Originally posted on recycl3r.com  |  Last updated 3/9/13

For most of the 2012-13 NBA season, the Western Conference playoff picture has been a foregone conclusion. Simply put, there have only been eight teams that looked good enough to make the playoffs, and maybe two of those looked like they had a shot at a title. As we come down the stretch of the season, however, we’re starting to see some movement in the ranks.

First and foremost, the Los Angeles Lakers are starting to figure things out. It helps that Kobe Bryant is back in MVP form, but the rest of the team is playing better around him and the Lakers are looking to claw their way above .500 for the first time since early in the season. Tonight, the Lakers host the Toronto Raptors, who have won just four of their last 10 games, then get a visit from the struggling Chicago Bulls before hitting the road for three games starting in Orlando with the lottery-bound Magic. If the Lakers pull off three wins in a row, they could very well be in the playoff picture when they land in Atlanta next Wednesday.

While the Lakers have been playing better, the reality is that the only reason they are poised to get at least a share of the West’s eighth seed is because the Utah Jazz are completely falling apart. It’s not unexpected, either. The Jazz needed to make a deal at last month’s trade deadline that would clear up their front court logjam and add much-needed depth at other positions, but instead chose to stand pat. It also doesn’t help that head coach Ty Corbin promo bonus 100% sbobet ibcbet dan casino online dalam rangka hut bavetline yang kedua. Their last three losses have been by three points or fewer, including Wednesday night’s 107-110 loss to the 21-40 Cleveland Cavaliers. The Jazz enter tonight’s game in Chicago with a 10-21 road record, and a loss could very well leave them just a half-game ahead of the Lakers in the race for the eighth seed.

Meanwhile, at the top of the conference, the San Antonio Spurs were expected to at least stumble with Tony Parker sidelined by an ankle injury, but instead they have continued to push forward. The Spurs have won three straight in convincing fashion with Cory Joseph taking the reins from Parker and are still the NBA’s best team at 48-14 on the season. There’s a big test coming at the end of the month when the Spurs take on the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami HEAT and Memphis Grizzlies in consecutive games, but so far the Spurs have shrugged off all other challenges. Why not that one, too?

Finally, as we discuss the contenders from the West, a field that has really only included the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Spurs for the most part may be expanding a bit. The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the hottest teams in the league since the All-Star break, and seem to be greatly enhanced with consummate teammate Tayshaun Prince in place of Rudy Gay at small forward. Even more impressive, though, has been the squad from Denver. The Denver Nuggets have been overlooked for much of the season despite the fact that they survived a road schedule that was just brutal over the first three months of the season. Sooner or later the schedule evens out, and when the Nuggets finally got home in January they embarked on an impressive run of their own. Denver is currently tied with Miami for the best home record in the NBA at 27-3, and have knocked off the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers during their current seven-game winning streak. Ignore the Nuggets at your peril.

There may not have been much drama in the Western Conference standings to this point, but heading into a busy 12-game night in the NBA tonight things could get very interesting… very interesting, indeed.

Read more at Recycler
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Notre Dame DT: Committee 'spit in our faces' with ranking

LaRon Landry suspended indefinitely by NFL

Don’t blame Mike Pettine for benching Johnny Manziel. Blame Johnny.

Danny Ainge: Celtics’ Marcus Smart has shown ‘propensity to get injured’

Ravens claim Jimmy Clausen off waivers, send Joe Flacco to IR

Report: Signs point to Chip Kelly, Eagles parting ways after season


Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

ACC schools find themselves in major financial trouble


New York Rangers are the richest team in the NHL

Magic laments potential record setting in Warriors vs. Lakers

Jets waive former first-round pick Quinton Coples

Report: Maple Leafs are no longer the NHL’s most valuable franchise

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Did a Chipotle employee convince Danny Ainge to trade for Isaiah Thomas?

Bud Black joins Angels organization as special assistant to GM

Ben Simmons, Henry Ellenson excelled in freshman vs. freshman battle

Maximizing the Bucks

Holly Holm asked Beyonce who she was

Florida, Florida State kick off college football rivalry week

Which goalies are pulling ahead for the Vezina Trophy?

2015-16 UEFA Champions League roundup: Matchday 5, Pt. 1

Who has the edge: comparing current College Football Playoff outsiders

Rex Ryan on interference penalty: Would Bill Belichick have been flagged?

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

Mike Trout, four years in

Tom Brady on ‘Rex Ryan!’ line call: It’s ‘in the playbook’

Five NFL teams trending downward

Not so fast, USC: Eagles Chip Kelly buys Philly-area home

The five best hockey fights from Week 7

Bart Starr doesn’t remember Green Bay Packers career

WATCH: Did Mike Ditka really fart again?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker