Liotta: Only Celtics dent West's dominance

While it is obvious that West is best, the NBA Finals may not be in as much trouble as it might look.

Whatthe NBA’s Western Conference has been doing to its Eastern counterpart so far this season has been almost unfair. The nine teams competing for the eight Western Conference playoff spots are a combined 174-75 against the East.

Yet, on Thursday, overshadowed by NCAA basketball games seemingly everywhere, the Boston Celtics completed a season sweep of the West’s three Texas teams — the Celts are 6-0 vs. Dallas, San Antonio and Houston this year. One of those three matchups might actually have an outcome that might be in doubt.

Otherwise, what is going on in the West is reaching a once-in-a-lifetime level of dominance. For the Warriors to even be looking over their collective shoulders while boasting a 42-26 record is unthinkable.If you had told Don Nelson his team would be on pace to win 51 games this season, he’d have thought his playoff spot would have been cemented.

Meanwhile, over in the East, the New Jersey Nets and Atlanta Hawks are tied for the eighth and final playoff spots with their less-than-spectacular 29-39 records entering Friday’s games.

There is going to be one good Western Conference team pretty ticked off when this season is over. If the season were to have ended Thursday, the Denver Nuggets would be on the outside looking in, despite a 40-28 record that is better than four teams that are playoff-bound in the East.

The West is so stacked at this point that somebody has to be talking up the possibility of seeding the NBA playoffs like the NCAA Tournament format, with the four best teams spread in such a way that they won’t meet until the semifinals.

However, since that isn’t the case, the Western Conference playoffs figure to be the best six weeks of basketball of the year — and nobody is looking forward to playing the Warriors right out of the box.

Random thoughts:

I think this is a preseason moment of definition for the 2008 San Francisco Giants. Rich Aurilia, who hasn’t been a regular major-league starter for a couple of years now, is the team’s leading candidate at TWO positions. Third base AND first base.

Fussing over an up-and-coming player who is coveted by five or six major-league teams is one thing. Fussing over a really nice guy who really hasn’t been able to win a starting job on a sub-.500 team since George W. Bush’s first term is another.

Nothing against Aurilia, who has worn a Giants uniform long enough to deserve the respect of a lifer, but this is one of those light-bulb moments. The kind that comes up every spring for that really bad baseball team.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner.

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