The NBA Chess Moves In The Western Conference
The NBA regular season is almost over. It’s hard to believe, for some reason, it feels like there should be a few more games played before the NBA play-in series starts later on. NBA teams either have one or two more games to play before the regular season is done.
The Eastern Conference seeds from #1 to #6 are set with the Philadelphia 76ers leading the pack having a 48–23 and the New York Knicks (that’s a shocker) having the sixth seed with a 39–31 record. The seventh seed to the tenth seed in the East (Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers & Washington Wizards) will likely be battling each other in the play-in to see who gets the last two seeds (7&8)in the East.
The Western Conference, on the other hand, continues to remain stacked with great teams with great records. It’s been this way in the West for 20 years (maybe more). There’s still a lot of mystery to see what team is the West will have which seed? The Utah Jazz has really taken a huge leap by being #1 in the conference with a 51–20 record.
They have a good group of players with Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell (it’s unfortunate his injury ended his season), Mike Conley Jr, Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson (what a season he’s having, Royce O’ Neal, and a few others that escape my head right now.
Underneath them is a tight group of teams (Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers, LA Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies & San Antonio Spurs) that is intentionally/unintentionally playing chess moves to see if they can get a team that the best matchup for them to get to the NBA Finals.
A lot of these teams would probably like to play Denver because of them losing Jamal Murray to a horrible injury. The Nuggets still have a deep squad that’s led by an unbelievable player in Nikola Jokic. That guy’s passing abilities are just mind-boggling. I’ll ask myself sometimes how does he make the passes that he does? He’s incredible.
Every other team that’s not the LA Lakers/LA Clippers would love to avoid them until they can’t anymore. I was gobsmacked by how deep the Clippers really are. It’s another superteam with Kawaii Leonard & Paul George leading the charge with Pat Beverly, Serge Ibaka, Rajon Rondo, Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, Reggie Jackson, and the rest of the team!
They’re gonna be a handful for whoever gets them in the first round. The Lakers need their remaining two games plus the Blazers to avoid the play-in tournament. No team in the West (besides the Clippers) wants the Lakers either and has to deal with playoff Lebron.
The Blazers need to beat the Nuggets tomorrow if the Lakers win today’s game to remain out of the play-in spot. The first four seeds haven’t been decided yet either. The Utah Jazz & Phoenix Suns (what a breakout season they’ve had) could be number one or two in the conference. It's just a question of which team will land where?
The Nuggets & Clippers could stay how they are now or the Clippers could regain the third seed and the Nuggets be the fourth seed. I could be wrong about Dallas, but I believe they have that fifth seed locked. Their team is nice also with Luka Donic, Porzingis, Josh Richardson, Tim Hardway Jr & more guys that contribute to their team.
That’s one of the great things about the West, each team has a deep roster of talent that can help those teams win games. The East is getting there but needs more teams to get deeper with the talent to elevate to the top eastern teams.
It should be a thrilling finish to see which teams in the West get the first six seeds & how will the play-in look with the West and Eastern conference. I can’t wait!