Friday NBAction open thread

Ezra Shaw

The first three spots in the West are looking fairly settled, but positions four through nine are very much in the air and all nine of the top teams in the Western Conference are in action tonight.

I'm running a little late on this one, but seriously, we really only care about the Western Conference, and none of those games have started yet. You may want to switch over to this thread at the conclusion of Clippers-Hornets tonight to discuss the Lakers or maybe the Jazz.

Chicago at Toronto, 4:00 PM

Philadelphia at Washington, 4:00 PM

Brooklyn at Indiana, 4:00 PM

Milwaukee at Atlanta, 4:30 PM

Boston at Miami, 4:30 PM

Charlotte at Detroit, 4:30 PM

New York at Cleveland, 4:30 PM

LA Clippers at New Orleans, 5:00 PM

Memphis at Houston, 5:00 PM

Denver at Dallas, 5:30 PM

Sacramento at San Antonio, 5:30 PM

Minnesota at Utah, 6:00 PM

Oklahoma City at Portland, 7:00 PM

Golden State at LA Lakers, 7:30 PM

Although nothing is officially locked in yet, at least a couple of things are becoming more clear, or at least more likely, in the West. Oklahoma City will most likely be the top seed in the West. They own the tie breaker with the Spurs, and their remaining schedule consists of the Blazers tonight, the Kings and the Bucks, three teams below .500. Last night's decisive win in Oakland over the Warriors was their last tough game, and they should cruise into the playoffs as the number one seed at this point. And if OKC is almost certainly first, then San Antonio is almost certainly second. The Spurs host the Kings tonight.

The question will be whether the Spurs will care to keep the pressure on OKC, or if they'll just concede the one seed on the assumption that the Thunder are not going to lose again. With road games left against the Lakers and the Warriors, how the Spurs approach those games could have a significant impact on the rest of the Western Conference playoff race.

Further down the table, when Denver beat the Spurs earlier this week they more or less locked in the three seed. The Nuggets have games left against at Dallas, versus Portland, at Milwaukee and versus Phoenix. Dallas and Milwaukee looked like potentially difficult games a week or so ago -- but the Mavs were just eliminated from the playoff race on Wednesday, making tonight's game a good mail-in candidate. The Mavs say they will still fight to have a winning record -- but don't count on it. Milwaukee meanwhile has been awful lately, and has a reverse magic number of one to lock in the eighth seed. It's possible they'll still have something to play for on Monday -- but very unlikely. All of which means that the Nuggets are probably not going to lose again, and will enter the playoffs having won 24 of 26 games. Wow.

But positions four through nine are all still very much in play. The Clippers trail the Grizzlies by a game for fourth, with the two teams facing each other tomorrow night. The Warriors and Rockets are tied in the loss column, so the six-seven race is very much alive (though at this point, the prize for finishing sixth is facing Denver, while seven plays the injured Spurs, so maybe seven isn't so bad after all). And the Lakers lead the Jazz by a game for the final playoff spot.

The Grizzlies are in Houston tonight and the Warriors are in L.A. to face the Lakers in two games with lots of playoff implications. Meanwhile, the Jazz are hosting the Timberwolves.

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