March is the perfect time for basketball. High school teams are playing for their state championships, while March Madness gets all the national headlines. But in the NBA, March is the time for many teams to make a late season playoff push. In the Western Conference especially, March is basically an extended playoff, as teams play every game to try and keep their season alive. 

Currently, there are 13 teams that are still in the playoff picture, or at least making the play-in tournament. Only 4.5 games separate the 13th seed Trail Blazers from the 6th seed Warriors. In the east, those same seeds have an 11-game difference.

The West has been a bloodbath the entire year, and unlike the East, there aren’t two or three teams that have dominated the conference all year. The Denver Nuggets sit atop of the west at 47-23, and outside of the 4th seed, every other team is at least 10 games out of first place. And with only 12 games left in the season, I don’t predict there to be much change in the top 6 seeds before the season ends.

Personally, the two teams I want to see grab the last two playoff spots are the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. They’re the 8th and 9th seed, respectively, which puts both teams in the play-in tournament. Both teams would likely cause any team problems in the first round for any teams they face considering their talent level and starpower with players like Luka and Kyrie, and LeBron and Anthony Davis (when they’re healthy). They become dangerous and matchup nightmares, and all four players have proven themselves to be reliable in the playoffs.

 Courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers

As a Laker fan, I am both excited and worried about the last few weeks of the season. Excited because I believe they still have a chance to make the playoffs, but worried because it’s likely they’ll have to finish the regular season without LeBron James, who has been out since February 26th with an injury. The team said he would be re-evaluated in three weeks, which should happen in the next few days or so. 

However, reports have said that he’s still not close to returning to the court, which doesn’t bode well for the Lakers’ playoff hopes. The Western Conference in general has been up and down all year, so when April comes around, it’s very likely that a good amount of the playoff teams have a realistic chance of making the NBA finals. Who doesn’t love the NBA’s parity?

Tagline: “Hit The Post” covers the latest topics in professional sports, with a focus on professional basketball. Each week, Arkese Claiborne covers the latest news and topics from both on and off the court.