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NBA Power Rankings: After the Heat it gets interesting

Mar 11, 2013, 4:36 PM EST

Indiana Pacers guard Stephenson is guarded by Heat forward Andersen and Battier during their NBA game at the American Airlines Arena in Miami Reuters

Going to be an interesting week out West — Thunder and Spurs on Monday, while the Grizzlies play the Clippers and Nuggets this week. Those games don’t foreshadow playoff outcomes as much as hint at seedings — if Denver can get home court in the first round whoever has to face them is in trouble.

source:  1. Heat (47-14, last week ranked No. 1). Winners of 18 in a row. What is amazing is they need another 15 to tie the NBA record (1972 Lakers). The heat have done it with defense — the last five games the Heat defense is allowing just 94 points per 100 possessions, seven better than their season average.

 
source:  2. Thunder (47-16, LW 3). Winners of five in a row and four of those are over playoff teams. Looking forward to the Monday night showdown with the Spurs as we start to get a sense of what looks more hand more like the Western Conference finals showdown.

 
source:  3. Spurs (48-15, LW 2). Every team is allowed an off night now and again, so we’re just going to ignore whatever that was against Portland last week. Good test against the Thunder Monday — can the Spurs continue to defend them well — but the rest of the week is winnable games even without Tony Parker.

 
source:  4. Nuggets (42-22, LW 6). Winners of eight in a row and they are doing it on both ends of the floor, outscoring opponents by 16.2 points per 100 possessions the last five games. But some interesting tests ahead this week with the Knicks and potential first round matchup preview with the Grizzlies.

 
source:  5. Grizzlies (42-19, LW 7). They are 9-1 in their last 10 but they have done it against some soft competition. This week they get the Clippers, Nuggets and a Jazz teams that should be desperate. Also they are road heavy at the end of the season and they need wins to hold onto that playoff top-four seed (and home court in the first round).

 
source:  6. Clippers (45-20 LW 4). This team is a lot more than just dunks, we just get distracted by the shiny objects of Jamal Crawford’s alley-oop to Blake Griffin, then Chris Paul’s to DeAndre Jordan. Just two games this week but they are the Grizzlies and Knicks, so now gimmies.

 
source:  7. Knicks (38-22, LW 8). Good win over Utah despite the injuries, but they will miss the depth Amare Stoudemire bought (particularly when Carmelo Anthony is out). Tough West Coast swing this week with the Warriors, Nuggets and Clippers on the docket.

 
source:  8. Pacers (39-23, LW 5). I think the Pacers are the team in the East best suited to beat the Heat in a seven game series. And the Heat crushed them Sunday. Which pretty much sums up the East.

 
source:  9. Lakers (33-31, LW 12). I’ll admit it, I didn’t think they Lakers could get here. I didn’t see evidence they could get on a winning streak like this. I didn’t think the wheels would come off the Jazz. But as of Monday the Lakers are the eighth seed and the team everyone at the top of the Western Conference would like to avoid in the first round of the playoffs.

 
source:  10. Nets (37-26, LW 11). I’m not sold on Brooklyn but they are continuing to beat the teams they are supposed to beat and with a lineup of the slumping Sixers, the Hornets and the Hawks on the schedule they could keep going. Deron Williams is looking like his old self lately, n

 
source:  11. Celtics (34-28, LW 14). They had won five in a row until they ran into the Thunder on Sunday, and you can’t hold that loss against them. They are winning close games, which is a sign of a veteran team but eventually close games come back to bite you.

 
source:  12. Rockets (34-30, LW 9). They keep losing games a team fighting for a playoff spot needs to win, but they have nine of their next 10 at home so look for them to make a little run and secure a playoff spot in the West.

 
source:  13. Bulls (35-28, LW 10). They have been going through a tough part of the schedule and they stay out West this week to play the Kings and Warriors on the road. But things will lighten up. And Derrick Rose should only come back when he is ready, not before.

 
source:  14. Bucks (32-29, LW 16). Swept a two-game series against the Warriors, with Brandon Jennings having a huge second game. Watch them play lately and you see a lot better ball movement and a lot less isolation. Not sure we should credit J.J. Redick for that, but whatever the reason it’s working they have won six of seven.

 
source:  15. Hawks (34-28, LW 15). When really tested the Hawks rarely seem to pass, such as their loss to Boston last week. This week the Heat, Lakers and Nets are on the schedule to provide real tests. I’m not optimistic for them.

 
source:  16. Warriors (35-28, LW 17). The Warriors are 4-11 in their last 15 and are sliding back down the Western Conference standings. They are just 2-2 on the current seven-game homestand that was supposed to help right the ship. The Warriors miss the old David Lee, and David Lee misses his old, pain-free knees.

 
source:  17. Jazz (32-31, LW 13). They have lost seven of their last eight games (including to a Knicks team missing key players) and have fallen behind the Lakers. The next week gets no easier with the Thunder and Grizzlies on the schedule (and the following week is just as daunting).

 
source:
18. Mavericks (29-33, LW 18). They have won 4-of-5 behind a resurgent Vince Carter. Too late to make a playoff run, but they have played well. The winning ways could slow with the Bucks, Spurs and Thunder on the schedule this week.

 
source:  19. Trail Blazers (29-33, LW 20). As injuries have pushed Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis and others to the side it has become more and more clear Damian Lillard will run away with Rookie of the Year. So, there’s your bright spot, Blazers fans.

 
source:  20. Raptors (25-39, LW 22). Rudy Gay continues to be an enigma to Raptors fans — he missed a whole lot of shots at the end of a tight game against the Lakers, then they cam back to beat the Cavs without him. Raptors fans, my advice is to get used to it.

 
source:  21. Cavaliers (21-42, LW 19). No Kyrie Irving for three to four weeks. Ugh. It might be time to shut Irving down for the season because he’s a franchise-changing player when healthy but the Cavs need him to stay that way.

 
source:  22. Wizards (20-41, LW 21). Bradley Beal being out has seen the Wizards offense take a step back — he and John Wall were starting to find a groove. So Wizards fans, what kind of contract extension would you offer John Wall this summer?

 
source:  23. Suns (22-41, LW 25). No Marcin Gortat for a month. The Suns continue to be a team that can surprise you and beat a playoff team one night, then lose to the worst team in the league the next. They need an identity, and that needs to start at the top.

 
source:  24. Pistons (23-42, LW 24). Andre Drummond is still out and will not be back on this road trip, but he is traveling with the team and was getting a workout in with a trainer before the Pistons faced the Clippers Sunday.

 
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25. Timberwolves (21-38, LW 27). They have lost eight of nine and even Ricky Rubio can’t save this offense — what is the point of a great passer when nobody can finish. Injuries have devastated this roster.

 
source:  26. Kings (22-42, LW 28). Before he was ejected before the end of the game on Sunday, DeMarcus Cousins was already being benched at the end of games recently. What to do about Cousins becomes the issue for the next ownership group, whoever they are.

 
source:  27. Magic (17-46, LW 29). Dwight Howard comes to town on Tuesday, we’ll see how cathartic it is for the fans to get their venom out of their systems.

 
source:  28. Hornets (21-42, LW 26). They blew double-digit leads and lost to the Magic and Lakers last week, and they almost did it a third time to the Trail Blazers but held on for the win Sunday. Still, not a good trend.

 
source:  29. 76ers (23-38, LW 23). The most disappointing team in the NBA this season. On a lot of levels.

 
source:  30. Bobcats (13-50, LW 30). They have lost 10 in a row, their second double-digit losing streak of the season. They also are the first team to 50 losses. So, Bobcats fans, spend March scouting college tournaments for your lottery pick.

  1. danatos - Mar 11, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Coming from a Knicks fan – you moved us up after losing Amare? You must know something about Kurt Thomas that I don’t, fill me in!

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 12, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      It was based on the previous week, not what will happen (like the Warriors game, which was after this was posted). Plus, other teams sucked worse last week.

  2. dls612 - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Miami has been healthy all season if they go through the playoffs without injury no one and I mean no one will beat them! Every team in the league is a witness! Scary huh!!

  3. mungman69 - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    The Bobcats must stink to be ranked behind the Sixers.

    • progress2011 - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:17 PM

      Yep,

      The Bobcats STINK!!!

      Maybe JORDAN should stay out of the news, flapping his gums about who he think is most like him and all his un-documented children all over the U.S.

      AND

      Instead try to put an NBA team together….At this point he is the WORST OWNER IN THE LEAGUE !

  4. progress2011 - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    Chris Anderson is paying dividends !

    He has added some toughness to the paint, which was much needed because Bosh is soft as Charmin !

    • leahcima1 - Mar 11, 2013 at 7:45 PM

      And skill. He plays the pick and roll well. He makes his free throws. He runs the floor. He’s good in the locker room. The guy is a keeper.

  5. dondada10 - Mar 11, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    The highest the Lakers should be is 15.

  6. dko83 - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    I love the Nuggets and can’t wait to see what they do in the playoffs. I personally find the argument that a team can’t win w/o a star as asinine, (they certainly didn’t win with a “star”). Kenneth Faried is one of my favorite players in the league, Ty Lawson is playing incredible and is underrated, and Iggy fits perfect with this team. Just flat out love ‘em.

  7. phillylawhopeful - Mar 12, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    I didn’t even need to open the page to know that the Lakers would be top 10. We get it – the Lakers have a huge bandwagon fan base so media outlets need to appease them but let’s get real. In this run of theirs (Feb 1 – present) they beat teams with an average winning percentage of 42.3%. Their best wins came against Boston, Atlanta, and Chicago (all at home) and Brooklyn (away).

    In the same stretch, they lost to teams with a winning percentage of 68.1%, mostly blowout losses away from the Staples Center. The “streak” they are on (13-5 since Feb 1st) is against a lot of scrub teams. 7 of their 13 wins came against teams with a sub 40% winning percentage. A fortunate schedule (with more than half of their games at home) with a lot of really bad teams led to a 72% winning “streak.”

    Take the Celtics, ranked below the Lakers by two spots on this list: 12-5 in the same time period. Teams they beat had a winning percentage of 50.5%, with wins against the Clippers, Pacers, Warriors, Nuggets, and Hawks. Only 4 of their wins came against sub-40% winning teams. Does the loss to Charlotte really negate the obviously stronger profile? It’s a push in games against. The Lakers lost by 21 to the Celtics away and beat them by 14 at home.

    But, since the Lakers are the Lakers, their (worse) streak makes them “so dangerous” in the playoffs. And, for full transparency, I live in Boston and HATE the Celtics. But, by the numbers, they are a better team than the Lakers.

    • dko83 - Mar 12, 2013 at 10:07 PM

      Wow great post. I agree with everything except the Lakers being “dangerous” in the playoffs. I think the fans just want to make the playoffs since no picks are coming. They will probably lose to a superior team, probably first round, maybe second.

      As a Celtics fan I see where they are coming from. I don’t expect to beat the Heat, but I would LOVE to see them beat someone else on their way to the Heat. So in that regard, Lakers fans should be rooting for and looking forward to playoff basketball. Really feels like the the Lakers and Celts are intertwined this year (possibly forever). Both fan bases just want to see their teams make some noise.

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