Let's be hypothetical for a moment. Just for the sake of argument, let's suppose that the Utah Jazz - coming off a tough, five-game series with the Houston Rockets - lose their second-round playoff series with the well-rested San Antonio Spurs. Who would be to blame?

One scapegoat would be obvious - television.You can make a case that, if not for television, the Jazz would have eliminated the Rockets in four games instead of five. Utah had the momentum after winning Game 2, and the aging Houston team has struggled this season when playing with only one day's rest.

(The Rockets were only 22-25 overall in such games this season, and only 10-12 at home. And a number of those wins came over crummy teams like the Grizzlies, Sixers and Clippers.)

But to accommodate TNT, Game 3 of the Utah-Houston series was played four days after Game 2. The old but well-rested Rockets won, taking a 2-1 series lead and forcing the Jazz to go five games to advance.

Meanwhile, the Spurs - who opened the playoffs on the same day as the Jazz but played every other day - wrapped up their series against the Suns in four games, completing play this past Wednesday.

(By the way, not one of the other seven first-round series had four-day gaps - three went three days between games at least once; four had no more than two days between games.)

All of which re-emphasizes something that's annoying but true - television rules the world of sports and doesn't always rule it fairly.

The NBA is no victim here, of course. Turner Sports and NBC pay the league (and its teams) a lot of money for the right to mess up playoff schedules. Players can and do complain about the strange scheduling, but that TV money pays a big chunk of their enormous salaries.

Perhaps the most annoying facet of all of this is how national TV networks override local concerns. Games are scheduled for the convenience of TV, not for the convenience of fans.

Tuesday's Game 1 and Thursday's Game 2 of the Jazz-Spurs series have 8:30 p.m. starting times to accommodate TNT. Certainly not to accommodate local fans.

And the players are in for a bit of a rough weekend. Utah and San Antonio will play back-to-back games. Game 3 is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on NBC and Game 4 is Sunday at 7 p.m. on TNT - again for the benefit of TV programmers.

The Sonics and the Lakers aren't playing any back-to-back games. Neither are the Bulls and the Hornets.

The Knicks and the Pacers actually have it worse than the Jazz and the Spurs. New York and Indiana also play on Saturday and Sunday, the second game scheduled to start just 231/2 hours after the first. (Utah and San Antonio have a 271/2-hour gap.)

The Knicks, of course, play in the nation's biggest TV market, which is why NBC has both weekend games. It's all about ratings. Those are the stats that mean the most in the NBA playoffs, at least when it comes to scheduling.

And if the scheduling strangeness hurts the Jazz, well, not much of anybody outside of Utah is going to care.

Life isn't fair. Neither are TV networks.