Spurs Watch: How to go from the 8th seed to the 5th without playing a game

A Jazz loss in Atlanta has created a four-way tie for 5th in the West.

The Oklahoma City Thunder may have found a way to stop their free fall down the Western Conference standings. Don’t play.

I’m serious.

The Thunder started Thursday 8th in the West. One Utah Jazz loss later and they now find themselves 5th, leapfrogging the San Antonio Spurs in the process. If you’re wondering how this is possible given the fact that the Spurs own the tiebreaker against the Thunder, let me explain. Flashing back to the previous Spurs Watch article, I mentioned that when more than two teams are tied, the first tiebreaker is based on which team has the better winning percentage against each other.

Back on Wednesday when it was just the Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, and Thunder tied, the Thunder had the worst winning percentage against the other two teams. It’s hard to believe that adding a fourth team into the mix would have such a profound impact on the tiebreaker, but it did. The kicker is that the Thunder are 4-0 against the Jazz this season. When factoring all four teams, the Thunder are 7-4 against the other three teams, the Spurs are 5-5, the Jazz are 4-5, and the Clippers are 4-6.

Just to make things a bit more interesting, there is only one more game scheduled between these four teams. On the final night of the regular season the Jazz play the Clippers. If the Jazz win and all four teams somehow end up tied at the end of the regular season, the tiebreaker between the Jazz and Spurs would come down to conference win percentage. Right now the Spurs have the better conference record, but that could change by season’s end.

Chances are slim that all four teams end the regular season tied, but it’s been tight all season so nothing would surprise me.

Friday’s games to watch

  • Los Angeles Clippers at Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Oklahoma City Thunder at Toronto Raptors
  • San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets

Since three out of the four teams currently tied for 5th in the West play on Friday, the Spurs could end the night anywhere from 5th to 8th in the West.

The Spurs own the tiebreaker against the Thunder, Clippers, and the scenario where all three teams end up tied, so the Spurs are guaranteed to end the night 5th in the West if they beat the Rockets. If the Spurs lose, they could finish anywhere between 6th and 8th, depending on the following results:

  • If both the Clippers and Thunder win, the Spurs will end up 8th in the West.
  • If one teams wins and the other team loses, the Spurs will end up 7th in the West.
  • If neither the Clippers or Thunder win, the Spurs will end up 6th in the West.

Draft pick watch

It should be noted that NBA draft tiebreakers are not determined using the same procedure used in breaking tiebreakers for the playoff. For the NBA draft, drawings are used to determine draft order among teams with the same regular season record. If the regular season ended on Thursday, the Spurs’ first round draft pick would fall anywhere between 18th and 21st, depending on the results of the drawing.

The Toronto Raptors are still clinging onto the second best record in the NBA, so their 2019 first round draft pick that is going to convey to the Spurs would end up 29th.

Source: Pounding The Rock

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