Breaking down Western Conference playoff scenarios: Spurs, Pelicans both need a win
Only one night is left in the NBA season and yet not one playoff matchup is set in the West. Which is insane. From our preseason previews on we at PBT (and NBA media everywhere) talked about how stacked and tight the West was, but this is uncomfortably close, like Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Here is where things stand going into a key final night of games.
No. 1 seed: The Golden State Warriors have officially secured up the top spot, not just in the West but in the entire NBA. They will have home court as long as they last in the playoffs.
No. 2-6 seeds: This remains the cluster… there are still eight different scenarios that can play out here depending on what the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Rockets do Wednesday.
Let’s break this out by team.
San Antonio controls its own destiny. With a win over the Pelicans Wednesday night they win the Southwest Division and are the two seed (meaning they face Dallas in the first round). However, lose and they could fall as far as the six seed depending on what everyone else does, it gets really complex. Gregg Popovich is not a fan of uncertainty; he’s not resting guys he will go for the win.
The Los Angeles Clippers are likely the three seed; they can fall no lower than that after beating the Suns on Monday. They can be the two seed but only if both the Spurs and Rockets lose on Wednesday (not a likely outcome).
Portland is the four seed and will still be the road team in the first round.
Houston could climb as high as the two seed, they just need to beat Utah on Wednesday and hope the Spurs lose to the Pelicans (in that scenario the Rockets are the Southwest Division winners and get the two seed with it). They cannot be the three seed (after the Clippers win Tuesday), so if the Spurs win the Rockets likely are the five seed. In one scenario, if the Spurs and Rockets lose but the Grizzlies win on Wednesday, the Rockets can fall all the way to sixth.
Memphis can now only be the five or six seed in the West. If the Spurs and Rockets win it doesn’t matter what the Grizzlies do, they are the sixth seed. The Grizzlies can climb to the five seed if they beat Indiana Wednesday while Houston loses to the Jazz. If the Rockets and Grizzlies win but the Spurs lose then Memphis climbs to the five seed also.
No. 7 seed: The Dallas Mavericks are locked in here.
No. 8 seed: The Pelicans control their own destiny. New Orleans and Oklahoma City are tied for the eight seed, and the Pelicans own the tie breaker. If New Orleans wins Wednesday, they go to the playoffs. However, the Pelicans are going to face a motivated Spurs team that has won 11 in a row and needs to make it a dozen to get the two seed. If the Pelicans lose all the Thunder need to do is beat the banged-up Timberwolves — losers of 11 in a row — to secure the eight seed. It feels like things have lined up for Oklahoma City.