A 5-Horse Race For West Seeds 6 – 8?


VIDEO: Kevin Love has 33 points and 19 rebounds to lift the Wolves over the Nuggets

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – A five-horse sprint to capture playoffs seeds 6 through 8 could be the most heated Western Conference race of the stretch run.

At the top of the standings, Oklahoma City and San Antonio are battling it out for the top seed while the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston and Portland are jockeying for seeds 3 through 5.

At the bottom it’s an ever-tightening battle for survival, not just to get into the playoffs, but if at all possible to seize the No. 6 seed and go for broke against anybody other than the Thunder or Spurs.

Entering Tuesday night’s games, No. 6 Golden State and No. 7 Phoenix both have 24 losses and are separated by one game in the win column. No. 8 Dallas and No. 9 Memphis both have 25 losses and are separated by two games in the win column. Dallas has the same number of wins as Golden State  and Memphis has one fewer win than Phoenix.

Got it?

In simple terms, seeds 6 through 9 are separated by 1 1/2 games.

And don’t totally dismiss the No. 10 Minnesota Timberwolves just yet. Fueled by Kevin Love‘s breathtaking February and the return of Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, the Wolves are making a desperate attempt to get back into playoff contention, but still remain five games behind Dallas.

All five teams have 23 games or fewer remaining. All have attractive stretches where they can potentially make up ground in a hurry, but all also have pitfalls where the dream can just as quickly come to a crashing halt.

Below is a breakdown of the five teams in contention. How many home games does each have? How many games against the West? The East? Against Indiana and Miami? Where must each team take care of business? And where must each simply survive?

Take a look:

No. 6 Golden State Warriors (36-24)

> Games left: 22 (13 home, 9 road)

> Next game: Tonight at Indiana (7 p.m. ET, League Pass)

> vs. West: 15 (7 vs. current playoff teams)

> vs. East: 7 (1 vs. Indiana, 0 vs. Miami)

> vs. winning teams: 11 (Indiana, Phoenix, Dallas 2, L.A. Clippers, Portland 2, San Antonio 2, Memphis, Minnesota)

> Moving time: Five-game homestand from March 18 – 30 (Orlando, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Memphis, New York)

> Must-haves: March 9 vs. Phoenix; March 11 vs. Dallas; March 28 vs. Memphis, April 1 at Dallas

> Must survive: March 9 – 16 (vs. Phoenix, vs. Dallas, at L.A. Clippers, vs. Cleveland, at Portland)

> Wild card: The offense has struggled, but can they rely on their No. 1 defensive rating (points per 100 possessions) in the West to win pressure games?

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No. 7 Phoenix Suns (35-24)

> Games left: 23 (9 home, 14 away)

> Next game: Tonight vs. L.A. Clippers (9 p.m. ET, League Pass)

> vs. West: 14 (10 vs. current playoff teams)

> vs. East: 9 (0 vs. Indiana, 0 vs. Miami)

> vs. winning teams: 12 (L.A. Clippers 3, Oklahoma City 2, Golden State, Toronto, Minnesota, Washington, Portland, San Antonio, Dallas, Memphis)

> Moving time: March 12-21 (vs. Cleveland, at Boston, at Toronto, at Brooklyn, vs. Orlando, vs. Detroit)

> Survival time: March 9 at Golden State, March 23 at Minnesota, March 28 vs. New York, March 30 at L.A. Lakers

> Wild card: Eric Bledsoe is practicing. Will he return and, if so, can he and Goran Dragic recapture their early-season magic?

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No. 8 Dallas Mavericks (36-25)

> Games left: 21 (12 home, 9 away)

> Next game: Wednesday at Denver

> vs. West: 18 (9 vs. current playoff teams)

> vs. East: 3 (1 vs. Indiana, 0 vs. Miami)

> vs. winning teams: 12 (Portland, Indiana, Golden State 2, Oklahoma City 2, Minnesota, L.A. Clippers 2, San Antonio, Phoenix, Memphis)

> Moving time: First four of a season-long eight-game homestand March 17 – April 1 (Boston, Minnesota, Denver, Brooklyn)

> Must-haves: March 11 at Golden State; March 12 at Utah; April 1 vs. Golden State; April 12 vs. Phoenix; April 16 at Memphis

> Survival time: Wednesday – March 16 (at Denver, vs. Portland, vs. Indiana, at Golden State, at Utah, at Oklahoma  City) and March 25 – April 3 (vs. Oklahoma City, vs. L.A. Clippers, vs. Sacramento, vs. Golden State, at L.A. Clippers)

> Wild card: Dirk Nowitzki, 35, will be solid, but can Monta Ellis, in the playoffs just twice in his career, elevate his game another rung?

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No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies (33-25)

> Games left: 23 (9 home, 14 road)

> Next game: Wednesday at Brooklyn

> vs. West: 14 (6 vs. current playoff teams)

> vs. East: 9 (1 vs. Indiana, 2 vs. Miami)

> vs. winning teams: 13 (Chicago, Portland 2, Toronto, Miami 2, Indiana, Minnesota 2, Golden State, San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas)

> Moving time: Saturday – March 19 (vs. Charlotte, vs. Portland, at New Orleans, at Toronto, at Philadelphia, vs. Utah)

> Must-haves: March 15 at Philadelphia, March 19 vs. Utah,  April 13 at L.A. Lakers, April 14 at Phoenix, April 16 vs. Dallas

> Survival time: March 19-30 (at Miami, vs. Indiana, vs. Minnesota, at Utah, Golden State, at Portland)

> Wild card: Assuming 3s aren’t going to start falling from the sky, can Memphis keep turning up its defensive intensity? Overall, the Griz’s D ranks just behind the … Timberwolves?

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No. 10 Minnesota Timberwolves (30-29)

> Games left: 23 (14 home, 9 road)

> Next game: Wednesday at New York

> vs. West: 13 (7 vs. current playoff teams)

> vs. East: 10 (0 vs. Indiana, 1 vs. Miami)

> vs. winning teams: 12 (Toronto, Dallas, Houston 2, Phoenix, Memphis 2, L.A. Clippers, Miami, San Antonio, Chicago, Golden State)

> Moving time: Wednesday – March 16 (vs. New York, vs. Detroit, vs. Toronto, vs. Milwaukee, at Charlotte, vs. Sacramento)

> Must-haves: March 19 at Dallas, March 23 vs. Phoenix, March 24 at Memphis, April 2 vs. Memphis, April 14 at Golden State

> Survival time: March 31 – April 11 (vs. L.A. Clippers, vs. Memphis, at Miami, at Orlando, vs. San Antonio, vs. Chicago, vs. Houston)

> Wild card: Can everybody stay healthy down the stretch run?

28 Comments

  1. dustydreamnz says:

    Loss to the Knicks isn’t a good start…

  2. Joseph says:

    my god you need to be 36-25 in the west to be 8th seed??

  3. fallenrock24 says:

    Wolves are far from done. They have a very good schedule, several teams below .500 and more games at home. They are healthy now and will be there until the end.

  4. MrNBA says:

    Hard to believe one of these teams won the championship just 3 yrs ago and to this day remains the only team to beat the Heat in a 7 game series. Cap space and DWill forever! Hooray for Cuban and everyone else who agreed with him.

  5. GoMavs says:

    Mavs are getting that 8 spot, or maby 7.

  6. wew says:

    @numb: YOU SHOULD CHANGE NUMB TO DUMB! HOW DO YOU THINK THE LAKERS WILL HAVE THAT ROSTER THE NEXT SEASON! THINK BEFORE YOU SUGGEST OR YOU MIGHT END UP LOOKING STUPID!

  7. Spree-J says:

    @Dustydreamz How can the wolves be done, they have more games at home, and if they play like they do right now, winning the next 6 games shouldn’t be a problem, and all of a sudden they’re 2 games behind everybody…

  8. NUMB says:

    LAKERS 2014-2015 ROSTER

    C – Demarcus Cousins
    PF – Kevin LOVE
    SF- Carmelo Anthony
    SG- Kobe Bryant
    PG- Rajon Rondo

    Bench

    Kent Bazemore
    Marshon Brooks
    Xavier Henry
    Ryan Kelly
    Robert Sacre
    Tyson Chandler
    Jordan Farmar
    Metta World Peace

    • Lewis Brooke says:

      Not possible, Kobe Bryant takes up too much cap space

    • justsayin says:

      turn off salary caps and keep jamming the force trade button and most of all keep dreaming lol.

      why do people keep posting their fantasies as if it will make them a fact.

      they could at least have the courtesy to label them as a roster wish list.

  9. dustydreamnz says:

    In the East I’m picking the Bobcats and the Cavs will get the last 2 spots.

  10. dustydreamnz says:

    Oops, my bad. Timberwolves do have more home games but I can’t see that being enough. Everyone makes mistakes.

  11. bernardo says:

    All the teams are overrated compared to miami i don’t understand why kevin love doesn’t sign with LeBron in miami. rubio-love for cole/battier/cash is a fair trade and could instantly benefit the heat for a 3peat. bosh/love/james/wade/rubio game over haters

    • bernardo jr says:

      given what you propose, it must be the heat that’s overrated. needing to stack up more just to win another title. if they’re that good, they need no more. uh, you’re overrated? thinking you’re smarter than you really are?

    • justsayin says:

      rubio-love for cole-battier is a fair trade?

      WHAT the F are you smoking man???

    • smh says:

      bro, only lbj can troll us with those trades. be orginal… smh

    • MrNBA says:

      Proof that Miami Heat fans are not the smartest fans in basketball. Here’s a more fair trade than what you proposed: Lebron and Wade for Martin, Barea, Brewer, and cash. Fair huh? I’m not hating, just putting your comment to perspective.

  12. jake s. says:

    Who wouldn’t LOVE to have Kevin on their team? He’s a monster in Minnesota and the only reason they can eek out any wins. He won’t be leaving. He will stay with the Wolves for a real playoff push during the next few years.

  13. Unkle Daddy says:

    I hope the Wolves make it in, but I don’t know that that will happen. If not I figure Love looks for greener pastures in an off-season trade. He needs to go to the Spurs if he leaves, where they know how to treat a great big man.

  14. m cunningham says:

    No one seems to mention the playoff race in the East huh? The Bobcats are the 7th seed but dropping fast due to a tough schedule. The Hawks, are 8th followed closely by the Pistons, and the Cavs. Detroit and Cleveland will make it and Bobcats and Hawks will be back in the lottery. Hopefully, the Bobcats will end up with the 11th pick, and turn that pick over to the Bulls.

    • jake s. says:

      Nobody talks about the playoff race in the east because 8 seed in the west would beat 3 seed in the east,

      • Subify says:

        Mavericks, the 8th seed, lost both home and away game to the Raptors (3rd seed in the east). So I wouldn’t be so sure about your statement right there.

    • Stephisbeast says:

      No one talks about the playoff picture in the East because there is none. They’re all lottery teams and boring to watch.

  15. Ryan Haynes says:

    The Wolves are done. They’re useless in tight games, too far behind and have more away games to play. Going to be great between the other 4 though, hoping the Suns make it.

    ^^^ I Agree With this post But Seed 8 will win this article will go more into depth http://goo.gl/OKnZEg . No matter what the CKO will win the west.

  16. Ahmed says:

    dustydreamnz,the timber wolves could make the playoffs dumb idiot they have more home games than away.

  17. dustydreamnz says:

    The Wolves are done. They’re useless in tight games, too far behind and have more away games to play. Going to be great between the other 4 though, hoping the Suns make it.

  18. Great breakdown. However…

    “…the Warriors are the only team of the five to play tonight.”

    Suns host the Clippers tonight as well.