Last night 12 of the 15 teams in the Western Conference played, so it was a wild night. Before I say anything else I have to say that the San Antonio Spurs are now at the top of the conference. They have won 10 games in a row and seem to be in a fight for over-all top spot -- and as a result, probably aren't looking to drop any games in the near future because, hey, why should they? What is it with the Spurs and lockout shortened years?
Anyway . . . after the break at look at what happened last night!
The Wild Wild West -- While you were sleeping:
|Western Conference - While you were sleeping April 6th|
|1||San Antonio Spurs||vs. NOR||W||39||14||73.6%||--|
|2||x||Oklahoma City Thunder||@ IND||L||40||15||72.7%||--|
|3||Los Angeles Lakers||vs. HOU||L||35||21||62.5%||5.5|
|4||Los Angeles Clippers||33||22||60.0%||7|
|5||Memphis Grizzlies||@ MIA||W||31||23||57.4%||8.5|
|6||Dallas Mavericks||vs. POR||L||31||25||55.4%||9.5|
|7||Houston Rockets||@ LAL||W||30||25||54.5%||10|
|8||Denver Nuggets||vs. PHX||W||30||25||54.5%||10|
|9||Utah Jazz||vs. GSW||W||29||27||51.8%||11.5|
|10||Phoenix Suns||@ DEN||L||28||27||50.9%||12|
|11||Portland Trail Blazers||@ DAL||W||27||29||48.2%||13.5|
|13||Golden State Warriors||@ UTA||L||21||33||38.9%||18.5|
|15||New Orleans Hornets||@ SAS||L||14||41||25.5%||26|
I'm not able to do as good a job at these things as Prodigal Punk does -- so I'm going to try to do things a bit different today. I'm just going to look at the different 'Classes' in the West.
Top of the Class (Seeds Affected: 1, 2)
For the longest time this was a one team race, but like they always do, the San Antonio Spurs have forced themselves into the conversation -- and have a shot to head into the playoffs as the #1 team in the West. OKC lost and the Spurs won. So, it is officially "on" now.
The Battle for Third (Seeds Affected: 3,4, 5)
There are only 3 games separating the #3 Lakers from the #5 Grizzlies. The Lakers are discovering how to "consistently do dumb sh*t" right now, the Clippers are still the Clippers -- and the Grizz are rediscovering their bite right about now. They came into the playoffs last season as the hottest team in the West and were within a 4th quarter from going to the Western Conference Finals. They didn't build on the momentum of that great playoff run much this season because of health issues. They've played the entire season with their back-up big Arthur -- who I think was a nice piece of added depth inside. The Lakers are in the driver's seat here, but are far from perfect. The Grizz just beat Miami down in Miami. Anything can happen.
The Playoff Push (Seeds Affected: 6, 7, 8)
Right now 1/2 game separates three teams: the Mavs, the Rockets, and the Nuggets. It is really tight right now at the bottom of the pyramid in the Western Conference playoff picture. While the Suns and Jazz are still "on the radar" they are still kind of in no-man's land. Last night the Mavs lost to Portland, and the Rockets beat the Lakers -- while the Nuggets dealt a near killing blow to the Suns. Still though . . . only half a game between these three clubs!
No Man's Land (Seeds Affected: 9, 10, 11, 12)
This group comprises four clubs that, had things gone just a little differently this year, would have been more "all-in" for their playoff push. The Jazz have been playing the last few weeks without two starters: Raja Bell and Josh Howard (where both starters by the time they got injured). The T-Wolves without Ricky Rubio for months now. The Suns without enough good players of Nash' s caliber -- and Portland again another year with crappy health. Technically they can still all challenge for the playoffs, but they'd each need to run the table in order to get there; and hope for some help from one of the Top 8 teams faltering.
Portland and Utah won last night, while the Suns lost. Out of this group the Jazz remain the closest, only 1.5 games out of 8th spot. I think tiebreakers are going to really make a different in the last week.
Lotto Land (Seeds Affected: 13, 14, 15)
The Kings didn't play but both the Warriors and Hornets lost. The Hornets almost lost twice last night, if you look at the beat down they got . . .
The Jazz won. And I guess the Mavs lost.
Memphis, Houston, and Denver all won.
The Spurs are at the top of the West right now. IF there ever was a team I did not want to face in the playoffs it would be them.