Utah only needs a win to clinch home-court advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs - but getting it in San Antonio won’t be easy.
The Jazz will be trying to win a road game against the Spurs for the first time in nearly a decade on Wednesday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Utah (54-27) has already clinched the Northwest Division title, but is tied with Houston and Phoenix for the fourth-best record in the West. The Jazz beat the Rockets 105-96 in their home finale on Monday, clinching the season series and ensuring they will get home-court advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs with a win over the Spurs (55-26).
“It changes every day, so we’ll see what happens,” said Carlos Boozer, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds in his 51st double-double of the season Monday. “The competition is phenomenal in the Western Conference.”
Home-court advantage would mean a lot to the Jazz, who own the best home record in the NBA at 37-4. Utah, whose home record is its best since going 38-3 in 1996-97, is just 17-23 on the road.
Of course, the Jazz will have to end a 20-game losing streak in San Antonio, including three defeats in last year’s conference finals, if they hope to play their first two playoff games at home. Utah hasn’t won there since a 101-87 victory on Feb, 28, 1999.
“It’s good to be in a predicament where you hold your own destiny,” Utah’s Ronnie Brewer said. “That’s what I like. I don’t like depending on other people.”
The Jazz have won the last two meetings with San Antonio, most recently a 90-64 victory April 4 as the Spurs matched the lowest point total in franchise history.
“We remember what they did to us a few weeks ago,” San Antonio’s Ime Udoka said.
If Utah wins this matchup, it would tie the Spurs for the third-best record in the West and clinch the season series.
The Spurs can wrap up the third seed with a win, but have dropped three of their last six games, including the defeat against Utah, a 21-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and a 17-point home loss to the Suns.
The defending NBA champions are coming off a 101-98 win at Sacramento on Monday.
“It’s been the way we have lost lately, games have been getting away from us,” Udoka said. “We’ve gone through some scoring droughts, so it was good to get over 100 points tonight.”
Tony Parker tied his season high with 32 points and added 11 assists for the Spurs, who have won 50 or more games the past nine years and own the current longest playoff streak with 11 straight appearances. They will be trying to win their fifth NBA championship in 10 seasons.
“Utah is the last game of the season and may be a team we meet in the first round of the playoffs,” San Antonio’s Michael Finley said. “We need to go out and play well and not take steps backward.”