As I’m watching the stretch run of this NBA season, I’m trying to figure out if anyone even wants one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. The Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have all been struggling and are all deadlocked for the last two playoff spots. So, who makes it in?
I think the Suns will end up being the team that fades out of the hunt, leaving the door open for the Grizzlies and Mavericks to lock up the last two playoff spots.
What the Suns have done this year should not go unnoticed, though. They’re a fun team to watch and have turned Goran Dragic into a star, but their inexperience could cost them a playoff spot. Memphis has done a nice job this season behind their core of Mike Conely, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and I think unlike Phoenix, their experience will be the reason they get in.
And then there are these hot and cold Dallas Mavericks coming off a disappointing 4-4 home stand. It’s hard to try and figure out what to make of this team, but I think the playoffs are in the cards.
For starters, look at the schedule. After their battle with the Clippers Thursday, the Mavs have three games against the Lakers, Kings and Jazz. All on the road, but all against bad teams that if the Mavs can’t beat they don’t even deserve to be in the playoffs. After that, they come back home to play the San Antonio Spurs (yikes) on April 10.
The key for the Mavs will come after that Spurs game. They’ll play the Suns at home on April 12th and the Grizzlies on the road April 16th. So, in essence, the Mavs control their own destiny. They have to win those three games on their West Coast road trip and at least put up a fight against the Spurs. But it’s all going to come down to those final two games for the Mavs.
The Suns had a six-game win streak in March, but all were against inferior competition. The Suns also have a chance to control their own destiny as they will play Memphis and Dallas towards the end of the season. But before that they have to play Oklahoma City, Portland and San Antonio. It’s hard for me to believe that a young, inexperienced team such as the Suns can be successful in a stretch like that while trying to nab a playoff spot.
The Mavs have the luxury of already owning the tiebreaker over Memphis, so assuming there’s no epic collapse by Dallas it’s hard to see Memphis jumping them.
It’s quite the race in the Western Conference, but I think Dallas will be able to get one of those two spots. They are an experienced and explosive team that did not capitalize on easy opportunities during that home stand, but I believe that will change this upcoming week. They control their own destiny and let’s hope, unlike the Cowboys, they take advantage of it.