There are less than 80 total games left in the NBA season and one thing is still not clear… Who the hell is playing who in the Playoffs? The Bucks have just five games left and currently occupy the sixth spot in the East, and still haven’t clinched a spot. More than a third of the Eastern teams and a fourth of the Western teams that are currently in the postseason have not solidified that they will even be playing. Only three teams in the East have even been ruled out of contention. On top of that, the higher teams are so close together that we still have teams that could steal a top-4 spot and gain home court advantage.
Needless to say, this next week will be very interesting as you may be surprised at which teams decide to start resting players and which teams keep working for a better placement.
1) Golden State (63-14, 0)
Their recent loss to the Spurs was the first since early March and I don’t think they are too worried about it either. Still the league’s best record by far and the only team above 60, we don’t have to say much else.
2) Cleveland Cavaliers (50-27, 0)
Only had a couple of games this past week so not much ground for them to gain or lose. They’ve proven that they can still be strong even with missing pieces, as long as it’s not Lebron, and that’s important with K-Love and Kyrie dropping at any given time. Definitely the East’s strongest team, as Atlanta hasn’t been the same team since the break.
3) Houston Rockets (53-24, 0)
Everybody is talking about how the Warriors, with all of there talent, only have 14 losses. What about Houston? They only have 10 more losses and have done it quietly with just James Harden. This man refuses to lose and is single handedly keeping this team dominant. That’s what being Most Valuable is all about.
4) Los Angeles Clippers (52-26, +1)
A team that has been up and down all year but it seems like they’re catching heat at the perfect time. They are 9-1 in their last ten games and it is pretty obvious that the return of Griffin has fueled this success. If Jamal Crawford comes back soon, as he should, they will be much more complete and wont have to rely on their first 5 so much.
5) San Antonio Spurs (51-26, +1)
Oh my goodness it’s happening again! This is perhaps the only team besides the Clip Show that is really on a hot streak in the West, going 9-1 in their last ten as well. This is always when this team emerges. A recent win over Golden State shows their ready for a potential second or third round meeting. They are the only team to beat the Warriors twice.
6) Atlanta Hawks (57-19, -2)
This team has struggled as of late but you can’t judge them, they have had the Eastern Conference clinched for weeks. 5-5 in their last ten isn’t exactly the same as not losing in two months and even though they clinched early, the standings still got pretty damn close. Not many teams are still terrified of this Atlanta team.
7) Memphis Grizzlies (52-25, 0)
Despite other Western teams turning it on in the second half of the season, the Bears still have a chance to regain their 2nd overall spot, but resting players may be more important. Playing Dallas would be much nicer than playing San Antonio now but Houston isn’t gonna give that spot back with ease.
8) Portland Trailblazers (50-27, 0)
Sitting idle in the fourth spot of the West, flexing that strange NBA rule that any division leader can’t fall below the fourth spot. They may end up having home court advantage over a team that has a better record than they do, which could be either the Clippers or Spurs. Either way they will be tested without Wesley Matthews.
9) Chicago Bulls (46-31, 0)
Derrick Rose is supposedly coming back sometime this week, so he will have about four games to ready himself for the playoffs. They’re biggest worry is whether or not D-Rose will destroy the chemistry or not, because it’s not like he can get injured another time, right?
10) New Orleans Hornets (41-35, +2)
Anthony Davis and his Crew (which was the proposed name of the new franchise before “Pelicans” was picked and would have been bad-ass) can smell the blood in the water from a struggling OKC team. They just need to pray that Russell keeps playing this brand of basketball that doesn’t help win the Thunder any games. The Peli’s are just 0.5 games back.
11) Dallas Mavericks (46-31, -1)
I don’t know if it’s the drama caused by Rondo or maybe just not enough good deals going down on Shark Tank but this team is 1-2 since we last spoke and 4-6 in their last ten. I wouldn’t say that they wont make the postseason, but they have yet to lock down a spot.
12) Oklahoma City Thunder (42-35, -1)
Like I said last week, Russell is playing out of his mind but it doesn’t help this team very much. They are losing they’re playoff spot little by little and the only real bright spot from this team is Enes Kanter, who found a place he likes to play finally. Man, last year’s MVP and two candidates for this year’s MVP all use to play on this team in harmony. What could have been.
13) Washington Wizards (44-33, +1)
Defense will do a lot for a team, as we have seen for these guys all season and teams like the Bulls and Grizzlies in recent history. But in the words of Uncle Drew, the game has always been about buckets. If you can’t score the ball it’s gonna be hard to win ball games.
14) Utah Jazz (35-42, +1)
Give some credit of this recent success to coach Snyder, who should be in Coach of the Year talks alongside Kidd and Stevens. All three of them took subpar ball clubs and really made a push. If the Jazz weren’t in the West, they would be tied with Boston for the 8th spot.
15) Toronto Raptors (45-32, -2)
Currently rocking a two game skid and a 5-5 record in their last ten. It’s kind of funny that the fourth seed in the East, falls below ten West team’s in the power rankings. They are also a team flexing the division title team rule but,this team is going to need a lot more than Drake in the playoffs.
16) Milwaukee Bucks (38-39, 0)
They finally showed that they can actually win a game on the road, but playoffs means winning at least two in one series since they are on the bottom half of the chain. There is a ton of young talent and Kidd is the perfect ringleader. This postseason would be a perfect opportunity to get these guys some experience.
17) Boston Celtics (35-42, +2)
Moving on up like the Jefferson’s. The Celtics have yet to hit the top half of these power rankings but they are making a move. Earlier this season I said the were showing signs of tanking and here they are holding down a playoff spot. Shut me up Boston, but its not all said and done yet. This week will tell the tale.
18) Brooklyn Nets (36-41, +3)
Going 8-2 in your last ten at this time of the year is definitely something to brag about. BroLo (that’s right I called him that) is being an absolute monster in every aspect of the game and it ahs surged this team of vets to get behind him and work. They turned it on at the right time.
19) Indiana Pacers (34-43, +3)
In a dead tie for the 9th spot in the East right now with none other than the team that knocked them off in the Eastern Conference last year. Oh how the mighty have fallen. This may even be a better battle than last year because it is very possible that neither of them make it. At least PG13 is back. Everybody wins.
20) Phoenix Suns (39-38, -3)
Moves made down the line of the season made it so that this team will more than likely not have a postseason this year. Fear not because their GM is the best in business and he is planning for the brightest of futures.
21) Miami Heat (34-43, -3)
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Sorry I had to say that again because I’m not a fan of any team that The King felt was worthy of his talents. They say that when the going gets tough, Lebron gets going. That might be just what I say actually, but it is tough for Miami right now and you know he is saying, “There’s no place like home.”
22) Detroit Pistons (30-47, -2)
If they win every game from here on out they would still need quite a bit of help from the other four teams that further occupy the eighth seed, to make a Playoff appearance. Remember when they ditched Josh Smith and thought that would actually pay off? Have they never heard of a trade?
23) Sacramento Kings (26-50, 0)
This has been a rollercoaster of a season to say the least, but one bright spot has to be that Boogie has really come into his game. If we can consider Anthony Davis a PF for just one second, then Cousins is the league’s best Center without a doubt.
24) Charlotte Hornets (33-43, 0)
It’s too crazy that someone as low as 24 in the power rankings, has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. Nonetheless, this team does and they could not have gotten Kemba back at a better time than now where every game could make or break a season. Getting in will be tough, but beating Atlanta may propose a bigger problem. I’d take the lottery pick.
25) Denver Nuggets (28-49, 0)
They went from showing signs of improvement under their new coach, to absolutely bombing again. The fact that this team is even close to 30 wins is extremely surprising to me after the last long skid that they took before the changing of the guard. These next games could actually benefit their draft stock if they keep playing like this.
26) Los Angeles Lakers (20-56, 0)
Losing 60 games this year would be a franchise worst, but with six games left it may be too risky to win a couple of them. The Magic have four more wins so it is probably safe to say that if the Lakers achieve this franchise record, then they will also keep their pick for this year. *Knocks on wood*
27) Orlando Magic (24-53, +2)
In line to grab another 5th or 6th pick for this years draft, which hopefully will present somebody a little more useful than Aaron Gordon. The kid has talent but he is too much of an inbetweener, he can’t sufficiently play a guard or a forward in this league. Plus his injuries kept him out for a large chunk of the season.
28) Minnesota Timberwolves (16-60, 0)
The real bright spot for this team is that their rookie Andrew Wiggins truly worked out in their favor and unlike his counterparts Embiid, Parker, Gordon, and Randle, Wiggins has not missed a game. All 82 games in your rookie season as a breakout player! Who can say that besides maybe John Stockton?
29) Philadelphia 76ers (18-60, -1)
Just one more win to match last year’s win mark. Hard to believe that they fell like this since they started out on pace to win at least 30-35 ball games. Or is it?
30) New York Knicks (15-62, 0)
That Larkin guy is sure stepping his game up. I’d talk about their other players but I don’t feel like bringing up a roster just so I can learn who actually plays for this team. Congrats to them on making it to 15 wins, hopefully that’s small enough to bring in Towns, Okafur, Winslow, and Cauley-Stein. Otherwise there gonna need some help.
Detroit ditching Josh Smith paid off enormously. The Pistons went 12-3 immediately after waiving him (two of the losses were to the peaking Atlanta Hawks). Then Brandon Jennings went down for the season with a ruptured Achilles. The injury is the reason the Pistons went back to struggling, and even since then, they’ve had spurts of very good basketball. I hope future power rankings will be written by someone who follows the NBA season more closely, or is at least willing to do some research.