OK, the last time I saw a seeding situation this messy it involved a farmboy, a case of Coors, and a 24-row header attached to a John Deere.
Here are the current standings 2-8 in the West
- 2. Denver 53-26
- 3. San Antonio 50-28
- 4. Houston 50-28
- 5. Portland 50-28
- 6. New Orleans 48-30
- 7. Utah 47-31
- 8. Dallas 47-31
You can click here to see the games remaining for each team.
Here are the key factors that have updated tonight:
--Denver won tonight. Since they own the tiebreaker with the Blazers their magic number to take the division is now one game. One Denver win or one Portland loss seals the deal. The Nuggets must lose all three remaining games (@L*kers, Sacramento, @Portland) and the Blazers must win out in order for Portland to take the division.
--The Blazers now own the head-to-head tiebreaker with San Antonio PROVIDING the Spurs do not win their division. If the Spurs win their division and the Blazers do not win theirs then head-to-head record does not come into play.
--The Blazers don't own tiebreakers with New Orleans or Dallas. There's no scenario remaining in which Portland could end up tied with Utah and own the tiebreaker either. Therefore Portland still needs a couple more wins to guarantee a finish above the teams currently behind them.
--The three-way tie at 3-4-5 brings up the specter of the three-way tiebreaking rules. The rules themselves are simple but the permutations are ugly, so hold on.
First Tiebreaker: Division Winner
Either Houston or San Antonio will win their division so one team will finish ahead of Portland in any three-way tie. Unless the Blazers manage to beat out Denver for the division they can finish no better than second.
The division-winner tiebreaking process supersedes the three-way tie process. In other words, a division winner is determined first between Houston and San Antonio and THEN the three-way tie between them and Portland is resolved.
Houston and San Antonio are tied for head-to-head record, 2-2.
The next tie breaker between them would be division wins. Houston stands at 8-6 against the division, San Antonio at 9-6. Houston's final two games of the year are division games (New Orleans, @Dallas). San Antonio has one division game remaining (New Orleans).
If the two teams remained tied after division wins are factored in then conference wins come into play. Both are 31-16 against the Western Conference with four games remaining.
If the teams still remained tied after conference wins the next tiebreaker is record against conference playoff teams. Houston is currently 13-12 with 2 games remaining against playoff teams (New Orleans, @Dallas). San Antonio is 10-13, also with 2 games remaining (Utah, New Orleans). The worst record Houston could finish with is 13-14, a 48.15% winning percentage. The best record San Antonio could finish with is 12-13, a 48% winning percentage on the nose. If the tiebreaker got this far, Houston would beat out San Antonio by .15% and take the division.
Second Tiebreaker: Best Head-to-Head Percentage Amongst the Three Teams
Portland's Record vs. HOU+SA = 4-3
Houston's Record vs. POR+SA = 4-3
San Antonio's Record vs. POR+HOU = 3-5
If Houston won the division Portland would beat out San Antonio for the second spot in the three-way tie.
If San Antonio won the division Portland and Houston would go to the next tiebreaker.
Third Tiebreaker: Conference Record
Division record is technically the third tiebreaker but it only applies when the teams in question are in the same division, which Houston and Portland are not.
Houston has a 32-16 conference record. Portland's is 28-20. Portland cannot catch up to Houston and still be tied in overall record. Therefore Houston would win this tiebreaker.
Therefore the results of a three-way tie between Houston, San Antonio, and Portland would be:
San Antonio first, Houston second, Portland third if San Antonio wins their division.
Houston first, Portland second, San Antonio third if Houston wins their division.
If you're wondering how this would shake out in the unlikely event that Portland overtook Denver for the division crown and remained tied with Houston, San Antonio, or both, here's what it looks like:
vs. Houston: Blazers lose if Houston wins their division, wins if they don't.
vs. San Antonio: Blazers win whether or not San Antonio wins their division
Three-Way Tie: Houston first, Portland second, San Antonio third if Houston wins their division. Portland first, San Antonio second, Houston third if San Antonio wins their division.
As you can see, rooting for people besides the Blazers is complicated. Obviously you want to root for the Blazers to beat everyone they can. Rooting against the teams behind Portland in every game except the ones they have with teams ahead of Portland is easy. In the event of a two-team tie you want the Blazers to tie with San Antonio and not with Houston. In the event of a three-way HOU-SA-POR tie you want Houston to win the Southwest division unless Portland also manages to beat out Denver, in which case you want San Antonio to win the division.
Call me when your head stops spinning.