PORTLAND — The Utah Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 111-80, at the Moda Center on Sunday night in the final game of the regular season.

As the Jazz’s regular-season finale and the rest of the games around the league unfolded, it was made official that the Jazz will face the Dallas Mavericks in the opening round of the 2022 playoffs, with Game 1 tipping at 11 a.m. MDT on ESPN.

High Notes

  • There wasn’t really anything to gain from trying too hard and risking anything in this game, but luckily the Jazz didn’t really need to try hard to get an easy win. Honestly they just kind of had to go through the motions and make a few good plays. They even started out the game 0-for-17 from 3-point range and it didn’t matter because the Blazers aren’t good. I think a low-stakes game that allows the majority of the regular rotation guys to rest through the fourth quarter while getting a win is a nice way to end the season.
  • There wasn’t as much attention on the Jazz’s game against the Blazers as there was on the other three games happening around the league that would decide who the Jazz play in the postseason. Even so, there were some really quality moments in the Jazz game that are worth noting.
  • Juancho Hernangomez scored a season-high 22 points for the Jazz. He started in place of Bojan Bogdanovic, who was resting his recently healed calf, and Hernangomez played his tail off the entire game.
  • Mike Conley took his braids out and wore his hair in all of its natural glory. He said he “needed to let it breathe.” I think this is Conley’s best look, so I thought it was a great night in that regard. But I’m sad to report that Conley said he’d be getting his hair braided again before the playoffs start.
  • The Jazz were pretty bad offensively to start the game (I mentioned the missed 3s) but they were playing smart defensively for large portions of the game despite the misses. That’s something that a team like the Jazz can take into the postseason. They have to be able to depend on their defense even when things get really hard.

“We did a pretty good job of getting back, we were defending. Sometimes in those situations guys try to do a little too much on their own against a set defense. Once the ball started moving more we started running. When we run the impact is a ripple effect.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

  • The Jazz were able to play Jared Butler a pretty significant amount of time in the final game. It’s probably really hard for a player like Butler to know that he’s likely not going to see the floor at all during the postseason and that the next time he’ll play meaningful basketball will be next season. That being said, it seems like every time that Butler has played this season, especially in longer stretches, that he has shown a little bit more of his game and it’s built up a lot of confidence in the type of player that he can become. If nothing else, no matter the results of the postseason, Butler is something to look forward to as far as the Jazz’s future is concerned.
  • Yes the Jazz are going to be on the road to start the postseason and they are the fifth seed, but there is benefit to not being one of the top two seeds in the playoffs now that the play-in tournament is a thing. Last year the Jazz had less than 48 hours to prepare for their first-round opponent, but this time the Jazz know exactly who they’ll be playing and they also have nearly a week to prepare for that matchup. 

Low Notes 

  • If you were looking for excitement and intensity this was not the game for you. There’s not really anything that the NBA can do about this. There are always going to be regular-season finales that are not fun. The NBA could cut the season down to fewer games and there would still be a final game between a good team and a bad team that doesn’t hold the attention very well.
  • Royce O’Neale seemed to hurt his hand on a deflected pass at one point against the Blazers. He stayed in the game but was messing with his right hand for the rest of the night. Hopefully it was just a stinger and not something that linger.

Flat Notes

  • Bogdanovic and Donovan Mitchell (non-COVID-19 related illness) did not play Sunday night which, from a rest standpoint is fine, but you kind of wish these guys could have had more games strung together with the full roster this season. It feels like there’s less continuity and rhythm going into the postseason. Maybe that’s just a feel thing. Here’s to hoping that things feel different when the playoffs begin on Saturday.