NBA Power Rankings: April 12, 2016

james-harden-rocketsGolden State needs just one more win tomorrow night to capture the best record in NBA history at 73-9. Moving further down the Western Conference standings, Houston and Utah are still fighting for who’ll play Golden State in the first round. One of these teams will earn a playoff berth, one is going to be headed to the lottery. See who we think it will be in our latest power rankings, and check out last week’s rankings here.

1. Golden State Warriors (72-9); same spot – Few thought that Golden State could beat the Spurs at the A&T Center on Sunday. The hard work is mostly out of the way for this team; they just need a win vs. Memphis to earn the best-ever NBA record.

2. San Antonio Spurs (65-15); same spot – San Antonio’s perfect 39-0 home record was snapped against the Warriors. Now, they can focus 100% on getting ready for the playoffs.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (57-24); same spot – The Cavs got the important win they needed to clinch the East’s top spot. It’ll be interesting to see if they play everybody against the Pistons tomorrow.

kevin-durant4. Oklahoma City Thunder (55-26); same spot – OKC is another team that doesn’t really have anything to play for as the season winds down since they have the West’s #3 seed locked down.

5. Toronto Raptors (54-26); same spot – Like Cleveland, the Raptors are waiting to see if they’ll play the Pistons or Pacers in the first round.

6. LA Clippers (52-28); same spot – Blake Griffin’s return has definitely been a good thing for L.A. as they’ve won five straight.

7. Atlanta Hawks (48-33); up 1 spot – Another loss to the Cavs non-withstanding, Atlanta is still in control of the East’s #3 seed.

8. Miami Heat (47-33); up 1 spot – Currently seeded #4, Miami would make a dangerous second-round matchup for Cleveland if both teams make it there as seeded.

9. Charlotte Hornets (47-34); up 1 spot – The Hornets got a nice confidence boost by blowing out Boston last night.

isaiah-thomas-celtics10. Boston Celtics (47-34); down 3 spots – Boston lost some steam, dropping two straight contests. But they’re still battling for seeding with the Heat and Hornets.

11. Indiana Pacers (43-37); same spot – Indiana finishes up with New York at home and Milwaukee on the road, which is a much-more favorable path to the #7 seed than what the Pistons have.

12. Detroit Pistons (43-37); same spot – Speaking of which, Detroit finishes with Cleveland on the road and Miami at home. We’re predicting they wind up with the #8 seed.

13. Portland Trail Blazers (43-38); same spot – Nobody predicted at the season’s beginning – or even before the All-Star break – that Portland would clinch a playoff spot.

14. Dallas Mavericks (42-39); up 1 spot – Dallas can still earn the sixth seed over Memphis, but they must beat the Spurs to do it.

15. Memphis Grizzlies (42-38); down 1 spot – Memphis lost the fifth seed to the Trail Blazers. It’s hard to see them regaining it with a road game against Golden State.

16. Houston Rockets (40-41); up 1 spot – A recent loss to Phoenix made it look like Houston might not make the postseason. Now they have a chance to wrap up the #8 seed with a home win over Sacramento.

pau-gasol-bulls-playoffs17. Chicago Bulls (41-40); up 1 spot – Pau Gasol said the downfall of this season was the team’s lack of awareness, maturity and urgency. Yeah…that pretty much sums it up.

18. Utah Jazz (40-41); down 2 spots – Utah is still alive to grab the West’s #8 seed; however, even with a win over the Lakers, they need Sacramento to beat Houston

19. Washington Wizards (40-41); same spot – Washington could actually close out what’s been a rough season with a .500 record. But it won’t keep Randy Wittman from being fired.

20. Orlando Magic (35-46); same spot – Orlando picked up some nice wins to close the season, making it seem like the future could be good here.

21. Sacramento Kings (33-48); up 2 spots – For the first time in a while, Sacramento has actually cobbled together a winning record in a 10-game stretch, going 6-4.

22. Denver Nuggets (33-48); down 1 spot – All Denver has left is to play spoiler to Portland retaining the fifth seed in the West.

23. Milwaukee Bucks (33-48); down 1 spot – Milwaukee will attempt to beat a hungry Pacers team to close their season.

phil-jackson-new-york-turnaround-124. New York Knicks (32-49); same spot – After a failed two years in New York, is Phil Jackson heading back to the Lakers’ organization?

25. New Orleans Pelicans (30-51); same spot – Injuries certainly hit New Orleans hard this year; however, their 9-31 road record didn’t help matters either.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (28-53); same spot – Minnesota will head into the offseason with a recent victory over the Warriors under their belt.

27. Phoenix Suns (22-59); up 1 spot – Recent victories at New Orleans and Houston give Phoenix something positive to build on as they head to the lottery.

28. Brooklyn Nets (21-60); down 1 spot
– With no draft picks in the foreseeable future, Brooklyn has little room to work this offseason.

29. L.A. Lakers (16-65); same spot – Kobe Bryant will officially end his storied career on Wednesday night against Utah.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (10-70); same spot – Philadelphia may have avoided the worst-ever record in NBA history. But now they are mired in controversy after hiring Bryan Colangelo to essentially replace Sam Hinkie.

NBA Power Rankings: April 4, 2016

isaiah-thomas-celticsThere are multiple exciting storylines going on right now as the 2016 NBA season winds down:

– Golden State is still on pace to break the ’96 Bulls’ regular-season record.

– Four teams are within half a game of each other for the Eastern Conference’s third seed.

– Dallas, Utah and Houston are all within a game of each other for the West’s final two playoff seeds.

Check out our assessment of it all below, and see last week’s power rankings here.

1. Golden State Warriors (69-8); same spot – The Warriors need to win four out of their last five games to break the Bulls’ 72-10 record. It won’t be easy since they face San Antonio twice in this span.

2. San Antonio Spurs (64-12); same spot – With the West’s second seed wrapped up, San Antonio is just fine-tuning for the playoffs. It wouldn’t be surprising if they start resting players more.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (55-22); same spot – Up until last week, there were plenty of questions surrounding if Cleveland was still the team to beat in the East. Wins at Atlanta and vs. Charlotte make it seem like they’ve got a firm handle on everything.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (53-24); same spot – Can OKC realistically challenge for the West title? They do match up well with Golden State, but will probably see San Antonio in the second round.

5. Toronto Raptors (51-25); same spot – Down 3.5 games to the Cavs with time running out, it looks like Toronto will settle in as the East’s number-two seed.

blake-griffin-clippers6. LA Clippers (48-28); up 1 spot – Blake Griffin returned to help L.A. win over the Wizards yesterday. But can this team get Griffin in playoff shape and settle their chemistry enough to be a serious contender?

7. Boston Celtics (45-32); up 3 spots – The Celtics are definitely bringing it in the battle for the East’s #3 seed, recently winning at Golden State.

8. Atlanta Hawks (45-32); down 2 spots – Atlanta lost big tests against Toronto and Cleveland. The bad news is that their ability to hold onto the #3 seed will be tested even more as they face these two again along with the Boston Celtics.

9. Miami Heat (44-32); down 1 spot – The West Coast road trip didn’t go so well for Miami, as they went 1-2, even dropping a game to the Lakers.

10. Charlotte Hornets (44-32); down 1 spot – Charlotte lost at Cleveland yesterday, and they won’t get any break as they play at Toronto tomorrow night.

11. Indiana Pacers (41-36); up 1 spot – Indiana faces a tough end to the season, with contests against Cleveland and Toronto remaining.

12. Detroit Pistons (41-36); up 2 spots – Detroit also doesn’t have an easy schedule in their battle with Indiana for the East’s #7 seed. They play the Heat twice and a decent Wizards team.

13. Portland Trail Blazers (41-37); same spot – The Trail Blazers haven’t played their best basketball to close the season. However, they find themselves just a half game behind Memphis for the West’s #5 seed.

zach-randolph14. Memphis Grizzlies (41-36); down 3 spots – Memphis is finally getting healthy again, but they’ve lost six straight games, pushing them to an afterthought in the playoff conversation.

15. Dallas Mavericks (39-38); up 4 spots – The Mavericks looked to have lost all their momentum amid a 2-8 stretch. However, they’ve since won four straight games to move into seventh place in the West.

16. Utah Jazz (39-38); same spot – The Jazz face an extremely tough 4-game schedule to close out, including San Antonio, the Clippers and Dallas.

17. Houston Rockets (38-39); same spot – Houston is a game behind Utah for the final playoff spot. However, their remaining schedule is pretty friendly, with games against Dallas, Phoenix, the Lakers and Minnesota to close.

18. Chicago Bulls (39-38); down 3 spots – Chicago’s playoff hopes are on life support since they’re 2 games behind Detroit/Indiana for the East’s last spot. This might be the most-disappointing team of 2016.

19. Washington Wizards (37-40); down 1 spot – The Wizards are still mathematically alive; however, now four games back of Detroit/Indiana, they might as well start planning summer vacations.

20. Orlando Magic (33-44); up 1 spot – This young group is closing their season the right way, with three wins in their last four games.

21. Denver Nuggets (32-46); down 1 spot – Denver closes the year with three tough games against OKC, San Antonio and a playoff-hungry Utah team.

Giannis-Antetokounmpo22. Milwaukee Bucks (32-45); same spot – Giannis Antetokounmpo recently got his fifth triple-double of the season, tying him with Rajon Rondo for third in the league.

23. Sacramento Kings (31-46); up 1 spot – Despite all their turmoil and another very disappointing season, Sacramento is at least winning some games as the year winds down.

24. New York Knicks (31-47); down 1 spot – Kristaps Porzingis’ quick adaptation to the NBA was one of the most-pleasant surprises of the season. He should lead the Knicks for years to come.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (29-47); same spot – If New Orleans did one thing well this season, it was defend their home court. They’ve gone 20-18 at the Smoothie King Center.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (25-52); same spot – The Timberwolves have a nice young corp for the future. But they will likely need a strong veteran or two next season to be more competitive.

27. Brooklyn Nets (21-56); same spot
– The future looks extremely bleak for Brooklyn since they don’t have a draft pick until 2019.

28. Phoenix Suns (20-57); same spot – Phoenix was playing decent a couple weeks ago…now they’ve lost six straight games.

29. L.A. Lakers (16-60); same spot – It’s a shame that the D’Angel Russell-Nick Young controversy is overshadowing Kobe Bryant’s final games.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (9-68); same spot – The Sixers only have five more games left to win another contest and avoid tying the worst record of all time. Given that they’ve lost 12 straight, we wouldn’t bet on another win coming any time soon.

NBA Power Rankings: March 28, 2016

rudy-gobert-utahBoth conferences look to feature exciting playoff races with under 10 games left in the season. Indiana, Detroit, Chicago and Washington all have a chance at the last two spots in the Eastern Conference, while Utah, Houston and Dallas are in an even tighter race for the West’s final two spots. Let’s discuss these team’s chances of making the postseason in our power rankings, and you can look at last week’s rankings here.

1. Golden State Warriors (66-7); same spot – Golden State will tie Chicago’s all-time record (72-10) by going 6-3, or they can beat it by going 7-2. My bet, although not too risky, is on the latter scenario.

2. San Antonio Spurs (61-12); same spot – If there’s a team that help can stop Golden State from reaching greatness, it is San Antonio since they face them two more times.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (52-21); same spot – The Cleveland soap opera continues…Kyrie Irving’s singer/songwriter girlfriend may have cheated on him.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (51-22); up 1 spot – After a rough start to the month, OKC has rattled off seven straight wins. They take on Toronto tonight in what should be a real battle.

5. Toronto Raptors (49-23); down 1 spot – Should the Raptor’s even bring DeMarre Carroll back at this point and risk upsetting their chemistry? The Toronto Star thinks not.

al-horford6. Atlanta Hawks (44-30); up 2 spots – The Hawks are really peaking at the right time of the year. Nobody is talking about them, so maybe they can sneak in a challenge the Cavs and Raptors for the East title.

7. LA Clippers (45-27); down 1 spot – With Blake Griffin still not back yet and the Clippers going just 4-6 in their last 10 games, it’s looking like a 3-team race for the Western Conference title.

8. Miami Heat (42-30); up 1 spot – Some like Miami as a darkhorse favorite to make the NBA Finals. If true, it would certainly help their chances if they can emerge from the crowded race for the #3 seed.

9. Charlotte Hornets (42-21); down 2 spots – Charlotte is on the backside of this crowded race, currently in sixth place, but just 1.5 games behind Atlanta for the third seed.

10. Boston Celtics (43-30); same spot – Boston has played really well lately, but they also have a tough end to their regular-season schedule.

11. Memphis Grizzlies (41-32); same spot – This scrappy Memphis squad is going to the playoffs no matter what. But will their chemistry be good by the time they get their injured players back?

12. Indiana Pacers (39-34); same spot – There are no guarantees that Indiana is in the postseason. However, they’re looking in pretty good shape right now and just need to grab a few more wins.

damian-lillard-portland-trailblazers13. Portland Trail Blazers (39-35); up 2 spots – 
Portland has been pretty up and down since their post-All-Star break surge. But they are still defying expectations and sitting in sixth in the West.

14. Detroit Pistons (35-34); down 2 spots – Whether it’s Cleveland or Toronto who finishes in first, they’re going to have a tough time with the Pistons as a first-round opponent.

15. Chicago Bulls (36-36); same spot – If I told you before the season that Chicago would be .500 at this point and out of a playoff spot, you’d probably think that I was crazy.

16. Utah Jazz (36-37); up 1 spot – Along with Portland, the Jazz are definitely a candidate for surprise team of the year.

17. Houston Rockets (36-38); down 3 spots – At this point, the Rockets are simply trying to back into a playoff spot.

18. Washington Wizards (36-37); same spot – The Wizards dealt with plenty of injuries this season and don’t look like the same team that made the East semifinals last year. But they still have an outside chance at the postseason.

19. Dallas Mavericks (35-38); same spot – Dallas has absolutely collapsed down the stretch, going 2-8 in their last 10 contests. Amazingly, though, they are only half a game out of the playoffs.

20. Denver Nuggets (31-43); up 2 spots – Given Denver’s lack of star talent, it’s pretty admirable that they’ve topped 30 wins already. Hopefully they can pick up a star player who can push them into the postseason next year.

21. Orlando Magic (30-43); same spot – The one area of the schedule where Orlando got crushed this year was their own division, going just 3-10 against Southwest opponents.

22. Milwaukee Bucks (30-44); down 1 spot – Mired in a 5-game losing streak, this is not how Milwaukee wants their young team to carry on into the offseason.

carmelo-anthony-clippers-123. New York Knicks (30-44); same spot – With a fired coach and rumors about whether Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony will be back (even with his no-trade clause), everything is up in the air for New York.

24. Sacramento Kings (29-44); same spot – Despite a dismal season, the Kings have actually won three out of their last five contests. Too bad it won’t mean much for George Karl, who’s assuredly gone after this year.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (26-46); same spot – Not exactly the follow-up that Anthony Davis was hoping for after guiding the Pelicans to 47 wins last season.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (24-49); same spot – The Timberwolves are brimming with young talent. But will this translate into wins in 2017?

27. Brooklyn Nets (21-51); same spot
– Brooklyn got their biggest win of the season over Cleveland last week. If only they could shoot that good every time out.

28. Phoenix Suns (20-53); same spot – The Suns will be just another team looking for a permanent coaching solution this offseason.

29. L.A. Lakers (15-58); same spot – With cap room, four good young players and a sure-to-be high draft pick, L.A. could easily turn things around by next year.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (9-65); same spot – Philadelphia has nine more games left to get another victory and avoid tying the worst record ever.

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 7, 2016

lakers-vs-warriorsIn the biggest upset of the year, Golden State lost to the L.A. Lakers by a score of 102-85. It was no doubt an amazing win for Los Angeles, and a very forgettable night for the Warriors…especially since they went 4-for-30 from the three-point line. Despite the loss, Golden State remains firmly entrenched in our top spot, with L.A. moving up a place thanks to the big victory. See how everybody else ranks below, and here are last week’s power rankings.

1. Golden State Warriors (55-6); same spot – The Warriors look to get back on track with upcoming games against mediocre Orlando, Utah and Portland. Oh yeah…and they’re still on pace to beat Chicago’s 72-10 mark.

2. San Antonio Spurs (53-9); same spot – San Antonio is riding an 8-game win streak, but it doesn’t seem like they can catch Golden State for the top seed with just 20 games left.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (44-17); up 1 spot – Blowout wins against Washington and Boston have quieted the drama in Cleveland.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-20); down 1 spot – The Thunder have lost 5 of their last 8, but they’ve at least avoided the constant media speculation that Cleveland is under.

5. Toronto Raptors (41-20); same spot
 – Tough loss for the Raptors in Houston; it drops them back 3 games behind Cleveland for the East’s top seed.

6. LA Clippers (40-21); up 1 spot – The Clippers have played well against top competition, recently notching a win over the Thunder.

hassan-whiteside-miami7. Miami Heat (37-26); up 1 spot – Miami’s young trio of Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson are playing some excellent D for Miami lately.

8. Boston Celtics (36-26); down 2 spots – The jury is out on how far Boston will get in the playoffs, but they’ve definitely exceeded expectations with their young squad.

9. Memphis Grizzlies (37-25); same spot – Memphis won’t be expected to make it out of the first round with Marc Gasol done for the year. But don’t count this scrappy team out.

10. Atlanta Hawks (35-28); up 1 spot – Nobody is talking about Atlanta now that the trade deadline is over with. And that works to the advantage of this veteran team.

11. Charlotte Hornets (33-28); up 1 spot
 – Much of Charlotte’s recent rise can be attributed to the late-career surge of Marvin Williams.

12. Portland Trail Blazers (33-31); down 2 spots – Portland had a rough close to their road trip, losing three straight to Boston, Toronto and Detroit.

13. Indiana Pacers (33-30); same spot – It’ll be interesting to see what kind of help Ty Lawson can bring to the Pacers while backing up George Hill.

14. Dallas Mavericks (33-30); same spot – Dallas has had lots of difficulty with their own division, going just 5-8 against Southwest teams.

15. Detroit Pistons (32-31); same spot – It looks to be a battle between Chicago and Detroit for the last playoff spot in the East.

Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler16. Chicago Bulls (31-30); up 1 spot – Jimmy Butler was very Jimmy Butler in his first game back, scoring 24 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing 6 assists against Houston.

17. Houston Rockets (31-32); down 1 spot – The Rockets would be in the postseason if it started today. However, this already seems like a lost year for a team with bigger expectations.

18. Washington Wizards (30-32); same spot
 – Washington’s late-season run was cooled off by losses to the Cavs and Pacers.

19. Utah Jazz (29-33); same spot – Quinn Snyder has done a good job with this team, but it would be a great job if Utah can make the playoffs.

20. Orlando Magic (27-34); same spot – Scott Skiles questioned the Magic’s heart, which makes one wonder if changes are coming to the team this offseason.

21. Milwaukee Bucks (26-37); same spot – Milwaukee got bad news that Michael Carter-Williams will undergo season-ending surgery to his hip.

22. New York Knicks (26-38); up 1 spot – After what’s obviously been a failed season, there’s speculation that Carmelo Anthony will be asked to waive his no-trade clause.

23. Sacramento Kings (25-36); down 1 spot – Sacramento isn’t completely out of the playoff hunt, but they have to play very well to catch Houston.

24. Denver Nuggets (25-38); down 1 spot
 – The Nuggets earned a nice victory over the Dallas Mavericks last night.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (23-38); down 2 spots – Any postseason talk for the Pelicans has died down thanks to a four-game losing streak.

karl-anthony-towns26. Minnesota Timberwolves (20-43); same spot – Karl-Anthony Towns definitely seems like the type of future star that Minnesota can build around.

27. Brooklyn Nets (18-45); same spot – Brooklyn has actually played decent lately, winning 3 of their last 6 contests.

28. L.A. Lakers (13-51); up 1 spot – Maybe L.A. doesn’t deserve to be here record-wise. However, you definitely have to give them some credit for being one of six teams to beat Golden State.

29. Phoenix Suns (17-46); down 1 spot – Wins in two out of their last three games show that Phoenix may have some hope for next year.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (8-55); same spot – Philadelphia may be playing better, but they are now mired in a 12-game losing streak.