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A summary of NBA games on 3/18/19 that impacted the Spurs’ playoff chances.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder losing to the Miami Heat, the San Antonio Spurs had a golden opportunity to move to 5th in the Western Conference by defeating the Golden State Warriors. On the flip side, a loss would have dropped them to 7th. The West is that volatile this season. The Spurs were up to the challenge; defeating the Warriors 111-105.
The Utah Jazz continued their hot streak, easily defeating the Washington Wizards. They have now won four straight games, and had a chance to move up to 6th in the West had the Spurs lost to the Warriors. The Spurs did not oblige, and as a result, the Jazz ended Monday night 7th in the West.
With the Spurs defeating the Warriors, the Denver Nuggets’ win over the Boston Celtics moved them into a tie with the Warriors for 1st in the West. The Warriors currently hold the tiebreaker via their head-to-head record, but the Nuggets will play the Warriors late in the season with the opportunity to tie up the season series.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were without Russell Westbrook in this one, as he was serving a one-game suspension due to reaching the regular season technical foul limit. Maybe the rest will do him some good in the long run, but in the short term, the Thunder continued their slide down the Western Conference Standings and are now 6th in the West.
The Spurs once again showed how tough they are at home. I have been advocating for them to end up in 7th, but I’m starting to sing a different tune. I’m buying what the Spurs are selling, and I’m now all for them continuing their upward trend in the West. There’s not even a guarantee at this point that the Warriors end up 1st in the West, so there’s no real point in trying to hit a moving target.
The Portland Trail Blazers were without C.J. McCollum against the Indiana Pacers, as will be out of the lineup for at least a week after suffering a knee injury against the Spurs. A strong second half pushed the Blazers past the Pacers, moving them to within a game of the Houston Rockets for 3rd in the West.
I will be updating the table above as things change throughout the season.
There are a total of 28 different two-team tiebreaker combinations between the eight teams in the West fighting for playoff position. Out of those 28 combinations, 17 have already been decided and 11 have yet to be determined. Details of those 11 are below.
My response to anybody who ever asks me which team I’m rooting for in a game involving the Rockets is “not the Rockets.” This is even more true over this final stretch of basketball, where the Spurs are making one last push to improve their playoff positioning.
Though it pains me so, I must root for the Warriors the rest of the regular season. If they are able to overtake the Raptors in overall record, it would move the Raptors’ draft pick from 29th to 28th, which will end up going to the Spurs. Maybe that slight increase in draft value isn’t worth rooting for the Warriors. I’ll let each of you decide for yourselves.
I don’t want the Spurs to end up falling to 8th place. I can live with anything else, but falling to 8th place would be less-than-ideal. The Warriors and Nuggets are now tied for 1st in the West, but the Nuggets have an extremely difficult remaining schedule, so I still believe the Warriors end up 1st in the West. Yes, the Spurs just proved they can beat the Warriors at home, but I don’t think they can beat them on the road. I think they have a fighting chance with any other team in the West.
The Jazz own the tiebreaker against the Spurs and have the easiest remaining schedule of all playoff teams. That leaves the Clippers as the most-likely buffer between the Spurs and the final playoff spot in the West. Yeah yeah, I know. If the Spurs keep winning it won’t matter. While you’re out there being rational, I’m going to continue irrationally hoping the Clippers start losing games.
The Clippers have been home cooking for what feels like all of 2019. In reality, they are in their final game of a six-game home stand. After the Pacers’ game, the Clippers hit the road for four games. Unfortunately, three of those games are against the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, and Minnesota Timberwolves. Nobody loses to the Knicks in New York. Nobody.
Source: Pounding The Rock