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NBA Power Rankings: Knicks climb up to No. 2

Apr 8, 2013, 4:11 PM EDT

Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd AP

Welcome to the penultimate PBT power rankings for the season. If you win 12 games in a row you can get the No. 2 spot, but if you asked me to pick who wins a seven game series between the Thunder and Knicks it would look different than this ranking. Same with the Spurs. But let’s give the run it’s due.

source:  1. Heat (60-16, last week ranked No. 1). No Dwyane Wade until the playoffs, Chris Bosh is going to miss a few games and you can bet LeBron James misses a few, too. Doesn’t mean much heading into playoffs.

source:  2. Knicks (49-26, LW 5). Winners of 12 in a row and while I don’t read much into beating the Heat without LeBron or Wade, beating the Thunder in OKC Sunday was a statement. Still wonder about their defense but the Knicks are finally going to win a playoff series and if they keep playing like this they’ll win more than one.

source:  3. Thunder (56-20, LW 2). They knocked off the banged up Spurs but lost a playoff-feel game to the Knicks. Their defense is improving — in their last 10 games it is 3 points per 100 possessions below their season average. But their offense seems defendable in crunch time.

source:  4. Spurs (57-20, LW 3). No Tony Parker and no Manu Ginobili and likely that will mean no top seed in the West (they have a one-game lead over OKC). Which is fine, rest and health matter. Healthy they are contender, if not they will fall by the wayside as there is not a lot of margin for error in the West playoffs.

source:  5 Grizzlies (51-25, LW 7). Mike Conley has developed into one of the best defensive point guards in the NBA. But he’s also the Grizzlies late game option — against the Lakers their last two plays were Conley isolation sets. For the playoffs they need something more creative late in games.

source:  6. Nuggets (53-24, LW 6). The Danilo Gallinari ACL injury hurts this team (they can’t go small nearly as well), but not as much as Ty Lawson being out with a foot injury. Lawson being back and close to 100 percent is key to any playoff hopes the Nuggets have.

source:  7. Clippers (50-26, LW 8). The Clippers have won 50 games and will win the Pacific Division for the first time ever. Whatever happens with them in the playoffs we need to acknowledge the best Clippers regular season ever.

source:  8. Pacers (48-29, LW 4). It looks like we should see a Pacers/Knicks second round matchup and that will be fascinating — do the Pacers have enough offense to win that series? Do the Knicks have enough defense?

source:  9. Nets (44-32, LW 9). That loss to the Bulls — very much a potential first round matchup — makes you wonder if the Nets can get out of the first round. They have struggled against NBA playoff teams all season long (14-26).

source:  10. Warriors (44-33, LW 11). One more win and they clinch a playoff spot. Which they need to do soon as Mark Jackson has gone to basically a seven-man rotation of late and he needs to get Stephen Curry and others some rest before the playoffs start.

source:  11. Rockets (43-34, LW 10). I am still hoping to see a Rockets/Nuggets first round playoff matchup, but I’m not sure we’re going to get that. Playing the Thunder would be entertaining as well, but that series isn’t going to last as long.

source:  12. Bulls (42-34, LW 14). Joakim Noah was back Sunday but Luol Deng was out with a hip issue. Forget about Rose, the Bulls could win their first round series if they could just get everyone else healthy and playing grinding defense.

source:  13. Celtics (40-37, LW 12). It feels like everybody wants to see Celtics take on the Knicks in the first round… well, probably not the Knicks. Boston is beatable right now but with Kevin Garnett and their defense the Celtics will be a tough out in the first round.

source:  14. Hawks (42-36, LW 13). We all talk about the Spurs, Nuggets and other teams needing to get healthy for the playoffs but the Hawks are in there, too — if Devin Harris is all the way back to rotate with Jeff Teague they are a much better team.

source:  15. Jazz (41-37, LW 16). After falling al the way back to the Lakers they have gotten hot again, winning seven of eight and getting great play out of Derrick Favors (the key guy they back in the Deron Williams trade).

source:  16. Lakers (40-37, LW 17). Kobe Bryant is willing this team to score and be in games, but the issue remains simply the Lakers defense — Chris Paul carved it up on Sunday and you have to think OKC or San Antonio would do the same if the Lakers even make the postseason.

source:  17. Mavericks (38-39, LW 15). One more win — over the lowly Suns at home on Wednesday — and the Mavericks get to break out the razors and shave the .500 beards. I’d be both happy for them… and a little sad to see the beards go.

source:  18. Bucks (37-39, LW 18). They are pretty locked in to play the Heat in the first round. Can they win a game in that series?

source:  19. Wizards (29-47, LW 19). The win over the Pacers on Saturday show just how good this team can be with John Wall and Nene healthy — keep them that way next season and they are a lock playoff team.

source:  20. 76ers (31-45, LW 20). It needs to be repeated — yes the Sixers rolled the dice on Andrew Bynum but it was a good gamble to make. They thought they were getting a superstar and size to challenge the Heat. But sometimes on gambles you lose, and it’s a huge hole now to dig out of in Philly.

source:  21. Timberwolves (29-47, LW 22). Congratulations to coach Rick Adelman for reaching 1,000 career wins. You’ll rack up more much faster next season if Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are healthy.

source:  22. Raptors (29-48, LW 25). They play only playoff teams from here on out, which could get a little ugly. With all the athletes on this roster, hopefully next year they aren’t playing at the 22nd fastest pace in the league.

source:  23. Trail Blazers (33-44, LW 21). Losers of eight games in a row, but you know they will be up for the game Wednesday and the chance to play spoiler for the Lakers. At least the fans will be.

source:  24. Kings (27-50, LW 23). Who knows where this team will play next year, but in case it is not Sacramento hopefully they can give the fans one last home win there. It better be against the Hornets Wednesday because the only other home game is a week later against the Clippers.

source:  25. Hornets (26-50, LW 24). Eric Gordon was arguing with coach Monty Williams then got benched. Fans in the Big Easy are pretty much done with Gordon and the team will shop him (but guys on max deals coming off knee surgeries are not easy to move).

source:  26. Pistons (26-52, LW 27). It hasn’t always been pretty, but at least they Pistons have played Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe together more. They should have been doing it all season, it’s how they get better.

source:  27. Cavaliers (23-52, LW 28). Cleveland has won two straight, but all anyone is talking about is the status of coach Byron Scott. Well, except for Kyrie Irving, who will not bring it up.

source:  28. Bobcats (18-59, LW 29). He hasn’t drawn a lot of attention, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still looks like a guy who could be a lot better in a couple years. Just got to rebuild the jump shot, his instincts and effort is great.

source:  29. Suns (23-53, LW 26). Losers of nine in a row (and have gone 2-15 in last 17), but they gave GM Lon Babby two more years at the helm with a new contract. Which could mean more Lindsay Hunter as coach. Are they tanking for Andrew Wiggins early?

source:  30. Magic (19-59, LW 30). Their offense is just dreadful. Which is to be expected, but it’s still hard to watch.

  1. fanofevilempire - Apr 8, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    after yesterdays performance against the Thunder
    I agree the Knicks are badass!

  2. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 8, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    2. Knicks (49-26, LW 5). Winners of 12 in a row and while I don’t read much into beating the Heat without LeBron or Wade, beating the Thunder in OKC Sunday was a statement. Still wonder about their defense but the Knicks are finally going to win a playoff series and if they keep playing like this they’ll win more than one.

    ————–

    50-26.

    Which is it? The Knicks beat the Heat by 20 WITHOUT Anthony, Stoudemire and Shumpert, while the Heat were completely healthy. That game “didn’t matter”, the game without James and Wade “didn’t matter”, but the Heat playing the banged up Knicks in the one game they won somehow is more indicative of anything at all?

    They average the same PPG defense. Please explain your constant and erroneous assertion that the Knicks defense is lacking when the Heat are literally a TENTH OF A POINT difference in PPG defense?

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 10, 2013 at 6:41 PM

      Points per game is borderline meaningless — what matters is points allowed per possession. If/when the Heat and Knicks play they will have the same number of possessions a game (give or take one). The Heat allow 100.4 points per 100 possessions this season to the Knicks 103.4 — that’s the difference between good and average. In their last 10 games, the Heat have allowed 95 points per 100 to the Knicks 104 — nine points different.

      Or, you can just watch the two teams play without bias. I couldn’t care less who wins a game between them (or really any game anymore, I don’t even watch Lakers games the same way anymore) and the Heat are clearly the better defensive team.

  3. money2long - Apr 8, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    magic have 3 very nice pieces for the future in vucevic, harkless, and harris. they probably won’t mind sucking another season to get a couple more lottery youngsters into the fold. the present is glum but the future is bright.

  4. 4thquartermagic - Apr 8, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    Memphis ahead of Denver is a joke. What is your rationale for the team with the better record and tiebreaker being behind?

    The only ones worried about Gallinari’s injury is the media outside of Colorado.
    Everyone here knows Gallo is a “nice” player but Wilson Chandler is better. Chandler started for Gallo against a playoff team and scored more points, more threes, had more rebounds, and defended better than Gallo did all season.

    FYI, Nuggets scored 132 points without Gallo.

  5. seannymo - Apr 8, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    knicks have 50 wins

  6. packersareandwillalwaysbebetterthanthebears - Apr 8, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    Power Rankings are based off of what a team at the very moment. A team that has won 12 games in a row with a superstar player that is ON FIRE (and dare I say it, playing as if he were the best player on the planet the last few games), huge wins against the Heat and Thunder and getting amped for the post-season at FULL strength isn’t #1? I could understand if the Heat had Wade, LeBron and Bosh right now, completely healthy. But guess what. They don’t. At this moment, the best team in the league is the New York Knicks.

    The amount of Heat-bias on this website is insane.

    -Coming from a Mavs fan that can’t stand the fact J-Kidd and Tyson are in New York and Carmelo’s punk ass is playing well

  7. lucifershuttlesworth - Apr 8, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    New York is playing very well lately but to put them ahead of five Western Conference teams with better records is ridiculous.

  8. mungman69 - Apr 8, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Watch the Knicks come back to Earth.

  9. nygrwy - Apr 8, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    I am a knicks fan and this list is tough. How do you not put them in front of the spurs or OKC. We barely lost the first game without players to okc. We won big in 2nd game and we beat spurs both times.

  10. yankees218 - Apr 8, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Knicks baby!! Lets keep it going!

  11. bux1022 - Apr 8, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    NY is coming for the #1 spot!! By the way we beat the #1 spot three out of four times, we gave the third game away!! And for all the Knicks haters,from preseason until now, that said we were to old….ask shaq how our a$$ taste!

    • hehateme2 - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:05 AM

      knicks are frauds. enjoy the small success and know the HEAT will STOMP them into dust soon enough.

    • miamatt - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      Settle down, @bux1022. The Knicks have earned my respect this year. But the real season hasn’t even started yet. A bit premature to muse upon the taste of fresh buttocks.

  12. briggdude - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    Knicks at the two spot? Baaawhahahaaa!!

    Delusional!!

  13. theghostofwillisreed - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    so when the knicks beat the heat wi/out amare and melo, did that win count? how about the 20 point win in the first couple of games of the season, kurt? just deal with the fact the knicks shut you up by having a good season, dude.

    i’m in no way saying they can definitely beat the heat but to consistently offeri back-handed compliments does nothing to enhance your credibility.

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 10, 2013 at 2:36 PM

      No regular season games give you any good indications of playoff outcomes. Particularly ones from before the All-Star Game. Teams evolve.

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