Just when I was about to go on my annual "The NBA Regular Season is Too Long" rant, I metaphorically take a peek up the wide-open skirt of the Western Conference. If the Western Conference were a lady, you'd have to agree that she's hot, tight, and replete with action. She's also sticky-dripping wet...with the raunchy sweat of playoff-seed jockeying.
With five or six games left (depending on the teams) in the regular season, there's all of eight games separating the No. 1 seed and the No. 8 seed. For all intents & purposes, the stumbling Lakers have the No. 1 seed wrapped, but while all eight playoff slots are filled, not one of them is officially locked, seeding-wise.
Even better evidencing how close the Western race is...there are only three games separating the No. 2 seed and the No. 8 seed. Four teams (Dallas, Denver, Utah & Phoenix) are currently tied for second place. Three teams (OKC, San Antonio, and Portland) sit within a game and a half of each other for seeds six-eight.
If any of these teams, not wearing purple & gold, so much as sneeze...much less, bend-over...during this next week and a half, they could find themselves having dropped three or four...or SIX places. Even the Lakers had better not cough too loudly or too many more times or they could find themselves in second place.
This conference is not only tight and hot, they're overall playing or have played good basketball. Contrarily, the Lakers have been sleep-walking since the All-Star break, but they still sport a .714 winning percentage—the second best in the NBA. The Suns and Mavs both just came off double-digit win streaks.
Even the currently eighth-seeded Blazers carry a .610 winning percentage. If the Blazers were in the Eastern Conference with that record, they'd be in fifth place. Compare and contrast that with the current eighth seed in the East, the Raptors, who are playing .500 ball...and they or whoever winds up as the eighth playoff seed could go in at under .500 (i.e. The gutsy but lowly Bulls lurk just a game back at .487).
Greg Popovitch, admitted before the game against the Lakers on Sunday that his Spurs and (he believes) all six of the other playoff-bound Western teams were trying to avoid facing The Lakers in the first round. Some might argue, however, given the play of the Lakers lately, the objective instead should be to fall into/stay in the eighth playoff seed so they could face The Lolli-GAGGING Lakers. Regardless, Hot...Tight...Sticky "Lady West" will put on quite a peep show for the next week and a half.
Reg DeVone is co-owner/admin: Sports Jabber.