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Power Rankings, Week 21: Mind the gap

The Spurs capped an impressive five-game homestand with a Steph-stifling win over the Warriors on Saturday night. How close is the hype-o-thetical gap now between the league's two best teams?

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Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Given their fatigue and shortened roster heading into the second leg of their Texas Two-Step, even Riley Curry herself might have picked against the Warriors in their Saturday night rematch against the Spurs, an 8-point loss which evened the season series at one a piece.

Does that make the Spurs' containing of Steph Curry (4-18 from the field and 1-12 from three) less significant? Does it not suggest the slightest of shifts in how these teams might match up in a playoff series? Does it mean I can't casually enjoy watching this play loop over a pot of green tea?

The Warriors and Spurs have been locked in as the two best teams in the league for some time, but there was a discernible fissure between them that facilitated the inevitability of a Warriors repeat. And while some of that was due to Golden State's record-breaking pace to beat the 95-96 Bulls' win record, much of it was attributed to their crushing the Spurs in Oakland by 30.

Regardless of whether you slot San Antonio into first or second in your imaginary rankings after Saturday night, the consensus gap between the two is slimmer this week, with the Spurs exhibiting a number of qualities that should carry over to the final two matchups in April (and beyond).

But before that they face a couple more tough weeks of play. This one kicked off at a hot Charlotte team and includes tilts against the Heat, Grizzlies and Thunder -- four playoff-bound teams that are trying to close their own gaps in the lead-up to the postseason.

Marc Stein, ESPN (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)

For all the reasons we've listed above and in the Warriors' comment explaining why there isn't in a new No. 1 in these rankings, we also have to admit that the Spurs had us up all night in the Committee of One's hotel room that served as this week's makeshift rankings dungeon, asking ourselves whether this was the right decision. That's how impressive the Spurs were (a) in sweeping that five-game homestand we were marveling at in this cyberspace last Monday because all five visitors showed up at the AT&T Center and (b) because San Antonio controlled the pace of Saturday night's showdown with the Dubs so thoroughly that it ranks as the slowest-paced game Golden State has played all season.

USA Today (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)

San Antonio won its 44th consecutive game at home as Tim Duncan came off the bench for only the third time in his career.

John Schuhmann, (Spurs rank: 1, Last week's rank: 2)

LaMarcus Aldridge is still Mr. Mid-Range, but he has the league's fourth highest field goal percentage in the restricted area (minimum 200 attempts). He's is on pace to take more shots there than he has in five years, and he looked comfortable in the paint against the Warriors. After holding the champs to just 37 points before halftime on Saturday, the Spurs' first-half DefRtg (90.5) is the best since the 2003-04 Spurs (86.6).

David Aldridge, (Spurs rank: N/A, Last week's rank: 2)

Coming soon.

James Herbert, CBS Sports (Spurs rank: 1, Last week's rank: 1)

OK, it's not just the win over the Warriors. The Spurs just swept a five-game homestand, with decisive wins over the Clippers and Blazers preceding the massive statement they made on Saturday. In March, LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 24 points and nine rebounds while shooting 56 percent. No one is playing better than San Antonio right now.

Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated (Spurs rank: 2, Last week's rank: 2)

Beating the Warriors meant more than extending a ridiculous 44-game home win streak. The Spurs should take away postseason confidence despite their opponents being shorthanded—slow the game, make shots and they just might give us the seven-game series everyone wants. Let your imaginations run a bit.

Consensus Track: