The final stretch of the 2018 NBA regular season is amazing! I hear the voice of one of those old, bombastic radio announcers that peddle the upcoming monster truck rally … “We’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need … THE EDGE!”
When we look at the new playoff odds in Las Vegas and check top online sites like 5dimes, the Cavaliers lead the way to win the Eastern Conference, followed by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, respectively. Out west, it’s you guessed it, the Golden State Warriors followed by the Houston Rockets and the OKC Thunder.
But what about all of those teams who are riding on the edge? Some teams have nine games left, others only have seven … And we are all sitting at the edge of our seats to see which bubble-teams make it in, especially in the Western Conference where just four games separate #3 through #9. We could see some seeding changes in the west and possibly the Denver Nuggets or Los Angeles Clippers sneaking in for a playoff berth.
The Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have nine games left if you count Monday night’s matchup against the Sixers. And are just barely on the outside looking in behind the Utah Jazz. Jokic and Plumlee’s squad don’t have an easy road out of 9th place.
They have to face the East’s number one team, the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. Then they have to face the Thunder on Friday who is neck and neck with the Trail Blazers and fighting for that 3rd seed. After that, they face the Bucks who are currently the 8th seed in the east and are right behind the Heat to move up in seeding.
They finish out against the Timberwolves, Clippers, Blazers, and then Timberwolves again, none of which are going to be trying to tank in any games. The Blazers are battling it out to keep their 3rd seed. The T-wolves are in 7th but have a chance to move up to 6th or 5th, and the Clippers are two games back from the Nuggets (as of Sunday) and are trying to get that 8th spot!
The Utah Jazz & L.A. Clippers
The Utah Jazz currently sit in 8th but don’t have it much easier with regards to the end of their regular season schedule. They have to face the Celtics on Wednesday, then face the Timberwolves on Sunday. And have to close out against the Warriors and Trail Blazers.
That #8 seed is fully up for grabs.The Clippers could even push in for a playoff appearance, but I doubt it since they have the Bucks, Blazers, Pacers, Spurs, Jazz, Nuggets, and Pelicans all in their last nine games. Every single one of those teams will be fighting tooth and nail to hang on to their seed … So it will be really tough for the Clippers to make up the games needed for a berth. That said, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
The Pistons and Hornets are not mathematically eliminated yet, but it is looking grim. The Bucks would have to go on at least a 5-game slide with either of them going on a major 6-game run to close out the season for either to make it in.
The more likely shift in playoff seeding will come from the Bucks, the Heat, and the Wizards potentially swapping seeding placement. Anyone of these three teams could end up on the bubble and end up facing the Raptors in the 1st round.
Hold on to your seats, folks …The next week or so is going to be a wild ride!