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Mavericks hold on in Western Conference standings as Utah and Portland both handed losses

Some losses last night could play out in Dallas's favor.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we're past the All-Star Break, the playoffs loom large. Games mean more, and every day fans check the standings to see how last night's games altered the playoff picture. So where do the Mavs fit into the picture currently?

Dallas is sitting at the 6 seed right now, right where they've been (more or less) for the past couple of months. But last night saw a few key West teams lose in ways that certainly favor the Mavs. Let's start with the upstart Portland Trail Blazers, who had somehow blazed a trail right past Dallas in the standings until the Mavs reeled off 3 straight against some bad teams. Portland got beaten up a bit by Jae Crowder and the Celtics last night, and the Blazers are now a half game behind Dallas in the standings.

Utah also lost last night, to the surging Raptors. That loss, combined with a Houston win over New Orleans, keeps Houston just slightly ahead of Utah for the 8 seed by a game and a half. Yeaaahhh, that's right--only 4.5 games separate the 6 seed and the 9 seed. Hold onto your butts.

Here's the bad news: Grizzlies keep winning somehow. You know, the team whose best player is gone for the season. The same team that features such upstanding locker room guys as Lance Stephenson, Matt Barnes, and Mario Chalmers. That team. Is 3.5 games up on Dallas for the five seed. Yeah.

But hey, there is a silver lining. Despite looking like the only team that might legitimately challenge the Warriors, Oklahoma City still keeps finding ways to give up silly losses. They did so last night, and are now only 2.5 games up on the Clippers. Oh, and did I mention that the Thunder play the Dubs again tonight, in Oakland. Soooo that lead over LA could be even smaller tomorrow. It seems absurd to think the Clips could pass the Thunder for the 3 seed, but if they did, we might get that Clippers-Mavericks matchup we all crave, even if Memphis doesn't inevitably implode.