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NBA power rankings: Utah Jazz finish in top 3 in national lists as regular season comes to a close

Here’s where national publications slot the Jazz in power rankings this week

SHARE NBA power rankings: Utah Jazz finish in top 3 in national lists as regular season comes to a close

Utah head coach Quin Snyder gives instructions during a timeout as the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 7, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

With just two games to go for the Utah Jazz, the goal is clear: securing the No. 1 seed.

Utah’s magic number for the No. 1 seed in the West is two, meaning that two Jazz wins, two Phoenix Suns losses, or one Jazz win and one Suns loss will net the Jazz the top seed in the Western Conference.

Utah won five games in a row, but recently dropped two straight to Golden State and Portland. The Jazz finish up the season with Oklahoma City on Friday and Sacramento on Sunday — both teams are under .500. The Suns play the 41-29 Trail Blazers Thursday at 8 p.m. MDT on TNT before finishing the season with a pair of games at 33-36 San Antonio on Saturday and Sunday.

Here’s where national publications slot the Jazz in power rankings this week:

ESPN — No. 1 (last week No. 2)

What they said about the Jazz:

The silver lining to the extended injury absences of All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley has been Bojan Bogdanovic responding to the increased offensive responsibilities by getting into by far his best groove of the season. Bogdanovic has averaged 28.1 points on .576/.479/.905 shooting splits over the past seven games, highlighted by his career-high 48 points in Friday’s win over the Nuggets. Utah has gone 6-1 during that stretch to keep the NBA’s best record. — Tim MacMahon

NBA.com — No. 3 (last week No. 7)

What they said about the Jazz:

The new Play-In format provides the top six teams in each conference five or six days off before Game 1 of the first round. That extra three days (vs. a normal season where the regular season ended on a Wednesday) will be important for a few of these teams, and the Jazz could be at the top of that list. On Friday, they announced that Donovan Mitchell’s sprained right ankle would be reevaluated in ‘one week,’ and without those extra few days, that would be cutting things pretty close. With Mike Conley dealing with a hamstring issue, every day matters.

Without their starting backcourt, the Jazz have won five straight games to take first place in the West back from Phoenix. With Bojan Bogdanovic averaging 30 points on 60% shooting (with a career-high 48 against Denver on Friday), it’s been their best stretch of offense (119.6 points scored per 100 possessions) without Mitchell.

Despite the slippage prior to these last five games, the Jazz have remained the only team in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. If they stay where they are, they’d be just the third team in the 25 years for which we have play-by-play data to finish in the top three on both ends of the floor. The other two — the 2014-15 Warriors (second and first) and ’16-17 Warriors (first and second) — went on to win the championship. — John Schuhmann

Sports Illustrated — No. 1 (last week No. 3)

What they said about the Jazz:

Despite the Jazz’s starting backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley dealing with an ankle and hamstring injury, respectively, the Jazz had won five straight games heading into Monday night, and in turn took back first place in the Western Conference. The under-manned group had the win-streak snapped on Monday at the hands of the Warriors, but it still saw encouraging performances from Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic has starred of late, averaging more than 27 points in his past eight games and being named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week for last week. They remain No. 1 in the NBA in net rating, with both a top three offense and defense. The Jazz are far from a lock to win, or even make, the finals, but they’ve been the NBA’s best regular season team for practically the entire season. — Michael Shapiro

CBS Sports — No. 3 (last week No. 7)

What they said about the Jazz:

It was a strong (and important) week for the Jazz, who won all four games to give themselves some breathing room in the race with the Suns for the NBA’s best record. Bojan Bogdanovic has been lights out, averaging 29.3 points on 62/54/90 shooting splits for the week. Rudy Gobert added 15.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and two blocks per game as Utah awaits the return of Donovan Mitchell. — Colin Ward-Henninger

NBC Sports — No. 2 (last week No. 4)

What they said about the Jazz:

Utah has been unquestionably the best regular season team in the league this year, but with Donovan Mitchell out until the start of the playoffs, it’s fair to ask how well he will be able to move on his sprained ankle when the games matter. The 5-7 days the Jazz will have off during the play-in games is a huge advantage here for Utah, they have time to get healthy and fit Mitchell and Mike Conley back in during practice. There will be no easy playoff rounds in the West. The Jazz’s reward for getting the top seed could well be the Warriors or Lakers in the first round. Just a reminder that life is not fair. — Kurt Helin