NBA Power Rankings: Pacers jump Thunder; Rockets with big week ahead
1. Indiana Pacers (46-13, Previous: 2) - The Pacers are standing the test of time so far this season. Evan Turner has struggled some since joining Indiana in the trade deadline deal with Philly, but he should be fine as they move forward. Indiana’s roster is currently loaded.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (45-15, Previous: 1) - The Thunder are now down two of their five starters as Kendrick Perkins (groin) and Thabo Sefolosha (calf) are both out for the next few weeks at least. It’s not Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but it’ll still hurt.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (41-20, Previous: 3) - Glen Davis and Danny Granger give the Los Angeles Clippers enough depth where the power may have just shifted in their direction out West. At the very least, they’re the most fun team to play with in video games.
4. Miami Heat (43-14, Previous: 5) - On Monday night, LeBron James – face-mask and all – gave everyone 61 reasons why the Heat should always be feared as long as he’s suiting up for them. The mask has to stay, right?
5. Houston Rockets (40-19, Previous: 4) - Big home games for the Rockets coming up starting Tuesday night against the Heat. They’ll host the Pacers on Friday and the Blazers on Sunday. This stretch will really give us a gauge as to how serious we should consider Houston’s title chances moving forward.
6. San Antonio Spurs (43-16 Previous: 7) - With Tony Paker returning to the team and leading the way with 22 points in a win over the Mavs, a collective sigh of relief can be heard in San Antonio. Meanwhile, groans can be heard in Houston and Dallas.
7. Portland Trail Blazers (41-19, Previous: 6) - The biggest news for the Blazers this week was that LaMarcus Aldridge returned after a five-game absence. He’s averaging 23.7 points and 11.2 rebounds this season, the best numbers of his eight-year career.
8. Phoenix Suns (35-24, Previous: 9) - Eric Bledsoe is now taking part in five-on-five scrimmages and appears very close to a return to the court for the Suns. Holding a one-game lead for the final playoff spot in the jumbled West, it’s a great time for his return.
9. Golden State Warriors (36-24, Previous: 8) - Mark Jackson beat Stephen Curry in a shooting contest during practice, which should give every “in-my-day” guy in his 40s fodder for the next 20 years.
10. Toronto Raptors (33-26, Previous: 11) - The Raptors get a big rest this week, as they don’t play until Friday (and even on Friday they get a rest vs. Sacramento). I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see “Playoff Rob Ford.”
11. Dallas Mavericks (36-25, Previous: 10) - Dallas is just barely hanging on to that No. 8 seed in the West after dropping back-to-back games to the Bulls and Spurs. Here’s saying that Memphis will pass them for that eighth spot when it’s all said and done.
12. Memphis Grizzlies (34-25, Previous: 12) - The Griz are still hanging tough in ninth place, and sit just a game back from the Mavericks and Suns, and a half game back from the Warriors. It’ll be a fun month-and-a-half.
13. Chicago Bulls (33-27, Previous: 13) - The Bulls strangely lost to the Nets Monday night, 96-80, but prior to that had been one of the hottest teams in the NBA, going 9-1 in their last 10. And now they’re even hotter with Jimmer Fredette!
14. Washington Wizards (31-29, Previous: 14) - Six straight wins before Monday night’s loss to the Grizzlies. Trevor Ariza (yes, Trevor Ariza) has been playing like one of the top players in the NBA over the last month. He dropped 40 on the *Sixers on Saturday.
*No longer an official NBA team
15. Brooklyn Nets (29-29, Previous: 15) - Friday marks the second return to Boston for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. But it will now mark the first return of Jason Collins, whose TD Garden video tribute will feature an assortment of his best fouls and screens.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (30-29, Previous: 17) - Kevin Love really is that good. Check out this stat: Love averaged 34 points and 14 rebounds in the month of Febuary. The last player to do that in a month was Moses Malone in March 1982.
17. Charlotte Bobcats (27-33, Previous: 18) - Al Jefferson scores 38 points and grabs 19 boards against the Heat, but fair or not, it doesn’t make a blip on the radar when LeBron drops 61 points at the other end.
18. Denver Nuggets (25-34, Previous: 16) - Make is six straight losses and 11 losses in the last 12 games (an emotional win over the Bucks). Not much else to say about this team but to hope things change for the better next season.
19. Atlanta Hawks (26-32, Previous: 19) - A promising start to the season has come to a screeching halt for the Hawks, who have lost 11 of 12. At this rate, the Pistons or Cavs will pass them for the eighth playoff spot by next week.
20. Detroit Pistons (24-36, Previous: 20) - The Pistons topped the Knicks on Monday night in a battle of “Most Disappointing Team of the 2013-14 season”. Really, there are no winners.
21. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-37, Previous: 23) - LeBron wants to attend Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ number retirement. If he does, hopefully the fans can be smart enough to keep the attention on Ilgauskas and not LeBron. Not banking on it, though.
22. New Orleans Pelicans (23-37, Previous: 21) - Look at the Pelicans making a last-ditch effort to land a top lottery pick! Losers of 10 of their last 11, they’ve got the Lakers and Bucks coming up. Can they keep up the magical run? It won’t be easy.
23. Utah Jazz (21-39, Previous: 24) - Just when you thought the Jazz weren’t as bad as the bottom-feeders, they go and lose to the Bucks, 114-88. Well done. “Tanks” for playing.
24. Sacramento Kings (21-39, Previous: 25) - The Kings embark on a seven-game road trip starting Wednesday, and one can assume they’ll go 1-6 on that trip. Yes, they play the Sixers.
25. New York Knicks (21-40, Previous: 22) - You could sum up this New York Knicks team in two words: Clown. Show. It’s looking like a lottery year for the Knicks, and unfortunately for New York fans David Stern will not be part of this one.
26. Los Angeles Lakers (21-39, Previous: 26) - Kobe Bryant says that revenge is “sweet and quick.” That would be a breath of fresh air for a Lakers team that is experiencing a painful and extremely long season.
27. Boston Celtics (20-40, Previous: 27) - Gerald Wallace will now miss the rest of this season with a torn meniscus. Just when you thought an NBA players couldn’t be more untradeable.
28. Orlando Magic (19-43, Previous: 28) – Two wins over the Sixers in their last three games has to hurt. Nothing you can do about that though.
29. Milwaukee Bucks (12-47, Previous: 30) - The Bucks are going to have to get very – very – creative if they want to hold off Philly for worst record in the NBA this season.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (15-45, Previous: 29) - Well, we all knew this day would come when the Sixers would, in fact, be the worst team in the NBA this season. Honestly, would it be a surprise if they lost every game for the rest of the season? 14 straight losses and counting.