Schedule says Thunder have edge on Pelicans for playoff spot

VIDEO: Pelicans GM Dell Demps assesses his teams hopes for a playoff berth

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — With just 30 days to go in the 2014-15 season, the battles for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference and the last two spots in the East have never been tighter.

After losing in Dallas on Monday, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a half game lead on the New Orleans Pelicans for eighth in the West. The Pelicans have the tiebreaker with a 3-1 head-to-head record, but the Thunder have an easier remaining schedule, with more home games, fewer back-to-backs, and fewer games against teams with winning records.

Here’s an updated look at remaining schedules for the entire Western Conference …


Here’s an explanation of the “Adj.,” column, which starts with the opponent NetRtg for each game and makes the following adjustments:

  • plus-2.6* for a road game.
  • minus-2.6 for a home game.
  • plus-2.6** when the team is playing the second night of a back-to-back and the opponent isn’t.
  • minus-2.6 when the opponent is playing the second night of a back-to-back and the team isn’t.

* Home teams have outscored road teams by 2.6 points per 100 possessions this season.
** When one team played the night before and the other didn’t, the rested team has been a plus-2.6 this season.

A couple of notes on the West:

  • Mathematically, the Phoenix Suns still have a shot at a playoff spot. But the toughest remaining schedule in the league is enough to dismiss them. They’re 1-5 against teams currently over .500 since the All-Star break and play 12 of their final 14 games against that group.
  • The L.A. Clippers just finished a stretch where they played 17 of 21 games against teams that are currently over .500. They’re rewarded with the easiest remaining schedule of the 10 teams that have a shot in the playoffs. They’re currently in seventh place, but are just a half game out of fifth and are 24-4 against teams that are currently under .500.
  • The Grizzlies still have some work to do to hold on to the No. 2 seed. They have just a one-game lead in the loss column over the Portland Trail Blazers, who have an easier remaining schedule.

Here’s the remaining schedules in the East …


  • The Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat are all tied with 36 losses, and they all have relatively tough schedules remaining.
  • None of the four have more home games than road games remaining.
  • The Hornets play more losing teams than winning teams, but also have the most back-to-backs remaining in the league, starting with Tuesday’s visit to the Clippers after Monday’s drubbing in Utah.
  • The Pacers and Celtics have the most momentum of the group, but also have the toughest remaining schedules. Both Boston (3-2) and Indiana (4-2) do have winning records since the All-Star break against teams with winning records, though.
  • The most home games remaining should be an opportunity for Brooklyn to get back in that 7-10 mix, but the Nets are a league-worst 3-11 at home in 2015.
  • Don’t hand the Cleveland Cavaliers the No. 2 seed just yet. The Toronto Raptors are only a game behind in the loss column, play 12 of their final 15 games against teams under .500, and are 25-7 against that group so far.
  • An easier remaining schedule should give the Chicago Bulls an edge over the Washington Wizards in the race for the No. 4 seed (and home-court advantage in a first-round matchup). They’re currently tied in the loss column, with Chicago holding the tiebreaker edge (better conference record, with a 2-2 tie in head-to-head meetings).


  1. blaz says:

    Playing against under .500 teams is deceptive in the east because the under .500 teams are the ones that are actually going to fight the hardest – those are the teams that will fight to the end for the playoff spot.

  2. jake s. says:

    I saw Klay’s ankle tweak. it was a 45 degree tweak which really isn’t much at all. Kerr told both of his star players to go out and act like they got hurt. Klay (ankle) and Curry (wrist). This would give the Warriors the excuse to rest one or more of their players without negative P/R from the NBA. They will throw the 2 games they have against the Pelicans because they know they will be upset by a completely healthy OKC team. Sad and ugly stuff.

  3. Nate says:

    Hopefully Toronto can capitalize on its easy schedule and gain a favorable first-round match-up with momentum. I really doubt we’ll make it out of the second round, seeing as it’ll probably be against the Cavs, but getting at least one series win is extremely important for this team’s confidence going into next year.

  4. Shizzy says:

    Durant is coming back very soon. He’s gonna miss perhaps 2-3 games more and he is going to be back. Ibaka on the other hand will be ready for the playoffs.
    The question is if Westbrook will be able to carry the team these couple of games till Durant comes back. I think the Thunder have a really good team right now and it would be a shame if we don’t see them in the playoffs.
    The Warriors though (I’m sure) are going to do everything in order to make the Thunder miss the playoffs, which means lose intentionally to the Pelicans, so that they would advance. The Warriors would strongly benefit if the Pelicans get the 8 seed, because they would have an easy sweep in the First round instead of facing OKC.

  5. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    The Thunder and the Pelicans every night are just flip flopping posistions, the Pelicans own the tie breaker anyways, and i would take Davis or Westbrook. Durant is the reason the Thunder win games and he’s not healthy, that foot is a big problem.

  6. T says:

    GS may give away the 2 games to NO to avoid OKC.

  7. Reid says:

    Raptors might end up being 2nd even after a terrible after post All-star break slump. That’s the Leastern Conference for you.

  8. harriethehawk says:

    The Thunder are a much better team and would really like to see them make the playoffs. But how much can they do without Durant and Ibaka???