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SPORTS: Oklahoma City Thunder

Countdown To The Playoffs: Thunder's Last Chance, Clippers Falling

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1. Spurs (55-18)   ---

2. Thunder (54-20) 1.5

3. Nuggets (50-24) 5.5

4. Grizzlies (49-24) 6

5. Clippers (49-25) 6.5

6. Warriors (42-32) 13.5

7. Rockets (40-33) 15

8. Jazz (38-36) 17.5

------------------------------

9. Lakers (38-36) 17.5

10. Mavs (36-37) 19

We're heading down the stretch of the NBA season. Fewer than 10 games remain as the top 10 teams in the Western Conference vie for position.

With the Spurs coming to town Thursday, it might be the Thunder's last chance to make a push toward the No. 1 seed.  Also, the Clippers are falling, the Jazz are alive, and almost nothing in the West has been settled. 

Every Monday, we'll have an updated look at who's doing what as we count down to the playoffs. Here's what's coming up this week around the Western Conference.

Spurs

Last week: 2-1

This week: @Grizzlies | vs. Magic | @Thunder | vs. Hawks

The shorthanded Spurs put together an impressive 2-1 week against elite competition. They'll have to do some of the same again this week, as trips to Memphis and OKC will be tough without Manu Ginobili.

Thunder

Last week: 2-1

This week: vs. Spurs | @Pacers | vs. Knicks

It was another solid week for the Thunder, but solid just won't cut it if they want to hunt down that one seed. Losses like the one in Minnesota are wasted golden opportunities to make up ground. OKC now rests until Thursday, when the Spurs roll into town for the biggest game of the season. If Oklahoma City wants the No. 1 seed, this is a must-win.

Nuggets

Last week: 1-2

This week: @Jazz | vs. Dallas | vs. Houston

The Nuggets' 15-game winning streak came crashing down with back-to-back losses last week. But Denver recovered with a win over Brooklyn and appears to be in a nice spot in pursuit of the No. 3 seed.

Grizzlies

Last week: 2-2

This week: vs. Spurs | @Blazers | @Lakers | @Kings

Rough week ahead for Memphis, but if the Grizz can beat San Antonio Monday night, it might give them an energy boost heading into their road trip. The three-team for the two home-court spots will surely head right down to the wire.

Clippers

Last week: 1-3

This week: @Mavs | @Hornets | @Spurs | @Rockets

Unless the Clippers can turn this around, they'll be starting their first-round playoff series on the road. LA slipped to the No. 4 spot last week and now sits in fifth. While the gap between them and Denver is just one game, the Clips are trending in the wrong direction and the schedule doesn't get any easier. Four road games this week, three against strong opponents, is not what LA fans want to see right now.

Warriors

Last week: 2-1

This week: vs. Hornets | @Suns | vs. Jazz

Golden State recovered nicely from its February slump (lost 12 of 17) and is now in good shape to claim the No. 6 seed. A cushy schedule this week should only help the Warriors' cause as they look to hold off Houston and avoid slipping into the dreaded seventh or eighth spots.

Rockets

Last week: 1-2

This week: vs. Magic | @Kings | @Blazers | @Nuggets

Just like the Warriors, Houston appears nestled into its current playoff position and is unlikely to move. With a couple games separating them from either jumping to the sixth spot or slipping to the eighth, the Rockets look like they'll need to start preparing for a date with either San Antonio or Oklahoma City. For the sake of great storylines, let's hope it's the Thunder.

Jazz

Last week: 4-0

This week: vs. Blazers | vs. Nuggets | vs. Hornets | @Warriors

Remember what I said last week about the Jazz being two games back so making them still making playoffs wasn't out of the realm of possibility? I was just trying to be kind, but they took it literally. After losing 12 of 15 and looking like a high school team in half those contests, Utah stormed back with a 4-0 week to jump right back in the fray. Three home games this week should help them keep up the momentum.

Lakers

Last week: 2-2

This week: vs. Mavericks | vs. Grizzlies | @Clippers

Three games this week for LA and all are rough. The good news is, two are home games and the other also takes place in the Staples Center. With the Jazz' sudden resurgence and the Mavericks in hot pursuit, it's time for the Lakers to put up or shut up.

Mavericks

Last week: 3-1

This week: @Lakers| @Nuggets | @Kings | @Blazers

Dirk Nowitzki's buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat Chicago had that "we're here to stay" feel to it. Dallas is clearly all-in, but the road ahead is rough. The winner of Tuesday's game against the Lakers might emerge as the favorite to snag the eighth seed.

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