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NBA Power Rankings: Streakers go to front of the line

Mar 25, 2013, 4:16 PM EDT

Kings Heat Basketball AP

Obviously the Heat are undefeated in their last 10 games, but in the East the Brooklyn Nets are the only team with a better than .500 record in their last 10 games. Which is why after the Heat the next five spots on this list come from the Western Conference.

1. Heat (54-14, last week ranked No. 1). And the train keeps a rollin… Sure, the Heat have needed comebacks against lesser teams to get the streak to 26 straight wins, but they keep withstanding the best punch of opponents. Good showdown at San Antonio Sunday.

source:  2. Nuggets (49-22, LW 4). The win streak is at 15 and this has not been because of a cupcake schedule — they’ve got wins over the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Grizzlies, Bulls and the Thunder twice now in that 15. Denver is no fluke. Big showdown with the Spurs on Wednesday.

source:  3. Spurs (53-16, LW 2). Tony Parker is back and they keep on racking up wins. The theory among some is that the Spurs have the best shot at Miami out of the West (because of their ball movement and movement off the ball), that gets tested Sunday. Tough week for the Spurs with the Nuggets and Clippers also on the schedule.

source:  4. Grizzlies (47-22, LW 5). They get a quality win over the Thunder (so they move ahead of them in the rankings). Memphis is in a real struggle with Denver and the L.A. Clippers to get the three seed and avoid the 4 vs. 5 first round playoff series between two of these teams — that series will be brutally hard, no matter which two it is.

source:  5. Thunder (52-19, LW 3). Losses to the Nuggets and Grizzlies last week drop them back. As I’ve posted before, those games don’t mean Denver or Memphis can beat OKC in a seven game series, but it means those teams think they have a chance. And that is huge.

source:  6. Clippers (48-22, LW 6). When the season started the questions were: Is the Clippers defense good enough? Will DeAndre Jordan give them what they need in the paint in key moments? As we head toward the playoffs, I still am not sold on either of those, but they can start to change my mind on a four-game road trip this week.

source:  7. Pacers (43-27, LW 8). That loss to the Bulls last week was disheartening — Indy needs to find some offense. Tyler Hansbrough tried to carry the load with David West out (he averaged 15.3 and 10.8 boards in his starts) but it’s not the same. Tough Texas two step at Houston and Dallas this week.

source:  8. Nets (41-29, LW 10). They had a good week, beating Dallas on the road and almost knocking off the Clippers (damn that Chris Paul). They are the only playoff team in the East other than the Heat playing well right now, but will that continue on a Western road swing this week?

source:  9. Knicks (42-26, LW 12). Watching them of late, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals or ousted in the first round again. Anything is possible. Two games against Boston this week, should be an interesting measuring stick.

source:  10. Rockets (39-31, LW 11). That win against the Jazz last Wednesday didn’t seal a playoff spot but came pretty close to it. They just need to keep getting some wins and they are in, but it won’t be easy with the Pacers, Grizzlies and Clippers scheduled this week.

11. Lakers (36-34, LW 7). Soft schedule last week — only Phoenix and Washington on the schedule — and they lost both. If Utah wasn’t a mess the Lakers would be in trouble. Four game road trip this week will be big for their playoff dreams.

source:  12. Celtics (36-33, LW 9). They have lost four in a row and now will be without Kevin Garnett for one game and maybe as many as four or five more. Their defense is average at best with him out. They need to hold off the Bucks, you don’t want the 8 seed in the East and the Heat in the first round.

source:  13. Warriors (40-31, LW 15). Another ankle problem for Stephen Curry. Ugh. He tweaked it Saturday night. That might overshadow the fact the Warriors have played better defense of late.

source:  14. Hawks (39-31, LW 13). A couple nice wins over the Bucks last week has them half a game ahead of Chicago for the five seed in the East. But the uninspiring Hawks are on the road against the Pacers and Celtics this week as the race for seeding in the East goes on.

source:  15. Bulls (38-31, LW 14). Lost to the Nuggets (doesn’t everyone?) but that was a big win over the Pacers last weekend. I know Derrick Rose wants to be 100 percent upon his return, but soon he needs to say he is in or out this season, this thing has become a distraction.

source:  16. Mavericks (33-36, LW 18). They are tied with the reeling Jazz, just two games back of the Lakers. Their next five games are against playoff teams — Clippers, Pacers, and Bulls this week — if they can stay with the Lakers through this stretch they might have a shot at the end of the season.

source:  17. Bucks (34-35, LW 16). I’m throwing Larry Sanders out of this power rankings, just because it’s the trendy thing to do.

source:  18. Trail Blazers (33-36, LW 19). They are three games back of the Lakers for the last playoff spot in the West. They have to make that up and leapfrog two teams, hard to see that happening with the .500 ball they have played of late.

source:  19. Wizards (25-44, LW 20). They are one of three Eastern Conference teams that are better than .500 in their last 10 games (Miami, Brooklyn). Waiting until next season is not fun for fans, but the Wizards should be a playoff team if healthy.

source:  20. Jazz (34-35, LW 17). The Lakers stumbled this week but the Jazz couldn’t do anything about it, losing to the Rockets, Spurs and Mavericks. They remain two games back of the Lakers they need to find some wins. Fast. Lucky for them their schedule lightens up.

source:  21. Timberwolves (24-43, LW 23). Kevin Love wants to come back for some of the final games of the season. He shouldn’t bother. There’s no reason to and a few more Ping-Ping balls doesn’t hurt Minnesota. Save it for next season.

source:  22. Kings (25-45, LW 25). Only one question matters: Do the Kings have six games left in Sleep Train Arena or are there many more seasons? Bet on that all being decided before the Board of Governor’s meeting April 18, the votes will be counted before the owners step in that room.

source:  23. Hornets (24-46, LW 27). As noted by Marc Stein at ESPN: Anthony Davis is averaging 15.1 points on 52 percent shooting plus 9.5 rebounds a game since the All-Star break.

source:  24. Suns (23-48, LW 24). The one bright spot has been Goran Dragic, who dropped 31 points and 11 assists on the Nets Sunday night. He can play and has value, both with the Suns and as potential trade fodder.

source:  25. 76ers (26-42, LW 26). That loss in Denver was just crushing, but they bounced back the next night with a win in Sacramento. Which is something positive. Sixers fans need something positive.

source:  26. Raptors (26-44, LW 21). Lost four in a row and it looks like they might shut Rudy Gay down for the year because of his back (what’s the point in playing him?). By the way, I’m far from sold on Gay and DeMar DeRozan as a combo.

source:  27. Cavaliers (22-47, LW 22). Lost five in a row, although it is the Miami loss that will sting (blowing a 27 point lead to the hated one). And I still think there is little to no chance LeBron returns there in 2014.

source:  28. Bobcats (16-53, LW 30). They won twice last week, so they move out of the cellar here, but they still will have the best lottery odds, which is what they really want. So, Nerlens Noel or Ben McLemore?

source:  29. Pistons (24-47, LW 28). They are 1-9 in their last 10 and until Andre Drummond returns this team is just hard to watch.

source:  30. Magic (18-52, LW 29). They have lost six in a row and now Orlando will be without leading scorer Arron Afflalo for the rest of the season and Nikola Vucevic for a while. Plus, they get the Heat Monday. So, fun times in Orlando.

  1. losanginsight - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    So the heats win streak I because the play in a cup cake conference?
    Yes it is

    • finsfan71 - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      I think you’re ready for your own blog.

    • reesesteel23 - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      Say whaaaaaaaaaaaa?

    • eventhorizon04 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      1/3 of the games during the streak have been against the Western conference, including wins over playoff teams like the OKC Thunder, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Houston Rockets, and Memphis Grizzlies.

      If the Heat continue this streak and beat San Antonio, the Heat will have defeated 4 of the top 5 Western conference teams during the streak, and 6 of the 8 Western conference playoff teams.

      The Heat’s wins against the remaining 2 Western conference playoff teams – Denver and Golden State – came before the streak began.

    • robones - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      I am surprised you have enough literacy to create an account and post comments.

    • dko83 - Mar 25, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      I speak retard, allow me. So the Heat’s win streak is happening mainly because they play in the weaker Eastern Conference, correct? Yes, that is correct.

      Except this isn’t the playoffs and they play teams from both conferences.. drunk poster.

  2. finsfan71 - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    According to a post under another column, the eight seed is exactly what the C’s are shooting for. This should be a lesson to all you kiddies, don’t sniff the glue.

  3. Kevin S. - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    When the circus trip began, people thought the Nets would be lucky to escape with 4-4. Now that would be a disappointment. 5-3 is likely, and 6-2 is conceivable. Strong showing so far in their final major test of the regular season.

  4. southpaw77 - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Miami is taking advantage of alot of injury riddled teams and a weak conference.

    The facts are the Nuggets, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers and Grizzlies would be the 2 seed in the East.

    The injuries are off the map. Bynum with Philly, Rose with Chicago, Granger with Indiana, Kyrie and Varejao with Cleveland, Gasol with the Lakers, Amare with NY, Rondo with Boston, Love with Minnesota and so on. Miami and OKC have got to be the only 2 teams with no major injuries all year.

    • kavika6 - Mar 28, 2013 at 3:19 AM

      Actually a few of those would be the #1 seed in the east if they played as many cupcakes as the Heat play.

  5. themagicfanguy - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    @Southpaw Saying those teams would be the 2 seed in the east is opinion, not fact. Also the Heat have played those teams you listed during this streak and won, so they are feasting on the west too. The Nuggets are on their streak playing mostly the West and they aren’t as good as the Heat, so it makes sense to say that the Heat streak would be intact no matter what conference they play in.

  6. pellypell - Mar 25, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    I have come to the conclusion that no matter what they do, who the play or how they win, there will continue to be naysayers when it comes to the Heat.

    I’m Boston born and bred, and when I die I’ll be Boston dead. I hate the Heat, outside of the Lakers they are our biggest rival right now. With all this said, I respect the hell out of what they are doing and won’t for a second discount this streak. It’s good for the game, sit back and enjoy history in the making.

  7. dko83 - Mar 25, 2013 at 9:51 PM


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