NBA Power Rankings: Week 21

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Mar 22, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Brandan Wright (34) comes off the court during the game against the Boston Celtics at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Celtics 104-94. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

15. Los Angeles Lakers (37-36): The Lakers have gone only 4-5 in their past nine and have brought the Jazz and Mavericks back into the playoff picture. Throw in the fact that both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are banged up and there is trouble in Lakerland. Last Week’s Ranking-9

14. Dallas Mavericks (35-37): The Mavs are charging hard at the final playoff spot in the West and now sit a mere 1.5 games behind the Lakers. Dallas has won 9-of-13 as of late with Mike James starting at point and Brandan Wright at center. Last Week’s Ranking-17

13. Atlanta Hawks (40-32): The Hawks just clinched a playoff spot for the sixth straight season, which is impressive because not too much was expected from these guys before the season began. Last Week’s Ranking-15

12. Golden State Warriors (41-32): The Warriors have five consecutive games upcoming against below .500 teams, so they can get hot entering the playoffs. But they didn’t start things the right way by losing to the Kings at home. Last Week’s Ranking-13

11. Houston Rockets (39-32): Houston just completed a seven-game homestand with a 5-2 mark, which included a win over the Spurs. It also all but assures that the Lakers won’t leapfrog them in the standings. Last Week’s Ranking-11

10. Chicago Bulls (39-31): The Bulls turned into streak breakers against the Miami Heat and if they can get Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah completely healthy, they can beat anyone in the playoffs. Last Week’s Ranking-14

9. Brooklyn Nets (42-29): The Nets have won 7-of-10 and Deron Williams is making his case for best player in New York. Williams is averaging 23 and shooting 48 percent since the All-Star break compared to 17 ppg and 41 percent before it. Last Week’s Ranking-8

8. Indiana Pacers (46-27): Many people are very high on the Pacers with the playoffs upcoming, but keep in mind that they are only 4-14 on the road against teams that are currently in the playoff picture. Last Week’s Ranking-7

 

Mar 13, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 117-94.Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

7. New York Knicks (44-26): The Knicks have put it together lately and own the longest current winning streak in the league with six in a row. J.R. Smith is playing the best basketball of his career during the streak because he isn’t settling for jump shots and the Knicks should get stronger with the return of Tyson Chandler to the lineup soon. Last Week’s Ranking-12

6. Memphis Grizzlies (47-24): The Grizzlies have cooled off a bit, having split their past 10 games. One thing to worry about for Grizzlies fans is five straight losses on the road. Last Week’s Ranking-5

5. Los Angeles Clippers (49-23): The Clippers have won 6-of-10 lately and are one win away from 50, which would set a franchise record. Last week’s Ranking-6

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (53-19): Next week, the Thunder have a stretch of games that features the Spurs, Pacers and Knicks in a four-day stretch. It has been  a while since the Thunder have beaten a good team, as their last real good win came March 3 against the Clippers. Last Week’s Ranking-3

3. Denver Nuggets (49-24): The Nuggets saw their 15-game win streak snapped with losses to the Hornets and Spurs. They are still in a good spot to nab home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, which is big because Denver is 32-3 a home on the season. Last Week’s Ranking-4

2. San Antonio Spurs (54-17): Despite Miami’s lengthy win streak, the Spurs sit just two games behind the Heat for the best record in the league. The Spurs can cut that lead in half as they play the Heat this week. The question isn’t whether or not they will win, but whether or not Gregg Popovich will play his best players. Last Week’s Ranking-2

1. Miami Heat (56-15): Win streak over, but still the best team in the league. Although it would be nice to see LeBron James lose in class. He’s the best player in the world. He doesn’t need to cry about not getting calls. He gets plenty. Last Week’s Ranking-1

Biggest Climber- Knicks (+5)

Biggest Faller- Lakers, Celtics (-6)

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