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Rockets vs. Jazz game preview: guaranteed bottom 3 spot on the line

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NBA: Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are in a really interesting spot.

Currently, Utah hold the top seed in the West and the NBA by one game over the Phoenix Suns. If the playoffs started today, the Jazz would play the winner of the second spot in the play-in tournament. And as of right now, that could be the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers are sitting in the seventh spot in the West, and could potentially play Steph Curry and Golden State Warriors in the first play-in game. That game would garner huge ratings for the league, with “LeBron vs. Steph Part 2000” getting all the publicity. If a rusty Lakers team loses that one, they would then play the winner of Memphis-San Antonio. Even a mediocre LA team would be expected to win that one, which would put LeBron James in the eighth spot, taking on the first place Utah Jazz.

It would be an incredible series. The defending champions somehow getting use the “No one believes in us”! (h/t Bill Simmons) motivational technique. Most experts will pick the Lakers to win that series.

But if the Jazz drop to the 2 seed, there is always the chance that the Lakers win the first play-in game, and the matchup is a 2-7. I think both Utah and Phoenix probably feel like they can beat the Warriors four times, but neither team wants any part of LeBron James in the first round.

A loss tonight guarantees the Rockets the maximum number of top 4 draft pick possibilities. With it being the second night of a back-to-back on the road against a motivated opponent, not to mention the plethora of injuries Houston is nursing, it would be a miracle if Houston keeps this game close.

Tip-off is at 9pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest