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NBA playoff push: Western Conference edition

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The race is on to make the 2014 edition of the NBA playoffs. Both the Eastern and Western conferences have their fair share of “locks” to make the summer series with a shot to hoist this season's title above their heads. However, there are still some teams that are making a late season push just to be included in those eight spots. Starting in the West, there is a three team fight that looks like it is going to come down to the wire.

The Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns both sit at 44-30 at this point in the year. They are in a tie that when broken will help figure out which teams will have the seventh and eighth spots when the post season kicks off. The Dallas Mavericks were also a part of that equation until a recent slip to 44-31, but they still have a very solid chance of making the post season.

To make things more interesting, they actually have the ability to catch the Houston Rockets who are sitting in the fourth spot with a 49-23 record. While it may seem like a long shot at this point in the year, crazier things have occurred in the world of professional sports.

The remaining schedules for these three clubs show a lot of opportunity to keep this race close up until the last game. The Mavericks took a very painful loss against the Golden State Warriors on a last second shot by Stephen Curry which has pushed them into the ninth spot at this point. From there they will stay out West until their season closes with two games against the Suns and Memphis to bring the year to an end.

Of the three teams the Suns may have the most difficult stretch to play through. They still have to face the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. Two of their last three games are just as important as they will face off against Dallas and Memphis before finishing the year at the Sacramento Kings.

Memphis will play four of their final eight games against teams with losing records. While there isn't a such thing as an “easy game” at this level; especially with so many teams loving to play the spoiler; it would seem that the Grizzlies have the best route to make it into the post season.

One look at sports four through nine in the Western Conference present a story of six teams that are fighting to hang onto their playoff position. There is still a chance that this entire playoff bracket will be blown up and that type of action is what makes this time of the year one of the most intense in sports.

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