1. Golden State Warriors (69-8) Last week: 1- They can only lose one more game if they want to set a new record for best regular season record. With two games against the Spurs and two against the Grizzlies, it’s not going to be a cakewalk.
2. San Antonio Spurs (64-12) Last week: 2 – The Spurs are 39-0 and can become the first team to go undefeated at home for an entire season . . . if they beat the Warriors and Thunder. It’s a nice accomplishment, but Gregg Popovich won’t risk health for it.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (55-22) Last week: 4 – It looked like the Cavs could have either imploded or banded together down the stretch. Fortunately for them, they chose the latter, beating two hot Eastern Conference teams most recently in the Hawks and Hornets.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (53-24) Last week: 3 – Just when this team was hitting its stride, they lose two of their last three games. Their win came over the Clippers… who sat Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick (as well as Blake Griffin). They only won by two.
5. Toronto Raptors (51-25) Last week: 5 – With four losses in their last seven games, the Raptors can probably kiss the No. 1 seed in the East goodbye. The goal now should be to make sure everybody is healthy going into the playoffs, especially DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (48-28) Last week: 7 – Blake Griffin’s first game back was a success, though his numbers don’t jump out at you: six points, five rebounds, four assists). But Griffin was a team-high plus-22, which says a lot more. But can he get them out of the second round?
7. Atlanta Hawks (45-32) Last week: 6 – The Hawks had a chance to make a statement against the Cavs and Raptors last week, but came up short both times. They did, however, take the Cavs to overtime before losing by two. That’s a highly possibly second round preview.
8. Boston Celtics (45-32) Last week: 9 – There weren’t many people outside of the Boston Celtics locker room that gave them a chance of beating the Warriors in Golden State on Friday night. But this team has been riding the “no respect” card all season, and looks to be riding it into the playoffs.
9. Miami Heat (44-32) Last week: 8 – Dwyane Wade is a little banged up and has missed the last couple games. You have to think the Heat would rather get him right for the playoffs then risk further injury trying for a higher seed. It also feels like Chris Bosh won’t return this season.
10. Charlotte Hornets (44-32) Last week: 10 – The Hornets were briefly the No. 3 seed, and then all of a sudden Nic Batum went down with a knee injury and the sky was falling. The good news out of Charlotte is that it doesn’t appear serious and Batum shouldn’t miss much time. As of Tuesday, the Hornets were the No. 6 seed, but just a half-game from the No. 3 seed. Yes, it’s that close.
11. Portland Trail Blazers(41-37) Last week: 11 – With the way the Grizzlies are collapsing, the Blazers could find themselves as the No. 5 seed by season’s end. That would pit Damian Lillard against Chris Paul in the first round. Does anybody else sense a changing of the guard?
12. Indiana Pacers (41-36) Last week: 12 – After a scary two-game losing streak, the Pacers bounced back with two wins ove the hapless 76ers and Knicks. They’re holding on to that No. 7 seed but with games against the Cavs and Raptors ahead… who knows.
13. Utah Jazz (39-38) Last week: 13 – It’s mayhem down the stretch out West as five teams compete for four playoff spots. Currently, the Jazz are clinging to that No. 8 seed with the Rockets just one game behind. The Jazz have won four of five and six of eight – so they want in.
14. Detroit Pistons (41-36) Last week: 14 – Huge win for the Pistons over really the only team that has a chance at knocking them from the playoffs, the Bulls (sorry, Wizards). With the win, Detroit pulled two games ahead of Chicago for the 8th and final playoff spot.
15. Houston Rockets (38-39) Last week: 15 – With five games remaining in the NBA regular season, the Rockets currently find themselves OUT of the playoffs. Say this though: Four of their final five games are against Western Conference bottom-feeders. Could they sneak in?
16. Dallas Mavericks (39-38) Last week: 18 – New life for Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks? After they were left for dead, the Mavs have ripped off four straight wins and now control their own destiny. But wow, they have a tough schedule: vs. Rockets, vs. Grizzlies, @ Clippers, @ Jazz, vs. Spurs.
17. Memphis Grizzlies (41-36) Last week: 16 – It’s a race against time for the Memphis Grizzlies. They’ve lost six straight games and while they’re still holding the No. 5 seed, they’re just three games from missing the playoffs. It would be quite the collapse, but not too crazy based on their injuries.
18. Chicago Bulls (39-38) Last week: 19 – A four-game losing streak in late March may have done their season in. They finish with the Pelicans and Sixers, so anything can happen, but they’re two games hind the Pacers and Pistons and need some serious help.
19. Washington Wizards (37-40) Last week: 17 – The Wizards were looking to make that final push to sneak into the playoffs, but a 1-3 stretch might finally put that to rest. They aren’t mathematically eliminated yet, but based on the way things have gone this season, they might as well be.
20. Milwaukee Bucks (32-45) Last week: 22 – The Bucks snapped a five-game losing streak (they’ve had plenty of losing streaks this season) and have won two of their last three games. Giannis Antetokounmpo had his fifth career triple-double last week. He’s fun to watch.
21. Denver Nuggets (32-46) Last week: 20 – It wasn’t long ago when the Nuggets were considered one of the tougher opponents in the NBA. Danilo Gallinari recently said he wants his team to start thinking championship again. Hey, if you can dream it, you can do it. Maybe. OK, probably not.
22. Orlando Magic (33-44) Last week: 21 – The Magic finished the last week of games with a 3-1 record, and have scored at least 110 points in each of their last five games (4-1). There’s something to be said for finishing the season strong – but it could cost them lottery balls.
23. Sacramento Kings (31-46) Last week: 23 – Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins both receiving technical fouls at the same time for sarcastically clapping at an official is so Sacramento Kings it hurts.
24. New York Knicks (31-47) Last week: 24 – The Knicks will get Carmelo Anthony back for the final games of the season, but it’s yet to be determined if rookie Kristaps Porzingis will make it back in time. Knicks fans would probably rather have it the other way.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (25-52) Last Week: 25 – The Wolves are about to embark on their last road trip of the season – three games – including one through Golden State. What’s more important? Kevin Garnett has created an Instagram account, and it’s pretty cool – @tic_pix
26. New Orleans Pelicans (29-47) Last week: 26 – Two straight wins for the Pelicans, who have a real chance at making it three straight with a win in Philadelphia Tuesday night. That would give them the big 3-0 for wins this season. It’s been a disappointing year.
27. Brooklyn Nets (21-56) Last week: 27 – Brook Lopez is done, Thaddeus Young is done. And that’s music to Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge’s ears, as he’s hoping the Nets finish with a worse record than the Suns. It’s a race to the finish.
28. Phoenix Suns (20-57) Last week: 28 – The Suns see the Nets’ five-game losing streak, and raise them a six-game losing streak. The difference between the Suns and the Nets is that Phoenix actually owns their pick.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (16-60) Last week: 29 – Who knew the most watched video in Hollywood would be D’Angelo Russell’s sneaky snapshot of teammate Nick Young? On one hand Kobe Bryant probably doesn’t want his career to end, but on the other I’m sure he can’t wait.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (9-68) Last week: 30 – For the fourth straight week… The 76ers need to win just ONE more game to hit double digits. You can do it, guys!