NBA Power Rankings: Warriors, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Suns battle it out
The battle for the final playoff spot in the West will be intriguing with the Warriors, Mavs, Grizzlies and Suns jockeying for position.
1. San Antonio Spurs (58-16 Previous: 1) - Make it 18 straight wins for this dynasty and powerhouse. Every freakin' year they find themselves at the top of the West, and after a blowout win in Indiana on Monday, it looks like that'll be the case again.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (54-19, Previous: 3) - What's the best way to watch the only team in front of you in the standings lose? By beating them yourself. The Thunder can do just that to the Spurs on Thursday.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (53-22, Previous: 2) - Whether it's Blake Griffin (back spasms), Jamal Crawford (sore Achilles), J.J. Redick (bulging disk in lower back), or Danny Granger (strained hamstring), the Clippers are a bit undermanned. They'll need a healthy roster to make it anywhere in the playoffs.
4. Miami Heat (51-22, Previous: 5) - The Heat are back in the position they've grown so fond of over the last three seasons, the top of the Eastern Conference. With six of their final nine games at home, it would be a surprise to see them finish anywhere else.
5. Houston Rockets (49-23, Previous: 4) - The Rockets are dealing with injuries to center Dwight Howard (ankle) and guard Patrick Beverley (knee), but the good news is that Beverley won't need surgery on his knee and should be good to go for the postseason.
6. Indiana Pacers (52-23, Previous: 6) - The Pacers woke up Tuesday morning and saw themselves in second place in the Eastern Conference. Sorry guys, it's not an April Fools Day joke.
7. Golden State Warriors (45-28, Previous: 8) - It sounds crazy to think about, but there really is a chance the Warriors miss the playoffs if they lose some games down the stretch. Dallas, Memphis, and Phoenix continue to win.
8. Portland Trailblazers (48-27, Previous: 9) - LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the court three games ago with the Blazers struggling through a three-game losing streak. Since his return they've won all three games. No coincidence there - they need him healthy.
9. Chicago Bulls (42-32, Previous: 12) - The Bulls are officially the team that nobody in the East wants to play in the postseason. They're a real threat to the Raptors to overtake them for the No. 3 seed. At this rate, you could see them knock off the Pacers in the second round, too.
10. Phoenix Suns (44-30, Previous: 10) - Come on Phoenix, if you want to make the playoffs you can't be losing to the Lakers. It's that simple.
11. Memphis Grizzlies (44-30, Previous: 7) - The last two games of the Grizzlies' season are against the Suns and Mavericks. Well done, schedule maker person.
12. Toronto Raptors (42-32, Previous: 14) - The Raptors have two tough tests this week at home against the Rockets and Pacers, but finish the season with six games against non-playoff teams, although two of those games are against the Knicks, who still could make the playoffs.
13. Dallas Mavericks (44-30, Previous: 11) - There are nine teams in the West fighting for eight spots, and unfortunately it's probably going to be Dallas, Memphis, or Phoenix on the outside looking in. It could come down to the final game, too.
14. Brooklyn Nets (39-33, Previous: 13) - The Nets are 12-4 in their last 16 games, all without Kevin Garnett. Garnett will miss his 17th straight game Tuesday night vs. the Rockets. Jason Kidd has found success with a small lineup out there.
15. Washington Wizards (38-36, Previous: 15) - Head coach Randy Wittman called his team "selfish" after blowing a big lead to the Bobcats in the fourth quarter and failing to clinch a playoff berth. They'll still make the playoffs, but they have to clean that up.
16. Charlotte Bobcats (36-38, Previous: 16) - With four games against the Sixers (twice), Magic, and Celtics - and another one against the Wizards, there's a chance Charlotte could pass Washington for the No. 7 seed.
17. New York Knicks (32-43, Previous: 20) - Twitter "officially" ended the Knicks season last week with a loss to the Lakers, but the fact is they're just one game out of a playoff spot - and the Hawks aren't exactly holding it down.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (36-37, Previous: 17) - T-Wolves? What T-Wolves? It's time to focus on the Twins! (Man, it kind of sucks to be a sports fan in Minnesota, eh?)
19. New Orleans Pelicans (32-42, Previous: 18) - Why is Anthony Davis playing through a bum ankle? Somebody? Anybody?
20. Denver Nuggets (32-42, Previous: 19) - Four straight losses to put them 10 games below .500 this season. When Timofey Mozgov is taking game-tying 3s, you know things are bad.
21. Atlanta Hawks (32-41, Previous: 21) - They snapped a six-game losing streak because they played the Sixers. Expect more losses with games against the Bulls and Pacers, and a big one against the Cavs - who could technically still make the playoffs at the Hawks' expense.
22. Cleveland Cavaliers (30-45, Previous: 23) - According to ESPN, the Cavs are looking to make a major trade around the NBA Draft. They've got lots of partially - or non-guaranteed deals to work with.
23. Sacramento Kings (26-48, Previous: 24) - Isaiah Thomas is going to wear a jersey on April 6 that says "Pizza Guy" on the back. This is the current state of your Sacramento Kings. (Slim chance this is an April Fools prank pulled by the Kings?)
24. Detroit Pistons (27-47, Previous: 22) - It is so, so fitting that it's the Pistons who break the Sixers' losing streak. This team might be worse off than the city it represents.
25. Boston Celtics (23-51, Previous: 26) - With Avery Bradley leaving Monday's game with an Achilles injury, you have to wonder A. if it's even worth suiting him up the rest of this season, and B. what the C's plan to do about him as he enters free agency.
26. Utah Jazz (23-52, Previous: 25) - We haven't checked, but we wouldn't be surprised if the Utah Jazz home page redirects you to tankathon.com.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (25-48, Previous: 27) - Real headline from a couple days ago: "How good can Jordan Farmar be for the Los Angeles Lakers?" #toughtimes
28. Orlando Magic (21-53, Previous: 28) - Good news for teams like the Magic: Andrew Wiggins is entering the NBA Draft.
29. Milwaukee Bucks (14-60, Previous: 29) - Ryan Braun is a liar, cheat, and put himself before his team and fans, but still gets a huge standing ovation in Milwaukee on Opening Day. Figure that one out. Oh, this was supposed to be about the Bucks?
30. Philadelphia 76ers (16-58, Previous: 30) - We were really pulling for the Sixers to break the record for consecutive games lost after all the work the front office put in to making it happen.