This is a rather quickly done, and for the most part brutally honest projection of what I believe will be either the final seedings in the Western Conference or at least pretty darn close to it. Some small variance could certainly occur, as anything can happen down the stretch. Here are the current standings:
LAKERS: Lead the West, 11 games left
SPURS: -10.0 With 11 games left
ROCKETS: -11.0 With 9 games left
NUGGETS: -11.5 With 10 games left
HORNETS: -12.5 With 12 games left
BLAZERS: -12.5 With 10 games left
JAZZ: -13.0 With 11 games left
MAVS: -14.0 With 11 games left
SUNS: -17.5 With 10 games left
This race should have a tight finish, at least with seeds 3 through 6. At this point, I believe that seeds 1 and 2 are pretty much decided, given the remaining schedules. My predictions for the Western Conference Playoff Seedings are as follows:
1.) LAKERS: The obvious first-place team in the West. They'll go 10-1 down the stretch and finish at 67-15
2.) SPURS: Well, Houston's made it closer than we thought, but Spurs will go 9-2 down the stretch, losing at Cleveland and possibly at New Orleans. Spurs finish at 56-26
3.) NUGGETS: They have by far the easiest remaining schedule and should capitalize on this. Nugz go 8-2 the rest of the way for a 54-28 record
4.) ROCKETS: We've overcome adversity, injuries, and bouts of terrible basketball play on the road and we should finish strong in the 4th seed (we COULD very well get the 3rd seed, but this is a brutally honest projection. Rockets will lose at the Lakers (barring a miracle)) and I'm also projecting L's POSSIBLY at home vs Orlando and another L either at Dallas or Phoenix. (Lord, PLEASE let me be wrong and let Houston clinch a 3 seed!)
5.) BLAZERS: This young team is truly on it's way to eventual greatness. Portland will finish strong, going 7-3 down the stretch, losing games at Houston, San Antonio, and I'm giving them either a L against the Lakers at home or against Denver, but I think they'll win one of those two games at least. Portland finishes in 5th and faces Houston in the first round. 52-30 for the Blazers.
6.) HORNETS: New Orleans has more games left than anyone, and I figure they'll finish at 7-5, given that they play at Houston, at San Antonio, at Miami, at Dallas, and another home game against San Antonio. New Orleans could flip-flop with Portland and end up in the 5th seed to face Houston, though. Hornets go 51-31.
7.) MAVERICKS: Dallas has 11 games left, and I'm going to project them to go 7-4 with losses against Houston (I hope!) @Cleveland, possibly at home against Denver, and then possibly on the road at New Orleans. Dallas gets the 7th seed and finishes 50-32 to play the Spurs in the first round.
8.) JAZZ: Now, I promise I'm not just doing this because I have a history of hating the Utah Jazz, because I do think Utah has a killer team this year*
*Asterisk denotes the fact that Utah is practically unbeatable at home, but STILL has posted an 0-fer on the road against Western Conference foes above .500 and unfortunately this will spell their untimely demise as they drop to the 8th seed to face the mighty Los Angeles Lakers. Utah has 11 games left, with 6 on the road against Western Conference teams with records above .500. See the problem? I have no choice but to have Utah going 5-6 down the stretch with losses @ Portland, Denver, New Orleans (this may be their best shot at a road win, or at Dallas) San Antonio, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas. Utah finishes at 49-33 (MAYBE, JUUUUST MAYBE they'll finish 50-32)
9.) SUNS: Phoenix has made an inspiring push but unfortunately it's going to fall short for them this year. Phoenix goes 6-4 down the stretch to finish in 9th place at 46-36.
Thanks for reading!