NBA Power Rankings: Clippers at top; Spurs and Thunder rise
1. Los Angeles Clippers (48-20, Previous: 1) - A loss in Denver snapped the Clips’ win streak at 11 games, but nobody is worried about that. Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes have really stepped up lately, and the Clips will march on.
2. San Antonio Spurs (50-16 Previous: 4) - Make it 10 straight wins for the Spurs. Even more impressive is that just one of those victories (a 112-106 win over the Mavericks) has come by less than three possessions. Their next two games against the Lakers and Kings won’t likely alter the streak.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (49-18, Previous: 6) - With a win over the Bulls on Monday night, Kevin Durant extended his streak of 25 or more points to 32, the longest in the NBA since some guy named Michael Jordan’s 40 in a row during the 1986-87 season. Meh.
4. Houston Rockets (45-22, Previous: 2) - After three convincing wins, the Rockets lost all three of their games on the road to the Thunder, Bulls, and Heat. That’ll knock you down a peg or two.
5. Indiana Pacers (50-17, Previous: 5) - Don’t let the Pacers’ four-game winning streak fool you. The wins came against the Celtics, Sixers (twice), and Pistons. It gets harder starting Friday vs. the Bulls.
6. Miami Heat (45-19, Previous: 3) - They’ve lost five of their last seven games and have two sets of back-to-backs over the next five days. It’s probably smart if they just hold steady as the No. 2 seed in the East and not push it too hard here.
7. Golden State Warriors (42-26, Previous: 8) - Gotta hand it to the Warriors for going into Portland and coming out the one-point victors on Sunday. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 64 points in the win – and many swishes.
8. Portland Trailblazers (43-24, Previous: 7) - At 2-6 over their last eight games, the Blazers have hit a rough patch. They’ve got a bunch of winnable games ahead (Bucks, Bobcats, Magic, Hawks) to hopefully get them back on a roll.
9. Memphis Grizzlies (39-27, Previous: 11) - All eyes on Friday and Saturday, when the Griz travel to Miami, and then back to Memphis for a game vs. the Pacers. That’s about as hard as a back-to-back gets.
10. Dallas Mavericks (41-27, Previous: 9) - San Antonio aside, the Mavericks have the longest winning streak in the West … at three games. It’s a testament to how tough the conference is. Dallas could sneak in the playoffs, but do they really have enough to go anywhere?
11. Phoenix Suns (38-29, Previous: 10) - Ah, Phoenix. Fun team to watch all season. It looks like they may miss the playoffs, but everyone found out this season that they’re much closer to a legit contender than first thought.
12. Chicago Bulls (37-30, Previous: 12) - Joakim Noah in March (nine games): 14.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 2.0 blocks, 1.3 steals, 53-percent from the field. He won’t win MVP, but he’s making a case for All-NBA first team.
13. Toronto Raptors (37-28, Previous: 13) - As it stands, the Raptors would play the Nets in the opening round. That’s kind of unfortunate for the Raptors, who have led that division all season. The Nets won’t be an easy matchup for any team this spring.
14. Brooklyn Nets (34-31, Previous: 15) - While the Knicks continue to steal headlines for all the wrong reasons in New York, the Nets keep it simple and just win games. Nets-Heat in the second round of the playoffs would be a treat.
15. Washington Wizards (35-31, Previous: 14) - With the playoffs now looking like a foregone conclusion, the Wizards are fighting with the Raptors, Bulls, and Nets for home-court advantage in the first round.
16. Charlotte Bobcats (33-35, Previous: 16) - The Bobcats still have two games against the Sixers, two against the Magic and one against the Cavs. One would assume that 38 wins would get them into the playoffs, sadly. They do deserve to go this year though.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (33-32, Previous: 17) - This team ranks in the Top 10 in points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game, yet they can’t sniff the playoffs. Maybe it’s because they rank 22nd in points allowed per game.
18. New Orleans Pelicans (27-39, Previous: 18) - There will be no playoffs this season for New Orleans, but a decent draft pick, some health, and the continued rise of Anthony Davis should have fans excited about next season.
19. Denver Nuggets (27-36, Previous: 19) - A gutsy couple of wins by the Nuggets (@MIA, vs. LAC) recently. Impressive considering they don’t have a whole lot to play for besides pride and wanting to be the spoiler.
20. Atlanta Hawks (30-35, Previous: 20) - It looks like the Hawks’ tailspin has ended – for now, anyways. Four wins in a row and a little breathing room as the eighth seed.
21. New York Knicks (27-40, Previous: 23) – So Phil Jackson is officially the Knicks’ president. And we thought Barack Obama had a lot on his plate.
22. Detroit Pistons (25-41, Previous: 21) - Needing to string together some wins and make a run at the eighth seed, the Pistons have gone 3-12 in their last 15 games. Bravo!
23. Cleveland Cavaliers (26-41, Previous: 22) - Whatever remaining chances the Cavs had at making the playoffs took a huge blow on Monday when it was announced Kyrie Irving would miss two weeks with a strained tendon in his left biceps.
24. Sacramento Kings (23-44, Previous: 25) - The Kings stole a loss by resting DeMarcus Cousins on Sunday. It’s a very close race for these ping pong balls, so we’ll remember this one at the end of the season.
25. Utah Jazz (22-46, Previous: 24) - A five-game losing streak has the Jazz narrowly edging out both the Lakers and Kings for the worst record in the Western Conference.
26. Boston Celtics (22-46, Previous: 26) - The Celtics have lost five in a row and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Even so, they haven’t “gained” any ground on the teams with worse records than them. Go figure.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (22-44, Previous: 27) - So Steve Nash said he’ll play next year because it’s all about the money. That’s news? Did people think he’d play because he enjoys losing?
28. Orlando Magic (19-48, Previous: 28) - Not even Google could find me an interesting storyline involving this team right now.
29. Milwaukee Bucks (13-54, Previous: 29) - Slow clap for the Bucks, who refuse to lie down and let the Sixers finish with the worst record in the NBA.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (15-52, Previous: 30) – I believe Nixon was in office the last time this team won a game.