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Jazz Still Waiting to See Who's Next

Jazz Still Waiting to See Who's Next



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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By DOUG ALDEN AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Jazz still don't know if they should worry about Tim Duncan or Steve Nash.

The Jazz returned to practice Thursday after a day off, still not knowing who they will be playing in the Western Conference finals. San Antonio leads the series against Phoenix 3-2 and can wrap it up Friday at home.

Or Phoenix can force a Game 7, which would leave the Jazz's next opponent up in the air until Sunday. Either way, the Jazz will be starting the next round on the road against the Spurs or the Suns.

Utah coach Jerry Sloan had no preference.

"Neither one of them were very much fun to play against," Sloan said.

Duncan and the Spurs have given the Jazz fits for years. Utah went 2-2 against San Antonio this season, which was a big improvement over 0-3 last year. Utah hasn't beaten San Antonio in a season series since 1997-98, which was also the last time the Jazz made it this far in the playoffs.

The Spurs won the NBA title in 2005 and the Suns were in the conference finals last year, so both would have an edge in experience against the Jazz.

"Both of them have been to where we're going now and San Antonio has been to where we want to get to," Utah forward Carlos Boozer said. "Either way, we're going to have a great series on our hands."

The Jazz are in the conference finals after beating Golden State in five games, wrapping it up late Tuesday with a 100-87 win at home. Sloan gave his players Wednesday off and didn't work them very hard in Thursday's practice.

Tuesday's game had several confrontations and hard fouls, but nothing that escalated to a fight. The Jazz kept their composure and won the game with 12 free throws at the end.

"It wasn't the greatest game in the world the other night to finish up, but you know, there are a lot of other things you have to try to deal with. Emotions get involved in this game, good, bad or otherwise," Sloan said. "You can see what emotions do to teams. You can see what it does to players."

Sloan said Friday's practice would be more physical. Saturday's plans will depend on what happens between the Suns and Spurs on Friday night.

If San Antonio wins, the Jazz will play at the Spurs on Sunday. If the Suns win, the series goes to a Game 7 and the conference finals would start on Tuesday.

"We know there's going to be a game somewhere. We're not completely in the dark," Sloan said.

Since losing the first two games of the opening round at Houston, the Jazz have won eight of 10 and are unbeaten at home in the playoffs. The Jazz averaged 112.6 points in the series against Golden State and believe they are capable of running with the Suns or playing more of a half-court game against the Spurs.

"We played pretty good basketball throughout. We've been playing pretty consistent basketball," guard Deron Williams said. "We're definitely happy with that, but we feel like we've still got to get better. You've got to improve in the playoffs."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-05-17-07 1613MDT

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