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NBA Northwest: OKC Fighting for Top Spot, Jazz Fighting for Eighth

ThunderjazzWith only a handful of games remaining in the NBA regular season, the top three teams in the Northwest Division still have a lot to play for. None of those as much as the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are in a very tight battle with the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Both the Jazz and Lakers are 39-36 with seven games to play. The Jazz do hold the tie-breaker over the Lakers though.

Utah has four home games left on the schedule and four teams bound for the playoffs. The Lakers have five home games left and five playoff teams on their schedule. If it comes down to the final two games, then the Lakers have the advantage as their last three games are at home while the Jazz finishes with their last two on the road. If Utah wins four of their last seven, the the Lakers must go 5-2.

The Denver Nuggets are in a fight with the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies for the third spot in the West. The Nuggets and Grizzlies are tied for third with the Clippers 1.5 games behind them. But, since the Clippers are leading the Pacific Division, they are guaranteed a top four spot. So the Nuggets and Grizzlies could fall all they way from third to fifth, based on what happens between the two.

The Grizzlies have seven games remaining. Those are:

4/3 @ Portland Trail Blazers

4/5 @ L.A. Lakers

4/7 @ Sacramento Kings

4/9 Charlotte Bobcats

4/12 @ Houston Rockets

4/13 vs L.A. Clippers

4/15 @ Dallas Mavericks

4/17 vs Utah Jazz

The Nuggets remaining schedule is:

4/3 @ Utah Jazz

4/4 vs Dallas Mavericks

4/6 Houston Rockets

4/10 vs San Antonio Spurs

4/12 @ Dallas Mavericks

4/14 vs Portland Trail Blazers

4/15 @ Milwaukee Bucks

4/17 vs Phoenix Suns

So the Grizzlies have five road games left to four for the Nuggets. The Nuggets own the tie-breaker between the teams. The difference in the third and fifth spot is significant because third spot means a home court advantage over the Golden State Warriors and fifth means being the road team vs the Clippers.

In the chase for the top spot, the San Antonio Spurs have a one game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The second spot may actually be more desirable as that team would be looking at the Houston Rockets in the first round where the one seed is probably getting a dangerous L.A. Lakers team with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, all with tons of playoff experience.

No matter what, the last seven or eight games of the regular season are going to be big. There are going to be a lot of games where both teams need the win. This should make wagering on the games a bit easier as you won’t have to wonder which team will rest stars or just take a night off.

As far as futures to win it all, many people are high on the Nuggets. The Nuggets are an offensive machine that is hard to stop, especially in the thin air of Denver. Others really like the Thunder. Whether they end up in the one or the two spot, they are the defending Western Conference champs. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are as lethal of a combo as any in the NBA.


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