The Western Conference has been ultra-competitive throughout 2014-15. When it’s all said and done, we could have two teams over .500 miss the playoffs out west, while as many as three teams in the east get into the playoffs with records under .500.
Here’s what we know about the standings out west:
— The Warriors have locked down the top seed.
— The Mavericks (who clinched without playing on Tuesday) are practically locked into the seventh seed.
— The Thunder and Pelicans are still battling for the eighth seed with NOP holding a half game lead over OKC as of Wednesday morning following a big win over the Warriors. The Thunder lost to the Spurs on Tuesday in a game that would have kept them in eighth had they won.
— When it comes to the second through sixth seeds, the west is still wide open.
Here’s where the Spurs come in, currently in possession of the six-seed, but winners of eight consecutive games. No win more important than Sunday’s 107-92 demolition of the Warriors, making San Antonio the only team to take down the 14-loss Dubs twice this season.
Currently the gap between the second place Rockets and the Spurs is just a game and a half, with the Grizzlies, Blazers and Clippers sitting between the two respectively. The Blazers will hold down the four-seed even if they have a worse record than the fifth and sixth seeds since they are a division winner, but they can still yield home court to the fifth seed if whom ever that is finishes with a better record.
Right now the Spurs would be matched up with the struggling Grizzlies — who are just 2-4 in their last six games — in a first-round matchup that would tip-off in Memphis. Although this could be a favorable matchup, the Spurs seem poised to make a run at grabbing home court advantage for themselves.
Excluding Golden State (who does happen to be riding a two-game losing streak), the three hottest teams out west are Houston, Los Angeles (the Clippers, of course) and San Antonio. Houston has won eight of its last 10 games while LAC and SAS have both won nine of their last 10. In all likelihood, those three teams will hold home court if Memphis continues to fall and Portland doesn’t get hot (despite being seeded higher than one of the three).
We seem to find Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan and crew in this position every year. Other teams are getting the publicity, while the Spurs simply get hot at the right time before making a deep run. I’m not saying they’re going to win it all again, but this isn’t going to be the team that’s finally over the hump and not in contention anymore.
After getting their fifth ring, it was of popular belief to think that the Spurs run had finally come to a close. They’re finally too old. The ride’s over. Fun while it lasted. But low and behold, they’re still competing, and they’re certainly not content. But once again, we’re premature with our assumption, and the Spurs find themselves right within striking distance with the playoffs just days away.
San Antonio may finish second, it may finish sixth, but it will be dangerous. The other seven teams that make the playoffs in the west will also be very dangerous. But for seemingly the one millionth time, the Spurs aren’t getting the respect as defending champions that they deserve. If the rest of the league doesn’t take notice soon, they could be at home watching black and silver uniforms on television in June again.
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