);
Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz loss to the Atlanta Hawks further complicates Western Conference playoff picture

donovan-mitchell-032119-ftr-getty.jpg
Donovan Mitchell (NBA Getty Images)

There aren't many games remaining in the regular season, but there's still much to be determined, particularly when it comes to the Western Conference playoff picture.

By losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, the Utah Jazz are now 42-30 on the season. That's the exact same record as the San Antonio Spurs, LA Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, creating a four-team tie for the final four seeds in the Western Conference.

There's little doubt that those four teams will make the playoffs, as they're each seven games ahead of the Sacramento Kings, who currently sit in ninth place, with 10 games to play. But there's a huge difference between being the fifth seed and the eighth seed, if only to avoid playing the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors in the opening round.

Based solely on who each team still has to play in the regular season, the Jazz have the clearest path towards finishing with the better record. According to Tankathon, they have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the league.

The Thunder, on the other hand, have the fourth-hardest remaining schedule.

Strength of Schedule (SOS)
Team Record SOS Rank
Oklahoma City Thunder 42-30 .557 4
LA Clippers 42-30 .464 25
San Antonio Spurs 42-30 .451 27
Utah Jazz 42-30 .424 29

Whereas the Jazz only have two more games against playoff opponents, the Thunder have six - the Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

As for the Clippers and Spurs, they're in the same ballpark as the Jazz, with one of the league's easier remaining schedules.

The only remaining game between two of those teams, meanwhile, is April 11, when the Clippers host the Jazz.

Neither the Clippers nor Jazz will likely go out all in that matchup as long as they have secured a playoff berth, but it could mean we'll have to wait until the final day of the regular season once again to know what the first round matchups will be.

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