped to prevent many playoff-bound squads from locking in their seed before ever taking the court that day. In turn, by not knowing their fates, there might have been fewer squads sidelining their stars.

As of Thursday, though, it seems the league has adopted a more spread-out approach. According to NBA.com, Sunday’s action is set to begin with three games at 11 a.m. MT and ultimately come to an end with six contests starting at 7:00 p.m. MT.

And among those final half-dozen matchups is the Jazz’s battle at the Sacramento Kings (31-38). As a result, and with the Phoenix Suns (48-21) facing the San Antonio Spurs (33-36) on the road at noon MT, Utah will definitely have learned hours before tipoff whether or not it has secured the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed.

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After all, at this point, Phoenix is mathematically the only remaining threat in this regard.

Granted, it may not matter. If the Jazzmen win away from home versus the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-49) at 6 p.m. MT Friday with Phoenix dropping either of two clashes before Sunday — home versus the Portland Trail Blazers at 8 p.m. MT Thursday and in San Antonio against the Spurs at noon MT Saturday — then they will own top honors regardless of any Sunday outcomes.

Also worth noting, if Utah loses to Sacramento with Phoenix winning its remaining three games, then there will be no shot of the Jazz snagging their first No. 1 seed since 1997-98, no matter what happens on Sunday.

A potential chance to rest all the Utah Jazz starters and primary reserves

Should the Utah Jazz learn their playoff seed before Sunday’s game, then the relaxation surely would be a welcomed gift. Coming off two consecutive losses — 119-116 at the Golden State Warriors on Monday and 105-98 versus the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday — it’s quite clear the Jazzmen are becoming increasingly sluggish.

Yes, given the ongoing extended absences of All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell (right ankle sprain) and Mike Conley (hamstring tightness), it appears as if tired legs abound among those on the team whose roles have expanded as of late.

That was especially evident against the Blazers as the Jazz failed to reach 100 points for only the fifth time this season and shot a putrid 12-for-40 (30.0 percent) beyond the arc.

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Indeed, it’s clear that Utah’s healthy backcourt weapons, particularly Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles, could use a break. They probably need a timeout from their extra load without Mitchell and Conley — the franchise has already ruled out Mitchell for the two remaining regular-season games — or just a breather in the form of not playing, period, for an entire game.