NBA Western Conference Playoff Race Update

Are you ready for NBA Playoff Basketball? The final day of the NBA Regular Season is next Wednesday, April 12. There’s about a week for teams in the NBA Western Conference to get it together and make a move to get into the NBA Playoffs.

2017 NBA Western Conference Playoff

Unlike the Eastern Conference where only the top 4 teams have secured spots in the NBA Playoffs, 7 of the 8 teams have nailed down bids in the 2017 NBA Western Conference playoff race. The top two teams, Golden State and San Antonio, have separated themselves from the other teams.

Check out the current standings, a recap of what’s happened in the past week or so, and information on the 2017 NBA Western Conference playoff implication games happening this week.

Current Standings

** Records are as of April 3
1. Golden State Warriors 63-14
2. San Antonio Spurs 59-17
3. Houston Rockets 52-25
4. Utah Jazz 47-30
5. L.A. Clippers 47-31
6. Oklahoma City Thunder 43-33
7. Memphis Grizzlies 42-35
8. Portland Trailblazers 38-39

Technically, Golden State is ahead of San Antonio by 3.5 games. On paper, it appears as if San Antonio has a shot to get to Golden State. That’s on paper. The truth is that there’s no way Golden State loses more than a single game from now until the end of the regular season. Even if Golden State rests every single starter, it’s going to be tough for the Warriors to lose out on homecourt advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs.

San Antonio may not care about home court advantage. Save for an unexplainable 98 to 110 loss to Golden State on March 29, the Spurs dominated the head-to-head. San Antonio might be happy with the 2-seed.

The only team from the Top 8 that hasn’t nailed down its playoff spot is Portland. Portland is a game and a half ahead of Denver in the Western Conference Standings. The other team that still has a shot to make it to the playoffs is New Orleans. The Pelicans are a half a game away from elimination.

The Week that Was

Golden State Warriors – The last time the Warriors lost was March 11. Golden State has won their last 11 games. The Warriors are easily the best team in the NBA right now. They proved it by beating San Antonio 110 to 98 on March 29. They beat Houston 107 to 98 on March 31. On April 2, Golden State pummeled Washington 139 to 115.

The win over the Washington Wizards was truly impressive. The Wizards went into Oakland at 100%. Bradley Beal and John Wall both played. Not only that, but the Wizards are supposed to have one of the better defenses in the NBA. All Golden State did was shoot 56.2% from the field and 44.4% from three.

San Antonio Spurs – Save for the loss to Golden State on March 29, San Antonio has shown that they’re ready for the playoffs. The Spurs are 7 and 1 in their last 8 games. They beat Oklahoma City 109 to 95 on March 31 even though Russell Westbrook scored 32 points, grabbed 15 boards, and dished 12 assists. The Spurs followed up that win with a nice 109 to 103 victory over Utah.

But the best performance the Spurs have provided all season came against the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers on March 27. As a -5 favorite, San Antonio beat Cleveland 103 to 74. The Spurs held Kyrie, LeBron, and K-Love to 37.3% from the field and 15.4% from three.

Houston Rockets – The Rockets go into the final week of the NBA Regular Season having lost 3 of their last 4. Granted, 2 of the 4 losses were to Golden State, but it’s still a bad sign when you lose by 10 to Portland, 107 to 117, as a 1-point dog.

James Harden sat out the game that Houston won, a 123 to 116 victory over Phoenix on April 2. Harden has a lingering wrist issue. If Houston coach Mike Dantoni is smart, he’ll hold The Beard out of the rest of the Rockets’ regular season games. Forget about playoff seeding at this point. If Harden’s hurt, the Rockets are toast.

Utah Jazz – Utah has gone 3 and 1 straight up in their last 4 games. They beat New Orleans 108 to 100 on March 27. On March 29, they destroyed Sacramento 112 to 82. Then, on March 30, they beat Washington 95 to 88.

Although the Jazz have won 3 of their last 4, their best performance may have been the 103 to 109 loss to San Antonio on April 2. Utah only shot 37.5% from three while they allowed San Antonio to shot over 50% from three. The Jazz only lost by 6 points.

L.A. Clippers – The Clippers are 4 and 1 straight up in their last 5. They ride a 3-game winning streak going into their battle versus Dallas on April 5.
The Clippers best win in their last 4 was a 133 to 124 victory over Washington on March 29. The Clipps weathered 41 points from John Wall by having balance on offense. Chris Paul scored 27, J.J. Reddick scored 31, Blake Griffin dropped 26 and DeAndre Jordan had 23.

Oklahoma City Thunder – The Russell Westbrook show continues! Does Russell deserve the MVP this season? Yes, he does.

He’s the only player worth talking about when it comes to Oklahoma City. Westbrook has recorded a triple-double in 6 straight Oklahoma City games. The last time Russell didn’t record a triple-double was back on March 20. He scored 15, had 8 boards, and dished 7 assists. The Thunder lost to Golden State 95 to 111.

Even when Russell is throwing down triple-doubles, Oklahoma City doesn’t always win. Russell’s stat line versus Charlotte on April 2 was 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. Charlotte beat Oklahoma City 113 to 101.

Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies have gone south. Maybe, to hibernate. Memphis has lost 5 of their last 7 games. The worst loss was on April 2 when, as a 7-point favorite on the road, the Grizz lost 103 to 108 to the L.A. Lakers. The Lakers shot 47.1% from the field in the win.

Memphis’s biggest issue is injuries. Marc Gasol, Andrew Harrison, and Tony Allen are all listed as questionable on the injury report. Chandler Parsons is out for the season. JaMychael Green won’t play on April 4. If Memphis doesn’t get healthy, they’re going to be an easy out for the San Antonio Spurs in Round 1.

Portland Trailblazers – No team has been hotter in the NBA than the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers have gone 14 and 4 straight up in their last 8 games. They’ve been great for basketball bettors as well since Portland is a terrific 11 and 3 against the spread in their last 14 games.

As of April 3, Portland has covered 7 straight. But center Jusuf Nurkic, the reason that the Blazers have been so great in the second half of the season, is hurt. Portland hasn’t secured the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. This week is meaningful.

NBA Western Conference Playoff Implication Games

Wednesday, April 5

Denver at Houston

The Nuggets are only 1.5 games behind Portland. Denver might have a shot versus Houston if, like I expect, Dantoni rests James Harden so that he’s ready for the playoffs.

Thursday, April 6

Minnesota at Portland

Portland just lost 109 to 110 to Minnesota on April 3. The Blazers must do enough to beat Minnesota at home on Thursday. If they don’t, sitting at home for the playoffs is a real possibility.

Friday, April 7

New Orleans at Denver

It’s going to take a mini-miracle for New Orleans to make it to the playoffs. Denver? They need to keep winning. That won’t be easy to do now that the Pelicans have the Bayou Two Towers, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, on their team.

Saturday, April 8

Utah at Portland

Portland can hope that Utah rests Gordon Heyward in this one. This is a tough match up for the Trailblazers. But, if Heyward sits, they might have a shot.

Sunday, April 9

Oklahoma City at Denver

The Nuggets shouldn’t try to stop Russell from getting a triple-double. When you let Russell go off, and just concentrate on breaking down Oklahoma City’s defense, you’ve got a much better chance of winning.

Monday, April 10

San Antonio at Portland

Portland fans, don’t worry about this game. There’s no way that San Antonio will be close enough to Golden State to get the 1-seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. By April 10, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich will start wondering if he should rest his entire team until the end of the regular season, not just his starters.

What do you think?

Written by D.S. Williamson

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