The Western Conference looked to be a power house when superstars like Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Jeff Teague, and Jimmy Butler left the East this offseason and headed for their Manifest Destiny out West.
All season long the Western Conference has battled against one another trying to fight to stay in the top eight seeds to reach a playoff birth. As expected the Warriors and Rockets ran amok against the league and sit at the top of the West with Portland sitting somewhat comfortably at third as they have already clinched a spot.
For six other playoff contender worthy teams, there is a brawl happening for the last five seeds. Between the 9th seed and the 4th seed there is a 1.5 game difference between the six of them with three or two games left in the season, depending on the team’s schedule.
These teams consist of the Nuggets, Timberwolves, Thunder, Spurs, Pelicans and the Jazz. Each team with their own stars trying to push their team over the hump into the promise land.
The Nuggets have Jokic who has looked stellar all season, paired up with now a healthy Millsap. They play the T-Wolves on the last day of the season in a crucial game for possibly the last seed. Will this talented front court be enough to fit into the playoffs?
For the Timberwolves, things are looking up after Jimmy Butler played his first game last night after being sidelined for the past 17 games following knee surgery. With KAT, Wiggins and Teague, this team should be able to squeeze into the playoffs and possibly make a deep run in the dance.
The Thunder have underachieved all year. Having high expectations with the acquisitions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder have not lived up to their hype. But having the reigning MVP helps their chances, and I believe they will clinch a spot soon.
It is surprising to see the Spurs fighting for a playoff spot with Popovich still at the helm. Kawhi Leonard drama has setback this talented Spurs team and it looks like he will remain out the rest of the season and the playoffs if they were to make it. Popovich is a magician as a coach, let’s see if he can overcome this hurdle and take the Spurs to the postseason.
For the Pelicans, they have been overachieving since Cousins went down with injury. Most people, including myself, expected to see New Orleans slowly fall out of contention but the MVP caliber play of Anthony Davis has kept their chances alive. I don’t trust New Orleans but after seeing the way the Brow has been playing, it is hard to bet against them.
The most interesting team in this list is the Jazz. Nobody thought the Jazz would be good after losing Gordon Hayward to the Celtics in the offseason but rookie Donovan Mitchell has stepped up big time. He is a star in the making and will lead a hot Jazz team into the playoffs.
It is definitely a wild, wild West here in the NBA. Six teams, five spots and 3 games left. There will be an epic finish to see who will claim their spot in this year’s playoffs.