This is an updated look at the NBA playoff picture and how it relates to the Utah Jazz.
What happened Sunday
Sunday was, for all intents and purposes, a very good day for the Utah Jazz. The Jazz handily defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-97 on the road behind Ricky Rubio’s team-high 23 points.
“This game was huge,” Rubio said. “I’ve been feeling comfortable for the last couple months, filled with a lot of confidence, and playing here was emotional. At the same time I knew it was a huge game so I focused myself to really have a big game.”
With the victory, Utah improved to 44-33 on the season and has now won two consecutive games and seven of the last 10.
Fellow and likely future Western Conference playoff participants Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio all walked away with a win as well, as did playoff hopeful Denver.
The Thunder defeated the New Orlean Pelicans 111-104, San Antonio knocked off Houston 100-83, and the Trail Blazers handled the Memphis Grizzlies 113-98.
The Nuggets picked a huge win for their playoff hopes, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 128-125 in overtime.
A couple of playoffs hopefuls were not as fortunate. The Clippers lost to the Pacers 111-104, and the Pelicans, as previously mentioned, came up short against Thunder.
How this affects the Jazz
Sunday's win moved Utah into the sixth spot in the conference standings, half a game behind the fifth-seeded Thunder (45-33), who own the tiebreaker. The Jazz also stand a half game ahead of the seventh-place Timberwolves (44-34), with whom they split the season series.
Utah remains just a game behind the Spurs (45-32) for the fourth seed in the West, with the third-seeded Trail Blazers (48-29) and their four-game advantage likely to be too much for Utah to make up with just five games remaining in the regular season.
Perhaps more important than seeding, the Jazz are now practically guaranteed a spot in this year's postseason, per FiveThirtyEight.
The website gives Utah a 98 percent chance to make the playoffs, placing them in the same tier as Oklahoma City and San Antonio, who have a 98 percent chance and better than a 99 percent chance, respectively.
Coming off their home defeat to the Jazz, the Timberwolves currently have a 91 percent chance to snap their 13-season postseason drought, the longest drought in league history.
The Pelicans, current holders of the eighth-seed, have a 63 percent to make the playoffs, the Nuggets a 33 percent chance and the Clippers an 18 percent chance.
Utah is projected to finish the season 47-35 and remain the sixth seed in the conference, which would most likely mean a first-round matchup with Portland.
Remaining Jazz games
April 3 vs. L.A. Lakers, 7 p.m. MDT
April 5 vs. L.A. Clippers, 7 p.m.
April 8 at L.A. Lakers, 4 p.m.
April 10 vs. Golden State, 7 p.m.
April 11 at Portland, 8:30 p.m.