With only three days left in the 2014-2015 regular season, the chaotic Western Conference standings are still not in place. The Spurs are one win away from doing everything they possibly can to earn the second seed in the Western Conference, which would trail only the Golden State Warriors, who have played a historically great season.
Last night's games were able to slightly limit the seeding possibilities. The Spurs' win over Phoenix put them at the number two spot, improved their record to 55-26, and gave them a half-game advantage over the Grizzlies, Clippers, and Rockets (all tied at 54-26), who's positions are three, five, and six, respectively.
San Antonio still would like a tie with Houston, which would almost guarantee the second seed because the Spurs own that tie-breaker, even if the Grizzlies are able to win out and make it three-way tie. Strangely enough, though, the way the tiebreakers work, if the Spurs only end up in a head-to-head tiebreaker with Memphis, the Grizz win the tiebreaker.
So, if the Rockets do decide to give up one of their final two games to either the Hornets or the Jazz, the Spurs need the Grizzlies to lose one more game. The Grizzlies face off against the Warriors tonight, and while it may seem as if Golden State has nothing to play for anymore after clinching the first seed what seems like ages ago, they may have incentive to win this game.
Not only do the Spurs not want to face Golden State unless both teams progress to the Western Conference Finals, but I'm fairly certain the Warriors don't want to see San Antonio until then as well. If the Warriors give the Grizzlies one more loss, it would able the Spurs to practically taste the second seed, and would prolong a GSW/SAS match-up until the third round.
Now, this is all assuming the Spurs win their final game in New Orleans. The Pelicans are still battling the Thunder for that last spot in the Western Conference, which may seem like it doesn't affect the Spurs much, but it's likely that New Orleans will still be playing for something against San Antonio.
It seemed last night as if the Thunder's playoffs hopes were crushed after a loss to Indiana despite a 54-point effort from Russell Westbrook, who also received his 16th technical foul of the season which would suspend him for the Thunder's next game. This could have actually helped the Spurs. Westbrook sitting out would have made it much less likely for OKC to beat Portland tonight. A Thunder loss and a Pelicans win would guarantee New Orleans that eighth spot.
However, the technical was officially rescinded by the NBA this morning, and Westbrook will in fact suit up against Portland. After his career-high outburst last night, I'm assuming the offensive juggernaut isn't done trying to will his Thunder into the playoffs. Not to mention, Portland has clinched the fourth seed by winning their division, so it's likely they don't have much motivation to win this game.
The Spurs want New Orleans to have that eighth spot clinched before the match-up on Wednesday, but it's probable that it will be a must win for Anthony Davis and the Pels.
Ultimately, Spurs need to hope for, at least a combination of, these five outcomes:
- Grizzlies lose to Warriors tonight
- Rockets win their final two games
- Spurs beat Pelicans on Wednesday
- Thunder lose to Blazers tonight
- Pelicans beat Timberwolves tonight