Thunder and Mavs get big wins; key NBA games for tonight

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder

For the past three weeks or so, anytime two teams in the top 9 of the western conference square-off, it’s much watch television for all basketball fans. That’s just the kind of season we’re having in the west. I know the eastern conference looks like it will be bit more competitive (especially as of late) this postseason but the west will be a bloodbath every single round. I’m getting a little ahead of myself, as usual, but at least we got a little preview of what we could see in a couple of week during last night’s games. Both the Thunder and Mavericks got big wins over the Spurs and Clippers (respectively), two of the best teams in the conference as of late. What does that tell us? Well, for one, no team is invincible in the conference. At least for one night. I still wouldn’t bet against the Spurs but at least we can see that they won’t completely roll over every other team. Especially the Thunder, because after last night’s win over their I-35 rival, they have swept the season series 4-0. Are the Thunder just a match-up nightmare for San Antonio? A little bit but don’t forget that the Spurs were playing their 5th game in just over a week’s time. It was still an impressive by OKC, who used their superior length and speed to counter the Spurs’ ball-movement. Conference finals preview?

Once again, not getting ahead of myself. Especially if the Clippers or Mavs, who squared off last night, have anything to say about not being included in the conference finals discussion. Now, my Mavericks are a bit of a long-shot to make it that far into the playoffs but they would at the very least give any opponent in the west a well-fought series. But that’s the western conference in general and that’s why it’s so great. The Clippers have been playing excellent basketball for over a month now, led by Blake Griffin, who posted his first triple-double of the season. Dallas was able to survive Griffin’s performance but it wasn’t easy, as the Mavericks continue to fight with the Warriors, Grizzlies and Suns for those final three spots in the conference. The Mavs, with their barrage of shooters, have one of the best offenses in the league but it’s going to have to be their defense that makes sure they have a position in the postseason. Right now it’s spotty but if they can fix their late-game mistakes, Dallas can do some real damage. The Clippers on the other hand are pretty much locked into the #3 seed, barring anything crazy happening in the final stretch of the season. Right now they’re set to face the Warriors, and man oh man, would that be a juicy first-round match up. At lot left to happen before we get to that point so let’s see what games will affect both conferences as we begin the final week and a half of the season.

Lots and lots of games tonight. In fact, the only teams that aren’t in action tonight are the Spurs and Clippers. But don’t worry because we’re still going to get some great games tonight, some of which have big implications. As stated previously, any game involving two western conference playoffs contenders is a great watch. Especially 6 through 9 because at any time, those teams can switch in a variety of ways. The biggest games among the western teams tonight are the Thunder in Houston and the Suns in Portland, both games should be great. The east isn’t as intense but there’s still a lot to learn from various teams and some shuffling that will happen among the non-Pacer and non-Heat teams. The Raptors are fighting to stay in the 3rd position and what do you know, they’re going up against Indiana tonight. The Pacers need to get back into the form and getting a win over the team one spot beneath them is the right direction. You can also tune into Boston-Philly for tanking reasons. But let’s focus on the Wizards, in New York tonight to take on Moe’s Knicks, who are all of a sudden in the 8th spot in the eastern conference. Washington is trying to move up a spot in the standings while New York is trying to fight off the Hawks and Cavaliers for the final spot in the postseason. Should be a good game and a good Friday of basketball to get the weekend started.