The Suns, who hold a nine-game lead over the NBA’s next-best team, are close to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The two teams behind them in the standings, the No. 2 Grizzlies and No. 3 Warriors, each have a two-game cushion over their next-closest competitor.
After the top three though, the West’s standings get a little more congested. The No. 4 Jazz, at 45-27, are separated from the No. 7 Timberwolves (42-31) by just 3.5 games, with the Mavericks (44-28) and Nuggets (43-30) sandwiched in between them.
All four clubs have looked like playoff teams, but – barring a massive Warriors collapse – only three will finish in the top six in the West. The other will end the regular season at No. 7 and will need to win a play-in game in order to officially earn a playoff spot.
The Timberwolves have been locked into the No. 7 seed since January and have the seventh-hardest schedule the rest of the way, according to Tankathon. That probably makes them the odds-on favorite to finish outside of the top six. But they’ve been one of the hottest teams in basketball over the last few months, having gone 26-11 since the new year. They’ll also control the tiebreaker vs. Denver and will face the Nuggets once more on April 1 with a chance to gain ground.
The Nuggets have a more favorable schedule, but have been a little shakier as of late — before Tuesday’s win over the Clippers, they’d lost four of their last six. With no guarantee that Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr. will be back before the end of the regular season, Denver can’t necessarily count on getting reinforcements down the stretch.
The Jazz and Mavericks look like safer bets for top-six finishes, since time is running out for Denver or Minnesota to catch them. Still, it’s worth noting that Utah has the NBA’s fourth-hardest remaining schedule, per Tankathon, with only two games left against non-playoff or play-in opponents. Dallas, meanwhile, has big games in Minnesota on Friday and vs. Utah on Sunday — losing both of those contests would make the Mavs’ top-six position more tenuous.
We want to know what you think. Will the West’s current playoff teams hang onto their spots and force the Timberwolves into the play-in tournament? Or will Minnesota catch the Nuggets or another team and secure a playoff spot by the end of the regular season?
Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts and predictions on the West’s playoff race!
9 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Top Six In West”
The simple fact that the Wolves are even in this conversation is a huge win for the franchise. They’re more than competitive now and have yet to hit their ceiling. However, I would bet on them finishing 7th and landing that play-in spot.
GSW without Steph is free falling. This road trip starting with a loss to the Magic continues tonight on the B2B in Miami, then @ Hawks trying to move up from 10th, then a B2B @ Wizards and Grizzlies. And when they get home, they host the Suns and Jazz. This could be a drop to 6th or even 7th, they look lost without Steph, and Klay and Draymond are nowhere near 100%.
I agree GS is struggling and they should have had no business losing to SA and ORL.
10 games left, they’re up by 2 games for the #3 seed.
Probable W’s: ATL, WAS, SAC, LAL, SA, NO
Potential L’s: MIA, MEM, PHO, UTA
So let’s say GS gets upset by one or two of those teams above, but knocks out one or two of the teams that are potential L’s too. Going 6-4 the rest of the way is pretty realistic. So in order for them to get leapfrogged, Utah would have to go 9-1 (GS currently holds tiebreaker with UTAH) or Dallas would have to go 9-1.
Even if GS goes 5-5, they’ve still got a pretty good cushion on that 3 spot.
I tried to tell somebody the other day that the Warriors aren’t at 100%. He said I was dumb. They have some very good to great players. People seem to forget that Wiseman didn’t play College Hoops. He hasn’t had a full training camp or summer league. The guy is really raw. The Warriors will be better when he gets the chance to actually play. A rusty Klay coming back in mid-season was not a recipe for success.
Denver has a cupcake schedule the rest of the way out and the Jazz may be hard pressed to play .500 ball with one of the toughest slates. Here’s how I see it playing out:
At least in my opinion, this is evidence the play-in should only exist if the 8th and 9th seeds are within a couple of games (whatever cutoff you wish to set). There is no reason one of these teams should have their playoff spot put at risk by a team ten games below .500.
Yes, you can argue that the seventh seed shouldn’t have a problem winning those games. My counterargument is that fluke wins and losses happen all of the time. Just look at the NCAA tournament. Why even bother playing the regular season at that point if it all depends on just 2 games essentially?
7v8 winner goes to #2 as #7.
7v8 loser hosts 9v10 winner; winner goes to #1 as #8.
The rest normal: #1v#8,#2v#7,#3v#6,#4v#5
Mild motivation exists to get to 1-4,7,9 for home advantage. 5,6,8 gets to skip a 1-game series and 10 gets in at all. I think #1 deserves another advantage— give them a pick of opponents at this stage!
The Pels should overtake the Lakers but that would not make much difference.
GSW has gone 0-3, 4-8, and 6-12… while DAL is 9-3 and 15-5… Mavs can make up that 3-game difference in 9 games. They would avoid the Suns side, who is much the best in the WC.
So far a GSW-MEM series is well behind a PHX-DAL matchup in won-loss quality.
All of what you said would make sense if you learned how to speak English. A Computer doesn’t understand what you said.