NBA Power Rankings: March 14, 2016

lebron-james-benchThere isn’t a tougher team to figure out in the NBA this season than the Cleveland Cavaliers. One week they’ll be sending cryptic texts that drive the media into a dirt-digging frenzy, and the next week they’re crushing opponents by 20 or 30 points. It’s the latter right now, which has Cleveland solidifying their number-three spot in our rankings for the second week in a row. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City, which often flip-flopped with the Cavs throughout the season, has fallen one spot. See where they’re at below, and check last week’s rankings here.

1. Golden State Warriors (59-6); same spot – Going ‘just’ 14-3 over their final 17 games will be enough to give Golden State the best regular-season record in NBA history.

2. San Antonio Spurs (56-10); same spot – The Spurs won’t catch Golden State, but they can at least prepare now for when/if they meet the Warriors in the playoffs.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (47-18); same spot – Beating the Clippers by 24 washed the bad taste out after losing to a short-handed Memphis team.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks4. Toronto Raptors (44-20); same spot – It’s been a long time since the East has had two teams in the top 4 this season. But Toronto definitely deserves to be here.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder (44-22); down 1 spot – One loss to Cleveland, two to the Warriors and one to the Spurs show that OKC merely has an outside chance to make the Finals.

6. LA Clippers (42-23); same spot – Any disillusions about L.A. being better without Blake Griffin were wiped out with a 24-point home loss to the Cavs.

7. Boston Celtics (39-27); up 1 spot – Boston is currently leading a race for the East’s third seed that has four teams within 1.5 games of each other.

8. Miami Heat (38-28); down 1 spot – Miami finishes their tough road trip with a good win over the Bulls, but losses to the Bucks and Raptors.

9. Memphis Grizzlies (39-27); same spot – The Grizzlies are holding down the fifth seed in the West despite a rash of recent injuries.

10. Charlotte Hornets (37-28); up 1 spot
 – The Hornets are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak that could see them eventually gain home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

11. Atlanta Hawks (38-29); down 1 spot – Atlanta is also in the aforementioned four-team race for the third seed, but they’re on the wrong end, currently sitting in sixth place.

damian-lillard-portland-trailblazers12. Portland Trail Blazers (35-32); same spot – There isn’t a hotter player in the NBA right now than Damian Lillard. He’s scored 30+ points eight times in the last 14 games – including two 50-point games.

13. Indiana Pacers (35-31); same spot – Indiana had a three-game win streak, including a victory over the Spurs, snapped by an ugly 29-point loss to Atlanta.

14. Detroit Pistons (34-32); up 1 spot – Detroit is currently leading the Bulls by one game for the final postseason spot in the East.

15. Houston Rockets (33-33); up 2 spots – In a season that’s been pretty disappointing so far, Houston is finally coming alive with recent road wins against Boston and Toronto.

16. Chicago Bulls (32-32); same spot – Chicago finishes out a brutal stretch against Toronto tonight that began with losses to the Spurs and Heat.

17. Dallas Mavericks (33-33); down 3 spots – Mired in a 5-game losing streak, Dallas has suddenly gone from this year’s surprise team to one that just hopes to make the playoffs.

18. Utah Jazz (31-35); up 1 spot – The Mavericks have to worry about their postseason spot now because the Jazz are only two games behind.

john-wall-wizards19. Washington Wizards (30-35); down 1 spot
 – Washington’s current 5-game losing streak has put the emphasis on what may be a lost season.

20. Milwaukee Bucks (29-38); same spot – This young group is playing some of their best basketball of the season and giving a glimpse of what may come next year.

21. Denver Nuggets (28-38); up 3 spots – Few teams have done more with less than the Denver Nuggets this year. We’ll see how long this 4-game win streak can continue.

22. Orlando Magic (28-37); down 2 spots – Orlando has lost five of their last seven contests, which calls into question how well the current rebuild effort is going.

23. New York Knicks (28-40); down 2 spots – Carmelo Anthony is supposed to be a Knick for the next three seasons. But will that happen, or is he interested in the L.A. Clippers?

24. Sacramento Kings (25-40); down 1 spot – There were some feel-good moments early in this season; however, Sacramento is now finishing out in terrible fashion, including DeMarcus Cousins blaming George Karl for a one-game suspension.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (24-41); down 1 spot – New Orleans has some major questions to answer this year

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (21-45); same spot – The one hard pill to swallow for Minnesota has been their 11-22 home record, which is less impressive than their 10-23 road mark.

dangelo-russell-lakers27. Brooklyn Nets (18-48); same spot – Mikhail Prokhorov’s unrealistic championship expectations have finally died down. So how will this offseason look?

28. L.A. Lakers (14-53); same spot – Scoring 20+ points in seven out of his last eight games shows that D’Angelo Russell may be ready for stardom next season.

29. Phoenix Suns (17-49); same spot – The one bright spot out of an otherwise terrible season has been the play of rising rookie Devin Booker.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (9-57); same spot – The Sixers need just one more win in their last 16 contests to avoid tying the worst-ever record in NBA history.

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