Jazz vs. Grizzlies preview: Utah in must-win situation

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Jazz don't control their playoff destiny, but a win over Memphis keeps the dream alive.

The Utah Jazz no longer hold their own postseason destiny. One game behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings with one game remaining, the best Utah can hope for is a Lakers loss, a tie in the standings and a first-round matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

None of that happens unless the Jazz can beat the Memphis Grizzlies on the road Wednesday night.

Even if Utah manages to pull off the win in Memphis, the team isn't assured a spot in the postseason. The Lakers can officially clinch the final remaining playoff spot in the West by beating the Houston Rockets in their season finale, regardless of what the Jazz do.

That means Utah will need some luck, but more importantly, it just needs to get that win over the Grizzlies first. Without it, the Jazz will find themselves in the same place as the Charlotte Bobcats, albeit with fewer ping pong balls.

Utah has been playing quality basketball of late. Since dropping to two games below .500 in late March, the team has reeled off an impressive 9-2 run to keep its postseason aspirations alive. The only two losses during the streak came against teams with better records than Memphis -- OKC and Denver.

Still, beating a team like Grizzlies on the road won't be easy. As good as Utah has looked on the road recently, winning consecutive games at Portland, Golden State and Minnesota, respectively, Memphis is one of the most difficult places to win in.

The Grizzlies have a 31-9 record at FedEx Forum this year, the sixth-best home record in the NBA.

For a Jazz team that was 10-27 on the road before its recent three-game run, those facts don't bode particularly well. "It's funny ... I keep having this impulse to write this preview as an obituary. A final shout out to team 2012-13. But we don't know if it's over tonight," writes SLC Dunk, SB Nation's Jazz blog, reflecting a feeling shared by many fans.

And while the Grizzlies already have their postseason spot locked up, vying for homecourt advantage against the Clippers will prevent them from simply tanking out in Game 82.

Wednesday's game begins at 8 p.m. ET, broadcast on ESPN.

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