Playoff Countdown: OKC Still Looking Up At No. 1; Rockets Poised To Rise

Tuesday, April 9th 2013, 5:59 pm
By: News 9

1. Spurs (57-20) ---

2. Thunder (56-21) 1

3. Nuggets (53-24) 4

4. Clippers (51-26) 6

5. Grizzlies (52-25) 5

6. Warriors (44-33) 13

7. Rockets (43-34) 14

8. Jazz (41-37) 16.5


9. Lakers (40-37) 17

10. Mavs (38-39) 19


With just about five games remaining in the NBA's regular season, the Spurs continue to maintain its slight advantage over Oklahoma City for the No. 1 seed, while all eight spots are still up for grabs.

Here's an updated look at where everyone stands as we count down to the playoffs.


Last week: 2-2

This week: @Nuggets | vs. Kings | @Lakers

Make no mistake – if San Antonio wants to win the West, it needs the No. 1 seed. The banged-up Spurs' quest for the top spot has to go through Denver this week, which even without Danilo Gallinari, is as brutal as it gets. A home game against the Kings is a gimme, but a trip to play the desperate Lakers will be far from a cakewalk. Keep in mind, the Spurs lose the potential tiebreaker to OKC, so in case of a tie, the Thunder takes No. 1. If San Antonio is going to hang on to the top spot, it's gonna have to earn it.


Last week: 2-1

This week: @Jazz | @Warriors| @Blazers

Two steps forward, one step back. The Thunder's statement-win Thursday over San Antonio, followed by an impressive next-day win at Indiana moved them into a tie for first in the West. Then Carmelo and the Knicks rained on that parade, outscoring OKC in a wild shootout on Sunday afternoon. Now the Thunder finds itself in familiar territory: one game back and waiting on San Antonio to slip up just once more.


Last week: 3-0

This week: vs. Spurs | @Mavs | vs. Blazers

The big news from this week was the torn ACL of forward Danilo Gallinari. The big Italian gave Denver elite 3-point shooting and could go off for 25+ on any given night. That loss might end any hope they had of winning the West. As for the here and now, Denver looks poised to hold on to the No. 3 seed, but Memphis is still only a game back and the Clippers are only two back. The Nuggets hold the tiebreaker over Memphis 3-1 and the Clippers 2-1, so in case of a tie, Denver's third.


Last week: 2-1

This week: vs. Wolves | @Hornets | @Grizzlies

Perhaps you noticed in the standings that the Clippers are ahead of Memphis despite a worse record. There's an NBA rule that division winners, regardless of record, are guaranteed at least one round of home-court advantage. So no matter what the Clips do in their final five games, they've clinched at least the No. 4 seed. With that said, the No. 3 Nuggets are still in reach, but LA will have to win out and have a lot of help.


Last week: 3-1

This week: vs. Bobcats | @Rockets | vs. Clippers

The opportunity to rise is still alive for the Grizzlies. Memphis is only a game behind Denver, and while the Nuggets go against powerful San Antonio, the Grizz starts this week with the pitiful Bobcats. Matchups against the Rockets and Clippers will have huge implications for everyone.


Last week: 2-1

This week: vs. Wolves | vs. Thunder | @Lakers

Golden State has occupied the sixth seed for a long time now, but Houston looks poised to take over. The road ahead is tough, but beating the Wolves at home Tuesday is a must.


Last week: 3-1

This week: vs. Suns | vs. Grizzlies | vs. Kings

Houston beat Golden State three of four this season and holds the tiebreaker if the two end up tied for the No. 6 spot. They also have the schedule advantage in the final five games, playing Phoenix twice and Sacramento once. Escaping the No. 7 spot would at least give Houston hope in the first round.


Last week: 3-1

This week: vs. Thunder | vs. Wolves

Utah is the only team in contention with only four games left to play — everyone else has five. That win-in-hand might come in handy as all the Jazz must do is tie the Lakers and/or Mavs as Utah holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over both.


Last week: 2-1

This week: vs. Hornets | @Blazers | vs. Warriors | vs. Spurs

The Lakers have a heavy week, and really can't afford to slip. They have the tiebreaker against Dallas but currently the Jazz is their bigger problem, and Utah has the head-to-head tiebreaker against LA. With five games remaining, the Lakers will likely need to win four to have a good shot at getting in.


Last week: 2-2

This week: vs. Suns | vs. Nuggets| @Hornets

A week ago, Dallas looked like it was ready to take the No. 8 spot and run with it. Now, the Mavs' backs are against the wall and they're likely one loss away from elimination. In any tiebreaking scenario, Dallas loses to either LA or Utah, so it has to take the No. 8 spot outright. That means if Dallas finishes 5-0, Utah would still have to go 1-3 and the Lakers would need to finish 2-3 for the Mavs to make it. Unlikely, but all Dallas can control is its next game, one at a time.