Battle for Western Conference Play-In tournament

There’s only three weeks to go until the playoffs start and the NBA’s Western Conference is tight, and has been tight from the beginning of the season, but it doesn’t get much tighter than the teams who are in contention for the play-in tournament. 

The Play-in tournament only holds spots for the 7-10 seeds. The seventh and eighth seed will face off with the winner of that game advancing to the playoffs as the seventh seed. The loser of that game will face the winner of the ninth and 10th seed game (loser of this game is eliminated) where they will move forward as the eight seed, meaning only two teams get out of the play-in. 

The Western Conference teams have stayed neck and neck, with six teams being in contention for making the play-in tournament- Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, and the Phoenix Suns. 

6-8 seeds

The Suns haven’t been on a good run of form since the All-Star break even with the amount of stars on their team. All season, it’s been said that the Suns just need time and that they’ll figure it out, but clearly that hasn’t been the case. 

The Suns are 42-29 putting them only one win ahead of the Mavericks and the Kings, which is a scary sight for the Suns. The Suns have won their past three games, and will need to keep up that form in order to avoid the play-in. 

The Mavericks and Kings are both in very similar situations with both teams holding a 41-29 record. The Kings have gone 10-6 since the All Star break while the Mavericks have gone 9-6.

The Mavericks have caught fire with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving seemingly figuring things out. This could set up the stage for another run in the playoffs, but they’ll need to make it first. 

The Kings appear to be a shadow of themselves from last year, but their talent speaks for itself. De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray and Malik Monk can all make some noise. 

Anything can happen with these teams in the seedings, and all it takes is one game to change everything. 

9-11 seeds

The two teams that were expected to be contenders are the two teams that are fighting for a lifeline in the playoffs. The Warriors and Lakers have been far from great this season, with both teams showing signs of being contenders, but the inconsistency kills them. 

The Rockets have been on a tear going 10-1 since March 2 despite the injury to Alpheren Sengun. Jalen Green has emerged in this time, averaging 27.8 point per game and shooting over 40% in 10 of those games. 

The Rockets are a team to watch as they’ve elevated to 35-35, putting them only one game below the Warriors. 

The Warriors have suffered from injuries, suspensions and much more which has limited them, but you can absolutely never count out Stephen Curry as he’ll always find a way. The Warriors have gone 9-8 since the all star break. 

The Warriors have seen the emergence of young star Jonathan Kuminga who’s been the highlight for the Warriors as he consistently becomes better. The Warriors will always have a shot, but need to find consistency and win fast if they want a shot at getting the eighth seed at this rate. 

The Lakers have gone 9-6 since the All-Star break, 6-4 in March and catching some heat. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have performed at the highest level for the Lakers this year, with Davis 24.6 points and 12.5 rebounds, while James is averaging 25.4 points, 8.1 assists and 7.2 rebounds. 

D’angelo Russell has caught heat for the Lakers, averaging 20.1 points since January.. The Lakers have a deep roster, but will need all their players that stepped up last year like Austin Reaves to step up once again. 

The Lakers are only three wins away from the Suns. There’s still a chance for them to avoid the play-in tournament, but the opportunity fades every game and they will need to be consistent in order to make a run. 

Header Photo: Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after scoring during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Minneapolis. (Abbie Parr /The Associated Press)

Write to Ahmed Hassan at

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