A Deeper Look At The Bottom Half Of The Western Conference Playoff Picture

The Western Conference playoff race is going to be a battle coming down to the wire. We currently have four teams separated by 2.5 games fighting for three playoff spots. The Blazers, Rockets, Mavericks and Jazz are all fighting for a chance to play at the end of April in hopes of upsetting any of the Western Conference powerhouses.

Let’s take a look at the remaining schedules for these four teams and figure out who will be missing out a chance to host a couple of home playoff games against the Warriors, Spurs or Thunder.

One thing to keep in mind is the Grizzlies are a depleted group but they are 7 games ahead of the Utah Jazz with 15 games left to go.  Not impossible for them to miss the playoffs but I would say it is unlikely.  If they do miss the playoffs we can print this column out and light it on fire.

The above chart shows each of the teams future opponents for the remainder of the season.   Under the schedule it tallies how many home and away games as well as their remaining opponents winning percentage.  A couple of things to keep in mind are:

  1. The Spurs and Warriors may rest players here or there in April. The Jazz play the Spurs at home on April 5th and the Mavericks play the Spurs at home on April 13th, a game that could mean nothing for San Antonio and everything for Dallas. Pop is notorious for not traveling his stars for rest. Golden State has a home game against the Blazers on April 3rd, this game is too early in the month to predict if Kerr will rest his players.
  2. The amount of games against the Lakers, Suns and Timberwolves in April for these teams is huge. Utah has the easiest April schedule with games against Minnesota, Phoenix and the Lakers (you could throw in Denver if you want.).  Houston has games against the bottom 3 as well while Portland and Dallas only have one game against the bottom four.
  3. Keep an eye on the Grizzlies the last 15 games. They could blow the lead and they have a very tough April on their hands with two games against GSW.  They also face off against the Clippers, Mavericks, Bulls and Raptors; all playoff teams.

This race will definitely come down to the wire.  My prediction is that Dallas will be the odd man out. They are currently 2-5 in March and have the hardest remaining schedule out of the four teams fighting for their playoff lives.  Rick Carlisle has been changing the roster and rotations to often which seems to be bothering some of the players and creating confusion.  The Jazz haven’t been playing well as of late either but they have the easiest schedule remaining.  The Blazers and Rockets are the better of these teams and should be able to hold their spots or even move up if the eventual demise of the Grizzlies happens.  The only problem for the Mavericks and Jazz is there aren’t enough games in the season for the demise to happen for both.

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