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NBA Open Thread - Week 16

Houston Rockets v Detroit Pistons Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

It is a tale of two conferences as we approach the two thirds mark of the season. In the East, as we discussed last week, we’re seeing gaps emerge between the tiers of competition. Out West, however, it has begun to look like a pecking order featuring the best (Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies) and the rest. The Sacramento Kings (!!!) are the third seed as of this morning, and the Minnesota Timberwolves — a team that looked destined to implode the second the season began — have climbed to a 27-25 record good for the fifth seed in the conference.

Now, it is really bunched up in the middle of the West. A mere three games separate the third seed from the 10th seed and so the Kings and Timberwolves of this world could just as easily crash out of the playoff picture as maintain their high seeding. Compare that to the nearly full 10 game difference between the Bucks as the East’s three seed and the Bulls sitting in 10th.

With so much tension, the league is setting itself up to potentially have an extremely compelling close to the season post-All-Star break. The Lakers down in the 13th slot and the Raptors in the 12th slot are both within easy reaching distance of the final play-in seed. Chaos plus violence is on the horizon so long as routine rest and recovery starts to tail off with the number of games winding down.

Kings-Timberwolves catches the eye tonight, while Pelicans-Nuggets tomorrow could be compelling depending on health. Nets-Celtics Wednesday has some intrigue, as does Sixers-Knicks on Sunday with those teams having split their season series against one another at 1-1 thus far.

Keep an eye on the league and chat amongst yourselves about its goings on in the comments below!