As the best in the West battle it out for the playoff spots, who could face who?
Having covered the Eastern Conference, it is time to look at who is doing what in the West as the franchises prepare for the business end of the season.
With just over 25 games remaining in the regular season, there are numerous matters yet to be decided including who will top the West and whether or not the Lakers will make the playoffs.
Despite slightly falling out of their stride, the San Antonio Spurs continue to lead the way with the best record in the NBA. Currently at 45-14 for the season, coach Gregg Popovich will be determined to avoid any let-up as the Oklahoma City Thunder chase them down.
However, with the high-scoring Tony Parker taking added responsibility as well as the return to fitness of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs will be confident of holding on to their advantage and sealing top spot.
The Thunder will of course disagree with that, as they will ultimately look to seal an immediate return to the Finals. As ever, Kevin Durant continues to post up big numbers, and has been well supported by point guard Russell Westbrook.
However, if the Thunder have real ambitions of overtaking their rivals in the West and improving on last year’s performance, then they must continue to benefit from the contributions of the other individuals on their roster.
They are tied for 42 wins this season with a side from Los Angeles, but surprisingly they aren’t the Lakers. The Clippers have been busy booking numerous teams in for a trip to ‘Lob City’ this season, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in stunning form.
However, backed by a talented support cast, the Clippers have big hopes this year and make up the trio at the top still in with a realistic chance of securing first place.
The second most in-form team in the NBA currently are the Memphis Grizzlies, who are on an eight game win streak. The loss of Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors appears to have had little effect on Memphis, who have stormed into fourth spot.
They are closely followed by the Denver Nuggets who have also looked impressive this year but big doubts remain as to whether they really have what it takes to win a championship.
Led by Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors have enjoyed a great season so far and have put themselves firmly in playoff contention. They have a slight buffer over the teams directly below them and will be hoping to maintain their level of performance until the end of the season.
The real story though is the race for the final two spots in the West, with the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets seeing their advantage over the Los Angeles Lakers diminish by the week.
The Lakers endured a problematic start to the season, with grumbles over Dwight Howard the root of most of their problems. However, with Kobe Bryant heating up at just the right time, they are still in with a great chance of making the playoffs.
Although still suffering from inconsistency, they will hope they can do enough to leap-frog their rivals who have won just two more games than them so far this season.
Western Conference Playoff Predictions:
1. San Antonio Spurs v 8. Houston Rockets
2. Oklahoma City Thunder v 7.Golden State Warriors
3. L.A. Clippers v 6. L.A. Lakers
4. Memphis Grizzlies v 5. Denver Nuggets
How do you see the Western Conference playing out?