With another week of NBA action in the books, FanSided.com’s Grant Mailhes takes a look at the NBA landscape and hits us with the updated power rankings for the upcoming week.
1 Miami Heat (58-16)
The Heat’s epic win streak was snapped at twenty-seven games but they have clinched the No. 1 Seed in the Eastern Conference. Coach Erik Spoelstra decided to rest stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade against the San Antonio Spurs. Look for Spoelstra to continue to rest his players as the Heat gear up for the playoffs.
2 San Antonio Spurs (55-19)
The Spurs lost a very close game Sunday against the Heat—Without LeBron James & Dwyane Wade– and then followed that with a tough loss against the Grizzlies. Still, San Antonio has the second best record in the NBA but are only one game ahead on the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference’s top spot.
3 Oklahoma City Thunder (54-20)
It still remains to be seen if the Thunder will make it back to the Finals without James Harden. However, they are only one game back of the West-leading Spurs. The Thunder have a tough 5 game stretch with games vs. the Spurs, Pacers, Knicks, Jazz and Warriors.
4 Denver Nuggets (50-24)
The Nuggets are currently sitting uncomfortably in the third sport of the Western Conference standings. They are more concerned about Ty Lawson’s health, who is sidelined with a plantar fascia tear in his right heel.
5 Memphis Grizzlies (50-24)
Marc Gasol returned earlier than expected which is great news for Memphis fans. The Grizzlies picked up a significant win against the Spurs Monday night. They are still fighting the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets for the third seed in the West.
6 Indiana Pacers (48-27)
Roy Hibbert has finally started to play like the Pacers expect him to. He needs to stay consistent if the Pacers are going to secure the No. 2 seed in the East and make some noise in the playoffs. It remains to be seen if Danny Granger’s season-ending knee surgery will help or hurt the Pacers in the post season.
7 New York Knicks (47-26)
The red-hot Knicks have won a season-high nine straight games with their win against the Miami Heat Tuesday night. Even though it was against the Heat without stars LeBron James & Dwyane Wade, the Knicks have shown they can beat the Heat on the road. They are the only team in the NBA to beat the defending champs twice in Miami.
8 Los Angeles Clippers (49-26)
The Clippers remain in the top ten but are struggling recently losing four out of their last five games. Since the Clippers started the season 32-9, they are just 17-17 since. The Clippers must get out of the first round or Head Coach Vinny Del Negro could be in jeopardy of losing his job.
9 Houston Rockets (41-32)
Just how dangerous is this team, you ask? Well, they embarrassed the Clippers Saturday without All-Star James Harden by seventeen points. This team is deep and dangerous. Don’t sleep on them in the playoffs.
10 Golden State Warriors (42-32)
The Warriors, like the Rockets, are a dangerous team to face. If they are shooting the ball well, they are one of the toughest teams to beat especially at Oracle Arena. Stephen Curry must stay healthy if this team has any chance of pulling off an upset in the playoffs.
11 Brooklyn Nets (42-31)
Brooklyn was making a run at the Atlantic division lead but the Knicks have basically run away with it. It’s looking more and more likely that Brooklyn will have a date with the Heat if they get past the first round of the playoffs.
12 Atlanta Hawks (42-33)
Head Coach Larry Drew deserves a lot of credit for the Hawks’ success this season. They are currently one game back of the Nets for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Al Horford has blossomed into a legit first option, which has helped the Hawks stay afloat as a top four team in the Eastern Conference.
13 Chicago Bulls (40-33)
The Bulls upset the mighty Heat and ended their twenty-seven game winning streak last week. However, they’ve rebounded from that huge win with losses in two of their last three games. The question still remains: Will Derrick Rose return this season?
14 Utah Jazz (39-36)
As of today, the Jazz sit alone as the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They also hold the tiebreaker over the Lakers as well. Utah looked like a sinking ship but have won their last five games. Can they hold on?
15 Los Angeles Lakers (39-36)
It would be a complete disappointment if the Lakers somehow missed the NBA Playoffs. Out of the Lakers last seven games of the regular season; five of those are against playoff-bound teams (Grizzlies, Clippers, Warriors, Spurs, & Rockets).
16 Boston Celtics (38-36)
As the Celtics try and get healthy for the playoffs, they find themselves fending off the Bucks for the seventh seed in the East. At this point of the season, health is more important for Boston.
17 Dallas Mavericks (36-38)
Dallas was blown out Tuesday night against the Lakers, 101-81, which puts Dallas two and a half games back of the Jazz & Lakers.
18 Washington Wizards (28-46)
The Wizards grabbed another quality win against the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night. Since John Wall has come back from injury, the Wizards have notched wins against playoff-bound teams including the Grizzlies, Nuggets, Nets, and Clippers to name a few.
19 Milwaukee Bucks (36-37)
The Bucks are doing everything in their power to avoid facing the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The Bucks are only a game and half behind the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings.
20 Philadelphia 76ers (30-43)
The 76ers have had a disappointing season after their success in last year’s playoffs. Some are wondering if head coach Doug Collins will be leading the team next year.
21 Portland Trail Blazers (33-41)
Portland was fighting for the final playoff spot in the West but after losing five straight games, that feat seem unlikely.
22 Minnesota Timberwolves (27-46)
Injuries have plagued the T’Wolves all season long. Whoever they land in the lottery could help this team make the playoffs next season.
23 Sacramento Kings (27-47)
Will they stay in Sacramento or will Seattle be granted a new franchise? Time will tell.
24 New Orleans Hornets (26-48)
New Orleans must find a big man to compliment No. 1 pick Anthony Davis next season.
25 Toronto Raptors (27-47)
Toronto has lost eight of ten and has seen the Wizards pass by them in the standings. What worse is Oklahoma City has Toronto’s lottery pick this June.
26 Detroit Pistons (25-50)
Andre Drummond looks like he has all the ingredients to become a star but there are questions if Greg Monroe has already reached his potential.
27 Phoenix Suns (23-51)
Phoenix is rebuilding and will continue to do so this off-season.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-51)
Cleveland has lost nine straight and will try and add more pieces to entice LeBron to return to the Cavaliers in 2014.
29. Orlando Magic (19-56)
The Magic might have the second worst record in the league, but Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, & Tobias Harris will be an enticing core to work with.
30 Charlotte Bobcats (17-57)
The only thing Charlotte is good at is losing.