NBA Western Conference playoff and play-in race: Everything you need to know ahead of the final two weeks of the season | NBA News

With only two weeks left in the 2022-23 NBA season, there are countless possibilities regarding the Western Conference playoff seedings. While the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings have all gained their positions, there are still five spots ahead.

With just 3.5 games separating the 4th and 12th seed, each matchup over the next fortnight has the power to change the destinies of the competing teams.

The 4th, 5th and 6th place teams advance directly to the playoffs, with the 7th–10th teams competing in a play-in tournament for the final two spots after the season.

If two teams finish with the same record, their position will be determined by a tiebreaker, the first of which is the head-to-head record between the sides.

So, what will it all look like when the dust settles?

Phoenix Suns

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Kevin Durant Joins Suns From Brooklyn Nets In Arguably Biggest Trade Of The Season

Current Position: 4th

Season win/loss record: 41–35

Back of Kevin Durant, the fourth seed appears to be locked in, and the future is looking bright for the Phoenix Suns, at least from owner Matt Ishbia’s perspective.

The man who flew in from New York in the early hours of the February trade deadline is back on the court and showing what those hours of missed sleep bought: a chance to pave the way for a deep playoff run .

The former MVP is averaging a ridiculous 26.7 points on 69 percent shooting in his last three games. He made his home debut on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves and scored 16 points.

With two weeks still on the clock, Durant’s teammates can enjoy his presence in the starting five and work on the chemistry they’ll rely on in the post-season dribble.

Before that, they would face the Denver Nuggets (twice), the Oklahoma City Thunder, and both Los Angeles teams.,

Remaining Fixtures: Nuggets (A) – April 1, Thunder (H) – April 3, Spurs (A) – April 5, Nuggets (A) – April 7*, Lakers (H) – April 8, Clippers (A) – April 9*. * Live on Sky Sports

los angeles clippers

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is guarded by Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (12).
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Los Angeles Clippers Forward Kawhi Leonard Is a Former NBA Finals MVP

Current Position: 5th

Season win/loss record: 41–36

The Clippers are currently seeded 5th, and most are projecting them into a playoff spot despite Paul George’s injury status.

Their star guard will be missing at least the rest of the regular season as he works his way back to health after a sprained ankle. Although he won’t need surgery, it’s possible the 32-year-old won’t be around until the first round of the playoffs.

In his absence, Kawhi Leonard’s contribution has been immense. In particular he gave a monstrous performance against the Thunder, scoring 32 points on 13-of-15 shooting.

Will it be enough to keep them afloat until George recovers? Sunday’s loss to the Pelicans gave us an insight into their fatal flaw: roster depth.

It’s a weakness that can be found in four nights where they face the Grizzlies twice before returning to New Orleans.

With no tiebreaker at hand, these fixtures are must-win games, The old Leonard may be needed if the Clippers want to have their way.

Remaining Fixtures: Grizzlies (H) – April 1, Pelicans (H) April 2, Lakers (A) – April 6, Blazers (A) – April 8, Suns (H) – April 9*. ,live on sky sports

Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors guards Stephen Curry (30) and Klay Thompson (11) celebrate.
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The Warriors have struggled to find consistency this season but they have bags of championship experience, not least in the form of the legendary ‘Splash Brothers’.

Current position: 6th

Season win/loss record: 40–37

The Warriors have hardly been the picture of consistency this season. They bounced from 6th to 7th, down to 8th, and then back up again – which goes to show how competitive the latter part of the playoff race is proving to be.

They will need to find some sort of consistency in their last five matches if they are to defend their title. The 18th toughest balance schedule in the NBA certainly helps.

Sure, locking horns with the resurgent Pelicans, West-leading Nuggets and dynamic Kings can be unlucky, but with the ‘splash brothers’ of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, four-time NBA championship-winning four-time champions, they should be able to keep their element. Should rivals at bay.

Remaining Fixtures: Spurs (A) – April 1, Nuggets (H) – April 3, Thunder (A) – April 5, Kings (H) – April 8, Blazers (H) – April 9.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns (32) looks to drive around Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga (00).
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Karl-Anthony Towns’ return capped a strong run of form for Minnesota

Current Position: 7th

Season win/loss record: 39–38

The Timberwolves’ season seems to have finally clicked with the return of Karl Anthony-Townes.

Five months on from his calf injury, ‘The Cat’ is back in action looking like he’s languishing on the side-lines, acting as glue during an impressive run of form.

While it may seem unbelievable that the Wolves would advance without hesitation, it is clear that they are in a far better position than most teams in the West.

They hold tiebreakers over their rivals who have attempted and failed to beat them in the standings. They will face defeat in the upcoming clash with the Suns and Pelicans.

Remaining Fixtures: Lakers (A) – April 1, Blazers (A) – April 2, Nets (H) – April 5, Spurs (H) – April 8, Pelicans (A) – April 9.

Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers' Chicago Bulls' LeBron James drives to the basket;  Alex Caruso defends.
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LeBron James is back for the Lakers after a foot injury

Current Position: 8th

Season win/loss record: 38–38

When LeBron James is in the mix, it’s never too late, right?

Lakers fans will tell you as much. The 38-year-old took no time to dust herself off and get back in the thick of things alongside co-stars Austin Reeves and Anthony Davis.

But results matter at this stage of the season. They shot themselves in the foot when the Lakers saw their three-game winning streak end in a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls.

They must have forgotten that the Pelicans, Thunder and Dallas Mavericks were breathing down their necks, otherwise, they probably wouldn’t have given Nikola Vucevic so much time on the ball.

they have to put on a great performance In a five-game road trip that includes matchups with the Timberwolves and Clippers,

Remaining Fixtures: Timberwolves (H) – April 1, Rockets (H) – April 3, Jazz (H) – April 5, Clippers (H) – April 6, Suns (A) – April 8, Jazz (A) – April 9.

New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, right, Los Angeles Clippers forward Robert Covington, left, and center Mason Plumlee shoot as defense.
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Pelicans currently in play-in spot

Current Position: 9th

Season win/loss record: 38–38

Pelicans are in a mood – not the kind to be easily angered.

A five-game winning streak getting you back in the thick of the playoff conversation can certainly do that.

They should be able to comfortably hold the ninth seed and will likely make up for any slip-ups ahead of them as the Lakers and Warriors gear up for a huge week of action.

Up next with the Nuggets, the Pelicans will look to finish with the same flourish they’ve implemented in recent games. Given they have the league’s toughest remaining schedule, opportunities may be few and far between.

They’ll have a four-game homestand against the Clippers, Kings, Grizzlies and New York Knicks before closing up shop in Minnesota.

Remaining Fixtures: Nuggets (H) – March 31*, Clippers (A) – April 2, Kings (A) – April 5, Grizzlies (A) – April 6, Knicks (A) – April 8, Timberwolves (H) – April 9*live on sky sports

oklahoma city thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilzeus-Alexander.
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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the league’s top scorers this season

Current Status: 10th

Season win/loss record: 38–39

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander deserves a spot in the playoff conversation, just as he deserves a spot on the All-Star roster. He made it to the latter with impressive ease, but the former may take more elbow grease.

The Thunder hold a one-game lead over the Mavericks who sit 11th in the West, and they haven’t had much in the way of ‘SGA’ support until the recent rise of Jalen Williams.

The rookie showed off his dazzling skills on Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, finishing with a game-high 27 points and getting the buzzer-beating shot.

He has scored at least 20 points in each of his last three games, including a 31-point performance in Tuesday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets. He will need to continue that form with Gilgies-Alexander if he is to keep Mavs at arms length.

Remaining Fixtures: Pacers (H) – April 1, Suns (A) – April 3, Warriors (H) – April 5, Jazz (H) – April 7, Grizzlies (A) – April 9.

dallas mavericks

Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic reacts.
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Even Luka Doncic’s Offensive Magic Isn’t Enough To Overcome The Mavericks’ Defensive Weaknesses

Current Position: 11th

Season win/loss record: 37–40

If one team were to miss out, you wouldn’t have guessed it would be with an offense headlined by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

But you can have the best backcourt in the world and still suffer loss after loss if your defense ranks among the lowest in the league.

Although the pair have excelled individually since the trade to bring Irving to Dallas, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith – who joined the Brooklyn Nets as part of that deal – compared Irving to I am in much better condition.

Their next three games are on the road against Eastern playoff contenders The Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks essentially present a do-or-die scenario.

From our perspective, barring an absolutely devastating scoring spell from Doncic, it looks like it may be curtains for the Mavs.

Remaining Fixtures: Heat (H) – April 2*, Hawks (H) April 2, Kings (A) – April 6, Bulls (A) – April 8, Spurs (A) – April 9. * Live on Sky Sports

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