Breaking down Western Conference playoff chase with nine days left in season

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With just nine days left in the NBA season, the Western Conference playoff race is just shockingly still up in the air.

We know the one seed. We all but know the four and seven seeds. But around that everything else is chaos. We try to break it down.

No. 1 seed: The Golden State Warriors have officially secured up the top spot, not just in the West but in the NBA. They will have home court as long as they last in the playoffs.

No. 2-6 seeds: The middle of the West is about as settled as the Major League Baseball standings are today. Here is where things stand going into Tuesday’s games.

2. Houston
3. Memphis (-1 game)
4. Portland (-3 games*)
5. LA Clippers (-1.5 games)
6. San Antonio (-2 games)

* Portland has won the Northwest Division and can be no lower than the four seed, however if the five seed team has the better record (as is likely) the fifth seed gets home court in the first round.

Houston moved into the two seed last week but the real test to hold on to it they likely need at least a split in their home-and-home with the red-hot Spurs this week. While for the Spurs, a couple wins could move them up the ladder and get them home court in the first round. If the Spurs run the table the rest of the way, nobody would be shocked.

The Clippers have a soft schedule the rest of the way, save for one tough game — Memphis. Win that one and they could well be the three seed. Or higher.

This middle of the West could go any direction.

No. 7 seed: Dallas is locked in here. They have a magic number of one to secure a playoff spot, but they are not catching the Spurs, Clippers or anyone else up there.

No. 8 seed: Oklahoma City has stumbled, losing four in a row, and that has opened the door for New Orleans, which is just half a game back now. Still, Oklahoma City has a much softer schedule the rest of the way, playing two playoff teams in their final five games (Spurs and Trail Blazers). The Pelicans, on the other hand, have four playoff teams in their final six games (Warriors, Grizzlies, Rockets and Spurs). The Pelicans have the tie breaker, but they need to catch some of these teams resting key players, and pull off some upsets, to get the playoff spot. Well, that or the Thunder just need to keep losing.