The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are in a close battle for the NBA Pacific Division crown, with mere days remaining in the season. Whichever crosstown rival ends up on top in the division, it appears clear that as the No. 3 seed they would battle the No. 6 seed, either the Dallas Mavericks or Denver Nuggets.
Rudy Gay scored 21 points to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a home win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, giving Memphis 39 wins on the season. The Grizzlies are assured no worse than the No. 5 seed, and are still technically alive for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Both the Lakers and Clippers won their season series with the Grizzlies, giving them the tiebreaker over Memphis should the two teams tie. The Lakers' magic number to clinch home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs is just one, while the Clippers' magic number for their first home court advantage in franchise history is two.
It is still possible for Memphis (39-25) to grab the No. 3 seed, but it involves Memphis winning both remaining games, the Lakers losing both of their remaining games, and the Clippers losing at least two of their final three contests.
But the win for Memphis also locked in Dallas and Denver for the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds. The Nuggets picked up a 118-107 road win in Phoenix on Saturday behind 29 points and 10 assists from Ty Lawson, while the Mavericks without Jason Kidd were busy losing 93-83 on the road in Chicago, against the Bulls, who have the best record in the NBA.
Dallas (36-29) won their season series with Denver (35-28), giving them the tiebreaker, so the Mavericks' have a magic number of two. Denver, which has three regular season games remaining compared to just one for Dallas, has a magic number of six to clinch the No. 6 seed.
Here are the updated Western Conference standings through Saturday night:
|NBA Western Conference Standings|
||46-16||.742||---||2 home / 2 road|
||46-17||.730||½||2 home / 1 road|
||40-24||.625||7||1 home / 1 road|
|4||Clippers||39-24||.619||7½||1 home / 2 road|
|5||Memphis||39-25||.609||8||2 home / 0 road|
|6||Denver||35-28||.556||11½||1 home / 2 road|
||36-29||.554||11½||0 home / 1 road|
|8||Utah*||34-30||.531||13||2 home / 0 road|
|9||Phoenix||33-31||.516||14||1 home / 1 road|
|9||Houston||33-31||.516||14||1 home / 1 road|
|Through games of April 21