NBA Power Rankings: Lakers, Nuggets, Grizzlies quietly climbing
Records through March 11
1. Miami Heat (47-14, previous No. 1) – The Heat have won their last 18 games, or in other words, five more games than the Bobcats have won all season. Miami is also the only team to already clinch a playoff berth.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-16, previous No. 2) – Going into Monday night’s game in San Antonio, the Thunder had a nice little five-game winning streak going. It’s not 18, but OKC looks good.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (45-20, previous No. 4) – If you haven’t seen DeAndre Jordan’s dunk over Brandon Knight, find it. If you have seen it, find it again. Also, somebody should check on Knight.
4. Memphis Grizzlies (42-19 previous No. 5) – Tough four-game road trip ahead for the Grizz (POR, LAC, DEN, Utah) who have quietly won 12 of their last 13 games.
5. San Antonio Spurs (48-15, previous No. 3) – According to Elias, the Spurs suffered their worst home loss since 1997 on Friday, losing to the Trailblazers, 136-106. What’s that all about?
6. Denver Nuggets (42-22, previous No. 7) – Winners of eight in a row including a 15-point win over the Clippers last week. Circle Friday night’s game against Memphis on your calendar.
7. Indiana Pacers (39-24, previous No. 6) – An absolute choke job at home vs. the Celtics last week, and they were blown away in Miami. Not a good week for the Pacers. Oh, and Danny Granger is out again.
8. Houston Rockets (34-30, previous No. 12) – It’s not just James Harden with Jeremy Lin cameos. The Rockets are getting big production from Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons. Offense off the charts.
9. New York Knicks (38-22, previous No. 8) – How much better is the West than the East? The Knicks’ (second in the East) record puts them at the sixth seed out West — and even that seems too high.
10. Brooklyn Nets (37-26, previous No. 11) – A relatively easy stretch over the next 10 games could fool people, but Brooklyn looks to keep pressure on the Knicks.
11. Boston Celtics (34-28, previous No. 13) – Two big wins over the Pacers and Hawks, followed by a 79-point showing in OKC. The C’s are good enough to roll with second-tier teams, but that appears to be their ceiling.
12. Los Angeles Lakers (33-31, previous No. 17) – They’re 16-6 in the last 22 games and it seems Kobe Bryant is averaging 70 points a game as of late. Dwight Howard is playing basketball. Pau Gasol is closer to a return. Watch out…
13. Atlanta Hawks (34-28, previous No. 9) – Five losses in their last six games, with a game tonight in Miami. But hey, they still have Josh Smith leading the way … to nowhere.
14. Chicago Bulls (35-28, previous No. 10) – Sorry, Chicago, it seems like a Derrick Rose return this season is unlikely. Also unlikely: A series win without him.
15. Golden State Warriors (35-29, previous No. 14) – If Golden State wants to turn their season around, they can start by never wearing those jerseys with sleeves again. Jerseys with sleeves?
16. Milwaukee Bucks (32-29, previous No. 16) – It looks like Milwaukee should hang on to make its first playoff appearance since the 2009-10 season. Toronto and Philly don’t have any fight left.
17. Dallas Mavericks (29-33, previous No. 18) – The Mavs are only three games out from the eighth seed, but they’d probably need the Warriors to complete an epic collapse to get there.
18. Utah Jazz (32-31, previous No. 15) – No surprise that the Jazz went 0-4 on their four-game road trip, where they’ve struggled all year. Now they’re on outside looking in.
19. Portland Trail Blazers (29-33, previous No. 19) – If you thought a big win over the Spurs could spark them, oops, you were wrong. Portland lost to the lowly Hornets the next game.
20. Toronto Raptors (25-39 previous No. 20) – It’s a good thing the Blue Jays look ready to contend for something, because the Raptors sure don’t.