The NBA bubble in Orlando is set to provide a play-in game for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Thanks to an impressive surge over the recent weeks, the San Antonio Spurs have their foot on the gas and sights set on making it into playoffs, but there’s work left to be done.
Currently, standing in their way is the final regular-season game for San Antonio, a date with the Utah Jazz, who found out late Wednesday night that their first-round matchup was officially set.
Following an Oklahoma City Thunder buzzer-beater victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, the Jazz are locked into the No. 6 seed and draw a first-round matchup with the Denver Nuggets. Thanks to the Thunder win, San Antonio’s chances of facing a Jazz team without a few top starters becomes a real possibility, which should bode well for their hopes of pushing into the play-in game.
The Spurs have surged to a 5-2 start in bubble play, including knocking off this same Jazz team 119-110 less than one week ago. They also rolled past the Houston Rockets 123-105 to set themselves up to have a legitimate chance at the playoffs.
As for Utah, their struggles in Orlando have been obvious, going 2-5 thus far with victories over one team who’s already out of the playoff race (New Orleans Pelicans) and another who may also be on the outside looking in (Memphis Grizzlies). If the Jazz wanted, they could fully shift their attention to the playoffs and not even stress the final bubble game, but it’s unknown how their lineup will look.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz betting line & odds
Betting Line: San Antonio Spurs (-7.5 at -110) vs. Utah Jazz
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook
Before the ending of the Thunder game, when the Jazz still had something to play for, this line featured the Spurs as six-point favorites. The shift came quickly after Utah was locked into the No. 6 seed, and it’ll likely shift even more in favor of San Antonio prior to tip.
San Antonio Spurs’ play-in scenarios
One key thing to factor in when making a call on whether the Spurs are the bet here against the Jazz is how realistic their chances of making the postseason are. Interestingly, the Spurs could already know their fate by the time their game Thursday tips off at 6:30 p.m. ET.
ESPN offered a breakdown of how the Spurs can make it into the Western Conference play-in game, which features a win against the Jazz and losses by the Grizzlies, Suns and Trail Blazers to earn the No. 8 seed. But even to get the No. 9 seed, San Antonio needs to win and have two of the aforementioned teams lose as well – and the schedule shows that both the Grizzlies and Suns play at 4 p.m. ET.
This means that if both the Grizzlies and Suns win, the game becomes meaningless to the Spurs, but if either one loses, then San Antonio should be all-in to pick up a victory.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz prediction & pick
Based on the information we know heading into a crucial day of NBA matchups, the Spurs are the bet here, precisely because there’s virtually no reason for the Jazz to play their starters or core bench players. Even if names like Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, or Mike Conley do play, it’s tough to imagine them seeing a significant number of minutes.
Pay attention to the Grizzlies and Suns matchups before the Spurs game, which can impact the bet. If either of those teams loses, San Antonio is a great play, but if they both win, it’ll likely lead to the line shifting and making this a spot that’ll become a complete toss-up.
Pick: San Antonio Spurs -7.5