Blogtable: The rest of the West

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.

BLOGTABLE: Buying into the Spurs | Fixing Indiana | West 5-6-7-8

VIDEO: Shaquille O’Neal predicts the Mavericks will hang onto a spot in the West

> How do you see the final four spots in the West finally being settled? In what order? And how do you figure that?

Steve Aschburner, With Houston and Portland rasslin’ around at Nos. 4 and 5, and Golden State’s breathtaking overtime victory at Dallas Tuesday creating a little space, I’m thinking it’s three teams fighting for the final two spots. The Mavericks better not reel long from that loss Tuesday; they’re in the midst of a tough late trip, with even Sacramento and Utah looking scary when you have more at stake than they do. Memphis faces San Antonio and Miami a little more than 72 hours apart next week, and closes with games against Phoenix and Dallas. I’ve underestimated the Suns all season, but I’m not going to do it now. They could miss the postseason and still consider this an upbeat year. Dallas and Memphis? Not so much. I’m guessing Grizzlies in, Mavs out, decided on the season’s final night in Memphis.

Fran Blinebury, When you asked a version of this question several weeks ago, I said the scrappy, overachieving Suns would be the team left out.  Then they went and won six in a row.  However, I still believe Phoenix misses the playoffs.  The Suns have the toughest schedule — three at home and five on on the road to finish, including six games against West playoff teams.  In order, I’ll go with: Portland, Golden State, Memphis, Dallas.  The Blazers have weathered the storm, and with LaMarcus Aldridge back in the lineup, they have the easiest path to the finish with five home games and only one roadie at Utah left.  Of the Warriors’ final eight games, only two tough road games at San Antonio and Portland.  The Mavs and Grizzlies will battle it out for those last two spots and if it comes down to that final showdown game of the regular season, I’ll take Memphis at home.

Jeff Caplan, The Warriors’ injury situation makes this especially tricky. But this is how I see it shaking out: No. 5 Trail Blazers No. 6 Warriors, No. 7 Grizzlies, No. 8 Mavericks, No. 9 Suns. I still think Golden State has enough to hold onto the spot they’ve occupied for nearly the entire season. Memphis has the least threatening schedule of the remaining three teams. Dallas doesn’t have an easy path by any stretch — and they finish with Phoenix and Memphis — but the Suns, to me, have the roughest finishing kick. They’ll look back at their non-effort blowout loss at the Lakers on Sunday as a playoff killer.

Scott Howard-Cooper, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Mavericks. I would have dropped the Rockets into that bottom four because of the health problems, but they have a pretty easy finishing schedule of three playoff teams the final nine games, albeit with some back-to-backs. The Warriors have tough road games against the Spurs tonight and the Trail Blazers, but look at the next four after San Antonio: Kings, Jazz, Nuggets, Lakers. If there’s a momentum-builder in the Western Conference, that’s it. I dropped the Suns because their next opponents are the Clippers, Trail Blazers, Thunder, Pelicans and Spurs. But Phoenix has been beating logic all season, so watch it happen again.

John Schuhmann, Portland is safely in the No. 5 spot, with a one-game edge in the loss column and only one road game (in Utah) and three (potential) playoff teams left on its schedule. Golden State looks good for sixth, with a two-game edge on the other three teams and six of their eight remaining games against the bottom six in the West. So it will (sort of) come down to the Dallas-Memphis-Phoenix round-robin on the 12th  (PHX @ DAL), 14th (MEM @ PHX) and 16th (DAL @ MEM). I think they’ll all go 1-1 in those games, but Memphis will pick up an extra win elsewhere (they have more remaining games against non-playoff teams) and the Mavs will win the Dallas-Phoenix tiebreaker thanks to a win in that April 12 game. So I’m sticking with what I wrote a month ago. The Suns will miss out because they have the toughest schedule of the group.

Lang Whitaker, All Ball Blog: As of today, Portland, Golden State, Dallas and Memphis are in the 5-8 spots, and they are each 6-4 in their last 10 games.  And Phoenix is right behind them, 8-2 in their last 10.  If I had to choose a team not to make it, and I guess that’s what you’re making us do here,  I’d go with Phoenix. They’ve been so good all season, but at some point their magic has to run out. Doesn’t it? And as far as the other four teams finishing, I’ll go Portland, Golden State, Memphis, Dallas, although you might as well just flip a coin and see how it all plays out.

Akshay Manwani, NBA India: I am counting Minnesota out of the race and think that Portland and Golden State will hold on to their fifth and sixth rankings irrespective of the remainder of the schedule. Those two teams have an adequate buffer on Memphis, Phoenix and Dallas. Of the Grizzlies, the Suns and the Mavericks, the latter two teams play five of their remaining games on the road compared to the Grizzlies’ four games away from home. All three teams have one set of back-to-back games. But Phoenix’s schedule is most daunting because other than playing Portland, San Antonio and Dallas on the road, the Suns also have to host the Clippers, Oklahoma City and Memphis in their last eight games. And Dallas and Memphis, with their veteran experience, would certainly be favorites ahead of Phoenix to maintain their composure down the stretch. So — in short — my final four spots would be Portland, Golden State, Memphis and Dallas.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: That’s a tough race, but I think it will end with Blazers, Warriors, Mavs and Grizzlies in this order. I’m sorry for the Suns, but they have the most difficult schedule and they lack a veteran guide. The Blazers got their mojo back with LaMarcus Aldridge and the Warriors are too far to surpass them. The final two spots are the most difficult to predict. Dallas, Memphis and Phoenix are in a tight race that will probably be decided only in the final days of the regular season, when each team plays against the other two. And once again, I’m sorry for the Suns.


  1. okc2014 says:

    I’m not too keen on the Memphis Grizzlies. But they are a better team, more competitive. Would much rather see the Phoenix Suns make that 8th seed. But Dallas is more experienced, has been there, done that too. Phoenix will not make playoffs. his Which will be devastating to them because they worked so hard this year.

  2. dustydreamnz says:

    Randolph has been great for the Grizz lately. Really hoping the Suns make it, the NBA needs fairytales.

  3. KaashMoneyy94 says:

    1st seed- Spurs
    2nd seed- Thunder
    3rd seed – Clippers
    4th seed- Rockets
    5th seed- Blazers
    6th seed- Warriors
    7th seed- Suns
    8th seed- Grizzlies

    1st round winners: Spurs 4-2 over Grizz, Thunder 4-1 over Suns, Warriors 4-3 over Clips, Rockets 4-3 over Blazers
    2nd Round winners: Spurs 4-3 over Rockets, Thunder 4-3 over Warriors
    WCF: Spurs 4-2 over Thunder
    lst seed: Heat
    2nd seed: Pacers
    3rd seed: Bulls
    4th seed: Raptors
    5th seed: Nets
    6th seed: Wizards
    7th seed: Bobcats
    8th seed: Knicks

    1st round winners: Heat 4-2 over Knicks, Pacers 4-0 Bobcats, Bulls 4-2 over Wiz, Nets 4-2 over Raps
    2nd round winners: Heat 4-2 over Nets, Pacers 4-3 over Bulls
    ECF: Heat 4-3 over Pacers

  4. steppx says:

    and what does this guy mean Suns lack a veteran guide? Does he know that Dragic is a veteran? Where does hire these guys? Oh italy…………geeesh. But seriously, thats a foolish remark. Dragic is the leader, bledsoe is his second in command….and PJTucker third. None are rookies. Dallas has dirk…..big big plus and they’ve been to the championship. Memphis hasnt. Jorger is overmatched coaching, and honestly., the griz HAVE to play tayshaun prince….which is a big handicap.

    • Han says:

      Have you only watched NBA for 2 years? Dragic is not even starter until he came back to Suns for the 2nd stint, and you called him “veteran” on the same league with Dirk/Marion/Carter or ZBo/Gasol/Prince? Never even heard PJ before this season. They’re not rookies for sure, but nowhere near to what we should call “veteran”, even Calderon, Ellis or Conley has more experience than any Suns.

  5. steppx says:

    its funny that almost every sportswriter i read has Memphis making it and then magically being this tough team, the one from two years ago. Look, after they moved Gay and then additionally brought in the not well liked dave jorger, this isnt the same team. Its just not a very good team now. No excuses …the ones about gasol being injured make any difference. They cant score when they have to. Dallas and Phoenix are better teams right now. Dallas has the carlyse advantage…..and dirk. Phoenix is a wonder and hornacek has to be COY……plus they have Dragic. What is memphis x factor? Not z bo anymore…not gasol i dont think, even as good as he is, and conley has been slightly dissapointing, honestly. No memphis the likely missing team.

    • Han says:

      No, they’re not as good as last year, but Memphis just happened to have 1 of the best record in the league since new year, and been very stable ever since Gasol back. Gasol is not Durant or LBJ obviously, but saying him not a factor, you must be a Memphis hater (and oh, I hate Memphis, but I can still recognize what a good team is)

  6. Rockets Man says:

    Yikes. The Suns get only get in one of these.