Rooting for the bottom of the West


We know there is quite the log-jam in the Western Conference playoff race. There has been for quite some time. As I write this on Monday afternoon, the gap between the #2 spot and #7 spot is 2 and 1/2 games. That means back-to-back losses—not even a streak—can send you tumbling all the way down towards Dallas. With 9 games remaining, Portland only has so much control of their own destiny. We’ll talk about this more this week but five of those games are going to be really tough, playoff-type basketball. Obviously for Portland to move up/avoid tumbling the Blazers are going to have to take care of business against the weaker teams in the league. Just like Nate and B-Roy talked about after the Memphis game. Not only will Portland have to face this dilemna, but so will the rest of the playoff contenders. Every season there are some teams who rise up and play spoiler, others who are grasping for their playoff lives and those who are absolutely hopeless. To be able to move up or to avoid moving down…we’re going to need some help. Watching last night’s game between the Kings and Suns got me to thinking…can the worst teams in the NBA help us?? Let’s take a look at the schedules from 9 on down in the West and see if they can.

  • Phoenix Suns – 8 games remaining (4 home, 4 away), 3 against playoff contenders

Can Phoenix help us? I think so. They really could have helped us by beating Utah in Utah but I’ll take their back-to-back wins last week over Denver and the Jazz. The rest of the way they’ll try their hardest to make the playoffs and still have a chance. A win over Houston would help us in respect’s to trying to get the #4 seed and wins over New Orleans and Dallas would keep them off our backs…but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Phoenix lost those games. Plus the more they lose, that magic number gets smaller and smaller. So whatever Phoenix decides to do is all good with me, although I wouldn’t mind them hunting down Dallas and stealing the #8 seed. That’s just a personal opinion.

  • Golden State Warriors – 9 games remaining (6 home, 3 away), 5 games against playoff contenders.

The Warriors get a thumbs in the middle as far as helping us. They can aid but nothing that wouldn’t change our workload. Essentially, they can only help us stay near or around the 4/5 area. They have 5 games left against playoff contenders but one of them is against fringe Phoenix to close the season in a game that shouldn’t affect us. One of them is at Utah, where I absolutely don’t think Golden State will pick up their 7th road win of the year. And the other is at home against San Antonio, and I’m not sure we can catch the Spurs at this point. Where they can help is in home games against New Orleans and Houston. They are 19-16 at home and their style of offense gives them a spoiler stamp for sure. Golden State winning those games isn’t completely out of the question.

  • Minnesota Timberwolves – 8 games remaining (4 home, 4 away), 5 games against playoff contenders.

Minny can help us. Reason #1 is their April 5th home game against Denver. Slightly smaller reason #2 is by stealing one of their two games against Dallas. A Minny win over Dallas combined with their tough schedule would ensure that they aren’t catching us. They play at Utah but that’s going to hurt us more than anything. I’m not even going to blindly hope they can go to Salt Lake and beat Utah though. That’s just dumb. Maybe Mike Miller can have flashbacks to last year and Sebastian Telfair can have flashbacks to…who am I kidding? See what I mean? Just dumb. Also, playing Phoenix shouldn’t have an impact.

  • Oklahoma City Thunder – 9 games remaining (4 home, 5 away), 5 games against playoff contenders.

The Thunder can either really help us or really hurt us. Why? Two of those 5 games against playoff contenders are against us. We’ve already got our hands full, to drop one to OKC would be horrendous. Also an upset at Denver could really help the hope to win the division. It’s unlikely but I’ll be a Durantamaniac that night. Other than that the two games against San Antonio shouldn’t mean too much as I assume the Spurs will not have the complete meltdown we need to catch them.

  • Memphis Grizzlies – 10 games remaining (5 home, 5 away), 5 games against playoff contenders.

Other than losing a game to us the Grizzlies are absolutely useless. Which is probably an upgrade from what they actually are right about now. Their two games against Phoenix are part of the reason why the Suns still have a remote chance at making the playoffs. A game against Dallas and at the Lakers won’t do much. No need to cheer for the Grizzlies to finish strong.

  • Los Angeles Clippers- 8 games remaining (5 home, 3 away), 5 games against playoff contenders.

The Clippers will more than likely end up hurting us. The only way they can help the Blazers is by holding their guys out of the April 11th showdown between the teams. Other than that and a home game against New Orleans, the Clips can’t help at all. The other three games against playoff contenders take place on the road as they go to Denver and to Utah in games that will make winning the division that much harder. A game against the Lakers has no impact.

  • Sacramento Kings – 10 games remaining (5 home, 5 away), 6 games against playoff contenders.

They have already probably given the Blazers as much help as we could ask by beating the Suns last night. Thanks for that Sac-Town. Home games against the Lakers and Spurs will have no impact. Neither will a game at Phoenix unless all hell breaks loose. Maybe they can upset the Nuggets in Denver…but I doubt it. If they’re going to help, it’s holding New Orleans back and bringing Houston closer to Portland. Other than that, no need to go buy that Kevin Martin jersey.

As you can see we have a very slim and slight chance of moving up to the #4 spot or winning the division. Realistically we should hope to stay where we are at. We won’t be getting too much help from the bottom feeders so let’s just hope we can keep improving and we finish strong.