NBA playoff picture: West set for wild finish

While the East is pretty much set, there are plenty of questions left down the stretch in the Western Conference.
By John Rohde Published: March 30, 2013

As the NBA regular season yawns to its conclusion in the Eastern Conference, the Western Conference is drowning in a sea of uncertainty.

Back East, the defending champion Miami Heat clinched the No. 1 seed with 12 games remaining, the eight postseason qualifiers are all but a certainty and the biggest question is whether the Heat will go 12-0 en route to the Finals for the third straight season.

Out West, there's a two-team battle for the top spot, a three-team battle for two home-court positions and a three-team battle for the final spot.

With the finish line finally in sight, tunnel vision for your own team will now be accompanied by a view of the big picture.

*San Antonio has five road games remaining against playoffs teams, plus a home game Sunday against the Heat, so how frequently will coach Gregg Popovich opt to rest his starters with the No. 1 seed possibly on the line?

*Will OKC be able to catch the Spurs, or will it be forced to repeat as conference champs coming from the No. 2 position?

*Did Denver peak too soon, and will point guard Ty Lawson be able to overcome severe foot pain?

*In which direction are the streaky Los Angeles Clippers headed?

*Defensive Player of the Year candidate Marc Gasol is back from an abdomen injury, which could be bad news for everybody outside Memphis.

*Can Golden State recapture its early season magic?

*Will Houston catch fire or flame out?

*Are five home games enough to help Utah capture the No. 8 seed?

*With seven games still to play at Staples Center, will the Los Angeles Lakers finally capitalize on something this season?

*Did Dallas wait too long to make its late playoff run?

The next 17 days figure to be interesting — out West, at least.


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