The NBA Playoff Picture for the Western Conference seems to be an interesting one, heading into the bubble with 5 teams vying for that final playoff spot.
The NBA season has restarted. And the way the scrimmages began gives us an indication we can be in for a surprise when the playoffs arrived. An NBA champion will be crowned for the 2019-20 season, that’s for certain.
With eight regular-season games left to be played for each team, there won’t be a lot of up and down movement in the standings or for franchises on the periphery of the playoff picture to fight their way in. Home-court advantage will no longer play a factor, with all teams playing inside empty arenas as Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, though same can’t be said for Orlando Magic.
In our first part I covered the eastern conference and how it can play out. Here we take a look at the formidable Western Conference.
NBA Playoff Picture- WESTERN CONFERENCE
- Los Angeles Lakers: 49-14, 0 games back
- Los Angeles Clippers: 44-20, 5.5 GB
- Denver Nuggets: 43-22, 7 GB
- Utah Jazz: 41-23, 8.5 GB
- OKC Thunder: 40-24, 9.5 GB
- Houston Rockets: 40-24, 9.5 GB
- Dallas Mavericks: 40-27, 11 GB
- Memphis Grizzlies: 32-33, 18 GB
- Portland Trail Blazers: 29-37, 21.5 GB
- New Orleans Pelicans: 28-36, 21.5 GB
- Sacramento Kings: 28-36, 21.5 GB
- San Antonio Spurs: 27-36, 22 GB
- Phoenix Suns: 26-39, 24 GB
The regular season finish in the West could be crazy, unpredictable and exciting , with everything to play for between seeds No. 4 through No. 7 separated by just 2.5 games.
Seedings and Playoff scenarios
The Lakers seem firmly in command to take away the No. 1 seed and it will take an awful dysfunction for them to really collapse, the other Los Angeles team in the Clippers are unlikely to fall below No. 3 given how deep they are. Aside from them much of the playoff seeding in the West remains up for grabs.
The spotlight obviously is on who take the final spot. The New Orleans Pelicans, with No. 1 pick Zion Williamson healthy and in the lineup, will be among the most-watched teams. It would still take them something special to secure a first round showdown against the King and his Lakers.
Interesting to here, if the Grizzlies hold on and Ja Morant can somehow secure a postseason berth for them, their 2020 first-round pick will go to the Celtics, which given the depth of this draft class is not much of a lose.
With a healthy Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, the Portland Trail Blazers are well within four games of the Memphis Grizzlies to enter a play-in tournament—all while holding off the New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns for the ninth-best record in the conference. And this looks like a likely scenario given the pedigree of the squad.
Our prediction says, it will be Portland who will get the opportunity to face the Lakers. We have covered this one in our previous article.
The second match up would be between Clippers and Dallas, and given the strength of the Kwahi led squad it shouldn’t be a tough matchup but that doesn’t mean it would be a walk in the park. 4-2 to Clippers.
The next match up is interesting but I believe it would be between Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz. It is an easy matchup for the Joker given that Jazz is without Bogdanovic and Conley hasn’t shown up this season. It would be a really one sided series till Snyder comes up with some tricks up his sleeve. Jazz lose this 4-1.
The final matchup could be called as home coming or a grudge match , however you want to put it. Harden & Westbrook against Chris Paul & Shai G Alexander , Houston and their new version of small ball vs the revelation that the OKC thunder has been this season.
Expect this to be a tight encounter with Houston either taking it or breaking it. We expect this to go to the Houston 4-3.