The race for the West’s 8th seed

The 2019 NBA season has been one of ups and downs for the Western Conference’s elite. Every West team bar the Phoenix Suns have been in Playoff contention this year. With approximately 16 games to go in the regular season here are three teams that could potentially end up with the eighth seed.

San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs are without one of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobilli or Tim Duncan for the first time in 22 seasons. With last summers trade of Kawhi Leonard, they are rebuilding a team that won fifty games for twenty straight years.

Though the year didn’t start well, they have gone (27-15) since that the rough start and are sitting in the seventh seed. LaMarcus Aldridge has been a big part of their improvement. Bar a quiet February, Aldridge has got better as the year has worn on. Derrick White has been another big part of the playoff push, it’s no coincidence they lost five of the six games he missed recently.

With a healthy squad and an easy run coming up, the Spurs should be able to secure the seventh seed. With the Sacramento Kings four games back, they can’t afford to drop any games against weaker Eastern Conference opponents.

Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz are in eighth place in the Western Conference but they have a relatively easy upcoming run. The return of Dante Exum is a massive win for a Utah team that has struggled with injuries this year. With Donovan Mitchell having the best streak of his career, Utah will look to ride this wave all the way to the sixth seed. Avoiding the Warriors should be the priority for a team that has reached the second round the last two years.

With Rudy Gobert having a career year, Coach Snyder will look to Utah’s defense to secure a playoff berth. Capable of a first-round upset in the West, Utah should feel confident of their playoff chances this year.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers have had a remarkable year. After leading the Western Conference at the start of the year they have settled nicely into the back of the playoff race. It seemed certain they would fall out of playoff contention when number one option Tobias Harris was traded. Instead, this trade galvanized their young squad, they are now seven and three since the All-Star break. Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari have both averaged 24 points a game over this stretch.

Rookies Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet have also been shining bright.

With the toughest upcoming schedule of these three teams, the Clippers will need to play at this same level to avoid a first round match up with the Golden State Warriors. If they continue to upset their Western Conference rivals they may surprise a team or two in the postseason.

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