The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 20

The Miami Heat Streak is still intact at 23 straight games and they now have sole possession of the 2nd best streak in NBA history. The 33 games by the LA Lakers of 1971-72 are still far away but the Heat have a rather favorable and easy schedule in their next 10 games where only 3 teams (Spurs, Bulls, Knicks) have winning records.

The "mini-streak" is also alive for the Denver Nuggets who have won 13 straight games yet have only moved up by one spot in the tough Western Conference. The Nuggets and Heat are tied for the best home record in the NBA at 30-3.

Meanwhile, the LA Lakers are holding on to the 8th spot even with Kobe missing a few games due to injury. Their supporting cast have managed to contribute (Jamison, Blake, Meeks) and the Jazz keep on wasting their chances by losing on the road.

The playoffs will begin in about a month and the playoff positioning have intensified.

The standings are current up to March 20, 2013. The rankings from last week refer to Week 19.
Shane Battier of the Miami Heat has been an integral part of their 23-game win streak.
He was also part of the Houston Rockets in 2007-08 who won 22 straight.
(Image from: Toronto Sun) 
1. Miami Heat | 52-14 | Last Week: 1 | Same
Have you seen THIS video yet? The Heat has clinched their division already and their next 4 games will be against inferior teams where they have had close calls due to lack of effort and motivation. Their supporting cast has been huge with big games from Chalmers and Allen while Birdman and Battier have been solid.

2. San Antonio Spurs | 51-16 | Last Week: 2 | Same
The Spurs could get Parker back by the weekend but they have been doing just fine without him. Kawhi Leonard has been great lately: 17 points and 7 boards. Meanwhile, Tim Duncan is playing at a MVP-level with 22 points and 12 boards while TP has been out.

3. Denver Nuggets | 47-22 | Last Week: 5 | +2
The Nuggets have won 13 straight games and they have beaten the OKC Thunder 3 times already. Andre Miller and Wilson Chandler have been solid coming off the bench. Chandler dropped 35 points on the Bulls while Miller had 20 points, 7 boards and 9 assists on his 37th birthday.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder | 50-18 | Last Week: 3 | -1
The Thunder failed to catch the Spurs in the couple of weeks that Parker has been out. Durant and Westbrook are still the highest scoring duo in the league but their supporting cast has struggled especially Kevin Martin who is shooting 38% and only 11 points per game in his last 10 games.

5. Memphis Grizzlies | 45-21 | Last Week: 4 | -1
The Grizzlies are #1 in team defense but they also struggle putting up points (26th). They had a bad week losing 2 of 4 games but they beat their playoffs nemesis (Clippers) which gives them a chance to tie their season series with the Clippers and possibly have a better tie-breaker for home-court advantage.

6. Los Angeles Clippers | 46-22 | Last Week: 6 | Same
The Clippers are struggling, alternating wins and losses in their past 8 games. Blake Griffin is having career-lows in points and rebounds although he is playing about 3 minutes less than last year. The Clippers lead the Nuggets by half a game for the 4th spot and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

7. Indiana Pacers | 42-26 | Last Week: 7 | Same
David West has missed their last 2 games with back problems but the Pacers came away with 2 blowout wins to salvage their week at 2-2. They have given themselves a 1.5 games lead over the Knicks for the #2 seed in the East. Danny Granger is considered day-to-day since he is practicing with the team.

8. Boston Celtics | 36-30 | Last Week: 10 | +2
The Celtics almost snapped the Heat streak with Jeff Green erupting for 43 points which was a career-high. That was the most points by a single player that the Heat have given up. The Celtics are a tidy 16-7 since Rondo went down with his injury.

9. Los Angeles Lakers | 36-33 | Last Week: 12 | +3
The Lakers went 2-1 on games that Kobe missed/played less than 12 minutes. Steve Nash has taken a more aggressive approach in his last 10 games (15 points, 6 assists). The role players are also contributing more with the likes of Jamison and Blake scoring double figures in the last week.

10. Brooklyn Nets | 39-28 | Last Week: 11 | +1
Deron Williams has been hot lately and that could be attributed to his improving health. He is averaging 25 points and 7 assists on 49% shooting in his last 10 games. Andray Blatche continues to deliver decent numbers in his limited minutes (13th in PER).

11. Golden State Warriors | 39-30 | Last Week: 14 | +3
David Lee has been their most consistent player so far. Lee has 45 double-doubles which has him at 1st place and he is averaging 19 and 11 for the year. Stephen Curry is tops in threes made at 214 makes (at 45% shooting) and no one else has 200.

12. Houston Rockets | 36-31 | Last Week: 9 | -3
The Rockets are holding on to the 7th spot by just one game and they missed a chance to creep closer to the Warriors by getting killed at home. Jeremy Lin has found his shooting stroke in his last 2 games: 22 points and 6 assists on 54% shooting (Lin is at 42% for the season).

13. New York Knicks | 39-26 | Last Week: 8 | -5
The Knicks got blown out in 4 straight losses and they lost their #2 seed to the Pacers. The Nets are also gaining on them for the division title. Injuries have hit them hard with Chandler and Thomas missing a week while Melo is hobbled by a knee problem.

14. Atlanta Hawks | 37-30 | Last Week: 15 | +1
The Hawks won 3 of 4 games last week which gave them half a game lead over the Bulls and Celtics for the 5th spot in the East. Al Horford has been great lately. He is now 3rd in double-doubles. Zaza Pachulia continues to be hurt (Achilles) and his condition is uncertain.

15. Chicago Bulls | 36-30 | Last Week: 13 | -2
The Bulls got screwed by a missed goal-tending call vs the Nuggets. Nate Robinson exploded for 34 points in that game but the Bulls are still 29th in scoring. Taj Gibson has missed 10 straight games but he could be back soon while Hinrich who has missed 7 games, could be back as well. The same cannot be said of Rose.

16. Milwaukee Bucks | 34-32 | Last Week: 16 | Same
Monta Ellis dominated the 4th quarter vs the Magic with his 25 points to finish with 39. Ellis followed that up with 21 points, 8 assists and 9 rebounds in a win vs the Blazers. Larry Sanders was ejected for the 3rd time this season vs the Heat and his attitude is starting to hurt the Bucks.

17. Utah Jazz | 34-33 | Last Week: 17 | Same
The Jazz could not beat the Knicks without Amare, Melo and Chandler. Thus, the Jazz are still a game behind the Lakers. They have lost 6 straight on the road and their next 3 games are all on the road: at Rockets, at Spurs and at Mavs. They could be a few games behind the Lakers by next week.

18. Dallas Mavericks | 32-35 | Last Week: 18 | Same
The Mavs are 3 games out of the playoffs and they are running out of games to play. Their schedule is not helping too since their 6-game home-stand will be against winning teams. Vince Carter has been solid off the bench lately: 15 points and 5 boards in his last 10 games.

19. Portland Trailblazers | 31-36 | Last Week: 19 | Same
LaMarcus Aldridge was named Player of the Week for the West after going for 27 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in his last 5 games. Aldridge is the 3rd player to average 20+ points and 8+ rebounds for the season. The other two are LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

20. Toronto Raptors | 26-41 | Last Week: 20 | Same
Bargnani might have played his last game as a Raptor already after being ruled out for the season. That opens up more minutes for rookie Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson. Amir has been a monster off the glass lately: getting 16+ boards in 3 of his last 5 games.

21. Phoenix Suns | 23-45 | Last Week: 22 | +1
The Suns had their revenge win vs Steve Nash as they dominated the Lakers by 23 points. Michael Beasley is getting consistent minutes lately which has allowed him to score 10+ points in 4 straight games. Wesley Johnson is also getting minutes and he has responded with 12 points and 4.4 rebounds.

22. Sacramento Kings | 24-44 | Last Week: 25 | +3
The Kings could not beat the Lakers without Kobe but they defeated the healthy Clippers by 15 points. The Kings went 2-1 last week including a 42-point bludgeoning of the Bulls. Isaiah Thomas has been hot lately: scoring 22+ points in 3 of 5 games coming from the bench.

23. Philadelphia 76ers | 26-40 | Last Week: 21 | -2
Andrew Bynum is out for the season without playing a second for the Sixers. The Sixers will have a tough decision over the summer regarding Bynum who will be a free agent. The Sixers have won 2 straight but this season is already lost and their future could be bleaker.

24. Minnesota Timberwolves | 23-42 | Last Week: 27 | +3
Derrick Williams has been showing signs of being a former #2 pick with his extended minutes. He had a career-high 28 points vs the Hornets in a win. Nik Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko are both back from injuries while Kevin Love could be back in the next week.

25. Washington Wizards | 23-43 | Last Week: 28 | +3
The Wizards won 3 of 4 with John Wall leading the way with 24 ppg, 10 apg and 5 rpg on 58% shooting. Martell Webster was hot vs the Suns and had a career-high 34 points on 7-10 from downtown. Webster is shooting 45% from threes and that puts him 4th in the NBA.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers | 22-45 | Last Week: 23 | -3
The Cavs played the Spurs close even without Irving, then they got blown out by the Pacers. They will have a chance to snap the Heat Streak on LeBron's first game in Cleveland this season. They played the Heat close the last time and almost managed a win. A victory on Wednesday will be their championship for decades.

27. New Orleans Hornets | 22-46 | Last Week: 24 | -3
Anthony Davis is starting to play well: 17 points, 9 boards and 1.6 blocks but the Hornets are still struggling for wins. They have been wildly inconsistent for the whole year and the only constant thing has been the remarkable play of Grievis Vasquez who is 3rd in assists per game and 20th in double-doubles.

28. Detroit Pistons | 23-46 | Last Week: 26 | -2
The Pistons have lost 9 straight with 6 of those games happening without Coach Lawrence Frank who was away for personal reasons. Brandon Knight is still injured while Andre Drummond is still out for another week at least. Jose Calderon has been solid with his 11 points and 7 assists in 21 games with the Pistons.

29. Orlando Magic | 18-49 | Last Week: 29 | Same
The Magic lost to Howard and the Lakers during his homecoming and they also lost during JJ Redick's return with the Bucks. They have a tough 4 games coming up: Pacers, Knicks, Thunder and Heat. They have played the Heat close in 2 games (lost by a combined 3 points) so maybe they can eke out a win on the 3rd try.

30. Charlotte Bobcats | 15-52 | Last Week: 30 | Same
The Bobcats had a good week by going 1-2 and they have won 2 of 10. Gerald Henderson has been great of late: 23.4 ppg and 4 assists on 48% shooting. The Bobcats will have a chance to snap the Heat Streak on Sunday since the Heat normally relaxes against inferior opponents.

Biggest Rise: Five Teams at +3
Biggest Fall: Knicks -5
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