NBA Playoff Picture: Breaking Down The Western Conference Playoff Race

A look at what it will take to get into the playoffs.

The Phoenix Suns are a half game out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs with 21 games left. Houston, who is in eighth, the Suns and Jazz all have the same amount of losses.

It gets even messier than that. Phoenix is only 3 ½ games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the fourth seed. It's time to take an in depth look at how all of this is going to play out.

Here is how were breaking down the teams for the purpose of this column:

-Elite (Group 1): Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder

-In The Mix (Group 2): Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trailblazers, Golden State Warriors

-Second Tier (Group 3): San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic

-Eastern Conference Mush (Group 4): Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks

-Pain In The Rear (Group 5): Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers

-If You Want To Make The Playoffs You Better Not Freaking Lose (Group 6): Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets

Phoenix Suns- 9th Seed 23-22

  • 21 games left...8 homes games...13 road games
  • Two four game road trips
  • Trend- The Suns have won 11 of their last 14 games
  • Seven back to backs
  • Group 1- two games
  • Group 2- ten games
  • Group 3- five games
  • Group 4- one game
  • Group 5- two games
  • Group 6- one game

Golden State Warriors 13th in Western Conference 18-24

  • 24 games left...11 home games...13 road games
  • One four game road trip
  • Trend- Playing .500 basketball, 16-16, since a 2-6 start
  • Six back to backs and one three game in three nights stretch
  • Group 1- zero games
  • Group 2- 14 games
  • Group 3- five games
  • Group 4- zero games
  • Group 5- one game
  • Group 6- four games

Portland Trail Blazers 12th in Western Conference 21-24

  • 21 games left...12 home games...9 road games
  • No road trips of three games or more
  • Trend: Complete dumpster fire...Started season 7-2, since they are 14-22
  • Five back to backs
  • Group 1- one game
  • Group 2- 13 games
  • Group 3- two games
  • Group 4- two games
  • Group 5- one game
  • Group 6- one game

Minnesota Timberwolves 11th seed 22-24

  • 20 games left...9 homes games...11 road games
  • Currently finishing out a seven game road trip, they have three games left in it. After this no more road trips of four games or more.
  • Trend- lost five of their last six games.
  • Five back to backs
  • Group 1- two games
  • Group 2- 11 games
  • Group 3- one game
  • Group 4- two games
  • Group 5- two games
  • Group 6- two games

Utah Jazz 9th seed 23-22

  • 21 games left...10 home games...11 road games (especially important considering Utah is 17-6 at home and 6-16 on the road)
  • No road trips of four games or more.
  • Trend- 7-4 in their last 11 games
  • Four back to backs
  • Group 1- one game
  • Group 2- 11 games
  • Group 3- three games
  • Group 4- two games
  • Group 5- two games
  • Group 6- two games

Houston Rockets 8th seed 24-22

  • 20 games left...11 homes games...9 road games
  • One road trip of four games or more
  • Trend- 3-8 in their last 11 games
  • Six back to backs
  • Group 1- two games
  • Group 2- 11 games
  • Group 3- two games
  • Group 4- one game
  • Group 5- two games
  • Group 6- two games

Denver Nuggets 7th seed 25-20

  • 21 games left...8 home games...13 road games
  • Have a seven game road trip
  • Trend- 7-3 in their last 10 games
  • Five back to backs
  • Group 1- two games
  • Group 2- 12 games
  • Group 3- three games
  • Group 4- zero games
  • Group 5- one game
  • Group 6- three games

Dallas Mavericks 6th seed 26-20

  • 20 games left...8 home games...12 road games
  • One four game road trip
  • Trend- 5-8 in their last 13 games, but they won three in a row.
  • Six back to backs
  • Group 1- two games
  • Group 2- 12 games
  • Group 3- four games
  • Group 4- one game
  • Group 5- one game
  • Group 6- zero games

Memphis Grizzlies 5th seed 25-18

  • 23 games left...10 home games...13 road games
  • One four game road trip
  • Trend- 11-4 in their last 15 games
  • Seven back to backs...One three game in three nights stretch
  • Group 1- two games
  • Group 2- 12 games
  • Group 3- three games
  • Group 4- one game
  • Group 5- two games
  • Group 6- three games

Los Angeles Clippers 4th seed 26-18

  • 22 games left...10 home games...12 road games
  • No road trips of four games or more
  • Five back to backs and one three game in three nights
  • Group 1- three games
  • Group 2- 10 games
  • Group 3- one game
  • Group 4- three games
  • Group 5- two games
  • Group 6- three games

It's going to be tough for the Suns. They are the only team with two road trips left of four games or more. They are tied with Memphis for the most back to back sets left.

In the end it's going to come down to how the teams from seed four to seed 13 play against each other. Not one team plays less than 10 games against group two (Western Conference playoff race teams). If you win the majority of those games you give yourself a chance to sneak in.

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