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Teams with the easiest – and most difficult – schedules after NBA all-star break

Charlotte Hornets have the easiest remaining NBA schedule after the all-star break (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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The Golden State Warriors are on track to making history. They have won 48 of their 52 games and are on pace for a 76-win campaign, which would eclipse the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for most wins in a season (72). The San Antonio Spurs are close behind at 45-8, giving us two chances to see a team join the Bulls in the 70-win club. However, you have to give the edge to the Warriors, who have a slightly easier schedule from now until the end of the season.

According to the Simple Rating System — a team rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule — the average remaining Warriors opponent is 0.8 points per game better than average, nearly half what the Spurs are going to face (1.4). In other words, San Antonio’s chase for history is going to be significantly more difficult.

However, despite the Spurs difficult remaining slate of games, they have it easier than the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers, the two teams who rank at the top of the list for post all-star break strength of schedule.

The Blazers’ schedule has three games remaining against the Warriors, and two each against the Celtics and Thunder. They also still have to face the Spurs, Clippers and Raptors. As of today, the Blazers are the No. 7 seed in the West and have a 70 percent chance at making the playoffs. That could start to drop quickly if they struggle against their upcoming murderer’s row of opponents.

The Thunder, meanwhile, have two against the Warriors and three against both the Clippers and Spurs, giving them an average opponent that is a league-leading 1.8 points per game above average. The same as if they had to play their remaining games against a slightly worse version of the Indiana Pacers.

On the flip side, the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards have the easiest remaining slate of games, with their opponents 1.4 and 1.0 points per game below average.

That should not only help solidify Charlotte’s postseason berth, but move them out of their current No. 8 seed, where they could be cannon fodder for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The teams ahead of them — the Bulls, Pacers and Heat — all have tougher schedules with Chicago and Miami dealing with injuries concerns to Jimmy Butler and Chris Bosh, respectively.

Perhaps the Wizards could use their soft schedule to make a late run for the playoffs. They are being given just a 9 percent chance to snag a postseason berth.

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