It’s a Down-the-Wire Finish in the NBA West!!!

In the most hotly-contested regular season finish ever in the NBA, we’ve got a wild scramble in the West with 5 teams – the LA Clippers, the Golden State Warriors, the LA Lakers, the New Orleans Pelicans and the Minnesota Timberwolves – jockeying for the 5th position with just 1 playdate away from the finish line (as of presstime). In case of ties, seedings will be determined by head-to-head win-loss records between teams. Expect surprises and major changes, as these last few games will make huge differences in playoff match-ups and the play-in spots. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks finally bowed out from the post-season intramurals, despite the arrival of Kyrie Irving.

The top of both conferences are set, with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks securing the top 5 spots in the East; while the Denver Nuggets, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns taking the top 4 in the West. After that however, the rest of the playoff spots and seeding are very much up for grabs.

The NBA season finish was made immensely more interesting with the introduction of the Play-in tournament which decreed that teams with the 7th to 10th best win-loss records duel in a ‘Play-in’ tournament to determine the 7th and 8th seeds. This ingenious add-on has removed much of the boring end-of-season games, making sure that teams in the 7th to 10th positions are fighting tooth-and-nail for the last 2 slots. This Play-in mini-tourney will take place on April 11-14.

But there’s a catch here.

Whosoever takes 5th spot in the West will have to face the fearsome 4th-seed, Phoenix Suns, in the first round of the playoffs. The Suns have taken a 7-game winning streak with the return of their price acquisition, Kevin Durant. And no one in his right mind would like to be pitted against this hot-streaking team right off the bat. And should the 5th seed team survives this, they then face top-seeded Denver Nuggets with a fully-rested and healthy crew.

The match-up route for the 6th seed will be far easier, as the 6th seed will be facing the 3rd-seeded Sacramento Kings in the first round. The Kings are considered as playoff newbies as they have been out of the playoffs for the last 17 seasons. Despite being seeded 3rd, they are considered less of a threat than the Suns, whose acquisition of Durant months back has transformed them into serious title threats. If the 6th seed team survives their duel with the Kings, they will then take on the survivor of the Memphis Grizzlies versus the 7th seed series. This route is a far less difficult route than that of the 5th seed.

The Clippers (43-38), the Warriors (43-38), the Lakers (42-39), the Pelicans (42-39) all have good chances to take the 5th and 6th seeds. Two of them however, plus the Timberwolves (41-40), will likely take the Play-in route. Hence, there lies the dilemma. Teams may not want to take the 5th seed, and yet they also don’t want to go down to the 7th or 8th, which will relegate them to the Play-in ‘sudden death’ mini-tournament.  

The 10th seed – and last spot in the Play-in – is no longer up for grabs as the Thunder (39-42) warded off the potentially-dangerous, but totally underachieving Mavs (38-43). Despite the addition of the exciting Kyrie Irving, the Mavs were eliminated unceremoniously, causing a huge embarrassment for the team that was a Western Conference finalist only last year.

It will be interesting to watch how the teams end up playing their last games, knowing all too well that their fate is not solely dependent on their own play. Will they tank to avoid the difficult Suns-Nuggets gauntlet? Or will they play to win and avoid the Play-in route? What happens if they all tank? And with the intensity of the gunfights projected in the battle for the west, who will eventually survive to meet the best of the east? 

Cover photo courtesy of Draft Kings Nation. Other photos courtesy of Daily Sabah, Sportsnaut, Sporting News, ClutchPoints, Blazers’ Edge, Laker Nation, Bleacher Report The Athletic, sports Illustrated, The Spun and the San Antonio Express.


  1. i was a little disappointed in the mavs sitting out their guys but i have a feeling that it’s a bigger picture thing for them.

    on the other side of the spectrum, the lakers performance against the jazz was very impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

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