NBA Power Rankings: Spurs, Heat, Thunder battle at top

LeBron James and the Heat are running away with the East ... but they aren't ready to assume the No. 1 spot in our weekly rankings.
LeBron James and the Heat are running away with the East … but they aren’t ready to assume the No. 1 spot in our weekly rankings.

Records through Feb. 24:

1. San Antonio Spurs (45-13, previous No. 1) – The Spurs finished their nine-game road trip with a 7-2 record, and continue to win games despite fighting the injury bug. Health seems to be the only roadblock for this team come postseason.

2. Miami Heat (40-14, previous No. 3) – Eleven wins in a row, seven of which have come by double-digits. Is that good? Not for the rest of the NBA. The Heat are pulling away from the East with relative ease.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (41-15, previous No. 2) – A 30-point beat-down of the Bulls is comforting. Not comforting? Signing Derek Fisher a few hours later. Do they really need him?

4. Los Angeles Clippers (40-18, previous No. 4) – Would Kevin Garnett put them over the top? We’ll never know. But the Clippers still have as good of a chance as any team to win a title.

5. Memphis Grizzlies (37-18 previous No. 6) – It’s not the strongest seven-game winning streak around (two wins over playoff contenders), but it’s a streak nonetheless. Still, it’s hard to include them with the elite right now.

6. Indiana Pacers (35-21, previous No. 8) – The Pacers are the team keeping somewhat of a “pace” with the Heat over the last 11 games, going 9-2 in that span. And they just got Danny Granger back. Fun times.

7. Denver Nuggets (35-22, previous No. 5) – Can we just bottle up everything about Kenneth Faried and give it to every NBA player? It would make for some pretty intense and amazing games.

8. Golden State Warriors (33-23, previous No. 9) – It looked like the wheels fell off for the Warriors after six straight losses. But a comeback, overtime win over the Spurs on Friday has them living up to their team name.

9. Brooklyn Nets (33-24, previous No. 11) – Went into and out of the break strong – two wins each – but have since lost to the Rockets and Griz. Joe Johnson can only hit so many game-winners, ya know?

10. Chicago Bulls (32-24, previous No. 7) – Sunday’s loss to the Thunder was ugly. Here’s some salt for that wound: According to Elias, it was Chicago’s eighth-straight game in which none of its players scored more than 20 points, the longest such streak in franchise history.

11. New York Knicks (33-20, previous No. 10) – The Knicks have just one win against a playoff team (the Bucks) in February. They are fading, and fading fast. Is anybody that surprised?

12. Atlanta Hawks (31-23, previous No. 13) – It almost seemed like a guarantee that Josh Smith would say buh-bye to ATL at the deadline. Instead, it’s a guarantee that the Smith-led Hawks are first or second round playoff exits.

13. Houston Rockets (31-27, previous No. 14) – With the position Houston has put itself in since last offseason, it’s easy to picture the Rockets as a top dog in the West next season. Not this season though.

14. Boston Celtics (29-27, previous No. 12) – Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will live to see another full season in Green. That may have not been the case if it was a seller’s market at the deadline.

15. Utah Jazz (31-25, previous No. 16) – The Jazz have both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap ready to hit free agency. They aren’t good enough with them, can’t re-sign both, but didn’t trade either. Figure that one out.

16. Milwaukee Bucks (26-28, previous No. 15) – A round of applause for the Bucks who tried as hard as possible to land Josh Smith. Now, a moment of silence.

17. Los Angeles Lakers (28-29, previous No. 19) – The Lakers are 11-4 in their last 15 games, which can only mean one thing: they’ve finally tuned out Mike D’Antoni.

18. Toronto Raptors (23-33 previous No. – ) – The Raptors are 6-1 over their last seven games, including wins over the Pacers, Nuggets, and Knicks (twice). Playoffs?!

19. Dallas Mavericks (25-30, previous No. 18) – Mark Cuban loves hypotheticals (“Amnesty Kobe”), so here’s one: “Let’s just say the Mavericks make the playoffs this season…”

20. Portland Trail Blazers (26-30, previous No. 17) – The problem with Portland is that they need lots of production from their starters because their bench is extremely weak. No offense, Sasha Pavlovic.



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