The NBA Western Conference playoff picture just got a lot more interesting. With less than 10 games left in the regular season, the Phoenix Suns are losing their grip on a top-four seed, while the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in a three-way play-in tie.
The Suns, who seemed to be a lock for a top-four seed just a few weeks ago, have lost three straight games and currently sit in the second seed, just one game ahead of the third-seeded Denver Nuggets. The Suns had a tough schedule to close out the season, facing off against the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Utah Jazz in their final three games. These games could be crucial in determining their playoff seeding.
Meanwhile, the Lakers find themselves in a play-in spot with the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks. The reigning NBA champions have struggled with injuries and incoherent play all season long, and it’s unclear whether they’ll be able to pull off a win in the play-in tournament to secure a playoff spot. Nonetheless, the Lakers have the talent to make a deep run in the playoffs if they’re able to figure things out.
The road to the Western Conference championship won’t be easy for any team, with the top-seeded Utah Jazz and their impressive 49-18 record appearing to be the team to beat. The Suns, Nuggets, and Los Angeles Clippers, who sit in the fourth seed, are all within 2.5 games of the Jazz and will be fighting for the top spot until the end of the season.
In addition, the play-in tournament is shaping up to be a battle between some of the league’s best players. The Trail Blazers have Damian Lillard, the Mavericks have Luka Doncic, and the Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It should make for some exciting basketball and potentially unexpected outcomes.
Overall, the Western Conference playoff picture is as competitive as ever. The Suns will need to turn things around quickly if they want to secure a top-four seed, while the Lakers face the daunting task of getting out of the play-in tournament. It’s anyone’s game, and we’re in for a thrilling ride.