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By Mike Baldwin, Staff Writer, Published: March 28, 2010
The top tier of the Western Conference is battling for the Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 seeds while the Thunder, Spurs and Trail Blazers should move closer to clinching playoffs.

Dallas: Monday (Denver); Wednesday (at Memphis); Thursday (Orlando); Saturday (Oklahoma City).

Denver: Tonight (at Orlando); Monday (at Dallas); Thursday (Portland); Saturday (LA Clippers).

Utah: Monday (New York); Wednesday (Golden State); Friday (at LA Lakers).

Phoenix: Tonight (at Minnesota); Tuesday (at Chicago); Wednesday (at New Jersey); Friday (at Detroit); Saturday (at Milwaukee).

San Antonio: Tonight (at Boston); Monday (at New Jersey); Wednesday (Houston); Friday (Orlando).

Portland: Tonight (at Oklahoma City); Wednesday (New York); Thursday (at Denver); Saturday (at Sacramento).

Houston: Tuesday (Washington); Wednesday (at San Antonio); Friday (at Boston).

Memphis: Today (at Milwaukee); Wednesday (Dallas); Friday (New Orleans).

Analysis: The Jazz has an easier schedule than Dallas or Denver, which gives Utah a shot at earning the No. 2 or 3 seed. The Nuggets and Mavericks face a pivotal week, including a head-to-head showdown Monday in Dallas. Phoenix faces a five-game road trip, but four of the five are against teams with losing records. San Antonio’s schedule finally softens a little after today’s game in Boston. The Trail Blazers’ two toughest games are on the road. The Rockets and Grizzlies probably will be mathematically eliminated, if not by the end of the week, then some time next week.

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