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Plenty at stake in NBA's final weekend — including a scoreboard-watching Jazz

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, left, talks with his players during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(Lynne Sladky, Associated Press)



SALT LAKE CITY — Don't expect Quin Snyder to be scoreboard watching this weekend as the NBA hits the regular-season finale.

At least, not any more than the head coach of the Utah Jazz already does.

With Mike Conley's return in Friday's 109-93 rout of Oklahoma City, a lot seems more sunny in Jazz land than it did just three days ago when Utah was coming off back-to-back losses without its two All-Star guards in Conley and Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell, who remains in Salt Lake City during the regular season-ending road trip, is expected to return to the Jazz in time for the playoffs.

That leaves Utah (51-20) with a day to travel to Sacramento — and probably watch the six games scheduled for Saturday with a close eye. Especially close will be Phoenix's first of two tilts with San Antonio (12 p.m. MT).

For a basketball nut like Snyder — a fan of the WNBA who was eyeing intently the tipoff of the league's 25th season Friday because he believes he can learn a lot from the men and women building that side of basketball — that means little. He'll be watching, no matter what.

This time of year, it just means a little more.

"I think this time of year, particularly in the west, everybody's watching games," Snyder said after Friday night's game. "On three different levels, there is very little separation between certain teams.

"Regardless of where you finish, you still don't know who you are going to play. Certainly, you're paying attention. Whether you are watching play-by-play depends on the individual, but guys know what is going on in the league right now."

There are plenty of things to keep an eye on, too.

After Friday night's games, only three teams were locked into their position in the 20-team playoff — and just one in the Western Conference. The Spurs will be the No. 10 seed in the West, while the Philadelphia 76ers clinched the East's top seed late Friday night, and the Boston Celtics were locked into the No. 7 seed on that side of the bracket.

The Spurs are currently set to play Memphis in the 9-10 game, opposite the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors in the 7-8 game.

The winner of Los Angeles and Golden State will advance directly to face the No. 2 seed — currently Phoenix — while the loser will play the winner of Memphis and San Antonio for the right to face the top seed — currently the Jazz.

But Golden State and Memphis are currently tied with a 38-33 overall record, and the Lakers are only 0.5 games behind Portland, who could've protected itself from the play-in game with a win over the Suns on Thursday (the Blazers lost in the final seconds).

Most of the names aren't likely to change. But the numbers next to them are very much TBD.

That includes the Jazz, the Northwest division champs who could clinch the No. 1 seed with a win Sunday at Sacramento, or fall to No. 2 if Phoenix wins its remaining pair against San Antonio and the Jazz lose Sunday.

If the Suns — who clinched the Pacific division title Friday night, for whatever it's worth — drop either of their final two games Saturday or Sunday, they'll fall out of contention for the top seed in the conference.

So by the time the Jazz tipoff against the Kings at 7 p.m. MT Sunday, they'll know exactly what they have to do.

NBA regular-season finale weekend

Saturday, May 15

  • Chicago Bulls vs. Brooklyn Nets, 11 a.m. MT
  • LA Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers, 11 a.m. MT
  • Charlotte Hornets vs. New York Knicks, 11 a.m. MT
  • Boston Celtics vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 12 p.m. MT
  • Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs, 12 p.m. MT
  • Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 6 p.m. MT

Sunday, May 16

  • Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks, 11 a.m. MT (ESPN)
  • Indiana Pacers vs. Toronto Raptors, 11 a.m. MT
  • Charlotte Hornets vs. Washington Wizards, 11 a.m. MT
  • Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs, 12 p.m. MT
  • Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors, 1:30 p.m. MT (ESPN)
  • Houston Rockets vs. Atlanta Hawks, 5 p.m. MT
  • Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets, 5 p.m. MT
  • Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 5 p.m. MT
  • Miami Heat vs. Detroit Pistons, 6 p.m. MT
  • Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls, 7 p.m. MT
  • Dallas Mavericks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 7 p.m. MT
  • LA Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 7 p.m. MT
  • LA Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m. MT
  • Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 7 p.m. MT
  • Utah Jazz vs. Sacramento Kings, 7 p.m. MT (AT&T SportsNet RM)

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