NBA 2016/17: Western Conference Playoff Picture

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It feels so strange to say that the NBA regular season is coming to an end. Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed the rise of young stars, teams finally turning things around, historic individual seasons, many triple-doubles, a process trusted and, career rejuvenations. With that being said, the postseason is almost upon us. For NBA players, and fans of the game, this is the most stressful time of the year.

Whether your team is just trying to squeak into the playoffs or, falling apart at the wrong time, nothing is certain. In a matter of weeks, 16 teams will compete for one ultimate prize, the right to be declared as league champions. For now however, let’s take a look at how the Playoff picture is shaping up, starting with, the Western Conference.

Considered by many as the more dominant of the two, the Western Conference is home to many league powerhouses. As of this writing, the Golden State Warriors sit comfortably atop the Western Conference with victories in each of their last five games and, to no surprise were the first team to clinch a Playoff berth. Kevin Durant going down with injury has allowed Steph Curry to elevate his play which, could help put him in contention to win MVP.

Speaking of MVP, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder have clinched a playoff berth and if the regular season ended today, they would be facing off against another MVP candidate in James Harden and the Houston Rockets.

With the addition of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson this past offseason, the Rockets have skyrocketed (no pun intended) up the Western Conference Standings. This Third versus Sixth seed matchup would be highly entertaining especially, with the former teammates James Harden and Russell Westbrook both possibly recording triple-double after triple-double.

Moving on in the West, where there is much intrigue. Currently, the Utah Jazz, yes, the Utah Jazz, sit fourth in the Conference. One seed below the Jazz, are the Los Angeles Clippers. With Jazz All-Star, Gordon Hayward currently injured, the Clippers still have time to retake the fourth seed. In this likely 4 versus 5 matchup, not only do the Clippers hold a 3-1 season series lead but, they are also the more experienced team.

If healthy, this could help propel the Clippers past the Jazz. A Rudy Gobert - DeAndre Jordan matchup in the paint could be something special.

Elsewhere, to no surprise, the San Antonio Spurs have also clinched a playoff and, as of this writing, sit second in the Western Conference. Their potential opponent is none other than the Memphis Grizzlies whom which, sit seventh. This series could be very interesting as both teams are very heavily defensively oriented.

For Memphis, this could be the team's last chance at a big playoff run as players such as Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and, Vince Carter are not getting any younger. As well, the team's younger core consists of many inexperienced players.

Lastly, the final seed in the Western Conference. The race for the eighth seed is actually one of the most entertaining “storylines” if you will in the NBA right now. As of this writing, the Portland Trail Blazers are sitting in the eighth seed. Denver however, is not far behind. With just weeks left in the season, the race for the Western Conference Playoff berth is likely to go down to the wire.

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers is scorching hot, scoring 19 or more points in every game of the Trailblazers current five-game winning streak. Although Portland will be without Jusuf Nurkic down the stretch, the team appears to be just fine.

Denver, on the other hand, is in the midst of a three-game losing streak and, may not be able to work their way out of their current slide. The Nuggets will need to quickly return to their winning ways as every game is a must-win.

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