The NBA season is a long, grueling 82-game process. No team looks the same in game 82 as they did in game 1. It's an inevitable evolution and the league changes a lot during the marathon that is the regular season. Conversely, the playoffs are often only 20-25 games with much more rest in between. It's like the league uses the results of a marathon to qualify teams for a sprint.
And while the first game matters just as much in the standings as the last, the games in March seem to carry more weight in playoff picture. It can be hard to put every game in perspective, and teams often suffer avoidable losses in December and January that they regret when they're one loss back during the seeding battle.
During this final stretch of the season teams do their last jostling for position when the new race starts in the playoffs. Some teams are trying to get a higher seed, while others are fighting simply to be in the race. On occasion, a team might even try to position themselves in a lower seed if they think that it presents them with a more favorable first-round opponent.
Here's how the current playoff seeding looks:
|1||San Antonio Spurs||53-16||13|
|2||Oklahoma City Thunder||51-18||13|
|3||Los Angeles Clippers||49-21||12|
|5||Portland Trail Blazers||45-25||12|
|6||Golden State Warriors||44-27||11|
Currently, the Clippers sit in the 3-seed, facing a potential first round battle against the Warriors. Keep an eye on the Clippers as they try to catch the Thunder, as well as monitor the lower seed teams to see who ends up being the Clippers' first round opponent.
Important Western Conference teams in action tonight:
Rockets: @ Bobcats, 4:00 PST
Suns: @ Hawks, 4:30 PST
Trail Blazers: @ Heat, 4:30 PST, NBATV
Grizzlies: vs Timberwolves, 5:00 PST
Thunder: vs Nuggest, 5:00 PST
Spurs: vs 76ers, 5:30 PST
Clippers: vs Bucks, 7:30 PST