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NBA power rankings

Mar 22, 2010, 2:39 PM EDT

James_game2.jpgOur weekly NBA rankings, where we start to see teams get ready for the playoffs. Or try to improve their lottery position. Either way.

1. Cavaliers (56-15) Seven game win streak, best record in the NBA, and they get Big Z back this week. The only intrigue left for the last few weeks of the season is to see what team they get to destroy in the first round.

2. Magic (49-21) Rashard Lewis gets called out for not living up to his $18.5 million, he goes out and drops 24 and 11 on the Heat. And that’s the team’s big problem?

3. Lakers (52-18) LA has to get prepared for the playoffs without Andrew Bynum (he’ll be back next month). Had to do that the last two years, and they went to the Finals.

4. Nuggets (47-23) Injury questions about along the front line (not to mention the coach), and Denver’s next five games include Boston, Orlando and Dallas. Rockies-like mountains for this team to climb.

5. Mavericks (46-23) If Rodrigue Beaubois were a rookie on a lesser team, where he got a lot of burn, his name would pop up in Rookie of the Year conversations.

6. Hawks (45-24) Monday night game against the streaking Bucks, then on Wednesday they face Orlando. Atlanta has big playoff aspirations, these are the types of teams they need to beat in the playoffs.

7. Bucks (38-30) They are 14-2 since they traded for John Salmons. How much will they pay to keep him around this summer?  

8. Suns (44-26) Four wins in a row, and the last one against Portland was the kind of ground it out win the Suns will need in the playoffs.

9. Celtics (45-24) Four wins in a row and those old legs have looked fresh the last week. Can that really last into the playoffs? Boston fans gave a little extra in the church offering plate yesterday hoping to make it so.

10. Thunder (42-26) They dropped a game to the Pacers? Ugh. The mistake of a young team. Which we forget these Thunder are.

11. Jazz (45-25) The last five has seen wins against the bottom feeders — Washington, Minnesota and a CP3less New Orleans — but losses to Oklahoma City and Phoenix. They need to beat some good teams before the playoffs.

12. Spurs (41-27) Loss to Hawks Sunday, next four games are Thunder, Lakers, Cavaliers and Celtics. Tough road for a team trying to stay out of the eight seed.

13. Blazers (42-29) Go ahead and say they are only beating teams below .500 lately — I will because they are — but the fact is they are still beating them.

14. Heat (36-34) Teams at the top of the East all want to avoid Dwyane Wade in the first round — they know they can win the series, but he will make it harder than it has to be.

15. Rockets (36-32) The Aaron Brooks/Kevin Martin backcourt is already one of the most dynamic in the NBA. All they need is a powerhouse center and… oh yea. Yao.

16. Grizzlies (37-33) Heavy stretch of road games to end the season, but with this team that may be the best thing.

17. Bobcats (35-34) Don’t look at the team on the court the last week, look at that shiny new owner we’ve got.

18. Raptors (34-34) I’d say they were desperately holding on to the final playoff spot in the East, except everybody below them is crumbling.

19. Hornets (33-38) This week the Chris Paul and Darren Collison share the ball experiment begins. That should be interesting.

20. Kings (24-46) Big sigh of relief that Tyreke Evans will not miss the rest of the season. He’s the only thing making this team watchable (of course, they beat the Clippers without him).

21. Bulls (32-37) On paper, an enticing team for free agents. If said free agents watched them play this week, not so much.

22. Pacers (24-46) The Pacers with a couple of wins this week. It helps when Danny Granger drops 29. Still does not make this team watchable.

23. Sixers (24-46) Playing out the string, and having to do it against playoff teams. The next few weeks will be ugly.

24. Knicks (25-45) They are .500 in their last four games. Take the small victories, Knicks fans.

25. Clippers (26-44) I bought a cool San Diego Clippers throwback T-shirt this week. That’s about the only interesting news I have on this team.

26. Warriors (19-50) Warriors fans don’t care about these rankings, the team is for sale. That is the only ray of hope this franchise had.

27. Pistons (23-47) At least Stuckey is healthy because this team is not.

28. Wizards (21-47) Eleven losses in a row now, time to get to the end of the season and hit the reset button.

29. Timberwolves (14-56) Saw them in person against LA… they are that bad. But they are still trying for Kurt Rambis, most of the time.

30. Nets (7-62) I want to move you out of last, I really do. Just give me a win to do it with.

  1. bobdevo - Mar 22, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Z will be back to the Cavs this week. Shaq soon to follow. Meanwhile, the other 4 Cavs bigs: Varejao, Jamison, Hickson and Powe, are getting plenty of quality time. Powe is looking more and more like his championship self, and come playoffs, the Cavs will have 36 fouls to lay on Dwight Howard.
    The Cavs are much longer and athletic than last year’s team; the Magic will be hard pressed to compete.

  2. Sean - Mar 22, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    I can understand the Cavs being in front (even though I hate it), but why would the Magic be ahead of the Lakers? He places the Mag over the Lakers because Bynum is hurt. What the ef?

  3. Kurt Helin - Mar 22, 2010 at 9:08 PM

    Sean, last time the Lakers and Magic played, who won? That was March 7, in case you want to look it up.

  4. sbrown24 - Mar 22, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    Eat a dizzack.
    LA beat O in LA, lost to O on the 3rd game of a road trip, at the buzzer. LA has a better record than the O and maybe you want to check out what happened in June, 2009
    You are wac yoh

  5. DeRod Hafford - Mar 23, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    Com’on when will Rick turn Roddy loose?
    Roddy can attack the rim as well as knock down jumpers. Which will result in easy baskets and trips to the free throw line where Dallas is 1st in % in the NBA but only 26th in attempts. Also he will keep the defense honest which will free up Dirk for easy baskets as well.
    Roddy is also is the fastest guy on the team and plays solid defense. I would love to see Roddy play the two man game with Dirk like Jet does. Once teams overplay Dirk Roddy will beat them to the basket, free up Dirk or he will get fouled

  6. Kevin - Mar 23, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    Orlando ranked #2???

  7. Vince - Mar 23, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    How the H*LL are the Lakers ranked 3rd??? Second best record and we won without Bynum last year!

  8. Andrew - Mar 25, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    No kidding…it’s laughable that the Jazz are as far back as they are. Lakers/Jazz WILL be in the Western Conference finals.

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