Memphis, Tenn. • The Jazz entered the final day of the regular season unknowing whether their season would continue, or come to an end in the Home of the Blues.
“If you love to compete, love the game of basketball, this is the way you want it,” Al Jefferson said.
Coach Tyrone Corbin said he couldn’t recall a time in his career when the fate of a season — in or out of the playoffs — had come down to the last game. If the Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies on ESPN at 6 p.m. MT and the Houston Rockets beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the second game of the double-header, the Jazz will be the No. 8 seed.
“It’s a long afternoon,” Corbin said, “waiting until the game, just getting ready and focused and then taking care of your business. Then waiting to see what happened. But the first thing is to take care of your business. We have to get a win here tonight and we’ll go from there.”
The Jazz have won nine of their last 11 games, including three straight on the road after beating Minnesota on Monday. A victory here against Memphis would complete a striking end to the regular season, but would set up the palpable drama of waiting on the Lakers.
“It’s part of competing,” Corbin said. “But you put a lot of work in to get to this point. I’m sure the Lakers are feeling the same way.”
The Grizzlies are the NBA’s best defensive team, led by a favorite for the top individual honor for defense, center Marc Gasol.
“He’s gotta be the best big man in the league for all-around talent,” Jefferson said of the younger Gasol. “The man can do everything. He can shoot he can pass, play great D, great post work. Just a very smart, smart, smart player. Just one of those guys that you respect but hate to play against.”
The Jazz are 1-2 against the Grizzlies this season, including a loss at FedEx Forum in the fourth game of the season. Memphis has already secured the fifth seed in the West, but a win over the Jazz paired with a Clippers’ loss in Sacramento would give the Grizzlies home-court advantage in a first-round series. Following the Grizzlies shoot around, Hollins told reporters, per Jazz announcer David Locke on Twitter, “We are playing to win, however we do that.”
Jazz at Grizzlies
Wednesday, 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN, ROOT