Mar 8, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers small forward Evan Turner (12) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Power Rankings: Week 18

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It’s time for my latest NBA Power Rankings as we head into the stretch run of the season.

There’s no doubt who the top team is right now, but as we get ready to watch the final month-plus of the season, there has been a lot of movement as team’s position themselves for the postseason.

With that being said, let’s get right into my Week 18 NBA Power Rankings.

Feb 20, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the 76ers 94-87. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

30. Charlotte Bobcats (13-49): The Bobcats have lost 43 of their last 47 games. That’s beyond bad. What’s even worse than that is the fact that they have lost their past eight games by an average of 24.25 points per game. That’s borderline embarrassing. Last Week’s Ranking-29

29. Orlando Magic (17-46): The Magic have had their own woeful streak, losers of 23-of-26 overall, but did show a lot in a near upset of the Miami Heat this week. Last Week’s Ranking-30

28. Minnesota Timberwolves (21-37): Since January 8, when the Wolves were last over the .500 mark, they’ve gone only 5-26. The one bright spot though has been Ricky Rubio, who have averaged 4.3 steals over the course of the past 10 games.  Last Week’s Ranking-26

27. Philadelphia 76ers (23-38):You have to feel bad for Sixers coach Doug Collins, who is having trouble getting even good efforts from this bunch, much less wins. Philadelphia has won only one of their past 12 and is sinking faster than the Titanic. Last Week’s Ranking-24

26. Sacramento Kings (22-42): The Kings have lost 14 straight on the road to Western Conference opponents, although Marcus Thornton is starting to throw his name in the Sixth Man of the Year race, averaging 22.2 points while shooting 58.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc in his last five games. Last Week’s Ranking-27

25. New Orleans Hornets (21-41): The Hornets have lost seven of nine games since the All-Star break, including a 45-point rout to Oklahoma City and a home loss to the Orlando Magic. However the loss to the Thunder came without Eric Gordon as he is proving to be irreplaceable for the Hornets. When he’s in the lineup they compete. When he’s not, they usually get blown out. Last Week’s Ranking-25

24. Phoenix Suns (21-41): The Suns have won 3-of-5 and have shown something in beating playoff teams in San Antonio and Atlanta as of late. Last Week’s Ranking-28

23. Detroit Pistons (23-41): Since Jose Calderon took over the point guard duties; Brandon Knight has excelled playing off the ball. But it hasn’t helped in terms of wins as the Pistons have dropped four in a row and 7-of-8 overall.  Last Week’s Ranking-20

22. Washington Wizards (19-41): Since John Wall returned, the Wizards are 14-12, although they have lost 4-of-5 as of late. Last Week’s Ranking-21

Mar 1, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters (3) shoots over Los Angeles Clippers small forward Matt Barnes (22) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

21. Toronto Raptors (24-39): Rudy Gay has cooled off some and so have the raptors, losers of 6-of-7. A couple weeks ago it looked like Toronto was going to make a run at the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they now trail the Milwaukee Bucks by eight games. Last Week’s Ranking-17

20. Cleveland Cavaliers (21-41): The Cavs have gone 8-7 over the course of their past 15 games and while Kyrie Irving gets all the attention, youngsters Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson are proving to be nice pieces to build with as well. Last Week’s Ranking-22

19. Portland Trail Blazers (29-32): The Blazers are still in the Western Conference playoff race after winning three of their past four. They also have gotten contributions from their bench, which is the worst in the NBA. Newly acquired Eric Maynor and rookie Meyers Leonard have come of the pine lately to provide a spark. Last Week’s Ranking-23

18. Dallas Mavericks (28-33): The Mavs have a ways to go to sneak into the playoffs, but Dallas has won 6-of 10 to stay in the thick of things for the final playoff spot in the West.  Last Week’s Ranking-18

17. Milwaukee Bucks (30-29): Monta Ellis has heated up and the Bucks appear to be back on track, seeing a four-game win streak snapped with a loss to the Clippers.  Last Week’s Ranking-19

16. Utah Jazz (32-30): The Jazz got point guard Mo Williams back after missing 32 games with torn ligaments in his right thumb, but they’ve been without Al Jefferson as of late and have won only one of their past seven games.  Last Week’s Ranking-10

15. Atlanta Hawks (34-27): The Hawks have lost 4-of-5, but still have a chance to get hot and find a way into a top four seed as they sit only 1.5 games behind the Nets for the No. 4 seed in the East and play Brooklyn twice in the upcoming week. Last Week’s Ranking-16

14. Los Angeles Lakers (32-31): The Lakers are finally over the .500 mark, but just keep in mind that they are only 2-13 against the top five teams in the West.  Last Week’s Ranking-14

13. Boston Celtics (34-27): Boston somehow has gone 13-4 since losing Rajon Rondo, including winning five in a row, but I’m still not sold that they can keep this up. Last Week’s Ranking-15

12. Houston Rockets (34-29): Houston added point guard depth with Aaron Brooks, but it also covers them when Jeremy Lin is struggling, which he has a lot as of late. Regardless, the Rockets have won 3-of-4 and have three winnable games upcoming.  Last Week’s Ranking-12

11. Chicago Bulls (35-27): The Bulls broke a two-game losing streak with a win over Utah, but Joakim Noah looks to be the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year and Derrick Rose has been cleared by doctors to play. The Bulls could be a very tough out in the playoffs. Last Week’s Ranking-13

Mar 4, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) celebrates with point guard Jason Kidd (5) and point guard Raymond Felton (2) in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

10. Golden State Warriors (35-28): The Warriors have lost 5-of-7 and have been slumping, but they play 16 of their final 22 at home where they have a 20-8 record this season. It will be important for them to take care of business as Mark Jackson’s team is one that really needs home court advantage in the first round. Last Week’s Ranking-11

9. Brooklyn Nets (36-26): Deron Williams’ big night Friday from behind the arc made it two wins in a row for the Nets, but you still have to be concerned with their inability to bet good teams as Brooklyn has just a 12-25 record against teams currently over .500. Last Week’s Ranking-9

8. New York Knicks (37-22): The Knicks have a banged up Carmelo Anthony and after hosting Utah on Saturday face a very tough five-game road trip. The Knicks are a team certainly heading in the wrong direction as since their 18-5 start, they’ve gone just a mediocre 19-17 since. That’s not the making of a team that thinks they can contend for a title.   Last Week’s Ranking-8

7. Indiana Pacers (39-23): It’s hard to imagine a team that has gone 8-2 in their past 10 dropping three spots, but that’s how good the teams ahead of the Pacers have been. Despite the drop, the Pacer are for real, losing just six games since January, with three of those coming in overtime. Last Week’s Ranking-4

6. Denver Nuggets (41-22): Denver’s recent stretch of basketball has been great. This is a team that has gone 29-10 since starting the season 12-12, including going an impressive 27-3 at home.  Last Week’s Ranking-7

5. Memphis Grizzlies (41-19): The Grizzlies have won 11-of-12 with their only loss being a tough one in Miami. There haven’t been too many people complaining about the Rudy Gay trade as of late.  Last Week’s Ranking-6

4. Los Angeles Clippers (44-20): The Clippers have won 5-of-7 and are looking more like a team that can contend for a title. But to do that they have to avoid the Oklahoma City Thunder, who swept the Clippers this season, taking all three games.  Last Week’s Ranking-5

Feb 27, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) drives to the basket during the first half against the Phoenix Suns at the AT

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (46-16): Speaking of the Thunder, it’s been business as usual for OKC, winners of 7-of-8. The Thunder now only trail the Spurs by 1.5 games for the top seed in the West.  Last Week’s Ranking-3

2. San Antonio Spurs (48-15): Losses to the Suns and Blazers as of late have knocked the Spurs out of the top spot, but even without Tony Parker-who was having an MVP-type of season- the Spurs have gone 29-7 since late December.  Last Week’s Ranking-1

1. Miami Heat (46-14): There’s not much to say as to why the Heat are back in the top spot. Seventeen wins in a row and counting have done all of the talking for them. LeBron James is poised to win another MVP and it looks like the Heat are on their way to back-to-back titles as the way they are playing right now, it is hard to fathom anyone beating them in a seven-game series.  Last Week’s Ranking-2

Biggest Climber: Blazers (+5)

Biggest Faller: Jazz (-6)

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Tags: Miami Heat NBA Power Rankings New York Knicks Oklahoma City Thunder San Antonio Spurs

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