The last twenty days of the NBA will be nothing but a cake walk for many of the teams in the league and the Western Conference, in particular, is all hating the roster we've put together that rocks the purple and orange. Someone recently commented that much of the league "just wants Phoenix to go away". We are that wrench in everyone's plans and making the last month of basketball very stressful for many teams in the NBA. The top teams are now on their feet because they are facing the fifth through ninth seeds who are coming out swinging because they have everything to lose. Here's a breakdown of the final teams in this hunt.
#5. Portland Trailblazers
Are they sweating bullets right now? They'd be insane if they weren't. Lamarcus Aldridge helped dodge a bullet of his own tonight as they passed The Hawks in a close battle until the final four minutes. Had they lost? It wouldn't be so pretty for RIP city with every team on the surge excluding them. It was mentioned that the blazers don't fend too well against the Western Conference's elite teams and the hold NO tie-breakers with the remaining teams on the hunt. Is there a silver lining for Portland? Well, they do boast two All-Stars and have a full team that can contribute on a given night.
#fullsquad is starting to feel the heat of that other Pacific team that's narrowing in on their separation for second in the division. No matter what happens to the fate of Golden State, I feel there is no excuse to have that talented of a roster and be in this hot of water. Heads are going to fall after their season is over whether they make the playoffs or not and something tells me that Mark Jackson is going to be the scapegoat. Can they survive the remaining of the schedule? Absolutely. But they will have to work for their remaining wins like every other team in the league right now.
A couple days ago I stopped rooting for them to fail so Phoenix can catch up to them simply because their work ethic has made them contenders again. It would take a pretty intense miracle for the veterans to turn over and croak their way out of the race, so I wouldn't hold my breathe too long if you expect to see them take the ninth seed. I, honestly, believe with enough work ethic, the Grizz's can sneak into the fourth spot if they really keep the good work up. Is it statistically possible for that to happen? Yes. Can it, though? Doubtful. Either way, this is the team I have to say is exempt from falling out of the playoff hunt.
#8. Phoenix Suns
My whole life I've been a delusional Sun's fan and have thought many years would be our year. A week ago was the first time I had ever felt that they couldn't do it. I was discouraged by the schedule. My veins would burst every time Dallas and Memphis would win and I hated that feeling I nearly forgot. You know the feeling, Sun's fans. You watch your team win....... but everyone else around them does it, too, and gets your progress no where. But I was wrong weeks ago and have to remind myself that before the season started I predicted Phoenix in eighth in the West (not even kidding!). Hornacek really impressed me through Vegas and preseason. So let's continue proving everyone wrong.
#9. Dallas Mavericks
The fountain of youth is going up against the playoff experienced veterans. While I watched the game tonight, I cannot believe these old guys are still pumping out numbers. Vince Carter is draining threes like a decade ago. Shawn Marion still has some fight left him (figuratively and literally). And that Dirk... 'nuff said. But like all dog fights-- fatigue and endurance has to be an issue. Monta Ellis is no where near past his prime, so this will help them down the stretch and if Jose Calderon can provide that extra boost then they'll definitely be a team that you cannot ride off.
I'm going to go on a limb and make some pretty crazy predictions here.