Those San Antonio Spurs atop the Western Conference? Doesn't look like they'll be caught. The first-place Spurs have won 13 in a row, and the Western Conference picture seems to be settling in its place down the stretch run. The Los Angeles Clippers are still 2.5 games back of the Oklahoma City Thunder in a chase for the second spot in the West, and Golden State is creeping up on fifth-place Portland as the Blazers attempt to stay afloat with LaMarcus Aldridge sitting out with a back injury.
NBA Power Rankings
NBA Power Rankings
Phoenix seemed like it had slipped out of the playoff race, but Jeff Hornacek's team has won five of its last six thanks to the integration and impact of a healthy Eric Bledsoe. The Suns enter Monday a half-game back of both the Grizzlies and Mavericks thanks to a 127-120 victory on Sunday -- it included a rally from a 22-point deficit -- against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who themselves sit a helpless 6.5 games back of the final playoff spot with only 14 games left.
The Mavs now appear to be the team with the least traction, having lost two overtime games in the last three outings -- at home, nonetheless. Dallas fell 123-122 to the Timberwolves last Wednesday courtesy of a Kevin Love game-winner, beat the Denver Nuggets on Friday, then lost 107-104 in overtime against Brooklyn on Sunday.
Memphis, meanwhile, dropped a game at Miami on Friday, then turned around to beat the Indiana Pacers at home the very next day.
The fun part: Dallas, Phoenix and Memphis play a round-robin between one another in the last week of the regular season. Dallas holds the tiebreaker on Memphis, Memphis holds the tiebreaker on Phoenix, and the Dallas-Phoenix tiebreaker will be determined when the teams meet a third time on April 12.
Western Conference standings
|San Antonio||53||16||0.768||0.0||31-10||9-3||26-8||27-8||10-0||W 13|
|Oklahoma City||51||18||0.739||2.0||29-12||9-5||28-7||23-11||7-3||W 3|
|L.A. Clippers||49||21||0.700||4.5||29-12||9-4||30-5||19-16||9-1||W 1|
|Golden State||44||27||0.620||10.0||24-18||9-5||23-12||21-15||7-3||L 1|
|New Orleans||29||40||0.420||24.0||11-29||3-10||17-17||12-23||6-4||W 2|
|L.A. Lakers||23||46||0.333||30.0||12-29||5-7||12-22||11-24||3-7||W 1|
The Eastern Conference picture hasn't changed much this week as the majority of teams have struggled to play much better than .500 basketball in their last 10 games.
Take the first-place Pacers as an example. Frank Vogel's squad has gone 5-5 over its last 10 games but remains three games ahead of the Miami Heat. The only bad news there is that, out west, the Spurs and Thunder have now moved ahead in terms of records -- obviously, that would matter for home-court advantage should those teams meet in the NBA Finals.
The team making the most noise in the East is Brooklyn, which has crept past the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats over the last month to find itself just a game back of the fourth-place Chicago Bulls. Jason Kidd's Nets have won four straight and 11 of their last 13 games.
Previously, the ninth-place New York Knicks were the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. Mike Woodson and Co. won eight straight but fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday to enter Monday three games back of the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks.
New York hits the road to face the Lakers, Kings, Suns, Warriors and Jazz this week, and taking care of business there could make up ground on the Hawks, who play the Suns, T-Wolves, Blazers and Wizards this week.
Eastern Conference standings
|New York||29||41||0.414||22.0||21-24||6-6||16-21||13-20||8-2||L 1|