Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (March 8, 2018), Neil, Chris and Kyle explore the surprisingly stacked playoff race in the Western Conference. First, they take a look at the Portland Trail Blazers’ hot streak, which on Tuesday hit eight straight wins. Next, they turn to the rest of the conference, where only four games separate the No. 3 seed from the No. 10. Plus, a significant digit on Gary Harris of the Denver Nuggets.

Here are links to what was discussed this week:

  • Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.
  • Kyle recently took a look at the question on everyone’s mind: Are the Trail Blazers for real?
  • A panel at ESPN made some predictions about how the Western Conference will shake out come playoff time.
  • Significant Digit: 2.8, the ratio between the number of good shooting games (defined as an effective field goal percentage at or above 60) and bad shooting games (eFG% of 40 or below) for Harris, whom Chris wrote about this week.