There are few chances left for Western Conference teams to make big statements and get the playoff spots they want. Here are three really big games in the West this week (and weekend).
NBA Basketball: San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder – Thursday
The San Antonio Spurs have been the best team in the NBA over the past month. They so desperately want to win one more championship before their core group of aging stars rides into the sunset. Oklahoma City could very well be the main challenger for the Spurs on the road to the NBA Finals, so this late-season game in Oklahoma City stands out as a challenge and an opportunity for both teams. Oklahoma City had success earlier in the season when these two teams met, but San Antonio is a different team right now.
NBA Basketball: Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets – Friday
The Thunder have to turn around quickly after playing San Antonio. They must to go Houston to take on the Rockets, who are currently fourth in the West and are on the tail of the Los Angeles Clippers for third. How much energy will Oklahoma City have after playing one of the bigger games of its stretch run in the regular season? Can the Thunder play defense at the level they need against Houston, which has a great inside-outside game thanks to the tandem of James Harden and Dwight Howard?
NBA Basketball: Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs – Sunday
The Grizzlies are part of the three-way chase for the final two playoff spots in the West. The Grizzlies are half a game behind Dallas and Phoenix for the seventh and eighth spots. They are right there with a chance to get in the postseason, but they are competing with two teams that aren’t giving much ground. San Antonio, having played Oklahoma City on Thursday, might be coming off a loss. It will be interesting to see how the Spurs attack this game.