Drama out West with playoff picture still unsettled
There are teams still jockeying for playoff position in both conferences, but two races in the West have emerged as the most compelling.
The Spurs ceded ground to the Thunder in the battle for the No. 1 seed Thursday, with their lead in the standings reduced to just a half game. The loss was San Antonio's third in four games without Manu Ginobili and it played the final seven minutes against Oklahoma City without Tony Parker after the star guard sustained a shin injury.
While San Antonio has one less road game remaining, Oklahoma City now appears to have the inside track on the top spot. Not only are the Spurs dealing with injuries to two of their best players, but they would lose the tiebreaker should the teams hold the same record at the end of the season. The Thunder also own a 12-2 record against their seven remaining opponents, helping swing the pendulum even further in their favor.
The race for who the West's top seed will play in the first round is just as close as the beleaguered Lakers hold just a half-game lead on the Jazz. Much like the other race on the other side of the standings spectrum, it's the team that trails that appears to have the upper hand. Like the Spurs, the Lakers are also dealing with injuries. They also must face West playoff teams in five of their last six games, while the Jazz will only face three.
This will be the last regular-season addition of the Power Rankings, which are led by the Heat for the eighth consecutive week. The rankings will return on April 19 for a playoff-preview edition.