When Donovan Mitchell was asked Friday if he anticipated playing in the Utah Jazz’s final regular season game on Sunday, his answer was clear.
“Of course,” he said, after the Jazz’s final home game before the playoffs, a game in which the Jazz blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead and lost to the Phoenix Suns.
If that’s the case — that Mitchell and other starters will play in the regular season finale — it would be very, very difficult for the Jazz to lose to the Portland Trail Blazers, who are actively trying to lose games to increase their lottery odds.
So, you can probably expect for the Jazz to finish 49-33 on the season, a record that would lock them into the 5 seed in the Western Conference.
It’s important to note that there is one scenario that would cause the Jazz to fall into the 6 seed, but it is unlikely: If the Jazz lose in Portland and the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, that would give the Nuggets a one-game lead over the Jazz and the Nuggets would move into fifth.
The Jazz own the tiebreaker over the Nuggets.
So who will the Jazz’s first-round opponent be? The Jazz will either face the Dallas Mavericks or the Golden State Warriors in the opening round of the 2022 NBA playoffs.
The Warriors currently sit third in the Western Conference standings with a 52-29 record and have one more game to play.
They visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
The Mavericks (51-30) are fourth in the West with a single game remaining against the Spurs on Sunday.
Dallas holds the tiebreaker over Golden State.
If the Jazz remain at fifth in the West, they’ll face the 4 seed in the first round. If the Jazz fall to sixth, they’ll face the 3 seed.
As of Saturday, Dallas will be the 3 seed and the Warriors will fall to the 4 seed if:
- Dallas loses on Sunday and the Warriors lose both of their final games.
- Or, Dallas wins its final game and the Warriors split their final two games.
Golden State will remain the 3 seed and Dallas will stay in fourth if:
- The Warriors win both of their final games.
- Or, the Mavericks lose on Sunday and the Warriors win one of their final two games.