With March upon us, the Sonics have 24 games remaining on their schedule, and they currently are looking up at the last (8th) playoff spot, 7 ½ games back of the Lakers, or 8 ½ games back of the Nuggets for the NW Division lead. Coming off a rousing win over the Hornets on Tuesday, how likely are the Sonics to make a comeback?
Let’s look at the schedules. The rest of the way, Seattle’s 24 opponents have a combined winning percentage of 54.2%, the equivalent of the Grizzlies or Hornets. The schedule is front-loaded, though, with most of the dangerous games coming in the next 3 weeks, while April is relatively easy, with matchups against Portland (twice), Houston, and Sacramento – all teams on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
In a somewhat realistic world, the Sonics could conceivably finish the season by winning 18 of the remaining 24 games, which would put their record at 40-42, definitely out of the playoff race. But by winning a couple of road games they shouldn’t (against, say, the Lakers or Memphis), the Sonics could pull themselves to 42, 43, or 44 wins, which would give them a fighting chance.
With 14 of the 24 games at home, the Sonics have an edge over the Nuggets, who will play the majority of their games on the road the rest of the way. In fact, the Sonics need only look at what Denver did last season, when Denver went on a 25-4 tear to nearly unseat the Sonics from the Division throne. It will take a similar maniacal finish for the Sonics to do the same thing. Yes, the Nuggets were starting near .500 when they went on their tear last year and the Sonics are 14 games below that right now, but the team Denver was chasing (Seattle) had a very good record, while the team Seattle is chasing (Denver), currently stands only 3 games over .500.
Can it happen? Absolutely. Will it? Well, we’ve got two months to see.