NBA Power Rankings: Time for Heat to start a new streak?

Time for LeBron and the Heat to start a new streak?
Time for LeBron and the Heat to start a new streak?

1. Miami Heat (58-15, previous No. 1) – The streak is snapped, which could be a good thing in the long run. After all, it allowed the heat to sit LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers vs. the Spurs . . . and still win.

2. Denver Nuggets (50-24, previous No. 2) – There’s a three-team race for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, and the Nuggets are just barely ahead of the Grizzlies and Clippers. They kill teams at home, so that’s big.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (54-20, previous No. 3) – Four days off for the No. 2-seeded Thunder before a big game on Thursday against the No. 1-seeded Spurs. This top seed is still up for grabs, unlike in the East. OKC should win this one at home.

4. Memphis Grizzlies (49-24 previous No. 6) - Grizzlies-Clippers in the first round of the playoffs would be appointment television … Assuming it’s not played on Sunday nights around 9 p.m.. Tyrion Lannister would NOT be happy.

5. San Antonio Spurs (55-18, previous No. 5) - Here’s some not-so-shocking news: Another key member of the Spurs is out again. Manu Ginobili is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a right hamstring strain. No bueno, Los Spurs.

6. Los Angeles Clippers (49-25, previous No. 4) – The Clippers lost to the Rockets by 17 without James Harden. I don’t know about you, but they’re just too streaky to trust in the postseason. I’ll take the other coach over Vinny Del Negro.

7. Indiana Pacers (47-27, previous No. 7) - The Pacers went into Monday’s game in L.A. against the Clippers winners of three road games in a row. That’s a great sign for a team that’s had trouble away from home.

8. Houston Rockets (40-33, previous No. 8) - The Rockets could go into the postseason with some serious momentum. Seven of their final nine games are against current non-playoff teams. But teams that have beaten up on them await there.

9. New York Knicks (46-26, previous No. 12) – And just like that, the Knicks are winners of eight in a row. They’re doing it without Tyson Chandler too, which is more impressive. If it’s Celtics-Knicks in Round 1, Boston 100 percent needs Kevin Garnett – we know that.

 10. Brooklyn Nets (42-31, previous No. 10) - Brooklyn will finish off its massive eight-game road trip in Cleveland on Wednesday with a chance to go 5-3 on the trip. Reggie Williams averaged 15.5 rebounds per game in March. Not bad.

11. Golden State Warriors (42-32, previous No. 11) - The Warriors have been fun to watch at times this year – on offense anyways – but the Nuggets would literally eat them up and spit them out in a first round matchup.

12. Chicago Bulls (40-33, previous No. 15) – Derrick Rose is waiting for a sign from God to let him know he’s ready to play. Well, what if God isn’t a Bulls fan? Ever think of that, Derrick?

13. Atlanta Hawks (41-33, previous No. 9) – Credit the Hawks for being in the position that they’re in, but they aren’t deep enough or mentally tough enough to do damage in the postseason. Josh Smith, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.

14. Boston Celtics (38-35, previous No. 13) – We don’t have a point guard … we don’t have a center… our pets heads are falling off! Boston needs to get right before the playoffs, or they’ll be watching them on TV like the rest of us. Except on nicer TVs.

15. Los Angeles Lakers (38-36, previous No. 14)
– You can’t help but think that if the Lakers just get to the playoffs, they could make things interesting. But can they get there before they all kill each other?

16. Milwaukee Bucks (35-37, previous No. 16) - The Bucks are going to need to get in touch with Ryan Braun’s people – and fast – if they want a shot at competing with the Heat. And that’s not a knock on them.

17. Utah Jazz (36-37, previous No. 18)
– Four straight wins for the Jazz heading into Monday night. They’re hanging onto that eight seed for dear life. It’s almost like they don’t know they’ll have to play four games against the Spurs or Thunder if they get there.

18. Dallas Mavericks (36-37, previous No. 17) – It’s great to see Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs make some noise down the stretch. It almost drowns out all the noise Mark Cuban makes from the sidelines.

19. Portland Trail Blazers (33-40, previous No. 19) - They were 4.5 games out of a playoff spot on Mondyay, with the Mavs and Lakers ahead of them trying to get in. Time for the Blazers to start booking those offseason vacations. Tip: Avoid cruises.

20. Philadelphia 76ers (30-43, previous 20)
– “Did somebody say offseason vacations?” – Andrew Bynum, as he books his fourth vacation of the NBA regular season…


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