Apr 7, 2012, 8:30 AM EDT
It’s kind of been a foregone conclusion since a month into the season that the Thunder would be the top seed in the West and that all roads to the finals were going through Oklahoma City.
But that road may have a detour now through San Antonio.
The Spurs have now won 10 in a row and you combine that with the Thunder’s three-game losing streak and you have two teams tied on top of the Western Conference. But the Spurs are a game ahead in the loss column (and have played two fewer games, they have 13 remaining.
If the teams keep playing as they have the past couple weeks the Spurs will win West — while San Antonio is playing better than anyone the Thunder are stumbling. But the Thunder have an advantage in the schedule.
The Thunder have 11 games left but only four are against likely playoff teams (two against the Clippers). Of their 13 games the Spurs have six against likely playoff teams, including three against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Of course, the Spurs were the top seed last year and got bounced in the first round by the Grizzlies (the team once again nobody in the West wants to face in the first round). I still think they could struggle against a team like that or the Lakers that gets a lot of its scoring out of its front line. However, Tiago Splitter is playing well this year and could prove me wrong.
These Spurs are younger, deeper and have been getting amazing play all season from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — things they didn’t get last year. Younger role players like Gary Neal and Danny Green are stepping up. Plus “old man” Tim Duncan has averaged a double-double (16 and 10) over the last 10 games. They have been getting those wins while still resting guys, also. Finally, they can play on the road — this is an NBA record 15th consecutive year the Spurs will have had a winning record on the road. If they have home court throughout you have to mention them with the other contenders in the NBA.