Who’s in and who’s out in the NBA Western Conference?

Kevin Kiani

Courtesy of MCT. Mavericks’ shooting guard OJ Mayo (right) defends Rockets’ guard James Harden in Dallas, Texas.

The playoff hunt in the wild wild western conference is heating up and with the first five seeds essentially sewn up, who will take six through eight?

8th seed – Golden State Warriors

It’s a shame this young, rejuvenated team has been playing so poorly as of late. They have lost 12 of their last 17 contests and the games they have won have been ugly. Andrew Bogut, the coveted center they traded for has been a shadow of his former self and that has translated to a seven foot immobile oaf who is more of a liability than an advantage. The Warriors need elevated play out of Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, as well their bench duo of Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack to break their slump. Golden State lives and dies by the three so if sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Thompson can get hot, they will live and live long. They will play 12 of their last 18 games at home and their remaining opponents sit at an average winning percentage of just under .500. The Warriors are clinging to this playoff spot with their dear lives, so maybe the fans at Oracle can revitalize them during the final stretch of the season.

7th seed – Houston Rockets

The Rockets have been led by the unleashed talent and beard of all-star James Harden. Nobody thought they would even be close to this position considering their youth, inexperience and lack of talent, but head coach Kevin McHale has the Rockets ready to launch into the playoff atmosphere. Houston can create matchup nightmares when they spread the floor with shooters and force teams to downsize. Harden will most likely will be reunited with his old mates in Oklahoma City in the first round. The Rockets have five players averaging double figures, and that depth is very valuable in playoff series that looks to have offense written all over it. Houston will play six of its last 18 games on the road and if they can get hot towards the end of the season, they can be a dangerous playoff team.

6th seed – Los Angeles Lakers

The dysfunctional daytime soap opera that is the Lakers has officially pushed through the drama and got back to their winning tradition. After their win against Chicago over the weekend, they overtook the Jazz and are now in the eighth seed. Since being eight games under .500 in late January, the Lakers have gone 16-6 since then and have now caught fire. They are winning games on the road, at home, and making miraculous comebacks because of the immortal Kobe Bryant. Bryant has slapped father time in the face and told him to come back when he stops putting up his ridiculous numbers and actually shows signs that he is slowing down. Bryant is averaging 33.2 points on 50 percent shooting in the past five games and has earned him the nickname “vino” because like wine, he is getting better with age. Any team that is unlucky enough to face the venom of the Black Mamba in the first round will be on high upset alert.