(UPDATE: Game 1 of the Jazz-Spurs series will be this Sunday at AT&T Center. No time or TV schedule has been announced by the NBA. It’s still unknown when Games 2-4 will be played.)
The Utah Jazz now know their first-round opponent will indeed be the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs. That mystery was solved tonight when the Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 106-101.
The Nuggets improved their record to 37-28, ensuring a better seeding than the 35-30 Jazz regardless of what happens in the NBA’s season-finales Thursday night. Utah hosts Portland, and Denver travels to Minnesota.
Dallas (36-29) and Utah could end up with a tied record, but the defending NBA champions won the tiebreaker by beating the Jazz in two out of three contests this season. (Sorry, the Jazz’s 123-121 triple-overtime victory didn’t even the score at 2-2 despite that game’s length.)
All that remains to be seen now is when the Jazz-Spurs series will start. The popular theory is that the two small-market teams will be thrown into a bad TV slot on Saturday in San Antonio, followed by a Monday game. Don’t be surprised if Games 3 and 4 are Thursday and Saturday in Utah. (Some of last year’s first and second games were separated by three days, but the NBA is condensing the playoff schedules this year.)
The first round is a best-of-seven series with a 2-2-1-1-1 format.
The Jazz, by the way, went 1-3 against San Antonio this season. That one win was against a Spurs squad that did not even include Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
This match-up is a rematch of the 2007 Western Conference Finals, although you wouldn’t know that by looking at the Jazz roster. Only two players from the Utah team that lost that series 4-1 remain — Paul Millsap and C.J. Miles. The Spurs, powered by the same Big Three, went on to win the NBA championship.
Utah, however, holds a 3-1 all-time lead in playoff series against San Antonio, having previously advanced past the Spurs in 1994, ’96 and ’98.
The Jazz are 9-1 in home playoff games against the Spurs but just 3-7 on the road (12-8 overall).