UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Can Clinch Division Title Against Nuggets

May 6, 2021, 3:30 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm
Nikola Jokic - Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets...
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets goes to the basket against Joe Ingles #2, Jordan Clarkson #00 and Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz in the third quarter at Ball Arena on January 31, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz can clinch the Northwest Division title with a win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

With six games remaining in the season, the Jazz own a four-game lead over the Nuggets but could extend that lead to five with a victory over their divisional rival.

The two teams have split the season series one game apiece, with the winner of Friday night’s matchup deciding the season tie-breaker.

Jazz Can Clinch Division Title Against Nuggets

The Jazz can win their first division title since 2017 with a victory over the Nuggets. A win would extend the Jazz lead over Denver to five games with just five games remaining.

And, with the tie-breaker in hand, the Nuggets could no longer overtake the Jazz in the final Western Conference standings.

That would leave the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers as the only teams that could pass the Jazz in the conference, clinching a top-three seed in the West. The Jazz have already locked up a top-four seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Jazz have played their last 10 games without All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell who suffered a severe right ankle sprain on April 16. The team is 6-4 in the guard’s absence, but have won three straight.

The team has also been without All-Star point guard Mike Conley for the past five games. Conley re-aggravated a hamstring injury on April 26, though the Jazz are 4-1 in his absence.

Mitchell and Conley will both miss the Jazz final regular season matchup against the Nuggets, as will reserve center Juwan Morgan. Rookie center Udoka Azubuike has been updated to probably after missing the last 47 games due to an ankle injury suffered with the Salt Lake City Stars.

The team’s offense has been carried by Bojan Bogdanovic with Mitchell out of the lineup. Over the last 10 games, Bogdanovic is averaging 21.2 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three.

Nuggets Need Win To Keep Pace In West

While the Jazz are looking to clinch the Northwest Division title, the Nuggets are hoping to keep pace the ultra-competitive West.

Denver took control over the third seed in the West with Wednesday’s win over the New York Knicks but is in a dead-heat with the Clippers near the top of the conference.

With a loss Friday, the Nuggets would no longer have a pathway to the top seed in the West and could still potentially fall as far as sixth. However, if the Nuggets were to win, they would preserve their hopes of earning the top seed in the West and would clinch home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Denver is 10-2 in their last 12 games since Jamal Murray went down with a season-ending ACL injury and have been buoyed by Nikola Jokic’s MVP performance.

Key Matchup

Friday’s key matchup will pit Denver’s Jokic against Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Jokic is the heavy favorite to win the MVP award averaging 26.4 points 10.9 rebounds, and 8.4 assists while shooting 56 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three.

Gobert is one of the favorites to win the Defensive Player of the Year award after leading the Jazz to a top-three defense in the NBA while averaging 14.4 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks.

The Jazz center is averaging 13.5 points and 10.5 rebounds against the Nuggets this year while Jokic is averaging a staggering 41 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists in the two meetings.

Broadcast

The Jazz and Nuggets will tip-off at 7 pm MT, the game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.

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