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NBA Power Rankings: Heat end rankings where they ended last season

Apr 15, 2013, 7:43 PM EST

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers AP

For the final power rankings of the year my criteria are simple: Who do I think is most likely to win a seven game series between the teams right now. It is essentially a playoff rankings.

source:  1. Heat (64-16, last week ranked No. 1). For a couple games this week the Heat rolled out their big three together, don’t expect to see that again until this weekend. By the way, the Heat have won six in a row, the longest winning streak in the NBA.
source:  2. Thunder (59-21, LW 3). They remain the gold standard in the West, if you’re going to the finals the road swings through Oklahoma City. Yes, their offense can be a bit predictable, but when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook run it good luck stopping it.
source:  3. Spurs (58-22, LW 4). The Spurs have lost three of five and Gregg Popovich was very frustrated after the Spurs loss to the Lakers, saying Tim Duncan was the only guy playing like he wanted to win a championship. The Spurs are a veteran team that should get it together for the playoffs, but it puts a seed of doubt in my mind.
source:  4 Grizzlies (54-26, LW 5). It’s looking more and more like it will be Clippers vs. Grizzlies in the first round (although that is not set) and that has to scare Memphis. The Clippers won twice on the road to knock the Grizzlies out of the playoffs last year and they just went into Memphis and beat them again. Still, I have a feeling Memphis could make a deep playoff run this year.
source:  5. Nuggets (55-25, LW 6). It’s the team a lot of people want to see succeed — but with Danilo Gallinari out, Kenneth Faried maybe hobbled (they aren’t giving a return date but don’t expect him back for the playoff opener) and Ty Lawson coming of an injury, I fear they are just not the same team. Which is too bad, I had high hopes.
source:  6. Knicks (53-27, LW 2). I can hear Knicks fans ripping me for the Knicks ranking, but let me say I am convinced they are the second best team in the East. That grinding win over the Pacers was a good sign for a team that has grinding Boston coming in the first round.
source:  7. Clippers (54-26, LW 7). They have won five in a row including a quality win in Memphis last week. Which is huge because that is likely their first-round opponent. I still am not sold on their defensive consistency. Can Vinny Del Negro get them to the conference finals?
source:  8. Pacers (49-31, LW 8). If they end up facing the Bulls in the first round it’s going to be tough — it will be a low scoring, grind-it-out series where the winner will be bloodied and then likely have to take on the Knicks. Indy needs to find consistent offense, and we’re looking at you, Roy Hibbert.
source:  9. Nets (47-32, LW 9). They will be the four seed, and considering this team won 33 percent of its games last season and hasn’t been above .500 since 2006. Deron Williams is playing like his old self and they will be a favorite in the first round of the playoffs (not so much against Miami in the second).
source:  10. Rockets (45-35, LW 11). Houston is one of the league’s youngest teams and they made huge steps this season (likely finishing the six seed). It’s unlikely they get out of the first round but they will not go quietly in that series.
source:  11. Warriors (45-35, LW 10). Golden State is another young team that made a big leap this year, but if they get the Clippers in the first round they could push Los Angeles (they won three of four in the regular season). A team with a shooter and player like Stephen Curry is dangerous in any game.
source:  12. Bulls (43-36, LW 12). There may be no team harder to predict in the playoffs — their defense has been down of late but come the playoffs you expect the focus and attention to return on that end. But what kind of offense they get varies dramatically night to night. Still, teams in the East would prefer to avoid them
source:  13. Hawks (44-36, LW 14). What does it say about the Hawks that they are the team everybody in the East would prefer to play instead of the Nets or Bulls? Well, that they’re still the Hawks. Same as it ever was.
source:  14. Celtics (41-39, LW 13). They get the Knicks in what should be the most watched and quite entertaining first round series. They are going to defend, but the question is can they get enough offense out of Jeff Green and other role players to win more than a couple games.
source:  15. Lakers (44-37, LW 16). With Kobe Bryant out the Lakers went to a fairly standard offense — pound the ball inside with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, then hope somebody can make enough outside shots. It will work fine in the playoffs, it’s the defensive end of the floor that will be their undoing no matter who they face.
source:  16. Jazz (42-38, LW 15). If they make the playoffs or not (and probably not), Ty Corbin is going to be back as coach of the Jazz next season. Aside that there are going to be a lot of changes this summer. Hopefully one is to get a new point guard.
source:  17. Mavericks (40-40, LW 17). They reached .500 and Dirk Nowitzki got to shave his beard, but this season was a disappointment. Thing is, they will make moves this summer but it’s hard to see how any really make any big moves to get dramatically better. Other than having Dirk healthy all season.
source:  18. Bucks (37-43, LW 18). They will make the playoffs, but only because the rest of the bottom of the East is so bad — Milwaukee has lost 11-of-14 down the stretch.
source:  19. Wizards (29-51, LW 19). When they got John Wall and Nene healthy at the same time they looked like a playoff team. They will bring Wall back with a big contract, whether they can keep Nene healthy next year is the bigger question.
source:  20. 76ers (32-47, LW 20). No Doug Collins next season. We’ll see about Andrew Bynum. But the Sixers rebuilding process is going to take a lot longer than they thought it would last summer, the gamble on Bynum came up snake eyes.
source:  21. Trail Blazers (33-46, LW 23). They have the Rookie of the Year in Damian Lillard. They have an All-Star in LaMarcus Aldridge. They have some good role players such as Nicolas Batum and Will Barton. If they get a real defensive center this team could make a big jump next season.
source:  22. Timberwolves (30-50, LW 21). If they can just keep Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love healthy they should make the playoffs next season. But if Rick Adelman decides to retire and be with his wife (who has battled illness) he will be very difficult to replace.
source:  23. Raptors (31-48, LW 22). They don’t have a lottery pick (unless they land in the top three it goes to OKC) but they can still make one dramatic move to improve the team this summer — trade Andrea Bargnani. It just won’t be that easy.
source:  24. Pistons (28-52, LW 26). If they bring back Jose Calderon, if Andre Drummond can make the kind of leap we hope from him, if they can get a role player or two that fit, the Pistons are a team that could make a jump up into the playoffs next season.
source:  25. Kings (28-51, LW 24). We will likely know in a week for sure if the Kings will be in Seattle or Sacramento next season. Talk about a situation where both sides deserve a win. The good news on the court is that a new ownership, new front office and new coach is bound to make this team better no matter where they play. They need a fresh start.
source:  26. Hornets (27-53, LW 25). Anthony Davis is still the future — he needs to get stronger (that may help reduce his injuries). He needs to keep playing and watching film. Meanwhile the Hornets need to figure out what they are going to do with Eric Gordon.
source:  27. Cavaliers (24-55, LW 27). They have Kyrie Irving and a ton of cap space, plus young players like Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters that can be part of a good rotation going forward. They have a lot of cap space. This is a team poised for a jump.
source:  28. Suns (24-56, LW 29). They thought they would get an extra lottery pick when the Lakers missed the playoffs, but the Lakers made a late run. Been that kind of season for Suns. They are not changing management, we’ll see about the coach, but they have a lot of building to do.
source:  29. Bobcats (19-61, LW 28). Another team with a long road to getting better, and they could use some luck in the lottery. The one other big job for the summer — re-work Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump shot.
source:  30. Magic (20-60, LW 30). Remember that 25 games into the season this team was playing over its head — they went 12-13 to start, 8-47 since. The plan has been to be bad, get draft picks, get free agents and that means they will be bad and be drafting for a few years. But there were bright spots such as Tobias Harris and how hard they played by coach Jacque Vaughn.

  1. eboneseagles - Apr 15, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    The fact the grizzlies are 4 is pretty stupid, the spurs have looked so beatable recently I have no idea how they have done so well. The knicks at 6 doesn’t make a ton of sense, is put them at 3 or 4. But I guess going 15-1 in your last 16 puts you behind a grizzlies team you destroyed during that streak…

    • bigmeechy74 - Apr 15, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      Because the grizzlies have been better all year and they play in a much tougher conference.

      • marcusfitzhugh - Apr 16, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Are the rankings for the last week? Entire year? The decade? The team’s entire existance? Or is it “right now”?

        The writer may be simply taking the win/loss percentages and building a case for the obvious (and if he is, he’s shafting the Clippers).

        If it’s “right now”, the Spurs have dropped 2 in a row and lost 6 of the last 10 games. The article talks about them needing to ‘get it together for the playoffs’. How does a team that had a bad week and clearly needs to “get it together” move up in the rankings from 4 to 3 in a week? Conversely, in the last two weeks the Knicks have beaten Miami, Atlanta, OKC, and Indy – all playoff teams. Yet they dropped several spots. Whats this system based on? Hottest cheerleaders?

  2. moe0594 - Apr 15, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    As a Knick fan, your ranking means NOTHING at all!!!

  3. mungman69 - Apr 15, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    The Knicks are properly ranked. Only a Knicks fan couldn’t understand that ranking, biased as they are.

  4. eflem80 - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    The knicks are just went 16-1. Over that run they routed Memphis, beat OKC in OKC, & beat the Pacers at their own game. They also did most of this without Chandler & K-mart….yet good old unbiased Kurt has them ranked 6th of course.

    • brutl - Apr 15, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks lost in the first round.
      If it’s about who can beat who, you should probably put the Clippers above them, as well as the others.

    • leahcima1 - Apr 16, 2013 at 4:38 PM

      Knicks fans,

      You’ll notice that arguing with someone who has a different opinion than you never won a championship. They play the games to decide that. But I have every confidence the Knicks will end up exactly where they are supposed to. :)

  5. bball2109 - Apr 15, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    NY Knicks won’t go past the first round. they are a good season team and a bad playoffs team.

    funny to see NY fans crying because of the reality they have to face

  6. jollyjoker2 - Apr 15, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    Knicks have not done anything in 20 years, you can’t put them any higher. Clippers higher than the pacers?

    • macctwt - Apr 15, 2013 at 11:47 PM

      Except make it to.two.NBA.finals

  7. jrod2go - Apr 16, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    Last week Knicks were #2 and this week #6.. One loss to the Bulls drops you 4 spots?? And I could care less because it’s not like they’re hanging banners from these DA rankings. Just pointing out this turd’s terrible ranking system is haphazard at best.

  8. bux1022 - Apr 16, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Knicks at 6? We beat every team in front of us, including the spurs. 2 to 6 in a week. Terrible article from Kurt, again! How did u get this job? Online application?

  9. robones - Apr 16, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    I loved reading all the comments and based on the posts, the overall consensus is the Heat team are the top dog and everything else is fighting for spots. Can’t wait for the playoffs to start!!! I also agree, NY are not moving past the first round. If they make it deep enough to play against the Heat, they will be destroyed.

  10. borderline1988 - Apr 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    The Knicks will likely have to play Boston and Indiana, for the right to face the Heat in the 3rd round.

    I’m not sure they will even get there…

  11. bux1022 - Apr 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Likely? The Knicks play Boston on Sat. And we’ll beat every team put in front of us until we meet the heat in the ECF.

  12. protectthishouse54 - Apr 16, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    For some reason, people see the Knicks as a paper tiger. I don’t see it that way, but it’s up to the team to prove em wrong.

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