NBA’s wild, wild West overpowering East: ‘It’s not even close’

The Utah Jazz came into the season tipped for good things and a possible deep run in the playoffs. Last week they picked up one of the NBA’s best sharpshooters of the modern era in Kyle Korver. They have the second-most road wins in the league.

All good, right?

Kind of, except that the Jazz also enter Thursday night's game against Houston in 12th place in the Western Conference.

Welcome to life in the wild, wild West, a conference where you don’t even have to be bad in order to look really, really bad.

“It is a tough house to live in, man,” Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. 

As of Thursday, in matchups between teams from rival conferences, the West bested the East by a margin of 82-52.

That’s not a blip, it’s factual proof of what we already knew, that the West is stronger, deeper and just better than its counterpart.

“I can’t remember a time when it was as one-sided as this,” Shaquille O’Neal told USA TODAY Sports recently. “It’s not even close.”

All of which has turned the West into a place where chaos reigns, even little more than a quarter of the way through the season.

However, don’t feel too sorry for teams like the Jazz, 12-13 overall and 9-7 on the road, because even the briefest surge would not only lift them from near the foot of the ladder but put them firmly in playoff position. They're just one game behind the eighth-place Dallas Mavericks, for example.

Meanwhile, a record of 11-13 is enough to put the Charlotte Hornets in a presumptive playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, while an 11-12 mark leaves last season’s Western Conference near-champion Houston languishing in 13th. That’s how tough, and how tight, it is in the West.

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