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Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma City Thunder seems destined for second in the Western Conference

by Berry Tramel Modified: March 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm •  Published: March 28, 2014

Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant shoots between San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, left, and Boris Diaw during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant shoots between San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, left, and Boris Diaw during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

The Western Conference playoff race is fascinating. Four teams juggling for positioning at the top. Five teams juggling for the final four playoff berths.

I’ve listed all the teams with their remaining schedule, and I eyeballed a likely finish.

I gave every team a victory over a non-contender. I gave most teams a road loss to a fellow playoff contender and most teams a home victory over a fellow playoff contender. I tried to take into account back-to-backs and scheduling tweaks.

It won’t follow to form. Someone(s) will lose to a foe far from the playoff picture. Someone will pull a big upset or two.

But here’s what we know:

* San Antonio will be difficult to catch for the Thunder. The Spurs have a three-game lead on OKC. The Spurs play a more difficult schedule down the stretch, but not that much more difficult.

* The Thunder has a safe lead on the Clippers for second. OKC is three games up on the loss column, and the Clippers have a relatively tough schedule remaining.

* The Rockets have a relatively easy finishing schedule (six also-rans out of 11 games) and could catch the Clippers. In fact, Houston DOES catch the Clips if the Rockets beat LA on Saturday night in Houston.

* Portland has an easy remaining schedule and should finish fifth with ease.

* Golden State has an easy remaining schedule and should finish sixth with ease.

* Dallas, Memphis and Phoenix are going to battle to the wire for the final two playoff berths. The Mavericks have an easy remaining schedule and seem likely to get to seventh. Memphis has a tough closing schedule and could get nosed out by Phoenix.

Here are the nine teams and their outlooks:

 

San Antonio 55-16

Games remaining: 11. Five home, six road. Seven vs. playoff contenders, four vs. also-rans.

Back-to-backs: three.

Schedule: at Denver, New Orleans, at Indiana, Golden State, at OKC, Memphis, at Minnesota, at Dallas, Phoenix, at Houston, LA Lakers.

Likely record: 7-4, so 62-20.

Likely finish: First.

 

Oklahoma City 52-19

Games remaining: 10. Four home, six road. Five vs. playoff contenders, five vs. also-rans.

Back-to-backs: three.

Schedule: Sacramento, Utah, San Antonio, at Houston, at Phoenix, at Sacramento, at LA Clippers, New Orleans, at Indiana, at New Orleans, Detroit.

Likely record: 8-3, so 60-22.

Likely finish: Second.

 

LA Clippers 51-22

Games remaining: nine. Five home, four road. Five vs. playoff contenders, four vs. also-rans.

Back-to-backs: two.

Schedule: at Houston, at Minnesota, at Phoenix, Dallas, LA Lakers, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Denver, at Portland.

Likely record: 6-3, so 57-25.

Likely finish: fourth.

 

Houston 49-22

Games remaining: 11. Five home, six road. Five vs. playoff contenders, six vs. also-rans.

Back-to-backs: three.

Schedule: LA Clippers, at Brooklyn, at Toronto, Oklahoma City, Denver, at LA Lakers, at Denver, at Minnesota, New Orleans, San Antonio, at New Orleans.

Likely record: 9-2, so 58-24.

Likely finish: third.

 

Portland 46-27

Games remaining: nine. Six home, three road. Five vs. playoff contenders, four vs. also-rans.

Back-to-backs: none.

Schedule: at Chicago, Memphis, at LA Lakers, Phoenix, New Orleans, Sacramento, at Utah, Golden State, LA Clippers.

Likely record: 7-2, so 53-29.

Likely finish: fifth.

 

Golden State 44-27

Games remaining: 11. Six home, five road. Four vs. playoff contenders, seven vs. also-rans.

Back-to-backs: three.

Schedule: Memphis, New York, at Dallas, at San Antonio, Sacramento, Utah, Denver, at LA Lakers, at Portland, Minnesota, at Denver.

Likely record: 7-4., so 51-31.

Likely finish: sixth.

 

Memphis 43-28

Games remaining: 11. Four home, seven road. Six vs. playoff contenders, five vs. also-rans.

Back-to-backs: two.

Schedule: at Golden State, at Portland, at Denver, at Minnesota, Denver, at San Antonio, Miami, Philadelphia, at LA Lakers, at Phoenix, Dallas.

Likely record: 5-6, so 48-34.

Likely finish: ninth.

 

Phoenix 43-29

Games remaining: 10. Four home, six road. Six vs. playoff contenders, four vs. also-rans.

Back-to-backs: one.

Schedule: New York, at LA Lakers, LA Clippers, at Portland, Oklahoma City, at New Orleans, at San Antonio, at Dallas, Memphis, at Sacramento.

Likely record: 6-4, so 49-33.

Likely finish: eighth.

 

Dallas 43-30

Games remaining: nine. Four home, five road. Five vs. playoff contenders, four vs. also-rans.

Back-to-backs: one.

Schedule: Sacramento, Golden State, at LA Clippers, at LA Lakers, at Sacramento, at Utah, San Antonio, Phoenix, at Memphis.

Likely record: 7-2, so 50-32.

Likely finish: seventh.