A. The Rockets – 19 games left (12 at home) and 10 games are against above .500 teams
B. The Grizzlies – 20 games left (12 at home) and 13 games are against above .500 teams.
C. The Suns – 23 games left (11 at home) and 13 games are against above .500 teams
D. The Jazz – 20 games left (9 at home) and 13 games are against above .500 teams
E. The Blazers – 21 games left (11 at home) and 15 games are against above .500 teams
F. The Hornets – 19 games left (11 at home) and 15 games are against above .500 teams
Of the above teams that are still fighting to get into the Western Conference Playoffs, if the standings were all even at this point, then the Rockets and Grizzlies would have the best chance to make it.
But the standings are not all even. The Rockets are 31-32 after a very bad loss to the Clippers. They have the best remaining schedule left with 12 of their remaining 19 games played at home, and of the contenders they have the fewest games left against above .500 teams – 10.
Houston has won 5 of their last 6 so they are hot with the easiest way to go, but can they go from the #11 spot to pass 3 teams and get to #8? They have lost 13 home games so far this year, so I have them catching Phoenix and Utah but falling short of 8th place New Orleans.
Memphis has the second easiest schedule with 12 games at home of their remaining 20 games and only 13 against above .500 teams. So I see them catching New Orleans and Portland and finishing 6th.
The Blazers and New Orleans have the most difficult schedules left with the Blazers playing 21 games and 11 at home and 11 on the road, but the difficulties come with 15 of those games being against above .500 teams, the most of any of the contenders. So the Blazers will end up in 7th place in the final standings and play the Lakers in the 1st round.
New Orleans, like the Blazers, will fall victim to the schedule. They also play 15 of their remaining 19 games against above .500 teams. The only reason they stay in the 8th spot ahead of the Rockets is they play 11 of their last 19 games at home.
The Suns and Utah have a problem with the schedule in that the Suns have 23 games left with 12 on the road, and Utah only has 9 home games left so they won’t make it either.
The teams that must step up to overcome a most difficult schedule are the Hornets and Blazers. Playing against above .500 teams at the end of the year could do in the Hornets, but the Blazers with their added personnel should make the playoffs. Getting out of the 1st round will be the topic for another day.