With three weeks left in the regular season, the number of true contenders stands at eight in the NBA G League’s Western Conference. A couple crucial streaks have put the picture more in focus.

Austin Spurs* (27-16):

Two huge home wins this week for the Austin Spurs put them at the top of the conference. Second half superiority was the difference to beat Rio Grande Valley on Friday. That performance carried over into a 46-point first quarter barrage to beat Fort Wayne. Two more playoff contenders are coming to Austin this week as Reno arrives on Friday and Sioux Falls Saturday to H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.

South Bay Lakers* (26-17):

Home cooking wasn’t enough as South Bay went 1-2 over the past week to slip to second in the conference. A win by 9 over Memphis on Wednesday gave way to setbacks delivered by a couple determined teams that are either in or on the cusp of the playoffs in Reno and the Oklahoma City Blue. Later this week there’s one more home game with RGV on Saturday then at Northern Arizona on Sunday.

Reno Bighorns (24-17):

Here’s what one good week will do. From one and a half games ahead of the final playoff spot to the number three seed and one game back of the Lakers. Now 3-1 during their current six-game road trip, it’s Friday at Austin and Saturday at Texas.

Rio Grande Valley (24-18):

The trend in the league this season is that streaks come and go. Though not being able to stretch a win streak to five with the aforementioned loss to Austin, the week ahead isn’t exactly a joyride. Fort Wayne gets one more Texas swing in Hidalgo on Tuesday before the Vipers ride west for a Thursday game at the Clippers then Saturday at South Bay.

Texas Legends (24-18):

Though likely not in the division race, the Legends are solidly within the confines of playoff contention. Their road triumph in Sioux Falls swept the season series and puts them within reach of the three seed. A crucial week lies ahead with three tough matchups. First Wednesday with Fort Wayne who will be playing their third straight game in the Lone Star state, then Friday at Oklahoma City and back one night later to host Reno.

Sioux Falls Skyforce* (23-19):

On Monday, the ‘Force won their sixth straight game then lost two of the next three to shrink their division lead to a half game. However it’s possible to say a few timely buckets against either the Blue or the Legends could have extended the string of victories. The schedule will be light on games, but their importance will cast quite a shadow with Santa Cruz at home Tuesday then at Austin on Saturday.

Oklahoma City Blue (23-20):

Good Oklahoma City showed up this week to claim honors in all three of their games last week. Fighting off their division rival Sioux Falls at home mushroomed into two triumphs in Cali. If the Blue win all three games this week they can do no worse than a tie for the division lead. They are all at home with Lakeland on Wednesday, Texas on Friday and Iowa on Saturday.

Santa Cruz Warriors (21-21):

Reno’s resurgence has increased the urgency of this week’s games for the Warriors. Only eight games left and the playoff deficit grew by a game with .500 performance last week. They don’t HAVE to win them all, but why take chances? The odyssey begins Tuesday at Sioux Falls then Saturday at Memphis. Plus there’s the contested finish game against Iowa on the final weekend which still means something for now.

Northern Arizona Suns (20-23):

Here’s what one bad week will do. Four straight losses including two to the team that was just ahead of them in the standings has ended almost any effort to reach the post season for the Suns. These are must wins at Salt Lake City Friday and home to South Bay on Sunday.

Eastern Conference Briefly:

1. Westchester Knicks* 28-14

2. Raptors 905 26-17

3. Fort Wayne Mad Ants* 25-16

4. Erie BayHawks* 24-19

5. Long Island Nets 23-19

6. Grand Rapids Drive 22-20

7. Lakeland Magic 20-21

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