In the always competitive NBA Western Conference, the race for the postseason has become one of the toughest in sports. Teams are often separated by only a few games and can find themselves out of the hunt unless they can put together consistent records in the home stretch of the season.
Here is a look at how each team may fare for contention of the sixth through eighth seed in the west:
6th seed: Portland Trail Blazers (40-30)
Upcoming games: WAS(3/22), SAS(3/25), @OKC(3/27)
Portland had their three-game winning streak ended on Sunday when they lost to the Lakers narrowly 84-80 at Staples Center. They keep getting the wins they need to get to stay afloat at the sixth seed and remain half a game ahead of the Hornets.
7th seed: New Orleans Hornets (40-31)
Upcoming games: @UTA(3/24), @PHX(3/25), @LAL(3/27)
The Hornets continue to struggle against playoff teams like Denver and Boston. The victory of the Suns who are fading out of the playoff picture quickly was necessary to stay above the Grizzlies for the 7th seed in the conference.
8th seed: Memphis Grizzlies (38-32)
Upcoming games: UTA(3/21), @BOS(3/23), @CHI(3/25)
The Grizzlies continue to win when they need to most and remain one and a half games above the Rockets for the last playoff spot. Their positioning is strong, but they face a team chasing them next and two Eastern Conference contenders after that. Wins here would help to secure their position further, whereas losses would not help them.
9th seed: Houston Rockets (37-34)
Upcoming games: GSW(3/23), @MIA(3/27), @NJN(3/29)
The Rockets are making a strong push for the playoffs as they begin this week on a four game winning streak, including an important victory over the Boston Celtics. They only face one playoff team in the next three games and look to build on the streak that is putting them into the picture.
10th seed: Phoenix Suns (35-33)
Upcoming games: @LAL(3/22), TRT(3/23), NWO(3/25)
The Suns now find themselves two games out of the final playoff spot and look to win some important victories in the next three games, namely against the Lakers and the Hornets. After a four game losing streak, the Suns seem to be back on pace with a two game winning streak and keeping that one going would benefit them very well.
11th seed: Utah Jazz (36-34)
Upcoming games: @MEM(3/21), @OKC(3/23), NWO(3/24)
The Utah Jazz have fallen from the playoff team they were before they traded away Deron Williams and seem to be having a hard time improving much on their victories. They haven’t been able to beat playoff teams recently and their next four games come against opponents sitting in Western Conference playoff spots.