NBA Power Rankings: March 19, 2016

michael-kidd-gilchristWith the exception of the Golden State Warriors, who’ve been on fire all season, nobody has been hotter than the Charlotte Hornets. They’ve won 15 out of their last 18 games, surging up the Eastern Conference standings into a tie with Miami for the fourth seed. It’s little surprise that Charlotte has also surged up our power rankings as a result! See where they sit this week and take a look at our power rankings from last week as well.

1. Golden State Warriors (62-6); same spot – Three more wins added since last week for the Warriors. They now need to go 11-3 the rest of the way to beat Chicago’s all-time regular-season win total of 72.

2. San Antonio Spurs (58-10); same spot – Big game between the Spurs and Warriors tonight! This is actually just the first of three more meetings between these teams over the next month.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (49-18); same spot – Cleveland also has a pretty big game as LeBron heads to Miami to face some of his old teammates.

4. Toronto Raptors (47-21); same spot – Toronto has played consistently well over the past couple months. But will it be enough to make up two games on the Cavaliers for the top spot in the East?

russell-westbrook5. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-22); same spot – After a slump last week, OKC is playing good basketball again, winning three straight.

6. LA Clippers (43-24); same spot – Back-to-back blowout losses to Cleveland and San Antonio have the Clippers getting impatient about Blake Griffin’s return.

7. Charlotte Hornets (39-29); up 3 spots – Two months and several injuries ago, this didn’t even look like a playoff team. Now Charlotte sits just half a game behind Atlanta for the third seed.

8. Atlanta Hawks (40-29); up 3 spots – Atlanta has mostly been an afterthought this year. However, they’ve now won 7 out of their last 8 games to move into third in the East.

9. Miami Heat (39-29); down 1 spot – The Heat lost a big game to Charlotte this week and face another tough challenge tonight as they host the Cavs.

10. Boston Celtics (39-30); down 3 spots – After facing six straight opponents who are currently qualified for the playoffs, Boston has come out with five losses and a major drop in the standings. Things won’t get much easier either since 7 out of their last 13 games are against playoff teams.

11. Memphis Grizzlies (39-30); down 2 spots – After a huge win against Cleveland last week, an injury-plagued Memphis has come back down to earth with four straight losses.

indiana-paul-george12. Indiana Pacers (36-32); up 1 spot – The Pacers are finally playing like the team everybody expected them to be. But can they move up in playoff seeding? They’re currently 2.5 games back of Boston for the sixth seed.

13. Portland Trail Blazers (36-34); down 1 spot –
After terrific play following the All-Star break, Portland has stalled and failed to make up much ground on Memphis.

14. Houston Rockets (35-34); up 1 spot – Houston finally looks like their chemistry is coming together. The only problem is that they would face San Antonio in the first round if the playoffs began today.

15. Chicago Bulls (34-33); up 1 spot – Expect Chicago and Detroit to continue flip-flopping for the East’s final postseason spot.

16. Detroit Pistons (35-34); down 2 spots – With the amount of talent that both Detroit and the Bulls have, somebody is going to be bitterly disappointed when they miss the playoffs.

17. Utah Jazz (33-35); up 1 spot – A big home win over Cleveland has helped the Jazz stay in the postseason race. They now sit just a half game behind Dallas.

john-wall18. Washington Wizards (33-35); up 1 spot – Washington looked all but dead after last week, when they dropped five straight contests. But they’ve come roaring back with a three-game win streak.

19. Dallas Mavericks (34-35); down 2 spots – Just 3-7 in their last 10 games, Dallas has now sunk below .500 for the first time since November.

20. Milwaukee Bucks (30-39); same spot – The highlight of Milwaukee’s week was definitely the end-game exchange between John Henson and Memphis’ Matt Barnes.

21. Orlando Magic (29-39); up 1 spot – Despite a career-high 45 points from Victor Oladipo, the Magic couldn’t hold off the Cavaliers last night in what would have been a huge win.

22. Denver Nuggets (28-41); down 1 spot – Denver has unfortunately followed up a 4-game win streak with three straight losses.

23. New York Knicks (28-41); same spot – Many questions surround the Knicks heading into an offseason where they’ll be looking for a new coach and a potential roster overhaul.

24. Sacramento Kings (26-42); same spot – The Kings can’t wait for this nightmare season to end. It’ll be interesting to see if they trade DeMarcus Cousins in the offseason.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (25-43); same spot – It’s not hard to see that New Orleans’ 8-27 road record is their biggest problem this season…that, and all the injuries that have piled up.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (22-47); same spot – The T-Wolves will be hoping that all their young talent takes a big step up next year.

brook-lopez27. Brooklyn Nets (19-49); same spot
– Lost in this miserable season is that Brook Lopez put together yet another strong season with 20.6 PPG and 8.1 RPG.

28. Phoenix Suns (19-50); up 1 spot – With four wins in their last 10 games, Phoenix is actually playing some respectable basketball right now.

29. L.A. Lakers (14-55); down 1 spot – Just 13 games left in the Kobe Bryant farewell tour. Nice to see that he made it through the year with no major injuries, unlike both 2014 and ’15.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (9-60); same spot – The goal remains the same for Philadelphia; get one more victory and avoid tying the worst mark of all time.

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.

NBA Power Rankings: March 1, 2016

steph-curry-thunderAs great as Golden State has been, they still have detractors. And last week was marred by comments from Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas, who claim that Steph Curry’s incredible success is due to poor perimeter defense these days. For his part, Curry doesn’t seem to phased as his team marches on to the best record in NBA history. And we don’t seem too phased either since they once again top our power rankings. See where everybody else ranks below, and take a look at last week’s power rankings here.

1. Golden State Warriors (53-5); same spot – As if the Warriors needed to further convince anybody else how great they are (apparently they do), they just beat Oklahoma City on the road again…thanks to Curry’s game-winning 35-footer.

2. San Antonio Spurs (50-9); same spot – The Spurs remain the one team that looks like they could possibly stop Golden State. But even that seems like a stretch now.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (42-18); up 1 spot – OKC somewhat redeemed a loss to the Pelicans by almost beating Golden State. The Clippers are gaining on them for the third spot in the West.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (42-17); down 1 spot – Kyrie Irving won’t admit that he’s unhappy in Cleveland. But whether or not it’s true, this isn’t an ideal time for such a report to surface.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks5. Toronto Raptors (39-19); same spot – The Raptors still remain 2.5 games behind the Cavaliers. But a recent home win over Cleveland shows that Toronto is definitely a threat to win the East.

6. Boston Celtics (36-25); same spot – Boston got a solid 12-point win over Miami on Saturday to keep a firm grip on the number-three seed. They’d make an interesting opponent for Toronto in the playoffs.

7. LA Clippers (39-20); same spot – The Clippers continue to play their best basketball of the year with Blake Griffin sidelined.

8. Miami Heat (34-26); up 1 spot – Chris Bosh still faces an uncertain future. But the Heat are rallying around his absence and have posted a 4-2 record since the All-Star break.

9. Memphis Grizzlies (35-24); down 1 spot – Marc Gasol will miss the rest of the year with a foot injury. Hard to see the Grizzlies doing much better than this with Gasol missing.

10. Portland Trail Blazers (33-28); up 4 spots – There’s no question that Portland is the surprise team of the year after losing LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews in the offseason.

11. Atlanta Hawks (33-27); down 1 spot – Atlanta continues struggling to find last season’s magic. They still have 26 games to try and find it before the postseason.

Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets12. Charlotte Hornets (31-28); same spot – The Hornets are streaking up the standings now that their team is healthy. They could be even better as their chemistry improves with Al Jefferson back in the lineup.

13. Indiana Pacers (31-29); down 2 spots – Indiana looked like they had last night’s contest won against the Cavaliers. Then officials took away a late three by Paul George after determining that the shot clock had expired.

14. Dallas Mavericks (32-28); down 1 spot – The Mavericks were a bit of a surprise at the beginning of the season. But lately, they’ve cooled off and will need some good play just to stay in the postseason.

15. Detroit Pistons (31-29); up 3 spots – Detroit played terrible leading up to the All-Star break. But with four straight wins, they’re now looking like a dangerous low-seed playoff team.

16. Houston Rockets (29-31); same spot – Houston’s disappointing season leaves plenty of questions as we inch towards the offseason.

17. Chicago Bulls (30-29); down 2 spots – For the first time this season, Chicago is suddenly out of a playoff spot.

john-wall18. Washington Wizards (29-30); up 1 spot – Washington has used two wins over the Sixers and a victory over the LeBron-less Cavaliers to put themselves in the postseason hunt.

19. Utah Jazz (28-31); down 2 spots – Utah’s downfall this year has been their road play since they’re just 9-19 away from home.

20. Orlando Magic (26-32); same spot – Despite Orlando’s January/February collapse, this is still a young team that’s playing close to .500 basketball.

21. Milwaukee Bucks (25-35); up 4 spots – Interesting to hear that Dwight Howard “likes Milwaukee,” even though he wouldn’t opt into their trade due to contract extension reasons.

22. New Orleans Pelicans (23-35); up 2 spots – This has been a lost season for New Orleans, but at least they’re playing decent now.

23. New York Knicks (25-37); down 2 spots – The Knicks have gotten more attention for controversy than their play. The latest involves Carmelo Anthony and ex-Knick Amar’e Stoudemire.

24. Sacramento Kings (24-34); down 1 spot – Every time Sacramento shows some promise, they go on a losing streak; this time it’s three games.

danillo-gallinari25. Denver Nuggets (23-37); down 3 spots – Danilo Gallinari will unfortunately have to miss some time due to torn ligaments in his foot.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-41); same spot – Minnesota’s young nucleus still has a long way to go. But they’ve split their last 10 games and have shown some promise.

27. Brooklyn Nets (17-43); same spot – Joe Johnson is gone and Brooklyn is officially on their way to a rebuild.

28. Phoenix Suns (15-45); same spot – Only the Sixers have a worse road record than the Suns this season (4-29).

29. L.A. Lakers (11-49); same spot – Kobe Bryant probably wishes his last season was over right now in the midst of an eight-game losing streak.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (8-52); same spot – Philadelphia is still hunting for that ninth win that will at least tie them for the worst record ever.