Utah Jazz: Breaking Down Their Path to the NBA Playoffs

Matt JonesAnalyst IApril 20, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 12: Al Jefferson #25 of the Utah Jazz looks to against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 12, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Jazz 118-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With three games remaining in this shortened NBA season, it is win and get in for the Utah Jazz.

Currently sitting in the ninth spot in the Western Conference playoff standings, the Jazz are faced with the difficult task of winning their next three games in a row to make it into the postseason.

The ever-changing playoff race in the Western Conference is close, and the Jazz are not only battling for the eighth spot, they also could end up in the sixth or seventh position. 

Over the next week the team will play it's final three games with all of them coming at home. 

The following is a break down of the last three games and how each game will turn out.

Orlando Magic

Following a big win in Portland, the Jazz return home with a few days rest to meet an Orlando Magic team that is going in the wrong direction. 

While the Magic is a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, the Jazz catch a big break here as they will face them without Dwight Howard who will have season-ending back surgery.

The Magic, already missing Hedo Turkoglu, will come to Salt Lake City shorthanded and looking for answers as they head into a playoff run of their own.

Both teams will come into the Saturday contest rested as each last played on Wednesday night. Orlando is coming off of a loss to the Boston Celtics and the Jazz play just after a convincing win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31:  Gordon Hayward #20 of the Utah Jazz grabs a rebound during the game against Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on March 31, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by do
Harry How/Getty Images

Expect the motivated Jazz to play a strong game and outlast the Orlando Magic at home. 

Phoenix Suns

By far the toughest and most meaningful game of the remaining three. Not only are the Phoenix Suns a team that is also fighting for the same playoff positioning but the Jazz have not beat them yet this season.

These two rivals are currently tied with matching records and could be when they meet in each teams second to last game of the season. 

In order to win this huge game, the Jazz have got to figure out a way to contain the ageless Steve Nash, who the Jazz have struggled to stop during each game this season.

Additionally, Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley have all had big games against the Jazz and could once again cause problems for them.

This game is an absolute must win game for both teams to stay in the playoff hunt and it will be a hard fought battle that will feel like a playoff game. 

In the end the Jazz will find a way to limit the effectiveness of Nash, challenge the Suns outside shooting, and contain the inside game.

The Jazz will come up with a victory that will leave them with only one more step to get into the playoffs.  

Portland Trail Blazers

The Jazz should have no problem with the Portland Trail Blazers in the last game of the regular season. 

Although it is usually competitive when these two teams meet, the Jazz are coming off of a recent 112-91 victory in Portland. 

The Trail Blazers are a team who have underperformed this season and have dealt with a lot of injury issues. 

In the last game of the season for both teams, each will be looking in a different direction. The Trail Blazers will be happy to have this disappointing season come to an end, and the Jazz will still be looking towards the playoffs. 

After having played Phoenix, the Jazz must be careful to not experience a let down. If the last game between these two clubs is any indication of how the next game will be, the Jazz should walk through their last game and into the playoffs.

Overall, the Utah Jazz will take care of business and take advantage of having three consecutive games at home to finish the season.

Wins over these next three opponents will carry the Jazz back into the playoffs ahead of what many thought would be a long absence from the postseason.