My weekly feature on LAKings.com examining the parity in the Western Conference is now available by following this link.
Keep in mind that last year’s Western Conference Finals participants, Los Angeles and Phoenix, were respectively seventh and 12th in the conference after 48 games a season ago. Though Chicago is on an unprecedented run in the Salary Cap Era, the competition throughout the rest of the conference remains incredibly tight as three points separate fourth-place Los Angeles from 11th-place Nashville.
Other comments on the conference’s parity that weren’t used in the article:
Darryl Sutter, on whether there’s an added mental element in persevering through the shortened schedule:
“I think so. I think we’ve talked about that lots in parts of parking and riding, right? So that’s what you do.”
Drew Doughty, on the conference’s parity:
“Yeah, this year’s tough. You can’t take any game off. In the past, you could let one game here and there slip, even though you don’t really want to, but now you just look at the scoreboard. [Saturday] night, if we would have won, we could’ve been all the way up in fifth or something like that, and now that we’ve lost, I’m sure we’re maybe not even in a playoff spot after [Sunday]. It’s tough, and every single game matters so much. We need the two points, no matter what.”
Mike Richards, on parity:
“I think it comes down to consistency, and who can play their game the most consistent on a nightly basis. Usually the team that plays obviously the best is going to win. When you don’t play well, you’re not going to win. Whoever is going to make the playoffs is whoever can go with the most amount of games with playing their best.”
Richards, on the mental strength needed in the tight standings:
“I think it doesn’t allow you to take a break and rest and get complacent. You know that you have to play your best every game to stay in the race. We just won five in a row, or lost one in six, and we’re in the playoffs now. So I think that just shows what kind of consistency you need really just to make the playoffs.”