Things could change within the next few hours (Memphis is currently beating up a very good New Orleans team while San Antonio takes their win streak up against Houston in the first key showdown of the week), but there's a scenario shaping up that could produce the craziest final conference standings in NBA history.
It is possible -- not probable mind you, but not so far-fetched either with a week left in the season -- that four Western Conference teams could finish the season with identical 56-26 records. Complicating matters further, those four teams would be spread out in the conference playoffs from the second seed to the sixth seed, as Portland is guaranteed to have a seed no worse than four as the Northwest Division champion. (Bear in mind that Divisions are almost completely meaningless within the NBA structure and schedule, so the idea that they have a bearing on the playoff seedings is mind-numbing, but there it is.)
Technically all five teams, including the Blazers, could finish with identical records, but that scenario seems far less likely to me, so I'm going to focus on the four way tie.
As of this moment (a moment that could be passed as you read this of course) the Clippers and Spurs have 26 losses, the Grizzlies have 25 losses and the Rockets have 24. It also happens that the Clippers and Spurs are among the absolutely red-hottest teams in the league right now, both riding long winning streaks, so it would not be a surprise if each of them were to win out in their remaining games (of which the Clippers have three and the Spurs have four).
Coincidentally, the Spurs play the Rockets twice (tonight included) while the Clippers play the Grizzlies once this Saturday, and those are the only times these four teams face each other over the final week. If the Spurs sweep their home and home with the Rockets, while the Clippers win at home against the Grizzlies, while Houston and Memphis continue to win their other games, then all four would finish the season 56-26. Is it likely? Certainly not, simply because there are literally thousands of potential outcomes in the remaining 14 games involving these teams (16,234 by my math) and this is the only outcome that would produce this four way tie. But, if I had to pick one of those outcomes, this is the one I'd pick.
What happens next, if all these teams are tied? Here's where it gets crazy.
First you have to determine the Southwest Division Champion, since Division champion is a tie-breaker in other ties. So you take the three teams from the Southwest (Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies) and break that tie based on their record against each other. San Antonio would win that with a 5-3 record against the other two (remember that in this scenario the Spurs win these next two games against the Rockets, and of course I'll feel really silly for writing all this down if the Rockets win tonight).
So San Antonio would win the Southwest Division and with it they would win all the other ties (including against the Clippers) so they would get the two seed.
The Clippers would get the three seed. Assuming they beat the Grizzlies (which they have to for us to get to this point) then the Clippers, Grizzlies and Rockets would have identical 2-2 records against each other. The next tie breaker is conference record, and the Clippers would squeak by the Grizzlies by a game with a stellar 37-15 record.
Portland of course would get the four seed, and Memphis and Houston would slot in at five and six based on either division record or conference record (I honestly don't know which one would take precedence in this scenario, but Memphis wins both when you factor in two more losses to the Spurs for the Rockets).
This would produce a first round that looks like this:
(1) Golden State vs. (8) New Orleans or Oklahoma City *
(2) San Antonio vs. (7) Dallas **
(3) Clippers vs. (6) Houston
(4) Portland vs. (5) Memphis (Grizzlies would have home court advantage)
* The Suns are not mathematically eliminated from the playoff race yet, but their hope is strictly mathematical at this point.
** Dallas could conceivably fall to the eighth seed if they were to lose their remaining games, but for all intents and purposes they are locked into the seven seed.
Just to put a spotlight on how crazy this is, the Spurs would have home court advantage in the first and second round, while the Rockets would not have home court advantage in any round -- with identical regular season records!
Note that this hypothetical is not a bad situation for the Clippers, who would have home court advantage in the first round against the Rockets, a team against whom they've done well in recent years. It would however put the Spurs in their path to the conference finals, which is less than ideal.
As I stated before, this is just one of thousands of things that could happen. The best case scenario remains that the Clippers climb into the 2 seed while the Spurs slot into the 5 seed -- which could happen but is probably too much to ask. Suffice it to say that with a week to go, four great teams behind the Warriors could all finish anywhere from second to sixth in the conference (the Blazers can't fall below four, and probably won't rise above three). At this point Doc Rivers has scouts preparing books for any one of five potential first round matchups -- which is absurd with a week left in the season.
It usually only applies to the end of Clipper games, but I'll usurp it for this occasion: fasten your seatbelts for the final week of the season.