The Memphis Grizzlies are a full game ahead of the Phoenix Suns for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and the Grizzlies can clinch that spot when the two teams get together in Phoenix on Monday night.
NBA Power Rankings
NBA Power Rankings
The Grizzlies moved to 48-32 with a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Memphis can still get as high as the No. 6 seed with two victories and two Golden State Warriors losses. The Grizzlies finish the year against the Dallas Mavericks, while the Warriors have games against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets.
For the Suns to get in the playoffs, they must beat the Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings, and Memphis must then lose to Dallas to finish off the year. Phoenix can only get the No. 8 seed because they don't own the tiebreakers against Golden State or Dallas. The Mavs, like the Grizzlies, can get up to the No. 6 seed with a win and two Warriors losses.
There are a few other seeds that can change in these last few days of the regular season. The Oklahoma City Thunder have a two-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 2 seed, but the Clippers can move up with two wins and two Thunder losses. Los Angeles would have the tiebreaker based on having a better conference record.
In a tighter race, the Portland Trail Blazers are just a half-game behind the Houston Rockets for the No. 4 seed after a thrilling win over Golden State. The Blazers have to beat the Clippers on Wednesday and then see the Rockets lose to the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans to close out the season.
Here's a look at the West playoff standings (x - clinched playoff berth, y - clinched division, z - clinched conference):
|1. z - San Antonio Spurs||62||18||-|
|2. y - Oklahoma City Thunder||58||22||4|
|3. y - Los Angeles Clippers||56||24||6|
|4. x- Houston Rockets||53||27||9|
|5. x- Portland Trail Blazers||53||28||9½|
|6. x- Golden State Warriors||49||31||13|
|7. x - Dallas Mavericks||49||32||13½|
|8. Memphis Grizzlies||48||32||14|
|9. Phoenix Suns||47||33||15|
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers are in the driver's seat for the top seed after an impressive win over the Thunder. The Pacers close the year out against the Orlando Magic, and a victory would give them the No. 1 seed. Indiana could also earn the top seed if the Miami Heat fall to either the Washington Wizards or Philadelphia 76ers.
The battle for the No. 3 seed remains fierce, as the Toronto Raptors moved back into that slot thanks to a victory over the Detroit Pistons and a Chicago Bulls loss to the New York Knicks. Both the Raptors and Bulls are 47-33, but if the two teams finish the year tied, Toronto gets the No. 3 seed by virtue of winning the Atlantic Division. Toronto closes the year against two non-playoff teams in the Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks, while Chicago has the Magic and Charlotte Bobcats.
Speaking of the Bobcats, they can get the No. 6 seed with two wins and a single Wizards loss. One win and two Wizards losses would also do the trick. In addition to Chicago, Charlotte plays the Atlanta Hawks to finish off the year. After playing the Heat on Monday, Washington will end the year against the Boston Celtics. The Wizards can actually still move up to the No. 5 seed with two wins and two Brooklyn Nets losses. The Nets close out the year against the Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Here's a look at the East playoff standings (x - clinched playoff berth, y - clinched division):
|1. y - Indiana Pacers||55||26||-|
|2. y - Miami Heat||54||26||½|
|3. y - Toronto Raptors||47||33||7½|
|4. x - Chicago Bulls||47||33||7½|
|5. x - Brooklyn Nets||44||36||10½|
|6. x - Washington Wizards||42||38||12½|
|7. x - Charlotte Bobcats||41||39||13½|
|8. x - Atlanta Hawks||37||43||17½|