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Who’s In? Who’s Out? Breaking Down The Western Conference Playoff Race

The NBA’s Western Conference is stacked with teams that have a chance to make a deep playoff run, but only one team can represent the West in the NBA Finals. The NCAA Tournament is right around the corner for all the college fans, but the NBA might have it’s own version with four teams fighting for the final three playoff spots in the West.

These four teams would be the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and the Memphis Grizzlies. All four of these teams have written different storylines for their season–Golden State was supposed to take a step towards the Finals this season, but have regressed considerably. However, the core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and defensive stalwart Andre Iguodala keeps this team as a threat for the Finals. On the other hand, the Phoenix Suns were picked to be the second-worst team in the NBA (behind Philadelphia) by many major media outlets, but have competed admirably all season under the magnificent play of All-Star snub Goran Dragic. Phoenix has continued to compete without Eric Bledsoe, who figures to be back before the playoffs begin.

The Dallas Mavericks are a team filled to capacity with NBA veterans, like Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Samuel Dalembert and Shawn Marion. The Mavs have a top-tier NBA coach in Rick Carlisle, who has a championship ring on his finger that he won with Dirk Nowitzki. Everyone counted this team out, but championship experience is something that most teams are lacking these days, right Portland and Los Angeles?

Finally, we have the Memphis Grizzlies, who looked to be on the heels of a disappointing season after Marc Gasol went down and missed close to two months. However, they have rebounded and sit just two games back from climbing to the sixth seed.

Yup, there is just a two-game gap between the sixth and ninth seeds in the Western Conference. Check out this chart from Ed Kupfer, which detailed every NBA team’s remaining strength of schedule after the All-Star break (via Deadspin):

As detailed in this chart, the Suns, Warriors and Dallas are in the four, five and six positions for the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA. Buckle up everyone, this is sure to be one hell of a finish.

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No. 6: Golden State Warriors
After losing to the Spurs in a heated matchup in the Western Conference Semifinals last year, the Warriors were primed to take the next step. The NBA world fell in love with the sweet shooting stroke of Steph Curry and the offseason acquisition of Andre Iguodala seemed to push the Warriors towards title contention, right? No matter how stacked the Warriors looked on paper with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut there’s a reason all 82 games are played out. Currently, the Warriors find themselves in the sixth spot at 37-24, the same seed they had last season. However, a three or four-game losing streak could push the Warriors out of battle in the West. Isn’t it crazy to imagine a team like the Warriors failing to place in the West with their talented roster?

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