Joe Ingles' NBA impact driving title shot

·3-min read

Joe Ingles tries to laugh off the idea that he's become an inspirational Australian basketball figure but as the Utah Jazz sharpshooter prepares for the NBA playoffs, he admits constant chats with Josh Giddey proves it.

The Jazz finished the regular season with an NBA-best 52-20 record, a franchise first partly due to Ingles' 49 per cent shooting from the field.

A three-point percentage of 45.1 left him fifth overall - and in conversation for the NBA's sixth man of the year award - in his seventh season of a career that began in the NBL and took him via Europe.

Giddey, 18, broke records after opting to begin his professional career in the NBL like Ingles and is a projected first round pick in the next NBA draft.

The teenager has stayed in regular dialogue with Ingles this year and says he's used Ingles' journey from the NBL to the NBA as inspiration.

"Josh is an idiot; he's way better than me," Ingles told reporters during a media call promoting Kayo's live and on-demand streaming of the playoffs.

"He does everything else better (other than scoring at that age).

"You don't think there's some kid sitting at home wanting to be inspired by me. I never thought I'd be in this position.

"But it is cool, whenever you hear of a Josh Giddey or whoever it is, it's special and something that at 33 (years old) makes me want to figure out how to keep playing.

"We want that number of Australians in the NBA to keep growing and if that's me, Patty (Mills), (Andrew) Bogut, we do take pride in that."

The Jazz's path to a title will begin on Monday (AEST) with a first-round Western Conference clash against the winner of Steph Curry's Golden State and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Ingles' Boomers teammate Patty Mills' season is over, the San Antonio Spurs losing to the Grizzlies in Thursday's other sudden-death play-in.

The Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the Warriors on Thursday, lurk as the seventh seed in a wide-open title race.

Fellow Boomers Olympic squad members Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle will feature for the Eastern Conference top seeds Philadelphia, while rookie Josh Green's Dallas have the Clippers after finishing fifth in the west.

Ingles admitted COVID-19 complications that left teams shorthanded or with tougher schedules had opened up the race, but that they'd earnt top seed and after a string of early post-season exits were keen to capitalise.

"The Lakers being in a play-in; nobody would have put money on that," he said.

"But when you lose 3-1 in a series (last year) it wakes you up ... we knew we were good, but not good enough.

"We've locked in on everything (since) ... I just hope everyone else plays like crap and we win, that's the goal."