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Countdown To The Playoffs: Nuggets, Grizz Surging; Warriors Collapsing

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1. Spurs (47-14)     ---

2. Thunder (43-16)  3

3. Clippers (43-19) 4.5

4. Grizzlies (39-19) 6.5

5. Nuggets (38-22) 8.5

6. Warriors (33-27) 13.5

7. Jazz (32-27)       14

8. Rockets (33-28) 14

--------------------------------

9. Lakers (30-30)  16.5

10. Blazers (27-31) 18.5

11. Mavericks (26-33) 20

As we inch closer and closer to the playoffs, the Western Conference is beginning to divide itself. The top five teams have opened up a nice gap between themselves and the rest of the conference, while the bottom of the West is starting to look more like a four-team race for the bottom three spots.

Every Monday, we'll have an updated look at who's doing what as we count down to the playoffs. Here's what's coming up this week around the Western Conference.

Spurs

Last week: 2-1

This week: vs. Bulls | vs. Blazers

After losing a home-stunner to the Suns to begin last week, San Antonio got back on track by putting beatdowns on the lowly Kings and Pistons. The big news of the week though was Tony Parker's ankle injury. Parker will likely miss about a month, which could be the break (no pun intended) Oklahoma City needs to catch back up.

Thunder

Last week: 2-1

This week: vs. Lakers | @Knicks | @Bobcats | vs. Celtics

Any bad memories of the heartbreaking loss in Denver were erased by Sunday's huge win in Los Angeles over the powerful Clippers. The win means a season-sweep over the Clips and will give OKC the tiebreaker if the two teams finish the regular season tied for a playoff seed. This week's slate isn't as tough but should be loads of fun. Both the Lakers and Celtics come to town, plus a trip to the Garden in NYC will showcase the NBA's two purest scorers against each other. Must-see TV.

Clippers

Last week: 3-1

This week: vs. Bucks | @Nuggets | vs. Pistons

3-1 is a good week, but Sunday's loss to OKC will leave a bad taste in their mouths moving forward. They've got two relatively easy home games this week with a trip to the death-trap that is Denver in between. It's beginning to feel though like the Clippers are destined for the three-seed regardless of what happens.

Grizzlies

Last week: 2-1

This week: vs. Blazers | @Cavs | vs. Hornets

The Grizzlies remain one of the hottest teams in the NBA, recording a 2-1 week to improve to 9-1 in their past 10 games. The only loss during this stretch was a nail-biter in Miami; a place almost no one comes out alive. The Grizz have got a great shot to continue their winning ways this week, with three losing teams on the slate. Can they make a push toward the Clippers and the three seed?

Nuggets

Last week: 3-0

This week: vs. Hawks | @Kings | vs. Clippers | vs. Wolves

Hilton Magic? Hinkle Magic? Forget that. More like Mile-High Magic. Ty Lawson's dagger to beat OKC Friday night improved the Nuggets to an incredible 25-3 at home; good for best in the West. Denver has won 10 straight at the Pepsi Center and play three home games this week. They've got a great chance to make a push toward a top-four seed.

Warriors

Last week: 0-4

This week: vs. Raptors | vs. Kings | vs. Rockets | vs. Bucks

Well, that didn't go well. The Warriors' four-game road trip to the East was a disaster, and while they didn't lose hold of the No. 6 seed, it's only because Utah and Houston had bad weeks too. The truth is, Golden State has lost 10 of 13 and the gap between them and the No. 9 Lakers is closing fast. Reality might be setting in for a team that, prior to the season, wasn't projected to make the playoffs.

Jazz

Last week: 1-2

This week: @Bucks | @Cavs | @Bulls | @Knicks

Not a good week for Utah. Home losses to Boston and Atlanta are killers, because now the Jazz has to hit the road for a four-game East-Coast road trip, three of which will be against playoff teams. Utah needs to pick it back up or they might be in danger of slipping right out of the field.

Rockets

Last week: 2-1

This week: @Mavericks | @Warriors | @Suns

Houston continues to tread water, maintaining its hold on the No. 8 spot that it's had for most of the season. While it seems the Rockets may never put together a stretch to jump a seed or two higher, they might not need to. If Golden State and Utah continue to struggle, Houston might just wake up one morning and find itself with the six-seed. By the way, their trip to play the Warriors this week should be one of the most ridiculous games of the season. Both teams play at breakneck speed and neither plays a lick of defense. So if you're bored Friday night, there you go.

Lakers

Last week: 2-1

This week: @Thunder | @Hornets | vs. Raptors | vs. Bulls

Like the Thunder, the Lakers put together a 2-1 week with their only loss coming in Denver. Unlike the Thunder, the Lakers are still on the outside of the playoffs, looking in. Similarly to Houston, LA might end up in the playoffs more due to the ineptitude of the Jazz and/or Warriors than by their own stellar play. Still, the 2-1 week was good enough to get the Lakers back to .500 for the first time since December. Cue the hype machine.

Blazers

Last week: 1-1

This week: vs. Bobcats | @Grizzlies | @Spurs | @Hornets

The Blazers' playoff hopes keep slip-sliding away. Portland badly needs a dominant week, but this might not be it. Trips to Memphis and San Antonio are brutal, but the Bobcats and Hornets are certainly beatable. 3-1 should be the goal for the week.

Mavericks

Last week: 1-3

This week: vs. Rockets | @Pistons | @Wolves

This will likely be the final time we see the Mavericks on this list, because they're all but finished. A 1-3 week has pushed the Mavs to six games out of the No. 8 spot and with just 23 games left, that's rough. It's going to take a double-digit winning streak to get Dallas back into the picture.

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