July 23, 2014
Spurs crowned best in the West, 76ers reach playoffs
The San Antonio Spurs cemented their position as the Western Conference top seeds for the second year in a row after thrashing the Portland Trail Blazers 124-89.
Tim Duncan and Daniel Green each scored 18 points as the Spurs overwhelmed Portland to finally see off the Oklahoma City Thunder in the race for bragging rights in the West.
The Spurs franchise remains a master of consistency, capturing three NBA titles in five seasons from 2003-07, but the current crop will be hoping to travel deeper into the post-season of a lockout-shortened season than last year's team.
San Antonio was stunned by Memphis in a first-round series defeat a season ago, though this year's Spurs appear far healthier and possess more depth for a playoff run.
"As we showed last year, somebody can sneak up and take you out just as easily (with home-court)," Duncan told reporters.
"We're glad to have it. We will be prepared for our first-round opponent. Hopefully we'll get a much better effort."
Over in the East, the Philadelphia 76ers claimed the final post-season spot in the conference with a 105-87 rout of the New Jersey Nets.
Six players scored in double-figures for the visiting 76ers, who have an identical 34-30 record as the Knicks but are below New York by virtue of the tie-breaker between the teams with two games to play.
Meanwhile, Memphis beat Cleveland 109-101 to move within half a game of the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth spot in the West.
Both teams have two games remaining and are set to face each other in the first round of the playoffs but the Grizzlies could earn home-court advantage if they manage to move ahead of the Clippers by the end of the regular season.