NBA Power Rankings: Spurs finally get respect, Nets and Knicks begin slow climb
1. San Antonio Spurs (54-16 Previous: 2) - What can we say? After weeks and weeks … and weeks of not giving this team enough credit, the Spurs take the top spot. Their identical home and road records (27-8) proves how mentally tough and fundamentally sound they are.
2. Los Angeles Clippers (50-21, Previous: 1) - The Clippers are about to embark on a five-game road trip, including three games against playoff teams. It won’t be easy for them, as their 19-16 road record suggests. As the current No. 3 seed out West, winning on the road in the playoffs is a necessity.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (52-18, Previous: 3) - Based on the way Kevin Durant is playing now, if there’s a player in this year’s NBA draft even half as good as he is, it’ll be considered a great pick.
4. Houston Rockets (48-22, Previous: 4) – The Rockets have distanced themselves from the Blazers, somewhat, and currently hold a 3.5-game lead for the No. 4 seed. They trail the Clippers by 1.5 games and have a chance to narrow that when the two teams play each other on Thursday in Houston.
5. Miami Heat (48-21, Previous: 6) - Like the Pacers, the Heat have hit a bit of a rough patch. But now they’re riding a win over the Blazers into Wednesday’s game against the Pacers. Behind Indy by two games, this is one they definitely want to take on the road.
6. Indiana Pacers (51-20, Previous: 5) - What’s going on with the Pacers? (Frantically checks both pockets for panic button.) They’ve lost seven of their last 12 games and the Heat are breathing down their necks. Indy has just a two-game lead for the top playoff spot in the East.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (42-28, Previous: 9) - After starting the year 15-19, the Griz are 27-9 and now find themselves 2.5 games out of the No. 5 seed. Nice recovery.
8. Golden State Warriors (44-27, Previous: 7) - They lost to the Spurs without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli on Saturday, and have all week to think about it until their next game on Friday against the Grizzlies.
9. Portland Trailblazers (45-26, Previous: 8) - There’s one team in the West floundering right now and it’s the Blazers. What’s worse? Their 24-20 conference record is worst among current West playoff teams.
10. Phoenix Suns (42-29, Previous: 11) - With the way Memphis is playing, it’s looking like the No. 8 seed will be a dog fight between the Suns and the Mavs.
11. Dallas Mavericks (42-29, Previous: 10) – Mark Cuban – love the guy, but less talk about the NFL and more focus on this Mavericks team currently on the brink of the playoffs, please.
12. Chicago Bulls (40-31, Previous: 12) - Tough as nails, this team. They refuse to die. It’s a small miracle that they’re 40-31 at this point in the season having lost Derrick Rose and Loul Deng. Joakim Noah, miracle maker.
13. Brooklyn Nets (37-32, Previous: 14) - If it does end up being Chicago-Brooklyn in the first round, whichever one survives will be severely beaten and bloodied before the next round.
14. Toronto Raptors (39-30, Previous: 13) - The radar has most certainly missed the Raptors. It took 51 Kevin Durant points to beat them in overtime last Friday. They’d really benefit from home court in the first round.
15. Washington Wizards (36-34, Previous: 15) - Four games coming up against playoff teams (vs. Suns, vs. Pacers, vs. Hawks, at Bobcats). Washington’s top priority should be to avoid the No. 7 or No. 8 seed, currently held by the Bobcats and Hawks.
16. Charlotte Bobcats (34-37, Previous: 16) - A 30-point win over the Blazers on Saturday tells you what this team is capable of. Still, it would be a big surprise if they got out of the first round.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (34-35, Previous: 17) - Gorgui Dieng had been used sparingly all season, but over the last five games that hasn’t been the case. Season stats: 9.3 minutes per game, 2.8 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game. Last five games: 32.4 minutes, 12.2 points, 13.8 rebounds.
18. New Orleans Pelicans (30-40, Previous: 18) - Tyreke Evans is easily having his best month of the season, averaging 22.5 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game.
19. Denver Nuggets (32-39, Previous: 19) - Brian Shaw told The Denver Post that he’s treating these games as a type of training camp, and getting players familiar with a system he hopes to use next season.
20. New York Knicks (29-41, Previous: 21) - Well, the Knicks are hot at the right time, at least. You have to imagine they’d put up a better fight against the Pacers or Heat than the Hawks would.
21. Atlanta Hawks (31-38, Previous: 20) – The Hawks are traveling in the far right lane, hugging the breakdown lane – and can see the Knicks flying up behind them on their left side.
22. Detroit Pistons (26-44, Previous: 22) - Everybody boo this team! BOOOOOO! Sorry, just a real disappointment from start to finish. Decisions to be made in the offseason for sure.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers (27-44, Previous: 23) - It looks like the Cavs are going to miss the playoffs, and if they somehow end up with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, we’re done with the NBA.
24. Sacramento Kings (25-45, Previous: 24) - Good on DeMarcus Cousins for apologizing to Spurs announcer Sean Elliott last Friday for an incident between the two that led to a two-game suspension in 2012. Maturity!
25. Utah Jazz (23-48, Previous: 25) - The Jazz are currently your worst Western Conference team, based on record. That’s good for the No. 5 seed in the East. Kidding – kind of.
26. Boston Celtics (23-47, Previous: 26) - Unfortunately for Celtics coach Brad Stevens, March Madness has been replaced by March Sadness. Get it? Because the Celtics are terrible.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (23-46, Previous: 27) - Kobe Bryant is expecting big things for the Lakers next season, and honestly, it’s not fun seeing them play this poorly – so we’re right there with you, Kobe.
28. Orlando Magic (19-52, Previous: 28) – Perhaps the NFL owner’s meetings taking place in Orlando this week can capture sports fans attention down there for a few days. No?
29. Milwaukee Bucks (13-58, Previous: 29) - The Bucks have just two wins against current playoff teams this season. Not even the Sixers can say that.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (15-56, Previous: 30) - Honest question: If you put the Sixers in this year’s NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed, would they win it?