By the Frank Layden scoring system, the Jazz are 75-7 for the season. While coaching, Layden always counted down to the playoffs - and the Jazz have 75 games down and seven to go, continuing Wednesday in the Salt Palace against Denver.
The latest in the races involving the Jazz, who are really 46-29, according to the standings, with those seven games remaining in the season's last two weeks:- The Midwest Division. After Denver's 120-114 loss at Portland Sunday night, the Jazz's magic number for winning the division title is four over the Nuggets. By defeating Denver Wednesday, the Jazz could probably clinch by the end of the week. The magic number is three over Houston, which also makes a Salt Palace visit Friday.
- Second place in the Western Conference. While the division winner would have the automatic No. 2 playoff seed, that carries no guaranteed homecourt advantage beyond the first round of the playoffs. The Jazz had a shot at catching Phoenix for the second-best record in the West, but are three games behind the Suns - Phoenix's magic number over the Jazz is five.
The Suns are also only 1 1/2 games back of the Lakers in the Pacific Division but have a much tougher schedule ahead.
- Fourth through seventh places in the Western Conference. This is where things become interesting. As the No. 2 seed, the Jazz would play the No. 7 team in the first round - that could be Denver, Golden State, Houston or Seattle. Only 1 1/2 games separate those teams, all still hoping to finish fourth and have the homecourt in the first round. The bottom line for the Jazz is, that No. 7 team could be about a 45-game winner, no first-round pushover.
- Fifty wins. The Jazz will tie the franchise season high with their next win; they need four victories in the last seven games for 50. That unpublished goal may be about all they have to play for in the last three or four games - chances are, they'll clinch the division but have no hope of catching Phoenix as they enter the final week.