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Phoenix Suns Lose But Win Best Lottery Odds; Jazz Clinch Playoff Berth

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I blogged last week about how wild the West is in terms of playoffs and it’s still that way. However, we’re starting to get a bit of clarity, at least on the other end. The Suns dropped a game last night to the Warriors as the Grizzlies beat the Pistons, which secured the Suns the best odds at the lottery. This year we’ll still see the old lottery process, which will be changing next season, meaning the Suns will have a 25% chance to get the No. 1 overall pick.

If that happens, Phoenix then has a pretty nice young core of Booker/Jackson/Ayton (assuming they take him No. 1). Right off the bat you get a polished offensive player in Ayton, who also stays close to his college home. There will be instant fan support as they know Ayton and you get the Arizona fans trickling over to Suns games to watch their guy play. The other key here? Ayton gets at least a year to work with Tyson Chandler on defending at the NBA level. I talked about how Ayton is polished on the offensive side of the ball and while he does protect the rim at a decent clip, he gets lost on the interior defense at times. Chandler is one of the best interior defenders of this era and getting a year to mentor Ayton could be huge for his development.

This is the eighth straight year the Suns will miss the playoffs and be in the lottery, however this is the first year they’ll have the most ping pong balls.

On the other end, the Jazz secured a playoff berth after beating the Lakers 112-97 last night. The Jazz have been one of the hottest teams, if not the hottest team in the league after going 28-5 since January 19. To think they went 4-15 from December 15 to January 15 and are now in the mix for the No. 3 spot out West is one of the craziest stories in the NBA this year. It’s also why Quin Snyder would get my vote for Coach of the Year. Considering they dealt with the loss of Hayward to free agency, had Rudy Gobert injured for 26 games and then the development of a possible Rookie of the Year in Donovan Mitchell just shows how damn good Snyder has been this year. Yeah, there are a ton of great options like Brown, Casey, D’Antoni and Stevens for Coach of the Year, but all things considered I’d give it to Snyder.

The Jazz are currently in the 4th position out West, a game behind Portland for the 3rd spot. The Jazz are also a game up on the Spurs, Pelicans and Thunder who are all tied for spots 5-7 in the playoffs. The Jazz close home against Golden State and then at Portland, in what could be a win and get the 3rd spot game potentially. The Blazers are at Denver tonight before hosting Utah on Wednesday.

Here’s who everyone has left that’s still alive for the playoffs:

Portland (48-32) – @Denver, vs Utah
Utah (47-33) – vs Golden State, at Portland
New Orleans (46-34) – @LA Clippers, vs San Antonio
San Antonio (46-34) – vs Sacramento, @ New Orleans
Oklahoma City (46-34) – @ Miami, vs Memphis
Minnesota (45-35) – vs Memphis, vs Denver
Denver (45-35) – vs Portland, @ Minnesota