Heading into the homestretch of the season, the Western Conference playoff picture is mostly wrapped up, but there is room for considerable movement in the standings by playoff teams. With the three through eight seeds in the west separated by only 4.5 games, the remaining games should be interesting to see how the playoff picture shakes out.
Updated Western Conference NBA Standings
1. Golden State Warriors (47-22)
2. Denver Nuggets (47-22)
3. Houston Rockets (44-26)
4. Portland Trail Blazers (43-27)
5. San Antonio Spurs (42-29)
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (42-29)
7. Utah Jazz (41-29)
8. Los Angeles Clippers (41-30)
9. Sacramento Kings (34-35)
10. Minnesota Timberwolves (32-38)
11. Los Angeles Lakers (31-39)
12. New Orleans Pelicans (31-42)
13. Dallas Mavericks (28-42)
14. Memphis Grizzlies (28-42)
15. Phoenix Suns (17-55)
Updated Western Conference NBA Playoff Chances
(Projections and chances courtesy of FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO Projection)
Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets
Despite having a record that is inferior to the top teams in the east, there is no denying that the Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA. Playing in the tougher western conference, they face stiffer competition on a nightly basis and frankly are so good they occasionally take games off during the regular season. While not being as strong on paper, the Denver Nuggets have put together an incredible season behind the play of Nikola Jokic en route to what will almost certainly be a top two seed in the western conference.
As Good As In
Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers
The playoff picture in the Western Conference is essentially decided as the 3-8 seeds all hold a commanding lead over the rest of the conference and holding better than a 99% playoff chance. However, the five teams are separated by just 4.5 games and there is a ton of room for movement in the final stretch of the year. Although the teams are basically locked in, it will be interesting to see who can avoid Golden State and who inevitably ends up drawing the dangerous juggernaut.
Fighting For A Spot
Barring an epic losing streak from one of the aforementioned teams coupled with a legendary winning streak from one of the following, there are no teams in the western conference actively fighting for a playoff spot.
Probably Won’t Make It
Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks
While not TECHNICALLY eliminated, all four of these teams are as good as done. Over the next three to four days, we should slowly see these teams trickle down into the ‘Already Eliminated’ pile and fall out of contention entirely. Surprisingly, the Lakers and LeBron James find themselves here awaiting the news that the King has missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-2005 season.
New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns
The Suns are leading the tanking war in the Western Conference but unfortunately, still don’t hold a candle to the Knicks. The Grizzlies and Pelicans were not supposed to find themselves in this situation, but due to a combination of injuries (for both) and a franchise cornerstone demanding a trade (*cough* New Orleans *cough*), their seasons didn’t pan out as they had hoped.