Heading into the home stretch of the NBA season, the Western Conference standings remain a jumbled mess of underperforming champs, newly formed superteams, and, blissfully, the Sacramento Kings. As we gaze towards the finish line, let’s focus on some upcoming matchups with extra important playoff implications.
Never mind, LeBron is hurt :( RIP in peace Lakers, we hardly knew ye.
Spoiler alert: The Clippers are going to make a few appearances on this list. They sit in fifth place while the Wolves are back in ninth, but only two games separate these teams (recall the jumbled mess I mentioned earlier). The Clippers are fresh off of two heartbreaker OT losses, and the rest of the season will be crucial to right the ship before the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Wolves are looking to claw their way out of the play-in and into the postseason proper.
Both of these teams are having undeniably weird seasons! The Warriors are fighting to remain afloat among a slew of missing stars, while Portland is fighting just to get into the play-in tournament. If they can ride the momentum of Damian Lillard’s super-nova scoring performance and steal a game from the Dubs, they could leapfrog the stumbling Pelicans and Timberwolves straight into the postseason picture.
If the Clippers win this matchup (and they should) it would allow them more breathing room over a Golden State team lurking just one game behind. However, the Warriors have proven that they have the ability to win games they shouldn’t this season just as often as they’ve fumbled matchups that should have been surefire wins. Depending on this game as well as what the Dallas Mavericks get up to this week, we could see some flip-flop, swip-swaps happening in the standings.
By this game, if the basketball gods deem us worthy, Kevin Durant will be back on the court. Suns vs. Mavs could be a first-round matchup and will be fun as hell. Really, who can resist the first KD vs. Kyrie faceoff since the disintegration of the Nets?