- Kevin Pelton
The first three months of the 2013-14 season haven't done much to clear up the playoff picture in the Western Conference. While the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz have long since conceded their playoff hopes, and injuries appear to have doomed the New Orleans Pelicans' chances of making a run, that still leaves 11 teams at .500 or better fighting over eight spots.
Some deserving teams will be left standing when the music stops, and believe it or not the Golden State Warriors could find themselves in that position despite their championship aspirations. Though they finished with a blowout win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, a rough homestand has dropped the Warriors all the way to seventh in the West.
Nobody outside the Bay is more invested in Golden State's fate than the Utah Jazz, tonight's opponent on ESPN. The Warriors dealt their 2014 first-round pick to Utah last summer without protection, meaning the Jazz would be the lottery winners if Golden State ends up a playoff loser.
What are the chances of that? And for the rest of the West playoff contenders making the playoffs?
With the season at the halfway mark, Kevin Pelton looks at which Western Conference teams have the best chance of sneaking into the playoffs and which are likely to fall out of the race.