NBA Power Rankings
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 3/31/2010
The playoff races appear to be a little anticlimactic with the exception of the Bulls and Raptors fighting for the chance to be rushed out of the playoffs in the first round by the Cavaliers. There are already 11 teams eliminated, leaving only three teams with a chance to get into the top eight of their conference. Last week’s ranking in parentheses and teams eliminated from the postseason are denoted with an asterisk.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (1)
That three-game losing streak after the All-Star break back in February seems like a distant memory. Cleveland has not even lost three TOTAL games since then. They are on a 15-2 SU run as they prepare to redeem themselves in this year’s postseason.
2. Orlando Magic (4)
It may not translate to the best record in the league, but the Magic have the best defense and best point differential in the association. That will translate into plenty of success during the postseason.
3. Los Angeles Lakers (2)
The Lakers continue to struggle against playoff-caliber teams, their defense has dropped off considerably in the recent weeks and Andrew Bynum is hurt. The Lakers had a great regular season, their playoff future does not look as bright.
- Dallas Mavericks (3)
The Mavericks have big-game players and they showed that again in a 109-93 thumping of the Denver Nuggets on Monday. That win should give Dallas the inside track for a top-four seed in the West.
- Phoenix Suns (10)
The hottest team in the league right now, the Suns rip off an eight-game winning streak and they do it without Robin Lopez. The Suns are taking advantage of the Nuggets collapse to ensure a first-round home court advantage.
- Utah Jazz (7)
With the way the Jazz have been dominating teams at home (30-8 SU) this past week’s Sweet 16 and Elite Eight played in Salt Lake City may be the most drama the venue will have this season.
- Atlanta Hawks (5)
A play like Josh Smith’s buzzer-beating dunk may never be seen again; then again, neither will a colossal let down two nights later in a loss to the lowly 76ers.
- Boston Celtics (9)
The Celtics look like anything but a division champion. They will be interesting to watch in the playoffs, but you better enjoy it while it lasts. The Eastern Conference semifinals look like the ceiling for this aging bunch.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (8)
After a 91-75 drubbing of the Lakers Friday night people may stop talking about the Thunder’s great offense and future potential and might start talking about their top-notch defense and current potential.
- Denver Nuggets (6)
It has been an unfortunate turn of events for the Nuggets towards the end of the season. With their coach ailing back in Denver, the Nuggets fell apart on the road, only able to salvage one win at struggling Toronto and they needed a buzzer beater just to do that. What once looked like a team to challenge the Lakers for a top seed, Denver now looks headed to a fifth or sixth seed.
- Portland Trail Blazers (12)
Looks like another distraction for a franchise that has had plenty of them. Couple the front office drama with the injuries and the Trail Blazers are defying the odds by hanging with the NBA elite.
- San Antonio Spurs (11)
The Spurs are reeking of inconsistency right now. After they knocked off Cleveland and then Boston on the road, the Spurs go out the very next night and lay an egg at New Jersey, ensuring the Nets will not set a record for futility.
- Milwaukee Bucks (14)
The team that was not going to the playoffs is all of a sudden the team nobody wants to see in the playoffs. The Bucks have taken over the Raptors role as being that No. 5 seed
- Miami Heat (17)
The Heat are no longer fighting for a playoff spot, but rather the fifth seed now. They have come on strong lately and even though it is the Eastern Conference, they are playing like they deserve a playoff spot. They also have one of the easiest schedules to close out the season so that fifth spot in the East is not as far as some may think.
- Charlotte Bobcats (20)
The Bobcats may have put the cart before the horse when it comes to these upcoming playoffs. A loss to the Raptors, a team who could not find a win this past month with a compass, could spell doom down the stretch for Charlotte.
- Memphis Grizzlies (19)
The season could be considered a moral victory for Memphis. They are almost assured of a winning record and while that unlikely will not translate into a playoff trip, they can take solace knowing that if they were in the right conference, they would still playing basketball late into April.
- Houston Rockets (15)
It has been a slow and painful end to a season for the Rockets. It was a season that had playoff aspirations but it has been nothing but losses after the trade deadline. Next season, however, could be a big year for Houston. This one though, could not end soon enough.
- Toronto Raptors (13)
Chris Bosh talked about winning a division title a month ago and nobody laughed. After a March meltdown Bosh and the Raptors are just trying to extend their season into the playoffs. They’ll need to hold off the Bulls, an easy proposition the way Chicago is playing, but don’t be surprised to see another April slide keep the Raptors home from the postseason.
- Chicago Bulls (16)
The only reason Toronto looks to still have a shot at these playoffs is because of the total collapse down the stretch by the Chicago Bulls. Time is running out for them to get their act together and extend this season, but it looks like even the fans are already looking ahead to a big offseason splash.
20. *New Orleans Hornets (18)
Any team in the league would love to have either Darren Collison or Chris Paul. The Hornets now have both after Paul returned from injury. For a team that does not have much, it has the best point guard tandem in the league.
- *Indiana Pacers (26)
Even when they win the Pacers still find a way to frustrate their fans. The Danny Granger-led Pacers have gone 7-2 SU over the last three weeks and that includes blowout wins over Oklahoma City and Utah. Their fans have to be wondering where this was all season, and on top of that all the Pacers are doing are hurting their draft stock right now.
- *New York Knicks (27)
On any given night the Knicks can go to Dallas and win by 36, but like they showed five nights later they can also go to Phoenix and lose by 36.
- *Los Angeles Clippers (21)
The Clippers must have the best homecourt advantage in the league. They play above .500- basketball at home. That is amazing considering they are 20 games under .500 as a team.
- *Sacramento Kings (24)
Tyreke Evans made his best argument for Rookie of the Year by sitting on the bench. Out with an injury the Kings struggled, losing seven of eight including a loss to the lowly Nets.
- *Detroit Pistons (21)
The norm around Detroit just a few years ago was 50 wins, now Detroit has officially reached 50 losses.
- *Golden State Warriors (28)
What appeared to be a foregone conclusion coming into the year and then thrown into doubt by an awful season, now looks to be certain again. The Warriors only need three wins to make coach Don Nelson the all-time leader in coaching wins in the NBA. It is sad the feat had to come during a season like this, but at this point Nelson will take anything he can get.
- *Philadelphia 76ers (23)
The 76ers were one of only two teams in the entire league to have a better record on the road than at home. Not sure what that translates to but it has to count for something for a team who didn’t have much of anything going for it this year.
- *Washington Wizards (22)
Gilbert Arenas will not have to go to jail and that might be unfortunate for him. He will now be subjected to Wizards basketball. They are in the midst of a 16-game losing streak.
- *Minnesota Timberwolves (29)
Another team working on a 16-game losing streak is Minnesota. Any other year the Timberwolves would be the butt of all the jokes. Luckily they picked a good year to be bad with the Nets near-historic run. Minnesota looks poised not to win another game this season. They have lost 16 in a row dating back to February.
- *New Jersey Nets (30)
By winning their 10th game of the year the Nets will avoid infamy. That is nothing to pop champagne over, but considering how bad the Nets were this year, maybe it is.