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: 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.