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NBA Power Rankings: Bulls, Heat own top two spots. Again.

Mar 12, 2012, 2:38 PM EDT

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat - Game Four

The trade deadline could really shake up the power rankings… but probably not.

1. Bulls (34-9, last week ranked number 1). The Bulls keep winning while they are banged up — Joakim Noah is back Monday for the Knicks but Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton are out. Those wins are really impressive. But the big showdown Wednesday with the Heat may well show how much Chicago needs everyone healthy.

2. Heat (31-9, LW 3). Here’s what is missing in the “is LeBron James” clutch debate — it really doesn’t matter in the regular season. The best teams don’t win a lot of close games, they win a lot of blowout games. Showdown with the Bulls Wednesday.

3. Thunder (32-9, LW 2). While the rest of the nation will be bemoaning how their brackets fell apart Friday night, I’ll be watching Thunder vs. Spurs. Want to see how the up-and-down Thunder respond to the challenge.

4. Spurs (26-13, LW 6). They didn’t play any defense against the Clippers on Friday and it is games like that one, which makes me wonder about this team in the playoffs. Enjoy that Dallas/Oklahoma City back-to-back this week. Fun times!

5. Magic (27-15, LW 7). Can we please get past the trade deadline so we can focus on how this is a good Magic team that will get crushed in the second round of the playoffs? In July we can get back to focusing on where Dwight Howard will play again.

6. Lakers (25-16, LW 5). At home they are dangerous (18-2), on the road they are a danger to themselves (7-14). They are not a title contender right now, but let us see what the trade deadline brings (it’s time to cough up one of those two first round picks for a point guard).

7. Grizzlies (24-16, LW 9). The real news is that they should get Zach Randolph back this week — which will mean another readjustment period, but this makes them so much more dangerous in the post season. He may be back Tuesday for the Lakers.

8. 76ers (25-17, LW 14). A week ago we thought Boston or New York would pass them for the lead in the Atlantic, but the Sixers went out and beat them both last week. The Celtics are now three games back. Philly needs to hold on to that division crown and the four seed, avoiding the Heat or Bulls in the first round.

9. Clippers (23-16 LW 4). They picked up a quality win Friday in San Antonio — their first win ever in the AT&T Center — but dropped three other games including to the Warriors Sunday at home. They need to stop falling behind early. As for the trade deadline, I get the need for a veteran at the two guard spot but the Clips shouldn’t overpay — think long-term, do not mess up future seasons for this one.

10. Hawks (24-17, LW 11). If the Hawks move Josh Smith it needs to be part of a bigger plan to rebuild this team into a contender. Do you trust the Hawks management to do that? Besides, how to you rebuild with Joe Johnson’s contract on the book anyway? The Hawks went 4-2 with Smith down injured, by the way.

11. Nuggets (23-18, LW 12). The Nuggets have played well since the All-Star break, their two losses both came on a final possession. But they are going to miss Ty Lawson this week, he’s out with a sprained ankle.

12. Pacers (23-15, LW 8). Tough schedule last week — Bulls, Hawks, Heat and Magic — led to four losses. It gets a little better this week but not a ton — Trail Blazers, 76ers and two against the Knicks. These are the kind of games the Pacers need to win if they are to prove they really belong.

13. Mavericks (23-20, LW 10). They are 2-7 in their last nine and falling fast. But sure Mr. Cuban, this team is better than last year’s.

14. Celtics (21-19, LW 15). Come Thursday afternoon, will there still be a big three in Boston? Weird to think not, but it is time for changes.

15. Rockets (22-20, LW 13). Another team falling fast after having to play a lot of games on the road. Now no Klye Lowry for 2-4 weeks due to a bacterial infection and holding on to that 8 seed in the West will be a real challenge.

16. Timberwolves (21-21, LW 16). Ugh. Just ugh. No Ricky Rubio for the rest of the season means they are relying on Luke Ridnour to get them into the playoffs. So, ugh.

17. Jazz (19-21, LW 18). They keep beating teams they should beat — Cleveland and Charlotte last week — but the schedule is not going to make it easy on them. Lots of tough games ahead.

18. Suns (19-21, LW 19). Not only are the Suns not going to trade Steve Nash at the deadline, they are just two games out of a playoff spot in the West now. They can make a push for it.

19. Bucks (17-24, LW 23). Ersan Ilyasova was the best player in the NBA last week. You read that right. He scored 89 points in three games on 72 percent shooting. You read that right, too. They are making a playoff push, but it’s a real uphill climb

20. Blazers (20-21, LW 20). They got blown out by the Celtics and Timberwolves, can they turn it around this week against the Pacers and Knicks? It’s sad to see how far this team has fallen after a promising start to the season.

21. Knicks (18-23, LW 17). Five losses in a row, and it keeps coming back to the same thing for me: Who are the Knicks? What kind of team are they trying to be? That question is aimed more at management than the players.

22. Pistons (15-26, LW 22). They looked terrible a week ago and then won three in a row this week. Not sure what to make of them other than they play like a young team, inconsistently. They have nine of their next 10 on the road, going to make it tough to make that playoff push some fans are dreaming of.

23. Warriors (17-21, LW 21). They beat the Mavericks and Clippers last week, but Stephen Curry tweaked his ankle again. It’s hard to see them vaulting up into the playoffs, but not impossible

24. Cavaliers (16-23, LW 26). They are just one game back of the final playoff spot in the East. If they made it in, that would be a huge accomplishment (we’re not even going to get into Cavs vs. Heat playoff talk yet).

25. Kings (14-26, LW 27). The surge of point guard Isaiah Thomas makes you wonder what the Kings will do long term with Tyreke Evans?

26. Nets (14-28, LW 24). Just watch clips of this dunk over and over and over.

27. Raptors (13-28, LW 25). Andrea Bargnani is back, which can cost this team some ping-pong balls in the lottery… well, unless they keep playing defense like they have recently.

28. Hornets (10-31, LW 28). Expect them to make some moves at the trade deadline — despite what Mike Dunleavy may want I expect Chris Kaman will get moved.

29. Wizards (9-30, LW 29). How has this team beaten the Lakers and Thunder this season?

30. Bobcats (5-34, LW 30). Bobcats fans will be scouting the NCAA Tournament more than watching their own team this week. With good reason.

  1. everydayimfumbilin - Mar 12, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Amazing to think Michael Jordan and the Bobcats are associated with one another

  2. zblott - Mar 12, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Bulls continue to get too much credit for playing an incredibly easy schedule which has yielded very very few quality wins.

    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2012/3/12/behind-the-basket-power-rankings-21.html

    • chicitybulls - Mar 12, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      So, let me get this right. Because the Bulls lost to all playoff teams except GS, NJ (without Rose) but Miami lost to GS, Milwaukee twice and Utah that makes them better???? Ok. That makes total sense. #absentoflogic. Proof that anyone can write a blog.

      • zblott - Mar 12, 2012 at 5:05 PM

        When is the last time the Bulls have beaten a good team that was at full-strength? How many of those have they beaten all year?

      • blueintown - Mar 12, 2012 at 6:03 PM

        There are seven teams in the league with a winning record against .500+ teams. Two of those teams reside in the east. One of them is Miami. I’ll let you guess who the other one is. #yourblogsucks

      • pudgalvin - Mar 12, 2012 at 6:22 PM

        I don’t know blueintown, I think it’s probably more impressive to lose at home to the Cavs or lose back to back vs. the Jazz and Lakers than it is to beat all three of those teams. That 20 point beating of the Pacers also has me pretty nervous.

    • longhornpride05 - Mar 13, 2012 at 1:36 AM

      did you forget about the very recent wins IN Philly and SA? Or are you just stupid zblott?

  3. glink123 - Mar 12, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    So you’re saying it’s the Bulls fault that the rest of the NBA sucks? All they can do is play the team that is on their schedule each night, douchebag. Over the past two seasons, the Bulls have gone 96-29. Since I’m sure you can’t do the math, I’ll tell you thats 67 games over .500, for a winning percentage of a pubic hair below 77 percent (76.8). Best in the entire league over that span. They haven’t lost two regular-season games in a row in almost 14 months. Despite playing more road games than anyone.

    • blueintown - Mar 12, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      …and just let me add that posting a link to your own personal blog on these public forums reeks of douchebaggery.

  4. glink123 - Mar 12, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    I suppose I should also mention that Chicago’s starting 5 have already missed 69 player-games due to injury so far this year, most in the league. The Bulls starting 5 has only played together for a total of 8 games. Yet here they are, scrapping together the best record in the league, with the best road record in the league, while posting the largest Point Differential in the league (+13.5 points).

  5. longhornpride05 - Mar 13, 2012 at 1:34 AM

    Bulls SOS .470 Heat SOS .494 in a 44 game season thats a difference of ONE win yes the Bulls SOS is just so awful………. one freakin win.

  6. comeonnowguys - Mar 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    None of this really matters. Not even the whole #1 vs. #2 seed. In the East, it’s the Heat and Bulls… and that’s pretty much it.

    This is all just a dog and pony show until we get answers to:
    a) Can the Bulls get healthy in time for the playoffs, and
    b) even if they do, what are they going to do in the conference finals when the Heat guards Rose with James?

    • southbeachtalent - Mar 13, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      I’ll answer b. Crawl into the fetal position and blame the refs.

  7. glink123 - Mar 13, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    …or have the Bulls rookie Jimmy Butler come in during the first quarter of Game 1, and accidentally roll into LeBron’s leg from behing, shattering his fibula in three places.

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