It was another winning week for the West, going 15-8 against the lowly Eastern Conference where only Indiana and Miami have more than 10 wins in non-conference play. The West has won 12 of the season’s 14 weeks so far with 12 to go.
Here’s the updated week-by-week breakdown:
Last week, Milwaukee continued to struggle in non-conference play as they went 0-3 and are now 1-16 for the season. It also didn’t help for the East that Indiana and Miami, the only two teams to have a non-conference record over .500, both lost games against the West on their home courts. It’s a good thing the Pacers won’t match up with Goran Dragic and the Suns in the playoffs. Miami and Oklahoma City, on the other hand…
The Milwaukee of the West is looking to be the Lakers, who are getting beat up by the East lately when just about every other Western team uses non-conference games as a standings-padder. Only Sacramento comes close to having as bad of a non-conference record, who are 5-9 while the Lakers are 7-13. It’s unlikely Sacramento stays that bad when they can play six more games against the East.
Speaking of games left against the East, in my opinion it’s a decent argument to use when looking at which West teams will make the playoffs. Here’s a breakdown of that too:
I thought about including a table for the East, but Miami and Indiana are on a crash course to meet in the Conference Finals. The first round matchups for them should be snoozers.
Of course, non-conference games don’t say everything about the rest of the NBA schedule. Back-to-backs, home vs road games, and the strength of the remaining games are all key too. As you can see though, even without Mike Conley the Grizzlies should tread water just fine when they play five more non-conference games than Dallas. Meanwhile, the Chris Paul-less Clippers might regress after capitalizing on an East-heavy schedule the last few weeks.
Of course, teams with extra non-conference games still have to play and win them versus just giving them the W, but so far the West has had a historical upper hand this season.