The NBA regular season is a Western Conference production so far. While the Heat and Knicks pace the relatively weaker East, the West provides so many teams that could at least qualify for third in the other conference.
It's not hard to imagine the Thunder, Clippers, Spurs, Grizzlies, Warriors, Wolves, Jazz, Nuggets and Rockets as teams that could all plausibly snag an Eastern Conference third seed, were they shifted towards the Atlantic Ocean in the categorical sense.
Not only is the competition level out West high, but there's parity in the upper half as well. While it's difficult to see, say, the Thunder getting felled by an underdog in the playoffs, all other plausible matchups are a near toss-up.
All statistics accurate through Dec. 23, 2012.