Apr 8, 2013, 4:11 PM EDT
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
Oct 30, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT
Gasol was dominant opening night, and Derrick Rose is thrilled to finally have some help.
Oct 30, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
Awesome block by Buck
Oct 30, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
Warriors shooting guard met starter criteria in game against Kings
Oct 30, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT
They wouldn’t be the Suns and Timberwolves, would they?
Oct 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Celtics point guard photographed in T station
Old tweets: Kevin Durant uses gay slurs (including at Russell Westbrook), Damian Lillard rips LeBron James
Oct 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Oct 30, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
Rough first night in the NBA to be guarded by Tony Allen.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
New owner could recoup money over next 15 years
Oct 30, 2014, 2:45 AM EDT
Good night to be the Trail Blazers. Not so much for Kobe Bryant.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:27 AM EDT
Boston tops Brooklyn, 121-105
Oct 29, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT
Taj Gibson and the second unit took control of this one.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:13 PM EDT
While the Lakers were flirting with ‘Melo, the Suns came knocking for Thomas.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
The pride of Long Beach State.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:51 PM EDT
Hornets point guard hits game-winning jumper in overtime against Bucks
Oct 29, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT
Charlotte makes large comeback
Oct 29, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT
Oct 29, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT
Barea helped Dallas win 2011 championship, but how much does he have left in the tank?
Oct 29, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
Young Tom Brady dressed as a Celtic
Oct 29, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT
Here’s your chance to see ‘Melo as a knife-wielding henchman.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:27 PM EDT
Boston faces Nets tonight
- Dominant Pau Gasol shows he may be a perfect fit for Bulls 1
- Old tweets: Kevin Durant uses gay slurs (including at Russell Westbrook), Damian Lillard rips LeBron James 18
- Wednesday night’s NBA winners, losers: Chris Bosh wants you to know he is a No. 1 option 16
- Rajon Rondo leads Celtics to rout of Nets. How much does it mean? 8
- Bulls cruise to 24-point opening night win over Knicks 16
- Lakers’ rookie Julius Randle has surgery to repair fractured tibia, out for season 16
- Anthony Davis has zero chance of winning MVP this season 38
- Dwight Howard says he wants to move on from Kobe, Lakers. Actions show feud going strong. 48