Each team in the NBA has fewer than 30 regular season games left before the conclusion and the playoff races are intensifying. While the top 4 teams in both the east and west can assume relative safety (since nearly 4 teams can now mathematically post a record superior than 500+) it is down in the lower orders of the conferences where the battles are heating.
In the Western Conference
The Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are the only teams that can consider taking a breather for a bit. With The Warriors holding a 4 game lead over San Antonio, and the Spurs holding 7 games over 3rd Seed Oklahoma City, the 2 run away leaders in the West will just battle to see, who can finish the season with a perfect home record, and the Warriors will want to avoid losing more than 5 more games, which might be hard given they will face the Thunder and Spurs again.
Oklahoma while on a 2 game losing streak are the 4th NBA team to have reached 40 wins this season. It just a bit of a downward swing in their season with Donovan, but they are likely to finish no lower than 4th seed unless there is a serious turn of events. Their All-Star Duo of Westbrook and Durant are not only scoring but providing, and in Ibaka, Morrow andKanter they have some reliable scoring outlets and are trying to raise their game.
LA Clippers, have coped well without Griffin and Austin Rivers. After an early season wobble, they have been one of the most efficient teams but are likely to only compete for 3rd seed and then hope they won’t have a playoff collapse. Memphis Grizzlies’ veterans have come to the front to lead the franchise up to 5th seed. Randolph and Cater have rediscovered their form, Barnes and Chalmers are proving to be reliable, but questions will be asked having lost All-Star center, Marc Gasol.
Dallas have not had their best season and are struggling to maintain their momentum. They do have a bit of an edge in the race at 6th seed, but would want to push higher up. They are within immediate striking distance of 7th seed Portland, who have the same number of losses in fewer games and Houston who occupy the last playoff spot. Portland have started to click and are back in playoff contention this season, having finally moved above 500 since being 3-2.
8th seed Houston, last season’s Western Conference finalists are struggling. There are talks of discord between Harden and Howard which have not been resolved. The team are off the pace and sit with a 28-28 record, half a game ahead of Utah who are 27-28. The rest of the team are struggling themselves on their offence and Harden has been a prime example of what not to do on the defence thanks to little or no effort.
The other teams jostling are Utah who are a surprise package, just off the playoff spot. Sacramento who went off the pace, along with Denver and a recovering New Orleans are further 5 games behind Houston but if they can capitalize on their rivals’ misfortunes and string an impressive run of wins, its possible to have them back in the playoff race and pile the pressure on Houston, Dallas and Portland.
Minnesota, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix are just out of the playoff race and are going to be working on developing a team over the remainder of the season and planning for the future.
Sports is such an amazing passion.