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Southwest Update: Spurs Lead in West Down to Half Game

Grizzlies Mike Conley

Grizzlies Mike Conley

The San Antonio Spurs lead for the top spot in the Western Conference is down to a half game over the Oklahoma City Thunder after losing to them on Thursday night 100-88. Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 27 points and Kevin Durant added 25 as the Spurs played without guard Tony Parker  who is still trying to get back from a badly sprained ankle.

The Thunder and Spurs are tied in the loss column and the Thunder owns the tie-breaker, so the Thunder controls its own destiny in the race. The prize for the #1 seed is the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round as of right now and the second place team gets the Houston Rockets. So this may be a case of “be careful what you wish for”. With the Lakers, you get a team with superstars who have been through the playoff wars before. With the Rockets, you get a younger, more up and down the court type team, but one with little playoff experience.

The Lakers would probably prefer to play the Spurs in an “old team vs old team” match-up. The Rockets vs Thunder would be an interesting match after the big trade between the two clubs early in the year. James Harden was sent to the Rockets for Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb. Harden has been the number one option for the Rockets this year. He has a nice young supporting cast of Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons that could make this an interesting series.

But it is looking more and more like we will get a Lakers-Thunder first round along with the Spurs-Rockets. Both of these series will be young vs old. The Lakers old legs likely won’t be able to compete with the young and extremely talented defending Western Conference champions. The one-two punch of Westbrook and Durant will be tough for the older oft-injured Lakers to stop.

Rockets-Spurs could be a bit more interesting. The young Rockets could give San Antonio a tough series. The Spurs had trouble in the playoffs a couple of years ago losing to a young Memphis Grizzlies team in the first round. Now they are two years older. Do not be shocked if the Spurs are taken deep in the first round by Harden and the Rockets.

The best team in the Southwest though just might be the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are four games back in the Southwest Division, but they may be the team best built to make a playoff run. With Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph, they have a “big three” right up there with the best of them. Trading Rudy Gay didn’t seem to make a lot of sense at the time, but Tayshaun Prince has been contributing. He brings a guy to the Grizzlies who has been all the way to the championship.

The Dallas Mavericks are all but out of playoff contention after falling to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night 95-94. The Mavs failed to get a rebound on a missed Kenneth Faried free throw with eight seconds left. Corey Brewer snatched the rebound and the Nuggets called timeout. Andre Iguodala then made a runner in the lane just as the buzzer as about to sound to give the Nuggets the victory.

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