Nobody in America gives a shit about the Eastern Conference since we all know that either the Celtics or Pistons is going to win it, but the west is a whole different story. With 9 teams separated by less than 8 games as of today, everything is still up for grabs. Lets break things down GDB to try and figure out the maelstrom that is the Western Conference
1 New Orleans 52-22
2 San Antonio 52-23
3 LA Lakers 51-24
4 Utah 50-26
5 Phoenix 50-25
6 Houston 50-25
7 Dallas 47-28
8 Denver 46-29
9 Golden State 45-30
Now lets go team by team to see what the stretch run holds for each
New Orleans 52-22
Remaining games: NY Knicks, Golden State, Utah, @Minnesota, @LA Lakers, @Sacramento, LA Clippers, @Dallas
Predicted Record: 5-3, finishing season 57-25
Analysis: The Hornets have not fallen off at all despite some injury concerns and a shallow bench. Chris Paul is simply too good and too determined to let this team slide, but the road is tough over the last 2 weeks of the season. Three tough road games surround 2 difficult home games against playoff contenders.
San Antonio 52-23
Remaining Games: @Utah, @Portland, Phoenix, Seattle, @LA Lakers, @Sacramento, Utah
Predicted Record: 5-2, finishing season 57-25
Analysis: Its been a roller coaster season for the Spurs. Sometimes they look as good as ever, sometimes they simply look old and decrepit. From past history, we'd have to believe that the good stretch they are on right now will last into the playoffs. I predict they'll lose 2 of their remaining 4 road games, but be able to win all their home games to tie the Hornets for top record in the division.
LA Lakers 51-24
Remaining Games: Dallas, @Sacramento, @Portland, @LA Clippers, New Orleans, San Antonio, Sacramento
Predicted Record: 6-1, finishing season 57-25
Analysis: The Lakers now have Pau Gasol back in the lineup and have a favorable schedule down the stretch. They may slip up once on the road, but their three toughest games remaining are at home and by the time the Hornets and Spurs come to town, Gasol will be back at full strength.
Remaining Games: San Antonio, @New Orleans, @Dallas, Denver, Houston, @San Antonio
Predicted Record: 3-3, finishing season 53-29
Analysis: Good lord what a brutal finishing stretch for the Jazz. I'm calling an even split with them winning all their home games and losing all their road games, but after these next 6 games will their be anything left in the tank for when the playoffs start?
Remaining Games: Minnesota, Dallas, @Memphis, @San Antonio, @Houston, Golden State, Portland
Predicted Record: 5-2, finishing season 55-27
Analysis: Not a bad stretch of games to finish up the regular season in spite of a Texas Two-Step thrown in the mix. It is very possible they drop a home game though if Grant Hill takes longer to return, but it does seem like this team has hit its stride with Shaq in the lineup now.
Remaining Games: @Seattle, @LA Clippers, Seattle, Phoenix, @Denver, @Utah, LA Clippers
Predicted Record: 3-4, finishing season 53-29
Analysis: That road game against the Clip Joint looks a lot tougher now that Elton Brand is back, and a 3 game losing streak against the Suns, Nouglats and Jazz is very possible. Its still amazing the position this team is in after losing Yao, so some stumbles down the stretch would not be the worst thing to happen
Remaining Games: @LA Lakers, @Phoenix, Seattle, Utah, @Portland, @Seattle, New Orleans
Predicted Record: 3-4, finishing season 50-32
Analysis: With Dirk not at 100 percent yet, I see no way the Mavs can win against either the Lakers or Suns this weekend. I also think they stumble against Portland, leaving the final home game of the season against the Hornets as a make-or-break game for the playoffs. The game will be much easier if the Hornets didn't have anything to play for, but chances are they will be fighting the Spurs for the division lead which means they will want the game really bad. Right now i don't think the Mavs can win with their injury problems, but by then they may have enough to overcome CP3.
Remaining Games: Sacramento, @Seattle, @LA Clippers, @Golden State, @Utah, Houston, Memphis
Predicted Record: 4-3, finishing season 50-32
Analysis: After playing Sacramento, the Nugs embark on a crucial 4 game road trip. Their matchup against the Warriors may be the game of the year in the NBA, but that crowd is going to be so hyphy that its hard to imagine Denver winning there. Their lack of defense and inconsistenty will probably cause them to drop a game they should win, yet the 2 home games at the end of the season should mean they tie Dallas in wins at 50.
Golden State 45-30
Remaining Games: @ Memphis, @New Orleans, Sacramento, Denver, LA Clippers, @Phoenix, Seattle
Predicted Record: 5-2, finishing season 50-32
Analysis: Getting blown out twice in a row didn't help the Warriors playoff chances at all. Therefore they face a must win tonight in Memphis, because its going to be really hard to beat CP3 in New Orleans on Friday. After that 4 of their last 5 games are at home and they will probably have to win all of them to make the playoffs. The Warriors play with such energy and passion at home that i think they do it, making it a 3 way tie for 8th place in the west.
Predicted Final Standings
1 New Orleans 57-25, Central Division Winners
2 San Antonio 57-25
3 LA Lakers 57-25 Pacific Division Winners
4 Utah 53-29, NW division Winners
5 Phoenix, 55-27
6 Houston 53-29
7 Dallas 50-32, 3-1 head to head vs GS, 1-2 head to head vs Denver
8 Golden State 50-32, 1-3 head to head vs Dallas, 1-1 head to head vs Denver
9 Denver 50-32, 2-1 head to head vs Dallas, 1-1 head to head vs GS
As you can see we are headed for a clusterfuck the size of Marwan's beer gut. I had no intentions of the records ending up the way they did, and quite honestly, I have no idea how to place one team on top of another with the same records. The bottom line is nothing is going to be decided until the last game of the season and if anyone predicts the final standings correctly they did it through blind luck. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy these 2 weeks of the regular season because we've never seen anything like this before