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Playoff Race Swings Like a Pendulum Do

A week ago, none of the teams in the West could win (except the Warriors).  Suddenly, no one can lose (except the Warriors).  The Clippers have won 4 straight.  The Lakers have won 5 straight.  And teams are beating quality opposition too.  Yesterday alone, the Nuggets won in Cleveland, the Kings beat the Suns and the Hornets beat the Rockets.  Even Minnesota won (go T'Wolves, finish 20th!)  The Hornets win in particular is significant as they once again look like a serious possibility to make a run.

For the playoff picture, it was definitely better for the Lakers to beat the Warriors last night increasing the Clippers current lead to 1.5 games.  But I was still pulling for the Dubs.  Call me greedy, but I still hold out hopes of the Clippers catching the Lakers and validating my slogan.  With two hallway games left, it's still a possibility, although a five game winning streak for Kobe and the Kobettes puts a serious dent in that plan.  But it's not like the Lakers are playing great - they've got 5 straight single digit wins over sub-.500 competition, and they're allowing an eye-popping 110 points per game in March.  The Lakers are now allowing more points per game than the Suns, if you can believe that.  Their remaining schedule is squeezably soft like Charmin, and will probably be their salvation.

Speaking of head-to-head meetings, how big are the remaining games against the Hornets?  The Clippers lead them in the standings by two games, and lead the season series 2-0.  But the Hornets actually can control their destiny - wins in the two Clipper games would even up the head-to-head tie-breaker, and give the Hornets an edge in conference record.  The Clippers could pretty much end their hopes with a win in OKC on March 10, but if the Hornets prevail there, the season could come down to the final game in Staples on April 18.