It's incredible that with nine days remaining in the regular season, the only locks in the Western conference are Golden State finishing first (with the best over all record in the league) and the Dallas Mavericks finishing seventh. The second through sixth seeds are STILL up in the air and the eighth seed is going to be a fight to the finish.
Currently, the Rockets sit in second with a one game lead on the Memphis Grizzlies. They have five games remaining including a pair of games against the San Antonio Spurs. Memphis has a slightly easier slate, with a match up versus the Clippers this Saturday. They also have a game against the Warriors next week, but Golden State will most likely be resting players (the Warriors have been a buzzsaw regardless, so perhaps the Grizzlies don't have it so easy).
Despite having a worse record than the current fifth and sixth seeds, the Portland Trail Blazers are assured no worse than the fourth seed as a result of winning their division. With six games remaining they could, in theory, move up the standings should Memphis or the Rockets falter, but with so many personnel losses it seems unlikely. The Clippers are currently sitting fifth, just a half game behind the Grizzlies. They have one easy game against the Lakers Tuesday, then round out the year with match ups against the Grizzlies, followed by the feisty Nuggets and Suns.
The Spurs, currently sitting in sixth, are the fun wild card to pay attention to during the final week and a half. They have to beat Oklahoma City Tuesday and beat the Rockets in a home and home series. Then they have winnable games against the Suns and Pelicans. A tough stretch, to be sure, but these are the Spurs we're talking about. If they win five in a row and Memphis falters a bit, the Spurs could manage to win the Southwest division and finish in second!
For the final slot, the Thunder sit in eighth, but have a Herculean task ahead with an exhausted Westbrook. If they beat the Spurs Tuesday, they have a clear path to the playoffs with only four games left against marginal teams. Nipping at their heels are the New Orleans Pelicans, who have six games remaining, four of which are against Western Conference playoff opponents. They really need the Thunder to lose and they have to win a few games against better teams.
I guess there's an outside chance Dallas could move up, but do you really believe they can win a number of games in a row? They last time Dallas won more than 3 games in a row, the streak started in 2014.
Current playoff opponent: Houston Rockets
Games behind the San Antonio Spurs: Five games
Games ahead of Oklahoma City: Four games
One upcoming conference game to watch: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs on April 8
Where the Mavericks would be in the East: 3rd, tied with the Chicago Bulls
Here's a complete look at the standings.