Only four teams—San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets have officially clinched a playoff spot in the Western Conference. This only means that the next teams at the bottom half of the West standings are still in danger of getting the boot.
Entering Sunday’s (April 6) games, the current fifth seeded team (Portland Trail Blazers) is only ahead by four games over the 9th seeded team (Phoenix Suns). Flanked by these squads are the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies and all five are still not out of the woods with five games to play for each squad.
Here’s a quick look at the current standings and upcoming schedule for all five teams still battling for a playoff spot:
Battle for the West’s Final Slots:
5. Portland Trail Blazers (49-28) 6. Golden State Warriors (47-29) 7. Dallas Mavericks (46-31) 8. Memphis Grizzlies (45-31) 9. Phoenix Suns (45-31)
Portland Trail Blazers (4 home, 1 away) -NOP, SAC, @UTA, GSW, LAC Golden State Warriors (3 home, 3 away) - UTA, DEN, @LAL, @POR, MIN, @DEN Dallas Mavericks (2 home, 3 away) - @SAC, @UTA, SAS, PHX, @MEM Memphis Grizzlies (3 home, 3 away) - @SAS, MIA, PHI, @LAL, @PHX, DAL Phoenix Suns (2 home, 4 away) - OKC, @NOP, @SAS, @DAL, MEM, @SAC
Except for the Blazers, all four teams won their previous games with the most stirring win provided by the Suns, which beat the Blazers in comeback victory.
Still the Blazers are 2 games ahead of nearest competitor (Warriors) in five-team race for the last four slots. Also, Portland plays four of its last five games at home and three of which are against scrub teams New Orleans, Sacramento and Utah.
The most interesting battle is obviously between the Mavericks, Grizzlies and Suns. The last two are tied at 45-31 and Dallas is just ahead by half a game against these teams. Which games will decide who advances? The Suns games against Dallas and Memphis in the last week of the NBA regular season could very well decide who does.