Blogtable: Race For West’s No. 8

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

With a little more than a week left in the season, who do you like for No. 8 in the West? What’s going to make the difference?

Steve Aschburner: Houston. It would be nice, at this late stage of their careers, to have Steve Nash and Grant Hill in the postseason again but Phoenix faces a gauntlet of tough foes down the stretch (Thunder, Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, Spurs) with only that last opponent likely to ease up pre-playoffs. Going by strength of schedule – the biggest remaining factor – the potential-maxing Rockets are in the best shape, with New Orleans twice, Golden State once and a game at Miami on Sunday that might find the Heat in playoff-prep mode. Utah finishes with three home games but one is against the plucky Suns.

Fran Blinebury: The Suns have had the longest climb and they have the toughest finishing lineup of opponents.  But only one road game.  They are playing free and fearlessly and having a lot of fun and that goes a long way at this time of the year.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Houston because of the veteran presence. Phoenix was my first instinct, for playing the best of the candidates. Then I looked at their closing schedule. The Thunder, the Clippers (in a back-to-back), the Nuggets, the Jazz, the Spurs. Only one road game, Tuesday at Utah, but very unfriendly. If the Suns make it, they will definitely have earned it.

Shaun Powell: The wiseguy answer is, I like none of the contenders. They all have some sort of flaw, and you could easily make a case for each of them to finish ninth or even 10th. But because you asked, I’ll go on a limb and say the Jazz run the table and steal the final playoff spot. The Suns’ remaining schedule is beastly (OKC, LAC, Nuggets, Jazz, Spurs) and the Rockets are absolutely gutless right now.

John Schuhmann: Can I wait until after tonight’s Rockets-Mavs game to answer this one? Just guessing here, but I’ve got Denver finishing 37-29, Dallas finishing 37-29, Phoenix finishing 34-32, Houston finishing 35-31 and Utah finishing 35-31. So that puts Dallas in sixth (tie-breaker over Denver), Denver in seventh, Utah in eighth (tie-breaker over Houston), Houston in ninth, and Phoenix in 10th. Hard to see the Jazz losing more than one more, with two games against the Blazers and another against the Magic.

Sekou Smith: I like the Rockets for that eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. I really like the idea of Steve Nash, Grant Hill and the Suns making it into the playoff mix. But I love the idea of the Jazz clawing their way into that No. 8 spot, setting up a matchup against the Spurs and then watching Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap go toe-to-toe with Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair. With so many different ways this thing can play out over the next nine days, it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly what will decide the eighth spot. But next Tuesday’s Suns-Jazz game should make for great theater.

36 Comments

  1. Karlo Garcia says:

    Will come down 2 Utah vs Phoenix matchup 2 determine 8 final playoff spot.

  2. The Annonymous RAW GM says:

    So far Utah could make the playoffs. But it all depends how they do against Denver and the team they are hoping that backfires on them Phoenix. Remember. The Suns own the tie-breaker on both the Jazz & Rockets who fell off hard. And after losing in OT to the Hornets tonight….I can see the Suns getting in. And all depends on Utah’s part. I guess we will have a wait and see.

  3. Joaquin says:

    Houston or Utah, Phoenix has a brutal schedule, I have loved the Suns for years but the reality is they are an ok team, and they wont make the playoffs

  4. Gapek says:

    I’m from Poland and would like to see our only NBA player, Marcin Gortat, giving his best in the playoffs. Plus, there are not many pointguards like Nash nowadays – so creative in terms of individual plays and efficient in pick’n’roll at the same time. It’s a pitty Suns got rid off Goran Dragic – he was a bit like Steve Nash Jr., don’t you think?

  5. vamos a la playa says:

    I looked at the schedule: utah is going to play home with orlando and i think that the magic wouldn’t be sad to lose one more game. van gundy’s team prefers to get the 6th seed and face the pacers rather than the celtics.

    tonight phoenix takes on clippers: tough, tough,tough match.
    lob city is playing well and the level of their half court game has increased in the last month.

  6. charles says:

    The TIMBERWOLVES ARE ROOTING FOR UTAH because they get Utah’s first round pick if Utah make the playoffs.

  7. Txema from Catalonia says:

    I think the schedule is much much better for the Jazz. But I have a dream. My loved Suns taking the 8th and sweeping the Thunder in first round. GO GO SUNS GO PHX!!!

  8. Jay says:

    Suns all the Way! With the thoughest Schedule remaining the suns will proof, they´ve still gas left.
    They just have to Beat Utah and the deal is done, Houston is no serious thread

  9. Andrew says:

    I really hope Suns could make it despite the schedule. They are capable winning at least 3 out of 5 games remaining. Hopefully all tie, but since Suns got a better head to head than Rockets and Jazz, they will get the 8th spot with Nash making the right play. Go Suns and Steve all the way to the final.

  10. viNce says:

    man… i’d really want the suns to take the last spot… think about it… nash and hill might be leaving soon… and wouldn’t it be great to see two future hall of famers take a last chance for a ring… you might know but if they get the last spot, they might take what’s all left inside them and turn things around and surprise everyone… add the amazing comeback story of Michael Redd in the picture…

  11. rock says:

    go rockets

  12. JT says:

    Kind of a catch 22 for the Jazz. It looks like they are going to make it (tremendous job by Tyrone Corbin), but then they’d lose their playoff pick to Minnesota. Hopefully for them Golden State stays above #7, and they can have their pick.

  13. Rockets for life! says:

    well if heat is in pre-playoff mode. Then the game between phoenix and utah jazz will be a decisive factor

  14. numb3r69 says:

    JAZZ ALL THE WAY !!!

  15. Autumn Falls says:

    I’m going with Houston for the 8th spot. Yeah we’re on a little losing streak but we have an easy schedule ahead of us and we should be able to pull it off. We’re capable of beating teams like LA, OKC, Chicago. They are a really underated team because they really do have some good players and a good coach. I just think they deserve it more. We’d probably be doing alot better if it weren’t for all the injuries. The Rockets have heart and I really think they’ll grab that 8th spot.

  16. phamie says:

    I would love to see the phoenix suns and steve nash make it to number 8 spot.

  17. shaun says:

    the jazz will make it to the playoff spot…go jazz….the remaining 4 games are no match to your team…as will as the phoenix will handle 4 games hard and also houston…..

  18. that jazz fan that gets you annoyed at a game says:

    i think that Utah will make it because they are a young team with some experience too.They own the tie breaker with Huston witch there a half a game back of as of today and they still have a game with phoenix, so if Utah can win the next 4 games and Huston just loses one than they will have the remaining seed.

  19. PennyAnd1 says:

    Suns will definitely make it if they get past OKC & Clippers in back to back games, which I believe that they will do. These guys have the best team chemistry outside Spurs in the league, and because of that they overachieved, hence are in the 8th spot right now. I don’t see them stopping at all with 5 games to go, especially with Nash running the show.

  20. magic12fan says:

    Phx schedule is brutal and the rockets have a lot of guys injured and Utah’s schedule is pretty easy but Phx has played awesome as of late. Really depending who wins the Suns-Jazz game (remember the Suns own the tiebreaker against both Houston winning the last game between the 2 and Utah leading 2-0 in a 3 game set)

  21. LakersRangafan2417 says:

    suns take the 8 seed.
    spurs vs suns
    thunder vs nuggets
    lakers vs mavs
    clippers vs grizzlies

  22. UncleStanley says:

    It’s pretty obvious that the Jazz are gonna make it

  23. veksleri says:

    Hopefully, the Jazz. However, they have to win all their games (including vs Phoenix) and hope the Suns lose to one more opponent. I don’t see the Jazz win all their games, as Phoenix are going to play at home extremely well. So, hopefully Utah, but unfortunately Phoenix.

  24. pj parker says:

    Rockets all the way… yeah we lost 4 in a row.. But its only because the injury bug has been biting the hell out of us.. martin,lowry,camby,… but we are gonaana take 4 of the next 5 games and then beat san antonio in the first round… mark my words.. Clutch City all the way.

    • Rockets says:

      Rockets are definatly going to make the playoffs and beat OKC or SAS. Nice to see a Rockets fan.

  25. Bashar says:

    GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCKETS

  26. Number1HoustonRocketsFan says:

    It would be better for Houston to make 8th because the season series against OKC and SAS is tied at 2-2, and for PHO against SAS its 3-0 for SAS. So Houston will be a tougher opponent against the best teams in the West.

  27. mattman says:

    i have a feeling that its going to be the suns and houston..i thought about this a few weeks ago: http://www.mindofmattman.com/2012/04/gunning-for-that-8th-spot-nba-western.html

  28. nz1 says:

    suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuns!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  29. DOUCHEKU says:

    GO JAZZ !!!

  30. I would like and love to see Nash and the Suns to take the last spot. But the Jazz remaining opponents seem easier for them. I guess the Jazz will go to bingo!

  31. vamos a la playa says:

    “gutless” just because they lost 4 games in a row and probably they will lose the 5th this night.
    that’s not a relevant business card to present when the final rush is on fire.
    ok, i’ll agree with Shaun but houston has a better team chemestry compared to phoenix and jazz.
    (that is on paper).
    suns schedule is terrible by the way but they are playing with a silky nonchalance and that could help to fight back stress and fear.

  32. tharpey says:

    Shaun, we’re talking about the 8th seed. OF COURSE they all have their flaws. I also think it’s funny you call a team “gutless” that just beat Chicago, LA and OKC on their home courts.

  33. mrkcsigue says:

    I want to see the Suns in the 8th spot ofcourse because of Steve Nash,
    but in reality i’m looking for the Rockets for better match-up any team against #1..

    • Randy says:

      I agree with you. I’m a huge fan of Steve Nash. I love watching him play, but if the Suns don’t make the Playoffs I would love to see the Jazz or possibly the Rockets make a run.