Thunder, Nuggets lock into playoff seeds
by Sean Highkin, USA TODAY Sports
The Western Conference playoff picture is starting to solidify. The Oklahoma City Thunder clinched the top seed in the conference following their 104-95 win over the Sacramento Kings.
In addition, following a last-minute 112-111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, the Denver Nuggets have guaranteed home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
With the Thunder clinching the best record in the west, the San Antonio Spurs are now locked into the second seed. The bottom half of the conference still has a lot to be resolved, and none of these teams’ opponents are set.
The Thunder will most likely face either the Utah Jazz or Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. The Jazz beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 96-80 to keep their postseason hopes alive. They play the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, while the Lakers face the Houston Rockets. A Lakers win or a Jazz loss on that day will eliminate Utah from playoff contention.
The Spurs are facing the Golden State Warriors on Monday evening in a possible preview of their first-round matchup. The Warriors currently sit at seventh in the Western Conference, and hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the eighth-seeded Lakers. Their final game of the season comes against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
The Nuggets clinched a top-four seed in the west with their win over Milwaukee. The Grizzlies are locked into the fifth seed, but the race for third between the Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers is still to be determined. Denver leads the Clippers by 1 1/2 games. Los Angeles plays Portland on Tuesday and Sacramento on Wednesday. Denver plays the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. One Clippers loss clinches the third seed for the Nuggets. If they finished tied, the Clippers win the third seed because they won the Pacific Division.