NBA Power Rankings (March 24-April 6)
(All stats through Saturday’s games)
(Last week’s rank and change are in parentheses; “NC” means there was no change in rank)
1. San Antonio Spurs (1, NC): The Spurs are doing what they do best — winning lots of games and still managing to fly under the radar. A 12-game winning streak has pushed the Spurs atop the NBA with a league-leading 52 victories — and landed them at the No. 1 spot in the latest installment of my NBA Power Rankings.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (2, NC): Losing Russell Westbrook for an extended period of time due to yet another knee injury could prove costly. At what point do they simply shut him down? Kevin Durant seemed to have no issues taking over like he did last time Westbrook was out, scoring 51 points in the Thunder’s 119-118 double overtime victory over the Raptors on Friday.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (6, +3): The Clippers have quietly gone 13-3 since Chris Paul returned to the lineup and have increased their Pacific Division lead to 4.5 games over the Warriors. Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick are both set to return from injuries, making the strong even stronger.
4. Indiana Pacers (4, NC): Indy has hit a bit of a rough patch, going 7-5 in March. This team is too good to slide too far though, and they’ve still got a three-game lead over the Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
5. Miami Heat (5, NC): Injuries are starting to take its toll in South Beach. LeBron James was forced to sit out with back spasms just one day after scoring 43 points in the Heat’s 100-96 victory over the Cavs. Like the Pacers, they too are struggling in March, going just 6-6 in the month.
6. Houston Rockets (3, -3): After winning five straight to open the month, the Rockets have now lost three out of five. To be fair, the losses were all on the road and to the Thunder, Bulls and Heat. The team has won their last two games without Dwight Howard in the lineup, though.
7. Golden State Warriors (8, +1): The Warriors are turning it on a the right time, winning eight of their last 10 games and inching up the Western Conference standings. Klay Thompson is averaging 25.5 points (on 50.7 percent shooting) and 3.5 3-pointers over his last four games.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (7, -1): The Blazers have done surprisingly well without LaMarcus Aldridge in their lineup this year, going 7-2 in those games, but they’ll need their All-Star power forward healthy if they are to have any shot in the treacherous Western Conference playoffs.
9. Dallas Mavericks (13, +4): Dallas is 9th in scoring this month with 106.4 points per game, and a lot of that has to do with the improved play of Monta Ellis. After making just 42.4 percent of his shots in February, the Mavs’ starting shooting guard is shooting 47.0 percent in March.