NBA West: San Antonio tops the conference and the leagueBy David A.
As the NBA season approaches its annual All-Star break, the top three teams in the league and six of the top ten plays in the Western Conference. The San Antonio Spurs currently have the league’s best record at 36-11, are on an eight game winning streak and have won 9 of their last 10 games overall.
Just a game behind the Spurs is the Oklahoma City Thunder at 34-11. For the past two weeks, the Thunder had the best record in the league, but the Spurs have jumped to the top with their impressive run of eight straight. Rounding out the top three in the league are the Los Angeles Clippers who have struggled at 5-5 over their last 10 games, but still own an impressive record of 33-13.
Without any doubt, the best teams at this point in the season play in the Western Conference. With four out of the top five teams, the exception being fourth place Miami, the west has a strong advantage over the east. Following Miami in fourth is Memphis in fifth, Golden State in eight and Denver in ninth.
At the top of the heap are the San Antonio Spurs. What is amazing this season thus far is the reemergence of Tim Duncan. For the past 15 years, Duncan has led the Spurs on the court and after taking a back seat last season with less points, rebounds and time played per game, the Spurs’ big man is once again the main force for the team. San Antonio has had to play in a smaller media market, watch important players get older and have injuries take their toll, but still the team is on top.
Coach Gregg Popovich has put together a nucleus of players that are hard to find anywhere else in the NBA. The Spurs have played without swingman Manu Ginobili for most of their eight game winning streak and with his return, the team will get that much stronger.
The Spurs top the league’s power rankings for just the first time since November passing both the Thunder and Clippers in reaching that pinnacle. It does not hurt that the team has won eight consecutive games. As with the overall records in the NBA, the power rankings have the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Grizzlies as the top five.
The latest MVP predictions have come out and three of the top five players play in the West. Leading that group is Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant followed by Miami’s LeBron James in second, Chris Paul of the Clippers in third, Carmel Anthony of the Knicks in fourth and the ageless wonder Tim Duncan in fifth.
The season has just passed the halfway point. If the western conference teams can stay healthy throughout the season, then the Western Conference finals might be more appropriate to be the NBA finals than the actual NBA finals themselves.