Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NBA Power Rankings #16

1. San Antonio Spurs 58-16
The Spurs, on a franchise-record 18-game winning-streak, have opened up their lead for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs over the Thunder to a seemingly safe 3.5 games seeing that there are only 8 games left for them and 9 for OKC.
Last Ranking: 2
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 54-19
[Likely] losing the #1 seed hurts Oklahoma City because the Memphis Grizzlies, who came into the year looking like legitimate title-conteneders but have been derailed by injuries, appear poised to snag the West's #7 seed and could potentially upset the Thunder in round 1 because of their stifling defense.
Last Ranking: 1
3. Miami Heat 51-22
This time last week, the sky was falling in Miami. They had just lost to the Indiana Pacers to fall back 3 games in the race for the East's highly-coveted #1 seed with just 12 to play, and worse yet, injury-prone semi-star Dwayne Wade injured his hamstring and had to sit out the games final minutes. It seemed like the Heat would settle for the #2 seed and worry about getting Wade healthy for the playoffs. But three horrid losses by the Pacers, and three easy wins for Miami later and the Heat have the sole lead in the East standings.
Last Ranking: 5
4. Los Angeles Clippers 53-22
With swingman J.J. Redick set to return to the ithe lineup this week, the Clippers could potentially pass the Thunder as the West's #2 seed. But who would you rather face in the first-round of the playoffs? Dark-horse title-contenders in the Memphis Grizzlies or a streaky up-and-down team in the Golden State Warriors? I'd say the latter.
Last Ranking: 4
5. Indiana Pacers 52-23
The Pacers have lost three games in a row since they seemingly locked-up the East's #1 seed. And the worst part: they don't seem to know what the problem is. Defensive-superstar Roy Hibbert is publicly calling players selfish, starters George Hill and Lance Stephenson got into a verbal confrontation and had to be separated by teammates, and Coach Frank Vogel is not taking enough responsibility. [Sigh…]
Last Ranking: 3
6. Houston Rockets 49-24
With star Dwight Howard and starter Patrick Beverley out due to injury, Houston has let their lead for the West's #4 seed, and thus home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs, drop down to 1.5 games. The Rockets better find a way to improve their porous defense over this homestretch if they want to maintain the #4 seed. Perhaps stars James Harden and Chandler Parsons could assert themselves a little more on the defensive end of the floor.
Last Ranking: 6
7. Portland Trailblazers 48-27
Damian Lillard looks like, I'm going to say it…a potential future MVP-candidate. The way he can drive in and get a sweet finger-roll finish, or if you're guarding the paint, pull up and effortlessly hit a quick three-pointer or mid-range shot. But despite Lillrard's infinite potential, the glaring fact still remains: the Blazers are just 6-9 in games decided by 3 points or less and are a mediocre 18-20 in games against teams with a winning-record.
Last Ranking: 7
8. Memphis Grizzlies 44-30
Would they be in contention for the West's #1 seed had Marc Gasol not sprained his knee and forced to miss two months of the season? Perhaps. But for now the Griz need to worry about making the playoffs. The Phoenix Suns are breathing down their necks with Memphis only currently sitting at the #8 spot in the conference because of records inside their own division.
Last Ranking: 8

More tomorrow!

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