clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Western Conference playoff picture is starting to clear up

New, comments

The eight playoff teams out west are essentially decided. Now all that’s left is to see how the seeding shakes up.

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Technically speaking, only one team in the NBA’s Western Conference has been eliminated from the playoffs.

Realistically, however, seven have - which means, with a month to play, we know the eight teams that are likely to make up the playing field.

The Sacramento Kings are the bubble team - the first team on the outside looking in. And they’re four games out, with just 16 contests remaining. It’s not impossible, but it would be exceptionally shocking if they made it work.

So here are the eight teams we’re left with - the Golden State Warriors on top, and a whole bunch of interesting stuff behind them. All records are prior to Wednesday’s games.

Western Conference Standings

Seed Team Record Games Back
Seed Team Record Games Back
1 Golden State Warriors 45-21 -
2 Denver Nuggets 44-22 1
3 Houston Rockets 42-25 3.5
4 Oklahoma City Thunder 41-26 4.5
5 Portland Trail Blazers 41-26 4.5
6 San Antonio Spurs 39-29 7
7 Los Angeles Clippers 39-30 7.5
8 Utah Jazz 37-29 8

With the eight teams basically decided, there are still a lot of races going on. The Warriors and Denver Nuggets are battling for the top seed, while the surging Houston Rockets are trying to catch up to the Nuggets for the second seed.

If the Rockets don’t move up, they’re stuck in a battle with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers for the 3 - 5 seeds. Those seeds not only determine home court advantage in the opening round, but impact who will face the Warriors in the second round, and who gets to potentially wait until the Conference Finals.

Finally, the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, and Utah Jazz are jockeying for position in the final spots, with, again, the hope of avoiding meeting the Warriors early on. It seems nearly guaranteed that the Warriors will face one of those three teams in the opening round.

The question is, which team will it be, and which team do the Warriors want it to be?

Golden State almost surely prefers the Clippers, simply because the travel situation would be so much more manageable. Los Angeles also is likely the best matchup for Golden State, since they have the least star talent of those three teams.

One thing seems likely: While the Warriors are currently in line to face the Jazz in the first round, that probably won’t end up being the case.

In addition to having the fifth-best net rating in the West, the Jazz have a laughably easy schedule over the next month. In their last 16 games, the Jazz play the Nuggets, the Clippers, and the 36-33 Brooklyn Nets. Other than that, they’re not facing a single team with a winning record.

So it seems likely that they’ll move up in the standings, and likely avoid that first round showdown with the defending champs.

Which means it likely comes down to the Spurs and Clippers, assuming Golden State hangs on to the top seed.

Who would you like to see the Warriors play in round one?

Poll

Who would you like to see the Warriors face in the first round of the playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Los Angeles Clippers
    (235 votes)
  • 30%
    San Antonio Spurs
    (119 votes)
  • 8%
    Utah Jazz
    (35 votes)
389 votes total Vote Now