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Saturday’s NBA Viewing Guide: Western Conference Playoff Race

Lots of games happening today that could affect the Wolves fate.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Eight of the top ten teams in the Western Conference are in action today--all against one another, with only the Wolves (winners over the Lakers last night) and the Jazz not playing. These games will have significant ramifications for the Wolves playoff chase and eventual seeding, so let’s do some quick previews, and get ready to watch some basketball.

Nuggets at Clippers
2:30 pm CDT

The Nuggets of course are trying to spoil the Wolves season by beating them to the 8th seed. They don’t actually HAVE to win today to stay in it, but it would certainly help. A win would give them the same 45-35 record as the Wolves. They then have Portland and the Wolves as their last two opponents, and set up a showdown with the Wolves on the final night of the season. However, and don’t quote me on this, even if they win today, if they lose to Portland while the Wolves beat Memphis on Monday, I believe they cannot finish ahead of the Wolves even with a win on Wednesday. The two teams would then be 2-2 head-to-head and even on division record, but the Wolves have a better conference record.

Pelicans at Warriors
7:30 pm CDT
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Monster game for seeding. The Pels are a half game ahead of the Wolves, but the Wolves hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. A loss in Oakland would give them the same record as the Wolves, and put our guys in position to beat them out for a higher seed. The Warriors are locked in to the second seed, however, and don’t have a ton to play for at this point. But Steve Kerr was very unhappy with them in their loss the other night, and might want them playing at a higher level as they get tuned up for the playoffs. We’ll see. A motivated Warriors squad would be hugely beneficial for the Wolves.

Thunder at Rockets
7:30 pm CDT

Replace “Pels” and “Warriors” with “Thunder” and “Rockets” in the paragraph above for what’s at stake in this one. Again, a Thunder loss drops them to even with the Wolves, who hold the head-to-head tie-breaker. Again, the Rockets are locked in to their top seed and have nothing to play for. Again, a motivated Rockets team would be huge for the Wolves.

Blazers at Spurs
8:00 pm CDT
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The Wolves can no longer catch the Blazers, but Portland is not yet locked into the third seed, as the Jazz still have a shot at them, so they should have plenty of motivation tonight. Damian Lillard is scheduled to return from his one game absence due to a sore ankle, and we’ll see how he looks. A Blazers win would drop the Spurs to 45-35, again the same record as the Wolves, though in this case the Spurs hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.

If things break right today, there could be five teams sporting the same 45-35 records at the end of the night: Wolves, Spurs, Pelicans, Thunder, and Nuggets. If that happens, the Wolves would be in good shape to grab the fifth seed by winning out. Of course, any number of other results today would leave them in a different position.

Enjoy today’s basketball and chat about it here.