Every day the standings in the NBA’s Western Conference come a little bit more into focus. But with the regular season ending in just a few days, there’s still so, so much up in the air.
The Warriors did what they absolutely had to on Tuesday, taking care of business at home and beating the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now they have to find a way to win on the road — something they’ve done just nine times all year — but the good news is they might get Andrew Wiggins back.
On the bright side, the Dubs are no longer in danger of falling to the No. 10 spot and having the worst seed in the play-in tournament. But on the downside, they’ve been eliminated from finishing in the No. 4 spot, and getting any sort of home court advantage. Which is especially important, given ... well, you’ve watched this team.
There are still five different positions that the Warriors could end up in. Let’s take a closer look at the standings heading into Wednesday’s games.
No. 5 — Golden State Warriors (42-38)
Good news: the Warriors are the No. 5 seed!
Bad news: the Warriors will not be the No. 5 seed at the end of the day. They’re only a half game ahead of both of their Southern California rivals, who play each other tonight. They don’t have the tiebreaker in either matchup, so whoever wins will take over the No. 5 seed, and push the Dubs back to No. 6.
No. 6 — Los Angeles Clippers (41-38)
The Clippers are a half game behind the Warriors and, again, have the tiebreaker. After “hosting” the Lakers tonight, they finish the season with a weekend back-to-back: Saturday at home against the Blazers, and Sunday on the road against the Phoenix Suns.
The Warriors need to do everything to win out, but ultimately the Clippers decide their own fate.
No. 7 — Los Angeles Lakers (41-38)
The Lakers have an identical record to the Clippers, also have the tiebreaker over the Warriors, and are also in control of their own fate. After tonight’s game, the Lakers finish the season with a Friday home game against the Suns, and a Sunday home game against the Utah Jazz.
No. 8 — New Orleans Pelicans (40-39)
The Pelicans and Warriors have the same conference record, which would be the next tiebreaker seeing as how they split the season series. New Orleans has a brutal stretch to end the season, hosting the Memphis Grizzlies tonight and the New York Knicks on Friday, before visiting the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. That’s rough.
No. 9 — Minnesota Timberwolves (40-40)
The Wolves own the tiebreaker, but in order for it to be at play, they would need to win both of their games, with the Warriors losing both of theirs. Thankfully that doesn’t seem too likely. Minny visits the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, and hosts the Pelicans on Sunday.
All things considered, the Warriors are in a good position. With two games left, they will enter tomorrow with fewer losses than the Pelicans, Timberwolves, and one of the Los Angeles teams. Which means that, to a certain extent, the Warriors are in control of their own fate. If they win both of their remaining games, they’re guaranteed to have a playoff spot and avoid the play-in tournament.
One potential downside is that they’re much more likely to wind up with the sixth seed than the fifth seed, but ... they’d probably rather play the Kings than Suns in a seven-game series, right?