The wild, wild Western Conference is so nutty that the standings can’t even be believed.
The Clippers hold the No. 4 playoff seeding, five games behind conference-leading Oklahoma City.
On track to receive the No. 5 seeding is Portland, which has a better record than the Clippers and is only four games behind the Thunder. Houston has the No. 3 seeding despite having the same record as the Trail Blazers.
Say it’s getting crowded in here.
The Rockets have the edge on the Blazers because they’ve won two of three games against them. The Clippers have the edge on Portland because they lead the Pacific Division, and division winners are assured of no worse than a No. 4 seeding.
Too bad the Clippers and Rockets can’t settle this madness when they play Wednesday night at Staples Center.
There’s no separation anxiety in the West, where only 91/2games divide the eight teams on track to make the playoffs. Quality control also doesn’t seem to be an issue, with eighth-place Phoenix currently 10 games over .500.
“If we were in the West, we’d be in like 16th” place, Brooklyn guard Deron Williams said Tuesday before the Nets (26-28) practiced inside the old men’s gym at UCLA. “It’s a blessing right now that we’re in the East with the way we started out because obviously we’re in sixth place and still have a chance to move up as high as three.”
If Memphis (31-24) were in the East, it would hold that third spot, behind only Indiana and Miami. In the West, the Grizzlies are ninth and on pace to miss the playoffs.
Sorry, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
If the Nets were in the West, they’d be 11th.
And if the Lakers were in the East . . . well, they’d still have no shot. Let’s not get ridiculous here.
Things are super scrunched-up atop the West, where five games separate the best five teams. Of course, membership in that group is subject to change without notice. The Clippers (39-20) are five games out of first place but only 41/2 games out of eighth.
The No. 4 versus No. 5 and No. 3 versus No. 6 playoff matchups appear destined to be classics. If the playoffs started Wednesday, it would be the Clippers versus Portland and Houston versus Golden State.
Just remember that the situation is more malleable than Metta World Peace’s personality. You’ll have to hit refresh on the seedings every five seconds to see if they’ve changed.
Someone is going to be left disappointed. The Clippers could conceivably finish the season with 55 wins and have to open the playoffs on the road. They would open in Portland if the playoffs started Wednesday.
A victory over Houston on Wednesday would be a good start toward avoiding that fate. The Rockets are 39-18 and have compiled the best record in the NBA since Jan. 1, going 18-5.
The tandem of Dwight Howard and James Harden has been everything Rockets fans had hoped and their Western counterparts had feared. Howard has more closely resembled the Superman of his Orlando years than the nowhere man of his one season with the Lakers. Harden has eclipsed Kobe Bryant as the NBA’s top shooting guard, according to the league’s general managers and anyone not swathed in purple and gold.
It’s a potential showcase game for the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan in his quest to be considered the best defender in the game. He leads the league in rebounding and ranks second in blocked shots but continues to lag when it comes to his star quotient. A monster showing against Howard could help change that.
The Clippers have won both meetings against the Rockets by double digits, which would seemingly bode well for a playoff rematch.
Not that those results mean much in the West, where not everything is as it seems.