The NBA regular season is drawing to a close soon with April 16th being the last day and the last chance for NBA teams to fight for playoff position. So far, the Western Conference is looking dominant while the Eastern Conference has only the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers to worry about. I’ll throw in the Toronto Raptors in there as well since they have had a surprisingly well season and the Chicago Bulls are keeping pace without Derrick Rose. As of right now, the Western Conference has nine teams with winning records while the East has only six. Let’s look at some of the recent stories that has been happening in the NBA so far.
Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder put an end to the San Antonio Spurs’ winning streak last night with a 106-94 victory. The Spurs had won 19 games prior to this defeat and Kevin Durant continued his own streak of 39 games with 25 points or more. We have not seen scoring outbursts like this since Michael Jordan did it back in 1986-1987 when he went 40 straight games. This win also proved Oklahoma City’s dominance in the West. With the win, they swept the San Antonio Spurs in their regular season match-ups. There are just eight games left for the Thunder this season, so they can easily catch up to the Spurs for the best in the West. Oklahoma City is only three games behind the Spurs for the 1-seed in the playoffs, so watch out for that as the season rolls along.
The teams with the longest winning streak as of right now are the Miami Heat and the Portland Trail Blazers with four wins in a row. The Heat are coming off a blowout win against the Milwaukee Buck 96-77 without Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade. LeBron James had about average numbers: 17 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. However, the Miami Heat won their 30th game at home this season, marking the seventh time in franchise history that they have won that many. As for the Portland Trail Blazers, they defeated the L.A. Lakers 124-112 last Tuesday. Lamarcus Aldridge went off in that victory with 31 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. Nick Young of the Lakers went off as well, scoring 40 points in the losing effort. With his contract expiring after this season, he will be looking for a team that will better utilize his talents. Going back to the Trail Blazers, point guard Damian Lillard became the first player in franchise history to make 200 3-pointers in a season when he connected with 8:07 left in the first quarter. With him and Aldridge running the show in Portland, look for them to make a deep run in the playoffs as a 5-seed behind Houston.
Another Western Conference match-up that was intriguing last night was the Dallas Mavericks and the L.A. Clippers. Despite Blake Griffin pulling off his first triple-double of the season and his fourth of his career (25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists), the Mavericks defeated the Clippers 113-107 behind Dirk Nowitzki’s 26 points and 11 rebounds. The ageless wonder shot 10-18 from the field and nailed 4 out of 7 three-pointers. This win helped Dallas move into a 7-seed in the Western Conference playoffs ahead of the 44-31 Memphis Grizzlies. The Mavs avoided getting swept by the Clippers for the first time since 1993-94 and will use that momentum to carry them for the rest of the regular season. Even with the loss, the Clippers still retain the 3-seed with an impressive 54-23 record.
I’m sure more great games will follow as the regular season dwindles down. Players might go off for amazing scoring outbursts and teams might find a way to sneak into the playoffs (like what the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats are doing right now). Keep watching the NBA, because things are going to get interesting very soon.