For most of the 2022 NBA season, the battle to win the NBA’s Western Conference was a two-team fight between the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors. As the season heads toward an end — the last game of the 2022 NBA regular season takes place on April 10 — the Suns have put a fair amount of distance between themselves and the Warriors, who are now the No. 3 team in the West. The Memphis Grizzlies have taken the second spot.
Meanwhile, the preseason favorites to win the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers, look like they will finish the season outside the playoffs this season.
2022 Western Conference odds
|To Win NBA Western Conference|
|Golden State Warriors||+375||+375||+350||+370|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+3300||+3300||+5000||+5000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+12500||+12500||+15000||+18500|
|San Antonio Spurs||+20000||+20000||+25000||+32500|
The Phoenix Suns will finish in the first spot in the standings. With a 62-16 record and four games left on their schedule, the Suns are seven games up on the second-place Memphis Grizzlies. With that, expect the Suns to rest some of their starters as the season winds to a close.
If the Suns win one of their final four games, they will set a franchise record for wins. The year they finished 62-20, which was during the 1992-93 season, Phoenix went to the NBA Finals. The Suns also had a 62-20 record in 2004-05. They lost in the Western Conference Finals that year.
Right now, it’s hard to see the Suns as anything but back-to-back winners of the Western Conference.
Memphis gets hot
It’s never a bad thing when a team gets hot at the end of the regular season and that’s exactly what is taking place in Memphis right now. The Grizzlies started the season in rough shape, going 9-10 in their first 19 games. The Grizzlies are 12-3 since the start of March and are riding a seven-game winning streak as they head toward their final four regular-season games.
On April 1, the Grizzlies beat the Suns by a score of 122-114. In that game, only one of Memphis’ starters played. That win moved the team to 20-2 without the services of their star player Ja Morant, who is out of action with a knee injury.
Memphis is playing incredible team basketball, even without a single player averaging more than 20 points per game, without Morant on the court.
Golden State Struggles
The Golden State Warriors were one of the hottest teams at the start of the season. The team began the season on an 18-2 run. Since the beginning of February, the Warriors have gone 12-16 and have not won more than four straight games. The team ended a rough 1-7 run with back-to-back wins to open April, but with only three games left on the schedule, the Warriors are not in a great place heading into the playoffs.
Golden State is unsure if star player Steph Curry will be in the lineup for the playoffs. Curry is out with a foot injury. Without Curry, the Warriors will struggle.
I think this comes down to Memphis and Phoenix, and with Phoenix having the experience edge in playoff basketball, Memphis has only made the playoffs twice and has never advanced past the first round; I expect the Suns will win the Western Conference in 2022.
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