The NBA playoff picture continues to take shape with most teams having fewer than 15 games remaining this season.
The Houston Rockets, after starting the season poorly, have worked their way back to the top three in the west. The Utah Jazz are projected by FiveThirtyEight to win 15 of their remaining 16 games but have since slid down the standings and find themselves dangerously close of falling out of the playoffs.
The LA Clippers traded away their best player at the trade deadline but have managed to play fantastic team basketball and actually move up in the standings.
Former Longhorn Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors seem to be bored with the regular season, having dropped a game against the lowly Phoenix Suns at home. Tristan Thompson is still out. Jarrett Allen and the Brooklyn Nets are struggling to move in the Eastern Conference standings. Let’s take a closer look at how some other former Longhorns are performing around the league:
After a rough stretch of games leading into the All-Star break, the San Antonio Spurs have recovered in a big way. The Spurs have the second-longest winning streak in the NBA, winning six in a row. In that streak, the Spurs have picked up victories against many strong teams, like the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Denver Nuggets and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Former Longhorn LaMarcus Aldridge has been a big part, if not the central part, of the Spurs streak. Aldridge has averaged a staggering 27 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 55.9 percent from the field, 50 percent from three and 90 percent from the free throw line during the past six games.
The Spurs were incredibly close to missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1996-1997 NBA season. However, the current win streak has pushed the Spurs away from the edge and into the sixth seed. They sit only 2.5 games behind the fifth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, a team they still play once more this season.
The Spurs will look to continue their current win streak with a home game against the New York Knicks on Friday evening.
The Orlando Magic, after missing the playoffs every season since the departure of Dwight Howard in 2012, find themselves one game out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
In their last 10 games, the Magic have recorded wins against both the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors but also have losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Cleveland Cavaliers. That level of inconsistency is why the Magic still find themselves on the outside of the playoff seeding.
However, one player who cannot be blamed or credited for their successes or failures is former Texas bigman Mohamed Bamba.
Bamba has missed the last 16 games after suffering a stress fracture to his tibia. Bamba wasn’t having an outstanding season, averaging a mere 6.2 points and five rebounds per game before succumbing to injury. Still, Bamba offered the Magic some depth at the center position behind their All-Star center, Nikola Vucevic. The Magic would love to have Bamba back as the season nears its end but Bamba remains out indefinitely with his injury.