The Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, and Utah Jazz are all going to go down fighting this season, even if there only about four weeks left. There's one spot left in the Western Conference playoffs, and only one of these teams are going to make it. After looking at the schedule I think it's pretty obvious that one team is going to stand out.
Injuries are going to be huge down the stretch. But right now I see:
- OKC winning 6 of their last 13, finishing 45-37
- NOP winning 5 of their last 13, finishing 42-40
- PHX winning 1 of their last 13, finishing 37-45
- and UTA winning 5 of their last 14, finishing 36-46
I'm leaving room for the Jazz to surprise, probably don't think the Suns are as good as they actually are, and am probably giving the Thunder too much of the benefit of the doubt. I do think that Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are awesome. But I think the Jazz are too far behind, and too inconsistent, to plow through the final month of the season. Eric Bledsoe is still Eric Bledsoe. I don't know what's up with all the injuries for NOP and OKC, but Anthony Davis (iirc) isn't shut down for the season and should be able to help them in a handful of games. Also, Russell Westbrook is just insane. I'm not betting against him going up against some of the PGs on his remaining schedule.
But this is what I think is going to happen. Also, thank you to commenter Mormon who gave me this idea with his post.