Oklahoma City Thunder Playoff Seeding Watch: April 9th, 2011

This is just a quick update as to where the Thunder are in terms of seeding, what they need to do to move up, and who they'll potentially be facing. As of right now, the Western Conference can be divided into two races: The Race for the Two Seed and the Race for the Five Seed.

The Race For Two:

Two Seed: Los Angeles Lakers

How far ahead? Two games.

Who Owns the Tie Breaker? The Lakers (Lakers Lead Season Series 2-0).

Who Have They Yet to Face? Vs. Oklahoma City,  Vs. San Antonio, At Sacramento

Analysis: The Lakers basically have to lose out in order to give up their seed, while the Thunder have to run the table. It's not at all likely to happen, but it would all start with a win tomorrow against the Lakers. And heck, it's fun to think about.

Three Seed: Dallas Mavericks

How far ahead? One game.

Who Owns the Tie Breaker? The Thunder (Division Winners).

Who have they yet to face? Vs. Phoenix, At Houston, Vs. New Orleans

Analysis: I hate to say it, but our greatest chance of them losing was last night against the Clippers, where the Mavericks were down early but rallied in the second half to cruise to victory. Basically, the Thunder need to win one more game than the Mavericks do over the last three games of the season. The Mavs have to lose at least once for that to happen, so here's hoping that Phoenix and Houston are still fighting. New Orleans will be tough and probably fighting for their own playoff seeding, so if the Mavericks run the next two we can still carry hope going into the final day of the season.

Four Seed: Oklahoma City Thunder

Below: The Race for the Fifth Seed, Who the Thunder are Likely to Face!

Race for the Five Seed

Five Seed: Denver Nuggets

How far ahead? 1.5 games ahead the Trail blazers.

Can they move up? No.

Can they move down? Yes, to 7th.

Who have they yet to face? Vs. Minnesota, Vs. Golden State, At Utah

Analysis: The Nuggets are in position to keep the fifth seed, and they will most likely do so. Though the Warriors have been giant killers lately, Minnesota has lost their last 12 straight games, and the Jazz are 1-9 in their last 10 games. And the Nuggets need to lose more than one game to drop.

Six Seed: Portland Trail Blazers

How Far Behind? 1.5 Games back of the Nuggets.

How Far Ahead? 0.5 Games ahead of the Hornets.

Can they move up? Yes, to 5th.

Can they move down? Yes, to 8th.

Who have they yet to face? Vs. Memphis, At Golden State.

Analysis: They need to win both games and hope that Denver loses to Utah or Minnesota in order to move up, so they probably aren't going any higher. On the other hand, New Orleans holds the tiebreaker with them, so they must hope the Hornets lose one of their final three games, otherwise New Orleans takes the seed. The Trail Blazers have a couple of tough games on their hands with Memphis and Golden State though, and if they lose to Memphis, they lose their tiebreaker with them and also fall below them in the standings, should Memphis run the table. Basically, the Trail Blazers have their destiny mostly up in the air. But it would go a long way if they beat Memphis on Tuesday night.

Seven Seed: New Orleans Hornets

How Far Behind? 2 Games back of the Nuggets.

How Far Ahead? 1 Game ahead of the Grizzlies.

Can they move up? Yes, to 5th.

Can they move down? Yes, to 8th.

Who have they yet to face? At Memphis, Vs. Utah, at Dallas

Analysis: It would take a perfect record from the Hornets and a winless record from the Nuggets in order for the Hornets to move up, so that can be pretty much thrown out the window. But, if they can win out against Utah, Memphis, and Dallas, they will be guaranteed the sixth seed. Luckily, they hold the tiebreaker over Memphis (even if Memphis defeats them tomorrow, they hold the better division record), so they would have to lose at least two games in order for Memphis to move up. The lack of David West hasn't hindered them so far, but only time will tell where they'll land.

Eight Seed: Memphis Grizzlies

How Far Behind? 3 Games back of the Nuggets.

How Far Ahead? 4 Games ahead of the Rockets.

Can they move up? Yes, to 6th.

Can they move down? No.

Who have they yet to face? Vs. New Orleans, At Portland, At Los Angeles Clippers

Analysis: For the Thunder, this team is the elephant in the room. We don't want to face them, and we want to see them gone as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, they can easily leap ahead of Portland, should they win against them on Tuesday. But, they need the Hornets to lose two games to move up to the sixth spot, which is good news for the likely third or fourth seeded Thunder. All in all, the Grizzlies need to fight and get a little bit of luck to get into sixth, while the other teams must fall. I'd say they have a decent shot at seventh, but they also have a good possibility of eighth.

What do you think about the seeding situation? Vote in the poll, post a comment!

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