Heading into Tuesday night’s action, nine teams in the Western Conference are separated by just 6 games with approximately one third of the season’s schedule left to play.
A look at the schedule shows that these teams will be doing a lot of beating up on each other down the stretch. Each of the nine teams in playoff contention plays at least 10 games against the other eight contenders.
The schedule is bad news for Dallas as they lead the way with 13 of their remaining 25 games against fellow Western Conference playoff contenders. The Lakers and Hornets have the lightest load, facing just 10 games against Western contenders down the stretch.
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets, winners of 12 in a row, were dealt a major setback today when they learned that Yao Ming will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his left foot. Forty-two percent of their remaining schedule is against their top competition in the West.
Here’s a snapshot of the Western Conference standings as they stand heading into Tuesday night’s games, along with the teams’ total games remaining and games remaining against other teams on the list. Also, check out John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds page at ESPN.com.
Western Conference standings
1. L.A. Lakers, 39-17 (26 games remaining, 10 vs. the other 8)
2. San Antonio Spurs, 38-17 (27 games remaining, 12 vs. the other 8)
3. Phoenix Suns, 38-18 (26 games remaining, 11 vs. the other 8)
4. Utah Jazz, 36-20 (26 games remaining, 11 vs. the other 8)
5. New Orleans Hornets, 37-18 (27 games remaining, 10 vs. the other 8)
6. Dallas Mavericks, 38-19 (25 games remaining, 13 vs. the other 8)
7. Houston Rockets, 36-20 (26 games remaining, 11 vs. the other 8)
8. Golden State Warriors, 33-22 (27 games remaining, 11 vs. the other 8)
9. Denver Nuggets, 33-23 (26 games remaining, 12 vs. the other 8)
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