There are simply two weeks left within the 2022-23 NBA season, with numerous potentialities concerning the Western Convention playoff seeding. Whereas the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings have all secured their place, there are nonetheless 5 spots up for grabs.
With the 4th and twelfth seeds separated by a mere 3.5 video games, each matchup that unfolds within the subsequent fortnight has the facility to alter the destinies of the competing groups.
The edges that end 4th, fifth and sixth will advance on to the playoffs, with these between Seventh-Tenth competing in a play-in event for the ultimate two spots within the post-season.
If two groups end with the identical file, their place can be decided by a tiebreaker, the primary of which is the head-to-head file between the perimeters.
So, how will all of it look when the mud settles?
Present place: 4th
Season win/loss file: 41-35
Kevin Durant’s again, the 4th seed appears to be locked down, and the long run is trying shiny for the Phoenix Suns, on the very least from proprietor Mat Ishbia’s perspective.
The person he flew in from New York within the early hours of February’s commerce deadline is again on the courtroom and exhibiting precisely what these hours of missed sleep purchased: An opportunity to pave the way in which for a deep playoff run.
The previous MVP is averaging a ridiculous 26.7 factors on 69 per cent capturing in his final three video games. He made his dwelling debut on Wednesday evening in opposition to the Minnesota Timberwolves and notched one other 16 factors.
With two weeks nonetheless on the clock, Durant’s team-mates can get pleasure from his presence within the beginning 5 and work on the chemistry they will depend on within the postseason drip.
Earlier than that, they will face the Denver Nuggets (twice), Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder and each Los Angeles groups.
Remaining fixtures: Nuggets (A) – April 1, Thunder (H) – April 3, Spurs (A) – April 5, Nuggets (A) – April 7*, Lakers (H) – April 8, Clippers (A) – April 9*. *Stay on Sky Sports activities
Los Angeles Clippers
Present place: fifth
Season win/loss file: 41-36
The Clippers are at the moment fifth seed, and most are projecting them to carry on to a playoff spot regardless of Paul George’s damage standing.
Their star guard can be lacking for a minimum of the rest of the common season as he nurses himself again to well being following a knee sprain. Though he will not require surgical procedure, it is potential the 32-year-old might not be round for the primary spherical of the playoffs.
In his absence, Kawhi Leonard’s contributions have been immense. Most notably he delivered a monstrous efficiency in opposition to the Thunder, racking up 32 factors on 13-of-15 capturing.
Will or not it’s sufficient to maintain them afloat whereas George recuperates? Sunday’s defeat to the Pelicans supplied us with an perception into their deadly flaw: Roster depth.
It’s a weak spot that might be came upon throughout 4 nights the place they face the Grizzlies twice earlier than returning to New Orleans.
With no tiebreakers at hand, these fixtures can be must-win video games. The Leonard of outdated could also be wanted if the Clippers are to energy their method by way of.
Remaining fixtures: Grizzlies (H) – April 1, Pelicans (H) April 2, Lakers (A) – April 6, Blazers (A) – April 8, Suns (H) – April 9*. *Stay on Sky Sports activities
Golden State Warriors
Present place: sixth
Season win/loss file: 40-37
The Warriors have hardly been an image of consistency this season. They maintain bouncing from sixth to Seventh, right down to eighth, after which again up – a telling signal of simply how aggressive the latter portion of the playoff race is proving to be.
They’re going to have to seek out some type of stability of their last 5 video games if they’re to defend their title. Having the 18th hardest remaining schedule within the NBA definitely helps.
Positive, locking horns with the resurgent Pelicans, West-leading Nuggets and dynamic Kings will be ominous, however with the four-time NBA Championship-winning ‘Splash Brothers’ of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson of their component, they need to have the ability to maintain their rivals at bay.
Remaining fixtures: Spurs (A) – April 1, Nuggets (H) – April 3, Thunder (A) – April 5, Kings (H) – April 8, Blazers (H) – April 9.
Present place: Seventh
Season win/loss file: 39-38
The Timberwolves’ season lastly seems to have clicked with the return of Karl Anthony-Cities.
5 months on from his calf damage, ‘KAT’ has slotted again into the motion as if he is been simmering away on the side-lines, performing because the glue throughout a powerful run of kind.
Whereas it might appear implausible that the Wolves will plod ahead with none hiccups, it is clear that they are in a much better place than many of the groups within the West.
They personal tiebreakers over their rivals who’ve tried and did not usurp them within the standings. The upcoming clashes with the Suns and the Pelicans are theirs to lose.
Remaining fixtures: Lakers (A) – April 1, Blazers (A) – April 2, Nets (H) – April 5, Spurs (H) – April 8, Pelicans (A) – April 9.
Los Angeles Lakers
Present place: eighth
Season win/loss file: 38-38
When LeBron James is within the combine, it is by no means too late, proper?
Lakers followers will inform you as a lot. The 38-year-old has taken no time in dusting himself off and getting again into the thick of issues alongside the spellbinding Austin Reaves and Anthony Davis.
However at this stage of the season, outcomes are what matter. When the Lakers noticed a three-game successful streak halted in a disappointing defeat to the Chicago Bulls, they shot themselves within the foot.
They will need to have forgotten that the Pelicans, Thunder, and Dallas Mavericks had been respiratory down their neck, in any other case, they may by no means have let Nikola Vucevic have that a lot time on the ball.
They must pull off colossal performances in a five-game street journey that features matchups with the Timberwolves and Clippers.
Remaining fixtures: Timberwolves (H) – April 1, Rockets (H) – April 3, Jazz (H) – April 5, Clippers (H) – April 6, Suns (A) – April 8, Jazz (A) – April 9.
New Orleans Pelicans
Present place: ninth
Season win/loss file: 39-38
The Pelicans are within the temper – not the type that may be simply tempered.
A five-game successful streak vaulting you again into the thick of the playoff dialog can definitely do this.
They need to have the ability to maintain the ninth seed comfortably and can possible be primed for any slip-ups forward of them because the Lakers and Warriors gear up for a mammoth week of motion.
With the Clippers subsequent on the playing cards, the Pelicans will need to end with the identical flourish that they’ve utilized to current video games. On condition that they maintain the league’s hardest remaining schedule, the alternatives could also be few and much between.
They’re going to have a four-game homestand in opposition to the Clippers, the Kings, the Grizzlies, and the New York Knicks, earlier than closing up store again in Minnesota.
Remaining fixtures: Clippers (A) – April 2, Kings (A) – April 5, Grizzlies (A) – April 6, Knicks (A) – April 8, Timberwolves (H) – April 9. *Stay on Sky Sports activities
Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder
Present place: Tenth
Season win/loss file: 38-39
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander deserves a spot within the playoff dialog, simply as he deserved a spot within the All-Star roster. He made it to the latter with spectacular ease, however the former may take extra elbow grease.
The Thunder have a one-game lead over the Mavericks who sit in eleventh place within the West, and so they have not had a lot in the way in which of assist for ‘SGA’, till the current rise of Jalen Williams.
The rookie showcased his dazzling expertise in opposition to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, ending with a game-high 27 factors and securing the buzzer-beating shot.
He is scored a minimum of 20 factors in his final three video games, together with a 31-point efficiency in Tuesday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets. They’re going to want him to hold on that kind alongside Gilgeous-Alexander if they’re to maintain the Mavs at arms-length.
Remaining fixtures: Pacers (H) – April 1, Suns (A) – April 3, Warriors (H) – April 5, Jazz (H) – April 7, Grizzlies (A) – April 9.
Present place: eleventh
Season win/loss file: 37-40
If there needed to be one group to overlook out, you wouldn’t have predicted it to be the one with an offense headlined by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.
However you’ll be able to have the most effective backcourt on the earth and nonetheless endure defeat after defeat in case your defence ranks as one of many lowest within the league.
Though the pair have excelled individually since that commerce was made to deliver Irving to Dallas, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith – who joined the Brooklyn Nets as a part of that deal – are in a significantly better place than Irving.
Their subsequent three video games on the street in opposition to Jap playoff contenders Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Warmth, and the Atlanta Hawks current an basically do-or-die situation.
From our perspective, bar a completely devastating spell of scoring from Doncic, it appears it is perhaps curtains for the Mavs.
Remaining fixtures: Warmth (H) – April 2*, Hawks (H) April 2, Kings (A) – April 6, Bulls (A) – April 8, Spurs (A) – April 9. *stay on Sky Sports activities