With 10 days left in the regular season, things are starting to shape up in the Western Conference playoff push, even if we may not know every matchup until the final day of the regular season, April 27.
As things sit today, this is what we’d see in the Wild West:
#1 San Antonio (43-16) vs. #8 Phoenix (32-29)
#2 Oklahoma City (44-17) vs. #7 Dallas (34-28)
#3 L.A. Lakers (39-22) vs. #6 Denver (34-27)
#4 L.A. Clippers (38-23) vs. #5 Memphis (35-25)
LAKERS, CLIPPERS SHOOT FOR THIRD
The battle for the No. 3 seed is centered in Los Angeles between the Lakers and Clippers, with the Grizzlies looking in from the outside, 3.0 games back of the Lakers. Mike Brown’s team holds a one gamelead on the Clippers, who won a big game at home against Oklahoma City on Monday night to stay well within striking distance, though the Lakers do own the tiebreaker. Here are the remaining games for each squad:
LAKERS: vs. SAS, @ GSW, @ SAS, vs. OKC, @ SAC
CLIPPERS: @ DEN, @ PHO, vs. NOH, @ ATL, @ NYK
On the surface, the Clippers schedule appears more difficult, as all four road teams they’re set to visit are battling either for their playoff lives or seeding. For the Lakers, the Warriors and Kings are a combined 36 games below .500, while the Spurs and Thunder may or may not be in competition for the No. 1 seed, which could impact the level of intensity for each of the three matchups. That’s why they play the games…
ON THE BACK END
Don’t count out Houston (32-29) or Utah (32-30) from sneaking in, as both have a puncher’s chance at claiming the final playoff spot Phoenix moved into with a Monday win over Portland due to consecutive Rockets losses to Denver. The Nuggets, with those two wins, moved from the eight slot to the six, since Dallas lost back-to-back road overtime games at L.A. and Utah on consecutive evenings. In short, whichever L.A. team gets the No. 3 seed could face any one of five teams, with Denver and Dallas holding narrow advantages in the loss column.
All of this can change in a single NBA day, so stay tuned while we try to make sense of it all for you.