The San Antonio Spurs need just two wins or Los Angeles Lakers losses in the final week of the season to guarantee the No. 1 seed in the West bracket of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday and the Spurs beat the Hawks, putting L.A. 3.5 games back with just five games remaining. The Spurs face the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday and the Utah Jazz on Saturday.
The Lakers will almost assuredly enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed out west; the Dallas Mavericks are two games back, but L.A. has a tiebreaker, meaning struggling Dallas would need to finish perfect and watch the Lakers lose three of five to a schedule that includes Golden State and Sacramento.
The bottom of the West bracket remains a mess as the Hornets, Blazers and Grizzlies fail to sort themselves out. Dallas could still fall behind the Oklahoma City Thunder, too, meaning that a potential second-round matchup for the Lakers could be the Thunder, not the Mavericks or a lower seed.