today's entry brought to you by alkaline trio.
well, here we are in the final month of this truncated season. last week the jazz had a shot (in hell?) of making a big push and landing the four seed. as of today, they sit outside the playoffs entirely. what is it going to take for this team--this real team, not the one that showed up for two weeks then slunk back to let the february crew regain control--to make it to the post season?
currently, memphis sits in 6th at 28-22. houston is technically in 7th and denver in 8th, both with a 28-24 record. the jazz are in the nine spot at 27-26. and phoenix is hanging around in 10th at 25-26. assuming there are no upsets for any of these teams for the entire month, the jazz don't make the playoffs. sorry.
if you waste 30 minutes like i did writing out the remaining schedules for these teams and assume the team with the superior record always wins, here's how things look:
- memphis shouldn't move much, with a projected 9-7 finish to stay in 6th with a final record of 37-29. the grizzlies play nine at home and seven on the road through 4/26. but...
- houston also finishes 37-29, having the "easiest" finish where they should win 9 and lose only 5. but houston has to play eight games on the road and six at home. houston loses the head-to-head tiebreaker as memphis already wrapped up the series 2-1.
- denver would stay in 8th, finishing out 7-7 for a 35-31 overall. like houston, denver has only six home games remaining and eight on the road.
- the jazz just miss the cut finishing their final 13 games 7-6 for a 34-32 overall. seven of these games are at home, and six are on the road.
- the suns look to completely bomb, with a tough schedule that should see them go 4-10 in april to finish 29-36 they split their remaining 14 games evenly at home and as a visitor.
despite their projected 9-7 finish and a 9-7 home/road advantage, memphis has the most to lose in the immediate future (excluding phoenix, who i'm counting out at this point for the sake of brevity). the grizzlies start april with a back-to-back-to-back @OKC, vGSW, and @DAL. then they get one day off before a back-to-back @MIA and vDAL. then one more day off before facing the clippers in memphis. for those with a good handle on standings, that means memphis should lose five of their next six before they face the inferior suns. but of MEM's final eight games, the only one they should lose will be the season closer against the magic.
houston should lose their next three in a row but then it's smooth sailing through 4/26 excluding a 4/18 contest in dallas and a 4/22 game in miami.
denver, on the other hand, should lose to the magic today then win five in a row before things get rough to close the season. starting 4/13 against the lake-show at staples, the thuggets are likely to lose six of their final eight. the only bright spots in late april for denver are a 4/21 game in phoenix and the season closer at minnesota.
that brings us to the jazz, who should win (knock on wood) their next three, lose three, then more or less trade W's and L's for the rest of the season. the biggest detriment to the jazz are that they don't have many games that are paper losses but could be wins: utah faces SAS twice, houston, memphis, dallas, and orlando for their projected remaining losses. which, to some degree, puts utah's fate in its own hands. besides beating inferior-record teams, utah's best shot at the post season requires at least toppling houston and memphis. that brings each of those teams down to 26-30 (still a "tie" for sixth but with memphis retaining the tie-breaker), and ties the jazz with denver for 8th. but the jazz own the head-to-head tie-breaker over denver so we'd sneak in.
basically, with roughly a quarter of the season to go, the jazz can't afford to make any mistakes. but with a little luck and doing what they're supposed to do, the playoffs aren't impossible at this point. one spurs game, one dallas game, and one orlando game are at ESA so an upset there is possible as well.
but it all has to start tomorrow in portland. let's hope wes and friends are ready to throw in the towel.