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Utah Jazz still look to finish regular season strong after clinching playoff spot

LOS ANGELES — Utah Jazz players used the time after Sunday’s win in Los Angeles to soak in the moment.

There wasn’t any champagne popping or loud cheers in the visitor’s locker room, though, mainly just reflecting on the journey.

The process, with the blood, sweat and tears, that it took to bounce back from being nine games under .500, just three months ago, to now holding the fourth seed in the Western Conference with a playoff spot clinched after beating the Lakers 112-97.

Guys could somewhat let out a sigh of relief while sitting in their visiting locker room stalls, but their competitiveness wouldn’t allow them to just yet.

Rudy Gobert used the moment to send out a tweet saying, “Shoutout to Everyone that counted us out!! #ontothenextone #weonlygettingstarted”.

Royce O’Neale and Ricky Rubio both tweeted “Playoff clinched” and Jonas Jerebko tweeted “PLAYOFF BOUND.”


As the Jazz are clicking during this critical stretch, they’re also becoming closer and closer during the process.

“A lot of fun,” Gobert said. “When you win and play as a team, it’s always fun.”

As great as that feeling was to lock up a playoff spot, the guys know that postseason positioning and potential opponents can still change drastically within the next couple of days.

Utah (47-33) can still jump to the third seed and lock up home-court advantage or sink toward the bottom tier. They’re currently in a position to determine their own destiny by winning out.

“To be honest with you, I am not concerned with seeding right now,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “We have talked about trying to get better and wherever we land, that is where we land.

“We have a couple games left, we just want to try to play well those next two games and see where things go,” he added. “Looking at the seeding in the West right now, there are a lot of if/then statements.”

With two regular-season games remaining, Utah will host the defending champion Golden State Warriors Tuesday then travel to Portland for the season finale against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

What the Jazz do know is that they will finish no lower than the seventh seed in the West, which is a great accomplishment after enduring the league’s toughest December schedule and overcoming a 19-28 start to the season.

The 2018 NBA Playoffs will begin on Sunday, April 14 and as of Monday afternoon, Utah is matched up against the New Orleans Pelicans in the opening round. There is no time to get content.

“It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling to have that, but at the same time, we have two more games left and we want to stay where we are,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to enjoy this one, but at the same time, we have two good games coming up. We have Golden State and Portland coming up, so we’re focused and ready for these next two games.”