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The West fight for the NBA Play-in: Which teams have options and who might not make it?

The Mavs pulled off their first win in five games, keeping them in contention for the Play-in tournament, but the race still remains too close for comfort.

The Mavs pulled off their first win in five games, keeping them in contention for the Play-in tournament, but the race still remains too close for comfort.

If you’re not familiar, the NBA Play-in tournament is an opportunity for the seventh through tenth seeds in each conference to earn a spot in the NBA Playoffs. Well, in the Western Conference in particular, the race to be in the Play-in tournament has become extremely close.

NBA Western Conference Standings

Here are where the teams in the West are currently standing:

RankTeamRecordGames Behind
1Denver Nuggets (clinched division)51-24
2Memphis Grizzlies (clinched division)47-273.5
3Sacramento Kings45-30 6
4Phoenix Suns40-3511
5LA Clippers40-3611.5
6Minnesota Timberwolves39-3712.5
7Golden State Warriors39-3712.5
8New Orleans Pelicans38-3713
9LA Lakers37-3814
10OKC Thunder 37-3814
11Dallas Mavericks37-3914.5
12Utah Jazz35-4016
13Portland Trail Blazers32-4319
14San Antonio Spurs (eliminated)19-5632
15Houston Rockets (eliminated)18-5833.5

You will notice that the Mavericks are sitting at 11 and the Timberwolves at 7, but there’s only two games difference between the two. Even with just under two weeks left in the regular season, it’s anyone’s game at this point to make it to the Play-in tournament.

Well, not anyone. It’s unlikely the Trail Blazers will make it and the Jazz’s chances aren’t too great either. But any of those teams between four and eleven are possibly going to end up in the Play-in tournament, depending on how the rest of the regular season games play out.

Which teams still have a chance?

Dallas Mavericks (11)

The Mavs are now sitting just a half-game behind 10th place thanks to their win over the Pacers on Monday. They hold the tiebreaker over the Lakers (9), but the Thunder (10) has the edge over Dallas. With six games left to play, they face the 76ers on Wednesday, the Heat on Saturday, then the Hawks on Sunday, and they need to get as many wins as possible to win the fight for the last two spots in the Play-in tournament. Even then, if they’re ninth or tenth, they’ll have to win two games to make the playoffs.

Oklahoma City Thunder (10)

The Thunder have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games and 9-4 in their last 13. The Mavs sit just a half-game behind them at No. 11 but OKC has a pretty easy upcoming schedule to end the season. Their next two games are at home against the Hornets and Pistons. They will play the Warriors for the last game of the season on April 4, and Golden State leads their series 2-1.

Los Angeles Lakers (9)

The Lakers have been able to maintain their spot at number 9 in the West and have LeBron James back from an injury that kept him out for 13 straight games. That’s good news for LA, who also has one of the easiest schedules to end the season. Technically, they could make the playoffs without going through the Play-in, as they’re just a game and a half behind No. 6 Timberwolves.

New Orleans Pelicans (8)

The Pelicans are on a roll, their latest win coming over the Trail Blazers. Now they sit just a half-game behind the No. 7 Warriors and No. 6 Timberwolves.

Golden State Warriors (7)

The Warriors fell to seventh after losing to Minnesota, which put them back down in the Play-in picture. They have been worse off still without Andrew Wiggins. They’ll likely make it in the playoffs, but whether that’s through the regular season or the Play-in will depend on how the rest of their regular season games turn out.

Minnesota Timberwolves (6)

The Timberwolves had a huge road win over the Warriors on Sunday, moving them up to the sixth seed in the West. They are tied with the Warriors in losses and hold the tiebreaker over them. Actually, they have the advantage of holding the tiebreaker over the Clippers, Lakers, Thunder, and Mavericks as well.


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