NBA Power Rankings: As Warriors, Hawks run away, teams battle for third - Metro US

NBA Power Rankings: As Warriors, Hawks run away, teams battle for third

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1. Golden State Warriors (60-13, Previous: 1) – Nine straight wins and 14 of their last 15, the last six of which have been by at least 13 points. Yeah, this team is rolling into the playoffs right now – and should go the distance.

2. Atlanta Hawks (56-18, Previous: 2) – The Hawks have turned things around lately, winning three of their last four. But backup guard Dennis Schroder injured his toe Monday night and didn’t travel with the team. He’s a key part of the rotation.

3. Houston Rockets (50-24, Previous: 3) – The Rockets are 3-0 in games Dwight Howard has played in since his return, though they are working him back in slowly. He’s averaging 11 points and seven rebounds over 18.3 moinutes per game. Howard didn’t play Monday in Toronto, and the Rockets lost.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (48-27, Previous: 4) – The Cavs will most likely end up with the second seed in the East. But who will they play? The team with the best shot to take them down in the first round is the Heat. Oh, look – the two teams play each other on Thursday!

5. Los Angeles Clippers (49-25, Previous: 7) – Aside from the Warriors, no team is playing better basketball than the Clippers right now. They’ve won seven in a row and dismantled teams they should have in the east – the Knicks, Sixers, and Celtics. Tuesday night in Golden State will be something else.

6. Portland Trailblazers (48-25, Previous: 6) – The Blazers are smack dab in the middle of a lethal Western Conference playoff race, and have won four straight after dropping five straight. None of those wins were against playoff teams though.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (51-24, Previous: 5) – Yikes. The Grizzlies struck out last week, falling to the Cavaliers, Warriors, and Spurs – all by double-digits. That’s an obviously terrible sign as the playoffs near. The Spurs are a very-possible first-round opponent.

8. San Antonio Spurs (47-26, Previous: 9) – File under: Least shocking news. The Spurs are rounding into form just in time for the playoffs, having won six of their last seven including games against the Hawks, Thunder, Mavericks, and Grizzlies.

9. Oklahoma City Thunder (42-32, Previous: 8) – Russell Westbrook steals most of the headlines in OKC – and rightfully so – but how about the job Ened Kanter has done since coming over? He’s averaging 17.3 points and 10.7 rebounds through 18 games. The Thunder look like they’re gonna grab the 8th seed.

10. Dallas Mavericks (45-29, Previous: 10) – The Mavericks probably aren’t going to make much noise in the playoffs this season, but they’re going to go out without a sound if Monta Ellis isn’t healthy. His streak of 237 games was snapped Sunday due to a right calf injury.

11. Chicago Bulls (45-29, Previous: 12) – Andrew Wiggins is going to win Rookie of the Year, and Nerlens Noel has had a great rookie season, too. But rookie Nikola Mirotic has been huge for the Bulls lately. He averaged a whopping 20.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in March.

12. Toronto Raptors (44-30, Previous: 11) – A nice win on Monday night against the Rockets as DeMar DeRozan went off for a career-high 42 points. He’s one of the best scorers in the NBA, and it’ll be interesting to see how he performs down the stretch and into the playoffs.

13. Washington Wizards (41-33, Previous: 13) – Two games coming up against the Sixers and Knicks should allow the Wizards to work on a few things. They looked locked in to that 5th seed in the East. They’re 0-3 against the Raptors this season, a potential first-round opponent.

14. New Orleans Pelicans (39-34, Previous: 14) – It was a fun little run for the Pelicans, but that four-game losing streak from Mar. 19-25 may prove to be too much to overcome as the Thunder hold onto that eighth spot.

15. Miami Heat (34-39, Previous: 17) – After a total choke job against the Bucks last week, the Heat held off the Celtics and Pistons, but lost to the Hawks. Though it’s still close, it would be a big shock if they missed the playoffs.

16. Boston Celtics (33-41, Previous: 15) – Five losses in their last eight, including a couple home games they should have won against the Heat and Pistons. But this Celtics team still plays hard and will fight for one of those final playoff spots.

17. Utah Jazz (33-41, Previous: 16) – After dropping five of six, the Jazz have won their last two over the Thunder and T-Wolves. Andrew Wiggins’ huge dunk over Jazz center Rudy Gobert is going to leave a mark, though.

18. Phoenix Suns (38-37, Previous: 18) – Four straight losses for the Suns, and it’s not getting any easier with games coming up against the Warriors and Hawks. Tough year for Phoenix after a nice start.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (36-38, Previous: 19) – The Bucks are still holding on for dear life, but with two games remaining against the Celtics and another against the Nets, anything could happen. Brace for impact!

20. Brooklyn Nets (32-40, Previous: 22) – Well, well well… the Nets are 7-2 in their last nine games and have won some big games over the Bucks, Pacers, and Hornets. They’ve got a tough schedule down the stretch (Two against Atlanta, vs. Toronto, vs. Portland, vs. Washington, vs. Chicago

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