Kevin Durant out 1-2 more weeks as the West gets more interesting

By John Ferensen

The race for the eighth seed in the Western Conference gets more interesting by the day. First, let’s talk about the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have managed to hold onto the final playoff spot without the services of Kevin Durant, who has missed the last nine games due to complications from foot surgery earlier this season. Durant was re-evaluated on Wednesday and will be out another 1-2 weeks.

That’s the bad news — well, some of the bad news. How about some good news (before we get to the rest of the bad): seven of the Thunder’s next eight games are at home, and, in case you missed it, Russell Westbrook has been on a tear as of late.

Now, for the rest of that bad news: despite Westbrook’s historic run, the Thunder haven’t managed to break free of the pesky New Orleans Pelicans. After a 7-game winning streak to snag the eighth seed, the Pels responded with a 9-2 run in their last ten games, including a 6-1 record without Anthony Davis. The Thunder are just 3-3 since the start of Westbrook’s triple-double run, while Davis is tossing up epic double-doubles.

In fact, after Tuesday night’s win over the Brooklyn Nets, the Pels moved into a virtual tie for the eighth seed, and only trail OKC due to winning percentage. The thing to remember here is that (bad news alert!) — thanks to a ridiculous game-winning buzzer-beater three-pointer by Davis — the Pels own the tie breaker (3-1) over the Thunder. Should both teams finish the season with the same record, OKC is the odd man out. While nobody trusts Monty Williams to coach his way out of a paper bag, the Pels don’t appear to be going away, and should make for an interesting final stretch.

Meanwhile, a third team to keep an eye on right now is the Dallas Mavericks, who could find themselves in an unexpected race for either a seventh or eighth seed. The Mavs are in a slump, having lost five of their last seven games. A 4.5-game lead is tough to overcome in such a short amount of time, but their brutal final schedule won’t do them any favors.

Source: MSN Sports

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