Apr 1, 2013, 3:01 PM EDT
Only two more power rankings after this, so we are starting to turn our view toward the playoffs. Which still feel like the Heat then everyone else.
1. Heat (58-15, last week ranked No. 1). A gutty performance by the Chicago Bulls ended the Heat win streak at 27. But that was a one-time performance, not something the Bulls could replicate. It would make a great NCAA Tournament upset. The question is who is going to beat the Heat four out of seven games? Anyone?
2. Thunder (54-20, LW 5). We know what the Thunder are going to get from Kevin Durant every night. Same with Russell Westbrook. The question heading into the playoffs is what about Kevin Martin? He needs to start showing up every night — beginning Thursday in the big showdown with the Spurs.
3. Spurs (55-18, LW 3). They will be without Manu Ginobili for a few weeks and maybe even the start of the playoffs due to a hamstring injury. The loss Sunday to a shorthanded Heat shows how much they would miss him come the postseason against an elite team. Short-term question is can they hold on to top spot in West?
4. Pacers (47-27, LW 7). Won four games in a row including a tough Texas two step at Houston and Dallas last week, which gives them seven wins in their last eight. They are finding a playoff groove, too. Big tests against the Clippers and Thunder this week.
5. Knicks (46-26, LW 9). They have an eight-game win streak that comes as they go with a lot of two point-guard lineups (which they used a lot at the start of the Season with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd). Looks like they may get Tyson Chandler back for the Heat showdown on Tuesday.
6. Nuggets (50-24, LW 2). The stumbled after the Hornets snapped their winning streak but they can’t stumble much longer — they have a half game lead over Memphis (tied in the loss column) and one game over the Clippers (a game back in losses) in the fight for the three seed. Get the three spot and it is much easier for them to advance out of the first round.
7. Grizzlies (49-24, LW 4). Marc Gasol is back but this is a team that needs to find it’s playoff groove — they are 5-5 in their last 10. Zach Randolph has been scoring less and they haven’t been great on the road. This week they have three road games including the Blazers and Lakers.
8. Clippers (49-25, LW 6). They went 1-3 on a road trip last week and are another team you watch going to the playoffs and think they are good but not playing at their peak. Do you think Vinny Del Negro can give them the Xs and Os they need (especially when Chris Paul sits)? Can he inspire them?
9. Nets (42-31, LW 8). The Nets are 4-3 on a big road trip that ends Wednesday in Cleveland. Looks more and more like they will host Chicago or Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs — series that wouldn’t shock me if they went either way.
10. Rockets (40-33, LW 10). They went 2-2 in a brutal week (beat Spurs and Clippers, lost to Pacers and Grizzlies) and now look like a playoff lock with some softer games ahead. This is a team that still needs some pieces, but this season has been a nice first step forward.
11. Warriors (42-32, LW 13). For some franchises, just making the NBA playoffs isn’t enough. Golden State isn’t there yet. Breaking out of the shadow of the Cohen era, this is going to be big. The Warriors are 7-3 in their last 10, and while inconsistent at times (you see the loss to the Kings?) just getting into the dance is something to celebrate.
12. Celtics (38-35, LW 12). If they are going to be the seven seed in the East — which looks likely — who do you think they would rather face: New York or Indiana? I’m rooting for the Knicks matchup, but just because that’s a more feisty rivalry.
13. Hawks (41-33, LW 14). Coach Larry Drew ripped Josh Smith’s shot selection last week. What took him so long?
14. Bulls (40-32, LW 15). They ended the Heat’s win streak and have won four-of-five without Joakim Noah in the lineup. They are not going to go far in the playoffs, but they will not be an easy out.
15. Mavericks (36-37, LW 16). If they can get to .500 Tuesday night with a win over the Lakers it will mean much more than just getting to shave the beards, it will be a huge boost for their playoffs hopes. And the good news is the Lakers are just retiring Shaquille O’Neal’s number, they don’t have to play against him.
16. Jazz (38-36, LW 20). They have won four in a row and they hold on to the eighth playoff spot in the West. They have five of their remaining eight at home and four are against current playoff teams.
17. Lakers (38-36, LW 11). Their battle for the playoffs is really up hill now — while they have seven of their last eight at home but six games remain against West playoff teams. As it has been all season with the Lakers, it comes down to their defense. Which remains shaky and isn’t helped by Metta World Peace being out.
18. Bucks (35-37, LW 17). Their hopes of catching Boston for the seven seed in the East — and avoiding Miami in the first round — have died with some average play in recent weeks. So they should revel in making the playoffs before what will be a tumultuous offseason.
20. 76ers (30-43, LW 25). They still officially say they can still catch the Bucks for the eight seed and make the playoffs. I still officially say my next car can be a Maserati Spyder convertible. About the same odds.
22. Timberwolves (26-46, LW 21). Stat of the season for the Wolves, courtesy John Schuhmann at NBA.com: Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio have played a total of 13 minutes together this season. Over three games. And you wonder why they are 20 games below .500.
23. Kings (27-47, LW 22). Despite the turmoil around the team off the court (which could come to a head this week in New York when the two sides pitch deals to a committee of owners) the Kings have played fairly well since the All-Star break.
26. Suns (23-51, LW 24). They have lost six in a row and dropped to the bottom of the West, with a big off-season shakeup seeming likely. The only “good” news is the bottom of the West still has a lot of teams below them in the East.
27. Pistons (24-50, LW 29). Andre Drummond is back. Usually I would say don’t rush a guy back but any time he can get on the court next to Greg Monroe just helps build for the future. It’s a good thing.
28. Cavaliers (22-50, LW 27). Well, they got Kyrie Irving back. Not that it helped them get a win — their losing streak is now up to eight.
29. Bobcats (17-56, LW 28). Not even the recent strong play of Gerald Henderson can help them much with three games against Eastern Conference playoff teams this week.
May 5, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
May 5, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT
The Clippers are playing with house money after Game 1.
May 5, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Really Tony? Who have we seen like Curry before?
May 5, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Conley has missed his team’s last three games.
May 5, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
“I don’t hear y’all crying now!”
May 5, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT
Wall suffered a wrist injury and Beal suffered an ankle injury in Washington’s Game 1 win.
May 5, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
Thomas cost the Knicks $11.6 million following a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007, so putting him in charge of a women’s team seems like an odd choice.
Blake Griffin put up historically-great numbers in Clippers’ last two victories over Rockets and Spurs
May 5, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Griffin became the first player to notch back-to-back playoff triple-doubles since …
May 5, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
San Antonio needs to find ways to create cap space this summer.
May 5, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
The chatter continues, but what if Chicago makes it to the Finals?
May 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Kyrie finished with a game-high 30 points, and these were two of his most difficult shots.
May 5, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT
LeBron was one assist shy of a triple-double, but shot just 9-of-22 and committed 6 turnovers in Cleveland’s loss.
May 5, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT
Stonecutter’s Credo continues to be popular in NBA circles.
May 5, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
The Grizzlies need Mike Conley’s return to have a realistic shot.
May 5, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Mike Budenholzer needs to lean on his starters more.
May 5, 2015, 1:45 AM EDT
The Rockets did not have an answer for him.
May 5, 2015, 1:22 AM EDT
“There are no excuses, they played better than we did.” —Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale
May 5, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
But the Knicks will have the higher pick.
May 5, 2015, 12:02 AM EDT
That one worked out OK.
May 4, 2015, 11:19 PM EDT
Popovich still hates the rule.
- PBT Extra: Will Doc Rivers sit Chris Paul in Game 2? 0
- Tony Allen on MVP Stephen Curry: “It ain’t nothing I ain’t never seen before” 10
- PBT Extra: Grizzlies searching for answers, Mike Conley in Game 2 1
- PBT Extra: Hawks need to lean on starters more, hit open looks in Game 2 0
- CP3 who? Clippers come from behind to take Game 1 from Rockets on road. 23
- Bulls ride hot start, strong shooting night to Game 1 win in Cleveland 25
- Chris Paul out for Game 1 of Clippers-Rockets series 1
- PBT Extra: Stephen Curry is the MVP for a modern NBA 13