NBA Power Rankings: The playoffs are here!
1. Miami Heat (64-16, previous No. 1) - Well, Dwyane Wade is back, and the Heat look ready for the postseason. They might even consider resting LeBron James and Wade for the entire series with Milwaukee in preparation for an actual challenge.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (59-21, previous No. 2) – Kevin Durant was fined $25,000 for a “menacing gesture” last week, but what he and the Thunder do in the Western Conference should be even more menacing.
3. San Antonio Spurs (58-22, previous No. 4) - The Spurs weathered the storm that was the 2012-13 NBA regular season. But do they have enough left in the tank to go deep into the postseason? It’ll be tough.
4. Memphis Grizzlies (54-26 previous No. 3) - What to make of Memphis’ 91-87 loss to the Clippers over the weekend? One, it could be an opening round playoff preview. Two, it should be a very entertaining one.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (54-26, previous No. 5) - A win over the Griz before the postseason does wonders for L.A.’s confidence. It also helps that it could give them homecourt advantage over them.
6. New York Knicks (53-27, previous No. 6) - The Knicks beat up on the Celtics pretty good in the regular season, but make no mistake: they aren’t thrilled about their opening round matchup.
7. Denver Nuggets (55-25, previous No. 7) - On the day point guard Ty Lawson returned, Kenneth Faried sprained his left ankle. Hopefully it’s not serious, because they’ll need all hands (and ankles) on deck without Danilo Gallinari.
8. Indiana Pacers (49-31, previous No. 8) - Roy Hibbert is playing at a higher level over the second half of the season. The Pacers should be fine against a banged up Bulls team or a Hawks team that lacks an identity.
10. Brooklyn Nets (47-33, previous No. 10) - The team that nobody is talking about could give the Heat more trouble than we all think in the second round. Deron Williams is playing as good as anybody.
9. Houston Rockets (45-35, previous No. 9) - The Rockets are the only Western Conference playoff team with a losing record against Western Conference teams. Beating up on the Eastern Conference won’t help them now.
11. Golden State Warriors (45-35, previous No. 11) - The Warriors seem to be that team that every other team in the Western Conference wants to play. Can they use that as fuel? Or will they just prove all those teams right?
12. Chicago Bulls (43-37, previous No. 12) - It feels more and more like the season of “what could have been” for Chicago. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are banged up now. Derrick Rose doesn’t appear to be suiting up this season, either.
13. Boston Celtics (41-39, previous No. 13) - The Celtics may not have depth on their side. Or age. But one thing they’ve never lacked is confidence, and often times that’s all a team needs.
14. Atlanta Hawks (44-36, previous No. 14) - He seems to go under the radar just about every year, but Al Horford is the type of player every team wants. Can play both power forward and center effectively on both ends.
15. Los Angeles Lakers (44-37, previous No. 15) - It’s an absolute shame that Kobe Bryant is lost for the season after doing everything in his power to get his team into the playoffs. Can Dwight carry them now?
16. Utah Jazz (42-38, previous No. 16) - The Jazz didn’t trade Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap at the deadline, could lose both now, and it’s looking like they’ll miss the postseason. What a season …
17. Milwaukee Bucks (37-43, previous No. 17) - No truth to the rumor that the Bucks are raising a banner with the words “Just Happy to be Here” written on it before the Heat series.
18. Dallas Mavericks (40-40, previous No. 18) - The Dallas Mavericks all finally shaved their beards on Sunday . . . because they reached .500 on the season. Congrats?
19. Philadelphia 76ers (33-47, previous 20) - Reports are that Doug Collins will resign as head coach after the season. Not a big surprise. It was pretty clear that, like everybody else, he had had enough with that team.
20. Toronto Raptors (32-48, previous – ) - All the Raptors are doing now is costing themselves ping pong balls. Should have followed the Trail Blazers lead to end the season (an 11-game losing streak).