The NBA regular season is quickly coming to a close and several teams are fighting for the playoffs. The Western Conference is full of teams not only fighting for their playoff spot, but for playoff seeding. The Pelicans, Spurs, and Thunder all currently have the same record, while the Jazz sit one game ahead and the Timberwolves a half game back.
1 – Houston Rockets (64-15)
2 – Golden State Warriors (57-22)
3 – Portland Trail Blazers (48-31)
4 – Utah Jazz (46-33)
5 – New Orleans Pelicans (45-34)
6 – San Antonio Spurs (45-34)
7 – Oklahoma City Thunder (45-34)
8 – Minnesota Timberwolves (45-35)
9 – Denver Nuggets (44-35)
10 – LA Clippers (42-37)
There are few things we know for sure in the Western Conference right now. Everything else is currently up in the air, although there should be a little more clarity after tonight. Below you’ll find the current standings and playoff seeding. Above you’ll see that several teams are not in a position to feel safe because the Nuggets and Clippers are right on their tails. With only a few games left, let’s take a look at what the final playoff seeding for the Western Conference could look like.
What We Know
There are only a few things we know for sure about the Western Conference playoffs. We know the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and Portland Trail Blazers will be in. We also know the Rockets will be the number one seed, with the Warriors being the number two seed. Outside of that knowledge, everything else has yet to be decided.
What Has Yet to Be Decided
Starting with the Blazers, they are in the playoffs, but they’re not locked into the number three seed just yet. They’ll have to win at least one more game to lock that up, which could come tonight against the Spurs. That one win may not come as easy as you might think. The three teams left on the Blazers schedule are still in playoff contention. They play the Spurs tonight, Nuggets on Monday, and Jazz on Wednesday in their final game. It’s unlikely the Blazers will lose all three of those games, so I’m going to put them in as the number three seed.
Utah hasn’t clinched a playoff spot yet, but being one game up on the five through seven seeds is a big advantage. In their final three games, Utah’s got the Lakers, Warriors, and Blazers. That’s a tough schedule to finish out the season. One more win would likely lock up the playoffs for the Jazz. Their next win is most likely to come against the Lakers, but you can’t count the Lakers out of that contest. Even though the Warriors and Blazers are up next for them, I’ll locking them into the fourth seed in the conference.
Seeds five through eight is where we could have the most movement. The Pelicans, Spurs, and Thunder all have the same record currently. Looking at the schedules for each team, it doesn’t look like any team has a clear advantage. Each of them plays two playoff seeded teams and one non playoff team. I’m giving the advantage to the Pelicans because they’re riding a two game winning streak right now and they’re getting incredible production from Nikola Mirotic along side Anthony Davis. I’ll move the Thunder up one spot to the six seed because I feel like their schedule is a little easier than the Spurs.
So the Spurs are the seven seed right? Wrong. We can’t forget about the Timberwolves. Minnesota is only a half game back. Their final two games come against the Grizzlies and Nuggets. Last time they played the Grizzlies they lost, and the Nuggets beat them a couple nights ago. The difference now is Jimmy Butler. Even if Butler isn’t playing at his highest level, he’s a presence on the court the opposing defense has to worry about. Butler played only 23 minutes against the Lakers last night, but ended with 18 points. He should only get stronger heading towards the playoffs. I’m going to say the Timberwolves win their two remaining games and move into the seven spot.
San Antonio isn’t safe at the eight spot either. The Nuggets are one game behind them. What the Nuggets have left on their schedule is a little tougher than the Spurs, so I will put the Spurs in as the eight seed. Unfortunately the Nuggets just miss out. My prediction is a win against the Clippers today, knocking the Clippers out of playoff contention, and then a loss against both the Blazers and Timberwolves.
Final Playoff Seeding Predictions
1 – Houston Rockets (67-15)
2 – Golden State Warriors (59-23)
3 – Portland Trail Blazers (50-32)
4 – Utah Jazz (47-35)
5 – New Orleans Pelicans (47-35)
6 – Oklahoma City Thunder (47-35)
7 – Minnesota Timberwolves (47-35)
8 – San Antonio Spurs (46-36)