In 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.
3. 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.
5. 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.
8. 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.