Every playoff contender in the Western Conference is in a battle. San Antonio and OKC are vying for the top seed; Denver, Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers are jostling for home-court advantage in the first round; Golden State and Houston are trying to avoid facing the No. 2 seed; and there's a three-legged race among Utah, the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas for the final spot. Here is what remains for each:
No. 1 and No. 2 seeds
San Antonio Spurs (55-17) — Home (5), Away (5): 3/31 vs. Miami; 4/1 at Memphis; 4/3 vs. Orlando; 4/4 at OKC; 4/6 vs. Atlanta; 4/10 at Denver; 4/12 vs. Sacramento; 4/14 at Los Angeles Lakers; 4/15 at Golden State; 4/17 vs. Minnesota.
OKC Thunder (53-20) — Home (4), Away (4): 4/4 vs. San Antonio; 4/5 at Indiana; 4/7 vs. New York; 4/9 at Utah; 4/11 at Golden State; 4/12 at Portland; 4/15 vs. Sacramento; 4/17 vs. Milwaukee.
Projected finish — No. 1 Spurs, No. 2 Thunder. OKC was the pick here until Friday night's loss at Minnesota, a team that was 20 games under .500. Meanwhile, San Antonio countered with a last-second win against the Los Angeles Clippers. That's a two-game swing, which left the Thunder trailing by 2½ games rather than one-half. If the Thunder loses its next game, which is Thursday night at home against San Antonio, you can pretty much crown the Spurs with the top seed.
No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds
Denver Nuggets (50-24) — Home (5), Away (3): 4/3 at Utah; 4/4 vs. Dallas; 4/6 vs. Houston; 4/10 vs. San Antonio; 4/12 at Dallas; 4/14 vs. Portland; 4/15 at Milwaukee; 4/17 vs. Phoenix.
Los Angeles Clippers (49-24) — Home (5), Away (3): 4/1 vs. Indiana; 4/3 vs. Phoenix; 4/7 vs. Los Angeles Lakers; 4/10 vs. Minnesota; 4/12 at New Orleans; 4/13 at Memphis; 4/16 vs. Portland; 4/17 at Sacramento.
Memphis Grizzlies (48-24) — Home (4), Away (5): 4/1 vs. San Antonio; 4/3 at Portland; 4/5 at Los Angeles Lakers; 4/7 at Sacramento; 4/9 vs. Charlotte; 4/12 at Houston; 4/13 vs. Los Angeles Clippers; 4/15 at Dallas; 4.17 vs. Utah.
Projected finish: No. 3 Clippers, No. 4 Nuggets, No. 5 Grizzlies. The Clippers and Denver don't face each other, so it comes down to which team protects home court best down the stretch. A rugged late schedule figures to hurt Memphis' chances, but the Grizzlies are not a team you want to mess with in a best-of-seven series.
Continue reading this story on the...