Wild NBA Western Conference: James and Curry are in danger of missing the playoffs

Wild NBA Western Conference: James and Curry are in danger of missing the playoffs

Denver. It's impossible to imagine the postseason without LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

But this is something that can happen. The two star teams continue to fight against all odds in order to qualify for the playoffs.

That's how strong the Western Conference has been this season. Currently, James and his Los Angeles Lakers are ranked ninth and will host Curry and the 10th-place Golden State Warriors for a playoff spot. The loser is eliminated and the winner will have to win another game to sneak into the NBA postseason.

From top to bottom, the West offers no respite. Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers are in fourth place, just two and a half games away from first place. If they suffer four straight defeats, they will be in the playoff zone.

Uncertainty reigns in a conference pitting the Minnesota Timberwolves and a young Oklahoma City Thunder roster with a 40-17 record.

The next few weeks will determine the standings – and who will go to the playoffs.

“The depth of the West and the number of legitimately competitive teams is the greatest it has ever been,” said Phoenix coach Frank Vogel, whose team has a similar record (34-24) to New Orleans. Replay area.

Oklahoma City, a team loaded with young talent, is the co-leader of the West today along with the Minnesota Timberwolves. (David Zalubowski)

It is best to remember the play-in format, the so-called “Play-in” which will be played between 16 and 19 February. The seventh and eighth-place teams in each conference will compete and the winner will advance as the seventh seed to the playoffs. The eighth will have a new opportunity, facing the winner of the duel between the ninth and tenth to gain access.

Last season, Miami lost its first playoff game and then defeated Chicago to advance. The Heat wound up in the NBA Finals, surrendering to Denver in five games. The Lakers also stayed in the playoffs, winning at the crossroads before reaching the West Final.

Currently, Sacramento is ranked seventh and will host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. The loser will face the Lakers or Warriors, with James, Curry, or both potentially ruled out.

But there is a long way to go.

While nothing is clear in the West, the East leads Boston by seven and a half games over Cleveland. Miami, which ranks sixth, trails by 13 games.

“The Western Conference has been an ordeal for me, and this year was no exception,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “Exceptional teams with ups and downs. Very strong and talented teams every night.”

To be crowned, of course, you have to beat Nikola Jokic and the defending champion Denver Nuggets after winning their first NBA championship. Jokic is back in contention for the MVP award, averaging 26.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game.

But with injuries to Jamal Murray and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope this season, Nuggets coach Michael Malone has focused on team shots rather than targeting a specific spot.

“What worries me most is that all of our players will be healthy to reach the finish line,” said Malone, whose team is ranked third. “If we get to the postseason healthy, I have all the certainty in the world that this team can beat any team in the NBA.”

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This campaign could mark a new era for the Warriors, who have won a starting four consisting of Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. All three are over 30 years old, although the team has been revamped with contributions by Brandin Podzemski and Jonathan Kuminga.

“It encourages me to go to practice every day and see this group of players,” said Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who recently signed a two-year contract. “We're an entertaining mix of Hall of Fame veterans and these kids who are learning and growing. I think the cohesion and dynamic within the group is very strong. “Coaching a team like this encourages you a lot.”

Oliver Walton

"Pro alcohol addict. Bacon scholar. Award-winning beer fan. Gamer. Social media expert. Zombie guru."

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