NBA Power Rankings: Jan 31, 2016

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Dallas MavericksThe biggest matchup from this past week involved the Cleveland Cavaliers taking on the San Antonio Spurs. Cleveland, which recently underwent controversy after firing David Blatt, proved they can play with the league’s elite by knocking off San Antonio 117-103. See if this affects our NBA power rankings this week, and check out last week’s rankings here.

1. Golden State Warriors (44-4); same spot – Golden State doesn’t always need Steph Curry to be on. The Warriors blew out the Knicks thanks to 34 points from Klay Thompson and Draymond Green’s triple-double.

2. San Antonio Spurs (39-8); same spot – The Spurs were easily handled by Golden State and Cleveland last week. But they were also on the road both times without Tim Duncan.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (34-12); up 1 spot – Kevin Love is playing miles better and the Cavs crushed San Antonio. The players (notably LeBron James) are responding really well to new coach Tyronn Lue.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (36-13); down 1 spot – The Thunder should be fired up when they play Golden State on Feb.6 since Steph Curry guaranteed a victory over them.

5. Toronto Raptors (32-15); same spot – Cleveland is no longer a shoo-in to win the East, especially with the Raptors riding an 11-game winning streak.

blake-griffin-clippers6. LA Clippers (32-16); same spot – The Clippers’ outstanding play without Blake Griffin has been overshadowed by the latter punching an equipment manager. Griffin will be out another 4-6 weeks – will he also serve a suspension on top of that?

7. Memphis Grizzlies (28-20); up 1 spot – Memphis continues quietly climbing the standings and our power rankings after putting together an excellent January.

8. Chicago Bulls (26-20); up 1 spot – First Jimmy Butler called the Bulls soft, now we have Pau Gasol saying the team lacks discipline. But through it all, Chicago keeps winning thanks to their high talent level.

9. Miami Heat (27-21); up 6 spots – Last week, the Heat were hanging onto the East’s last playoff slot. This week, thanks to a 4-game win streak, they’re now holding the fourth seed.

10. Boston Celtics (27-22); up 1 spot – The Celtics are showing tremendous improvement under coach Brad Stevens. Don’t be surprised if they get first-round home-court advantage before the regular seasons ends.

11. Dallas Mavericks (28-22); up 2 spots – Will this be another Dallas-like season? In other words, a solid regular-season record coupled with a quick first-round playoff exit?

12. Atlanta Hawks (27-22); down 5 spots – Atlanta might not be playing as well as last year. But is it really time to start trading away their star players already?

paul-george-pacers13. Indiana Pacers (25-22); down 1 spot – Indiana faces the Cavs tomorrow night on their home floor. They’ll need a huge game from Paul George to pull this one off.

14. Detroit Pistons (25-23); down 4 spots – Detroit just can’t seem to string together consistent play, and it all begins with their limited bench.

15. Houston Rockets (25-25); down 1 spot – The Rockets are victims of a three-game losing streak, but two of these losses were to OKC and the Spurs, and they dropped a 1-point contest against Washington.

16. Washington Wizards (21-24); same spot – Washington snapped a three-game losing streak against Houston. They face the ultimate test against Golden State on Wednesday.

17. Charlotte Hornets (23-25); up 2 spots – Charlotte has Michael Kidd-Gilchrist back and they’re looking like a new team. But are they a playoff team?

18. New York Knicks (23-27); down 1 spot – The Knicks just can’t seem to get over the hump whenever they get close to .500.

19. Portland Trailblazers (23-26); up 2 spots – Portland has now won four straight games to take over the West’s eighth seed. But it won’t be easy holding it with Sacramento and Utah closely trailing.

20. Orlando Magic (21-25); same spot – The road has been Orlando’s Achilles’ heel since they’re only 8-14 away from Amway Center.

21. Utah Jazz (21-25); up 1 spot – Utah is winners of three of their last four games. But now they go on an East-Coast road trip that will really test them.

22. Sacramento Kings (20-27); down 5 spots – The West has been unkind to Sacramento since they’re just 10-20 against their own conference.

23. Milwaukee Bucks (20-29); same spot – Looking at the talent and depth that Milwaukee has, it’s hard to see how they’re sitting at 9 games below .500.

anthony-davis-vs-pistons24. New Orleans Pelicans (18-28); up 1 spot – This is a regression from last season, but at least Anthony Davis still looks like a franchise savior – he just needs the right supporting cast.

25. Denver Nuggets (18-30); down 1 spot – Denver has had major trouble holding home court, going just 9-15 at Pepsi Center.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (14-35); same spot – After going 2-14 in January, Minnesota probably can’t wait for a new month to begin.

27. Phoenix Suns (14-35); same spot – Despite facing an impossible situation due to injuries and his assistants being fired, Jeff Hornacek himself was fired this week.

28. Brooklyn Nets (12-36); same spot – Brooklyn could unfortunately be in for plenty of seasons like this in the future since they traded away so many first-round picks.

29. L.A. Lakers (9-41); same spot – The Lakers have hit a new low after dropping 10 straight games. They are now flirting with the league’s worst record.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (7-41); same spot – Philadelphia gave the Warriors a definite scare last night, proving just how far they’ve come with Ish Smith now at point guard.

NBA Power Rankings: Jan 16, 2016

spurs-vs-cavsThe game of the week was definitely the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. San Antonio Spurs, with the latter taking a 99-95 victory on their home court. But is this enough to push the Spurs past the Golden State Warriors in our latest NBA power rankings? Take a look for yourself below.

1. Golden State Warriors (37-3); same spot – The Warriors may have lost to the Nuggets the other night, but they’ve also been dealing with injuries and resting Draymond Green for two games.

2. San Antonio Spurs (35-6); same spot – San Antonio is now riding a 10-game win streak and holds a 23-0 home mark. The gap between the Spurs and Warriors is closing.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (28-10); same spot – Despite the loss to the Spurs, Cleveland comes away from their 6-game road trip with a 5-1 record.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (29-12); same spot – Oklahoma recently lost to Sacramento at home, but the asterisk here is that Kevin Durant sat with a sprained toe.

5. LA Clippers (26-13); up 2 spots – Like San Antonio, L.A. is also on a 10-game win streak, and they’re looking like a serious West contender again.

demarre-carroll-raptors6. Toronto Raptors (25-15); up 2 spots – Toronto’s revamped, defensive-minded team seems to be paying dividends right now.

7. Chicago Bulls (23-16); down 2 spots – Fresh off a 53-point outing, Jimmy Butler is all that’s keeping this shaky Chicago team together while they deal with chemistry issues.

8. Miami Heat (23-17); down 2 spots – Hassan Whiteside certainly impressed with his 19-point, 17-rebound, 11-block triple-double against the Nuggets.

9. Atlanta Hawks (23-17); same spot – This isn’t the same red-hot start that Atlanta had last season; but they are still hanging around the top of the East.

10. Dallas Mavericks (23-18); up 1 spot – After taking Cleveland to overtime, Dallas followed this up by holding Chicago to just 77 points in an 83-77 victory.

11. Indiana Pacers (22-18); down 1 spot – The Pacers have lost three of their last four and will look to get back on track at home against Denver.

12. Memphis Grizzlies (22-19); up 2 spots – Memphis edges Detroit out for this spot after beating the Pistons 103-101 on Thursday.

andre-drummond-detroit13. Detroit Pistons (21-18); down 1 spot – Andre Drummond just got passed by Carmelo Anthony in the All-Star voting, but he should be assured a spot anyways.

14. Boston Celtics (21-19); up 1 spot – Boston has been pretty good on the road (10-9) this season, but pretty bad in close games, going 0-5 in contests decided by 3 or fewer points.

15. Houston Rockets (21-20); up 2 spots – Houston has played better lately, but they looked lifeless against the Cavaliers last night.

16. Orlando Magic (20-19); down 3 spots – The Magic have really been getting beat up in the Southeast Division, going 1-6 against their division this year.

17. Washington Wizards (19-19); up 2 spots – Washington is finally getting healthy, and it’s resulted in a 4-game win streak.

18. New York Knicks (20-21); down 2 spots – New York keeps flirting with playoff positioning, but they just haven’t been able to get over the hump.

19. Charlotte Hornets (18-21); down 1 spot – Charlotte is just 2-8 in their last 10 games and is fading from the postseason picture.

demarcus-cousins-trade-120. Sacramento Kings (16-23); same spot – Thursday, the Kings bettered their playoff hopes with a 103-101 victory in Utah.

21. Utah Jazz (17-22); same spot – Utah has fared much better against the East (8-5) than they have against their own conference (9-17).

22. Portland Trailblazers (18-24); same spot – Portland is another West team battling for the last playoff spot, and they’ve gotten to this position with a 3-game win streak.

23. Denver Nuggets (15-25); up 1 spot – Don’t count the Nuggets out just yet. They have Emmanuel Mudiay and SF Danilo Gallinari back from ankle injuries.

24. Milwaukee Bucks (17-25); down 1 spot – Giannis Antetokounmpo put up 28 points and 16 boards to help Milwaukee take down Atlanta 108-101 last night.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (13-26); same spot – New Orleans schedule is getting easier, but is it too late for them to make a playoff push?

26. Phoenix Suns (13-28); up 1 spot – Phoenix finally halted their lengthy losing streak with a win over Charlotte.

27. Minnesota Timberwolves (12-29); down 1 spot – Losers of 9 straight, Minnesota’s young lineup is definitely going through growing paints right now.

28. Brooklyn Nets (11-29); same spot – Will Brooklyn ownership give up their delusions of competing for a title in the near future? If so, they should start trading away their veteran assets now.

29. L.A. Lakers (9-32) – There’s been talk that Kobe Bryant should be shut down this season, but we doubt he’s on board with this during his retirement tour.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (4-37) – Philadelphia has lost their last four games, but they are at least competitive in most contests now, thanks to new PG Ish Smith.

NBA Power Rankings: Jan 8, 2016

klay-thompson-max-contractAt 33-2, the Golden State Warriors are still on pace to break the NBA record for wins in a season. But despite their impressive start, San Antonio isn’t far behind in the Western Conference with a 31-6 record. And with Steph Curry dealing with a leg injury right now, the Warriors need to scrap to keep their lead over the Spurs. Nevertheless, Golden State still tops our first 2016 NBA power rankings, which you can see below along with how other teams rank.

1. Golden State Warriors (33-2) – Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have stepped their games up while Curry nurses a left leg injury.

2. San Antonio Spurs (31-6) – San Antonio is 21-0 so far this year. Golden State would do well to keep the West’s top seed.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-9) – Kyrie Irving is getting his legs back under him, which relieves some pressure from LeBron James.

4. Oklahoma Thunder (25-11) – OKC is sneaking up on the league’s elite. They’re 14-3 in their last 17 contests.

5. Chicago Bulls (22-12) – With Bobby Portis’ rise in the Chicago lineup, could the Bulls look to trade Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson?

chris-bosh-heat6. Miami Heat (21-14) – Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade have looked as young as ever in leading this Heat team. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that rookie Justice Winslow keeps getting better each week.

7. LA Clippers (23-13) – Riding a seven-game win streak, the Clippers are starting to play like the contender everybody thought they’d be.

8. Toronto Raptors (22-15) – DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry will have to carry more of the load for a while, with DeMare Carroll out indefinitely following knee surgery.

9. Atlanta Hawks (22-15) – Atlanta’s 5-1 mark against the Southeast Division trails only the Spurs and Warriors, who are undefeated against their divisions.

10. Indiana Pacers (20-15) – Indiana is just 4-6 in their last 10 games. Can they rebound in January?

11. Dallas Mavericks (21-15) – Dallas should be given plenty of credit for being only the second team to beat Golden State, even if Curry was out.

12. Detroit Pistons (20-16) – Will both Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond make the All-Star team? If they continue winning games, it certainly won’t hurt their chances.

13. Orlando Magic (19-17) – Just a week ago, the young Magic were the darlings of the Eastern Conference. Now they’ve lost four straight and have fallen to the eighth seed.

zach-randolph14. Memphis Grizzlies (19-18) – Zach Randolph coming off the bench has not produced much better results for the Grizz. They’re 5-5 since he took a bench role.

15. Boston Celtics (19-17) – Boston has an easy schedule ahead of them in January and February. But they can’t lose to the Lakers and expect to make the playoffs in the East.

16. New York Knicks (18-19) – New York has gotten back into playoff contention by putting together a three-game winning streak.

17. Houston Rockets (18-19) – Beating Utah in back-to-back games was a good way for the Rockets to get over their four-game skid.

18. Charlotte Hornets (17-18) – Charlotte’s four-game trip out west is off to a bad start, with two losses and Nicolas Batum dealing with a toe problem.

19. Washington Wizards (15-18) – If the Wizards can finally keep their roster healthy, they have a chance to make a run at the postseason.

20. Sacramento Kings (15-21) – Sacramento has played winning basketball since starting 1-8, and now they’re just a half game out of the West’s eighth seed.

21. Utah Jazz (15-20) – Utah still holds the eighth seed, but their grip on it is much slimmer after two straight losses to the Rockets.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors22. Portland Trailblazers (15-23) – It certainly didn’t help Portland that C.J. McCollum had to sit out a 109-98 loss to the Clippers due to a lineup mistake.

23. Milwaukee Bucks (14-23) – Despite being the only team to beat the Warriors at full strength, the Bucks’ season has not gone according to plan.

24. Denver Nuggets (13-23) – The Nuggets have dropped 8 of their last 10 games and are just 5-11 at home this year.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (11-23) – It’s amazing that Anthony Davis leads the league with 30-point, 10-rebound games, yet his team hasn’t even won a third of their contests.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (12-24) – Minnesota will have their hands full trying to snap a four-game losing streak against the Cavs tonight.

27. Phoenix Suns (13-25) – A talent-stricken roster certainly won’t help Jeff Hornacek’s chances of retaining his coaching position.

28. Brooklyn Nets (10-25) – While Brooklyn has been bad this year, they have had highlights such as sweeping Houston and almost beating the Warriors.

29. L.A. Lakers (8-29) – Hopefully Stephen Jackson’s advice about not listening to Byron Scott doesn’t affect Julius Randle’ and D’Angelo Russell’s attitudes.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (4-34) – Ish Smith has definitely helped the Sixers play better, given that they’re 3-4 since his arrival. That said, it looks like they might avoid the worst record of all time.

NBA Power Rankings for April 4th, 2013

lebron-jamesIn the last power rankings that we ran, Miami was in the midst of the second longest win streak in NBA history. Unfortunately, this run ended on March 27th in a very physical game with the Chicago Bulls. Following the streak ending, the Heat eventually dropped another contest to the New York Knicks as Carmelo Anthony scored 50 points. Of course, this by no means negates a 27-game win streak, which is why Miami is easily still our number one team. Make sure to check out how the rest of the NBA’s top clubs are faring right now in our power rankings.

1. Miami Heat (58-16) – While Miami has gone 2-2 over the past four contests, it’s worth noting that both of these losses came to solid playoff teams. Furthermore, they beat San Antonio on the road, which is the second ranked club in this week’s power rankings. All in all, it’s virtually a lock that Miami will end the regular season as our top team – barring any major collapses. Don’t expect a collapse to happen since home games against Boston and Chicago are the only real tests left for the Heat.

2. San Antonio Spurs (56-19) – The Spurs failed to generate any buzz as the league’s best team when they lost to Miami at home. Furthermore, they dropped the next contest to Memphis. Things don’t get any easier either because San Antonio plays at Oklahoma City tonight. Tony Parker is a lock for the All-NBA First Team after averaging 20.9 PPG (on 53% shooting) and 7.6 APG. However, any chances of him wrestling the MVP award away from LeBron James vanished during a 12-point, 4-for-14 shooting performance in the Heat loss.

andre-miller3. Denver Nuggets (51-24) – Denver may be behind Oklahoma City in the standings, but they’ve beaten the Thunder twice within the past five weeks. That said, it only makes sense to put the Nuggets slightly ahead of Oklahoma City heading into the regular season’s final two weeks. The good news ends here for Denver though because their star, Ty Lawson, is out indefinitely with a torn planter fascia in his right heel. The Nuggets hope that he’s ready to go for the playoffs while Andre Miller does his best to fill in at PG (12.2 PPG, 6.6 APG over the past 10 games).

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (54-20) – While Oklahoma City has played well up to this point, they face some very difficult upcoming tests. First off, they’ll play San Antonio in a big game that could help determine who ends up with the Western Conference’s top record. After this, they play Indiana (road), New York (home), Utah (road), Golden State (road) and Portland (road), which are all good teams. Once the playoffs start, depth will certainly be an issue for the Thunder because their fifth scorer, Thabo Sefolosha, averages just 7.5 PPG.

carmelo-anthony-15. New York Knicks (48-26) – This has definitely been a rocky season for New York, but they are on a major upswing now. The Knicks have won 10 straight games and are currently edging out the Pacers for the East’s number two seed. Carmelo Anthony has definitely been a huge part of this streak since he’s poured in 90 points over the past two contests. Potential Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith is also playing excellent right now too because he’s averaging 23.3 PPG over the last 10 games.

6. Memphis Grizzlies (51-24) – After dropping three out of four games, Memphis is back on the winning track with four straight victories. As usual, defense has been the name of the game since the Grizzlies are holding opponents to 87.5 PPG during the win streak. This club poses a definite threat to whatever team they play in the first round because of their outstanding team D.

7. L.A. Clippers (50-26) – Out of all the teams that we’ve discussed up to this point, Los Angeles is currently struggling the worst. They’ve gone 7-7 over the past 14 contests and haven’t looked like the same team that rattled off 17 straight victories in December. The final seven contests seem fairly light for the Clippers, with only a road game against Memphis looking ominous. Can L.A. recapture their magic in time for the postseason? This will be the big question that defines the success of a year that looked so promising before.

paul-george-pacers8. Indiana Pacers (48-27) – Getting back to the positive side of basketball, Indiana is another team that’s faring quite well. They’ve earned victories in eight of the last nine games and are coasting towards a Central Division title. The only problem is that the New York Knicks are also on fire and staying just ahead of Indianapolis. Only a half game back, it’ll be interesting to see who’s able to grab the East’s second seed, which would mean home court advantage in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

9. Brooklyn Nets (43-31) – A new arena and move to Brooklyn has definitely done this franchise good! Brooklyn is now guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, and they could secure first round home court advantage by holding off the Hawks over the final eight games. This is certainly a possibility too because the Nets play Eastern Conference bottom-feeders five times during this stretch. Backup PF Reggie Evans continues to impress with his rebounding ability since he’s averaging 17.2 boards over the past five games.

10. Atlanta Hawks (42-34) – Atlanta didn’t play their best basketball in March, but this team is hoping to finish up strong with six contests left in their regular season. However, things won’t be easy with road games against San Antonio and New York left on the schedule. It looks like Al Horford is going to average the first double-double of his six-year career; the 26-year-old is averaging 17.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG.

NBA Power Rankings for March 24th, 2013

chris-bosh-miamiThe biggest story in the NBA remains Miami’s incredible win streak, which is the second best in NBA history. With 25 straight victories, the Heat need just eight more consecutive wins to tie the 1971-72 LA Lakers for the most ever. Miami’s success has overshadowed the fact that the Denver Nuggets have also played excellent with 15 consecutive wins. Thanks to their great run, Denver has climbed over several teams into the Western Conference’s third seed. You can check out how the rest of the league’s top clubs are doing below.

1. Miami Heat (54-14) – The question right now isn’t if the Miami Heat are the NBA’s best team, it’s if they can become the greatest team ever. Doing so will no doubt require topping the 33 straight wins by the Lakers and winning this year’s championship. As for the streak, the next four games are very winnable with Charlotte, Orlando (road), Chicago (road) and New Orleans (road) coming up. On March 25th, the Heat will face off against the Spurs in San Antonio. Assuming they can win the next four contests, this could be the deciding factor in their quest for greatness.

2. San Antonio Spurs (53-16) – San Antonio has certainly remained steady this season and have gone 8-2 in March. However, things look to get a bit hairier over the next five games because they face Houston (road), Denver, the Clippers, Miami and Memphis (road). If San Antonio can win three or four of these contests, they have a good shot at closing out the regular season as Western Conference champions. Greg Popovich has done a great job at keeping his players fresh this year because nobody plays more than 33 MPG. So watch out come playoff time!

ty-lawson3. Denver Nuggets (49-22) – For most of the season, Denver looked like a low playoff seed. However, they’ve now ripped off 15 straight wins and are looking to lock up home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The win streak hasn’t been an easy task either because the Nuggets have had to beat Oklahoma City (twice), the Clippers, the Lakers, Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Memphis along the way. Much like Miami and their hot streak, Denver will face the San Antonio roadblock on March 27th.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (51-19) – One could make an argument that the Thunder should be ranked ahead of Denver since they’ve consistently won all season – including going 7-3 over the past 10 contests. However, the three losses were against other top Western Conference teams in San Antonio, Memphis and Denver; the Nuggets loss was particularly bad since it was at home. With so many other West teams playing well to close out the season, it’ll be a challenge for Oklahoma City to make the NBA Finals again…but it’s still a realistic possibility.

5. Memphis Grizzlies (47-22) – Memphis doesn’t exactly feature explosive scoring since Zach Randolph leads the team with 15.8 PPG. However, this might be the best defensive club in the NBA since they’re tied with Indiana in holding opponents to a league-low 89.5 PPG. Marc Gasol (1.71 BPG) plays in a big part in this because he swats plenty of shots and alters others. Mike Conley (2.30 SPG) and Tony Allen (1.48 PPG) also do an incredible job of pressuring the ball and forcing teams to make bad decisions.

blake-griffin-clippers6. L.A. Clippers (48-22) – With other teams currently surging in the West, the Clippers have simply been playing above average. This being said, it’s tough to figure out where they fit in when the playoffs roll around. L.A. certainly has the fire power to win in the postseason with Blake Griffin (18.6 PPG), Chris Paul (16.8 PPG) and Jamal Crawford (16.8 PPG). Plus their defense is pretty stout too with the Clippers holding opponents to 94.2 PPG. But the challenge will be putting all of this together through a seven-game series.

7. New York Knicks (42-26) – New York has really been an enigma this year. They began the season with the league’s best record for a while. Then the Knicks started cutting in and out of losing streaks while, subsequently, falling down to the Eastern Conference’s three seed at one point. As of now, they’re riding a four-game winning streak and tied with Indiana for the East’s second seed. Both Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith have been huge since they’re averaging 28.7 PPG and 20.3 PPG over the past four games.

paul-george-pacers8. Indiana Pacers (43-27) – The Pacers are one of the more impressive teams this year when considering that their star, Danny Granger, has only played five games. Granger could be healthy for the playoffs; but if he’s not, Indiana should be fine with Paul George (17.7 PPG), David West (17.3 PPG) and George Hill (14.4 PPG) leading the scoring charge. Roy Hibbert (2.71 BPG) is also proving to be nearly impossible for opponents to shoot over.

9. Brooklyn Nets (40-29) – The Nets are desperately trying to hold onto the fourth seed in the East so they have first round home court advantage. They’re currently in the midst of an eight-game road trip, which should test this team’s mettle. Denver should especially be a tough contest because they’re on fire right now. One players that’s particularly interesting on this team is Reggie Evans, who’s averaging 10.2 RPG in just 23.6 MPG. He’s really been dominant on the boards lately after averaging 16.8 RPG in the past five contests.

10. Atlanta Hawks (39-31) – Atlanta moves back into our top 10 thanks to the demise of Chicago and mediocre play by Golden State over the past few weeks. This month started horribly for the Hawks when they dropped six out of seven games. But things have gotten much better lately with Atlanta winning five out of the last seven contests. The most impressive victories during this stretch include Milwaukee (twice), the Lakers and Brooklyn. Al Horford has definitely been a beast over the last five games with 19.0 PPG and 13.0 PPG.

NBA Power Rankings for March 6th, 2013

tony-parkerAfter 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.

russell-westbrook3. 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.

tayshaun-prince6. 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.