After the way that the Miami Heat have been playing lately, there’s little suspense about the number one team in our power rankings. Following 15 straight victories, the Heat are looking like a lock to win the East, and they are even challenging the Spurs for the top overall record. Speaking of which, San Antonio is still playing well – it’s just that they’ve been overshadowed by Miami. As for the rest of the top teams in our power rankings, you can check everything out below.
1. Miami Heat (44-14) – It’s pretty difficult to stop Miami when either LeBron James or Dwayne Wade could go off for 30+ points on any night. And that’s exactly what’s been happening during their 15-game win streak since both stars have had some big games lately. In the Heat’s last game against Minnesota, Wade poured in 32 points and dished out 10 assists. As for LeBron, four games ago, he torched the Kings for 40 points and 16 assists. Good luck to the rest of the league come playoff time…
2. San Antonio Spurs (47-14) – After falling down to number two in our last power rankings, San Antonio holds steady at this spot. They lost a disappointing home game to the Phoenix Suns on February 27th after beating them on the road just three days earlier. However, the Spurs have since bounced back by winning contests against Sacramento and Detroit. Tony Parker is being dubbed an MVP candidate behind LeBron since he’s averaging 21.0 PPG and 7.6 APG while shooting 53.3% from the field.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (44-16) – The Thunder definitely appear to have put a mid-February three-game losing streak behind them. After all, they’ve won five out of the past six games and beat the Clippers on the road. Thanks to the latter victory, Oklahoma is still holding onto the second spot in the West. Russell Westbrook has played out of his mind during the recent win streak since he’s averaging over 32 points in the last six games.
4. L.A. Clippers (43-19) – Los Angeles is still sitting two games behind Oklahoma City for the second seed in the West. And this is a very important battle because these two clubs could be meeting in the playoffs’ second round, where home court advantage will be huge. Based on their fairly mild remaining schedule, it’s certainly possible that the Clippers could overtake the Thunder; however, they missed out on a big opportunity after getting beat by Oklahoma City at home.
5. Indiana Pacers (38-22) – The Pacers have been a really interesting story as the season has moved along. They got off to a very sluggish start over the first two months, but played great in January and February. Will the good times continue in March? Well so far there’s been no sign of trouble after victories over Toronto and Chicago. Paul George scored 22 points to lead Indiana over the Raptors, while David West poured in 31 points during the Bulls win. And this perfectly exemplifies the solid one-two punch that these two have provided Indiana all year.
6. Memphis Grizzlies (39-19) – Defying all logic, Memphis continues to remain among the Western Conference powers after trading leading scorer Rudy Gay. They have claimed victory in nine out of the last 10 games, and the only loss was a road contest in Miami. Defense has been the name of the game during this excellent streak since the Grizzlies have held six opponents under 90 points over the past 10 contests. Is the addition of Tayshaun Prince a big sole reason for this lock-down defense? It’s a stretch to say that, but he’s certainly been an integral part of the strong defensive effort.
7. Denver Nuggets (40-22) – The Nuggets move up a spot since they’re in the midst of a six-game winning streak. Victories against Portland (road), the Lakers, Oklahoma City and Atlanta have stood out during this stretch. The offense seems to be going through Ty Lawson more and more lately since he’s scoring 23.8 PPG over the past 10 contests – up from his season average of 16.6 PPG. On the other hand, Danilo Gallinari’s production (16.6 PPG) has taken a hit since he’s averaging just 11.7 PPG over the same period.
8. New York Knicks (36-21) – After being passed by Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings, New York has remained close to the Pacers and are only a half game back. The biggest reason why they’re hanging tough is because they have won four out of the past five games. The only fairly impressive victory during this stretch was against Golden State, but the Knicks are racking up wins nonetheless. New York might have the NBA’s best bench since it features J.R. Smith (16.1 PPG), Amar’e Stoudemire (13.9 PPG), Rasheed Wallace (7.2 PPG).
9. Chicago Bulls (34-26) – Ever since the beginning of February, Chicago has been struggling. They have dropped 9 out of the past 15 games and are tied with Brooklyn for the fourth playoff seed. They did get a nice boost though after beating the Nets on March 2nd. The game before that, against the Philadelphia 76ers, Joakim Noah had a very impressive triple-double as he scored 23 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked 11 shots. He’s quietly been the Bulls’ all-around MVP in a season without Derrick Rose.
10. Brooklyn Nets (34-26) – Just like Chicago, the Nets have had a rough time lately after losing four of the last five contests. All of the losses were against decent teams, but that doesn’t exactly take the sting away. There are still plenty of bright spots for this club though, including the outstanding rebounding of Reggie Evans. The undersized power forward is averaging 9.3 RPG in just 22 minutes per game, and he’s averaged 10.8 RPG in the past five games.