SALT LAKE CITY — There's less than two weeks before the NBA playoffs begin, but you won't hear the Utah Jazz wondering where they're going to end up or mulling over who their opponent might be.
"I'll think about it when the time comes," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
Considering how tightly packed the Western Conference standings are from three to eight, the playoff scenario most likely won't be settled until the final regular season games finish a week from Wednesday.
In the meantime, Snyder said he'll concentrate his focus on the teams on the Jazz's current schedule — beginning with Charlotte on Monday night — not what their potential path to the Western Conference Finals might look like.
"There's a lot of factors that go into that," Snyder said about playoff positioning over the weekend. "And every time you try to figure something out, who you're going to play, where you're going to finish, who you match up with well, who you don't, that's for you guys to think about."
Perfect. Let's think about it a little bit.
Though the Denver Nuggets (51-25) have surprisingly leapfrogged most of the West this season after not making the playoffs last year, it's not surprising that the Golden State Warriors currently sit atop the standings even though their record (52-24) is far below what most people expected from the back-to-back NBA champs.
Popular projection models used by FiveThirtyEight and Basketball-reference.com predict that the Warriors will be the No. 1 seed followed by the Nuggets at No. 2.
Interestingly, both of those websites predict a similar order for the rest of the West. Unfortunately for the Jazz, their projections do not include home-court advantage for Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert & Co.
Their projections for the West: 1. Golden State; 2. Denver; 3. Houston; 4. Portland; 5. Utah; 6. Los Angeles Clippers; 7. San Antonio; 8. Oklahoma City.
That would give the Jazz a seemingly favorable first-round matchup with the Blazers, who suffered a huge loss when one of their best players, Jusuf Nurkic, went down with a severe leg injury this past week.
Here's a look at the remaining games for the teams within realistic reach of the Jazz:
• Rockets (49-28 overall, 7-3 in last 10)
Home: New York, Philadelphia
Away: Sacramento, L.A. Clippers, Oklahoma City
Vs. +.500: 3
Current tiebreaker: Houston (2-2 series, but better conference record)
Takeaway: It's fun to think about the Jazz finishing in third, but their inconsistent start realistically put them in too big of a hole to catch James Harden's club with so few games left.
• Blazers (48-28, 8-2)
Home: Memphis, Denver, Sacramento
Away: Minnesota, Denver, Los Angeles Lakers
Vs. +.500: 2
Current tiebreaker: Jazz (2-2 series, but better division record)
Takeaway: Losing Nurkic will definitely hurt, but you have to give the Blazers credit for gutting out the overtime win over Brooklyn and then winning the next two on the road after that Gordon Hayward-like gruesome injury. Portland's schedule is pretty tough down the stretch, so making up two games with six left isn't out of the question.
• Jazz (46-30, 9-1)
Home: Charlotte, Sacramento, Denver
Away: Phoenix, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers
Vs. +.500: 2
Takeaway: The Jazz continue to have a favorable schedule after that brutal first couple of months. That regular-season finale against the Clippers at the Staples Center could be a doozy for playoff positioning. But the way Utah is playing right now, Snyder's squad could still contend for home court. A potential second-round matchup against the Warriors or Rockets is pretty daunting wherever they land.
• Clippers (47-31, 8-2)
Home: Houston, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah
Away: Golden State
Vs. +.500: 3
Current tiebreaker: Jazz (Lead series 2-0)
Takeaway: The Clippers have done better than many anticipated in the post-Blake Griffin/Chris Paul era and even though they have the fewest number of games remaining, they also face the Rockets, Jazz and Warriors. On paper, they look to be a pretty safe bet for the No. 6 seed.
• Spurs (44-33, 6-4)
Home: Atlanta, Dallas
Away: Denver, Washington, Cleveland
Vs. +.500: 1
Current tiebreaker: Jazz (Won series 2-1)
Takeaway: The Nuggets are the only team with a winning record remaining on the Spurs' schedule, but they're likely battling for the seventh or eighth spot against OKC regardless of what they do.
• Thunder (44-33, 3-7)
Home: Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit, Houston
Away: Minnesota, Milwaukee
Vs. +.500: 3
Current tiebreaker: Thunder (Won series 4-0)8 comments on this story
Takeaway: The Thunder have taken a nosedive late in the season and still have some tough teams on their schedule. A first-round date with Golden State could be kind of fun if they figure out a way to turn things around.
- GSW (55.8-26.2)
- Den (54.9-27.1)
- Houston (52.2-29.8)
- Portland (51.6-30.4)
- Utah (50.0-32.0)
- LAC (48.7-33.3)
- Spurs (47.7-34.3)
- OKC (47.5-34.5)
- Warriors (57-25)
- Nuggets (54-28)
- Rockets (53-29)
- Blazers (51-31)
- Jazz (51-31)
- Clippers (49-33)
- Spurs (47-35)
- Thunder (47-35)