Two weeks ago, I examined the then remaining Spurs’ schedule to learn how difficult it would be for them to stay in the playoff race or even rise a couple spots in the standings. This time, I’ll examine the teams near the Spurs in the standings that will be competing with the Spurs for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Currently, it looks like four teams will be fighting for the final two spots in the West – the Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Sacramento Kings, and the Los Angeles Lakers. If the Spurs were to end the season tied with the Clippers or Lakers, they would be the higher seed. The Spurs had a winning record against the Lakers this season and have the tiebreaker against the Clippers due to a better record against the Western Conference at the moment, though the Spurs have 9 games remaining against teams in the Western Conference and the Clippers have 10 and the Spurs’ conference record is only 1.5 games better. The Kings have already won the tiebreaker over the Spurs.
The Clippers’ schedule through the rest of the season features 12 home games and 7 away games, though one of their away games is against the Lakers. They play the Kings once and the Lakers twice, games that could have an impact on seeding. They also have games against strong playoff teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Boston Celtics, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Indiana Pacers, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors, and the Utah Jazz. If seeding is already determined, the Warriors and Jazz may be resting their best players as those are the final two games of the season. Seven of their final nineteen games are against teams that don’t have a chance at earning a playoff spot.
On Wednesday night’s game against the Bucks, Marvin Bagley III appeared to have injured his leg. An MRI is being conducted on Thursday. Hopefully the injury is not serious and he will be able to return to the team, but the severity of the injury may impact the Kings playoff chances. In this article, I’m going to assume the Kings are at full strength.
The Kings currently have 10 home games remaining and 11 away games remaining. They have two games against the Celtics, a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, two games against the Houston Rockets, a game against the Jazz, and a game against the Trail Blazers remaining, and 10 games against teams that don’t appear to have a chance to make the playoffs.
The Lakers have 11 of their remaining games at home and 10 of their remaining games away. They have two games against the Bucks, a game against the Nuggets, a game against the Celtics, a game against the Toronto Raptors, two games against Jazz, a game against the Thunder, a game against the Warriors, and a game against the Trail Blazers. The final Jazz and Trail Blazers games may see those teams resting their stars. Five of their remaining games are against teams that are far out of the playoff race.
Out of the four teams competing for the final spots, the Lakers’ schedule appears to be the most challenging. As they are currently 3 games out of the eighth seed, it may be a three team race at this point. Despite the Clippers having the most home games, the Kings schedule appears to be the easiest. Currently, it looks like the Spurs may be fighting to keep their playoff spot until the end of the regular season.
Tiebreaker information from nba.com/stats