The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 21

The Miami Heat Streak is at 27 straight and counting. Their winning streak has more wins than10 other teams. Their next major test will be on the road versus the Bulls (#28), then the Hornets on Friday and finally the biggest test of them all, the Spurs (#30) on Easter Sunday. Nothing is guaranteed here and the Heat could lose before facing the Spurs but that will still be a big game regardless of a winning streak or not. Most critics believe that only the Spurs can beat the Heat in the Finals.

The "mini-streak" for the Denver Nuggets was snapped at 15 by the short-handed New Orleans Hornets (Pelicans) who could get a chance to snap the Heat Streak when they play them on Friday. The Nuggets had a couple of close calls and lucky wins in their past few games and they finally lost their good fortune in a rout. It boiled down to no Ty Lawson, no more winning streak.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics had a chance to move up to the 5th or 6th spot in the East about a week ago but 4 straight losses have firmly kept them on the 7th spot. That could be an awesome first round meeting with the Pacers or Knicks. Over in the West, the LA Lakers are holding on to the 8th by a game over the Jazz and the surging Mavericks The Lakers are facing another injury problem with MWP probably missing a week or more with a knee injury. Oh my, things are getting very exciting and interesting in the 10+ games left in the regular season.

The standings are current up to March 27, 2013. The rankings from last week refer to Week 20.
Chris "Birdman" Andersen has taken flight in Miami.
The Heat has won 27 straight with him in the lineup
(Image from:
1. Miami Heat | 56-14 | Last Week: 1 | Same
The supporting cast of the Heat has been great during this Heat Streak. They are playing as a team with unselfish players who know their roles. One of them is Chris Andersen who gives them an able big man who can score on alley-oops and get key blocks. The Heat is 29-1 with Birdman in the lineup.

2. Denver Nuggets | 49-23 | Last Week: 3 | +1
The Nuggets are 15-1 in their last 16 games and they are tied for 1st in best home record (32-3). They have performed well vs the four other elite teams in the West (9-4). Wilson Chandler has given them a major boost off the bench (last 8 games: 14 ppg and 5 rpg).

3. San Antonio Spurs | 53-17 | Last Week: 2 | -1
The Spurs went 6-2 without Parker then he came back a week earlier than projected. They are 1-1 since his return with Parker going for 22 points and 6 assists. Duncan has been great too with 24 points and 13 boards in the last week. That game vs the Heat on Easter will be BIG!

4. Oklahoma City Thunder | 52-19 | Last Week: 4 | Same
The Thunder struggled with 2 losses against the Nuggets and Grizzlies but they recovered by beating weaker teams (Magic and Blazers). Kevin Durant and Westbrook are tied with shot attempts in their last 5 games but KD has been terrible with turnovers lately (4.8 turns to 2.6 by Westbrook).

5. Memphis Grizzlies | 47-23 | Last Week: 5 | Same
Marc Gasol is out indefinitely with an injury and their team defense could suffer without one of the best all-around centers. Zach Randolph is healthy again and playing well while Jerryd Bayless has been impressive off the bench (15 ppg in last 10). The Grizz are still 2nd in team defense.

6. Los Angeles Clippers | 48-23 | Last Week: 6 | Same
The Clippers are 5-5 in their last 10 games and they are holding on to the 4th spot by just 0.5 games ahead of the Grizzlies. Blake Griffin has been quiet offensively in his last 3 games: 11 ppg and 8 rpg. Their 17-game win streak in Nov-Dec has long been forgotten.

7. Indiana Pacers | 44-27 | Last Week: 7 | Same
The Pacers have endured the season-long injury to Granger and they have been winning without him. The injuries to David West and George Hill could cost them a couple of losses, thus allowing the Knicks to grab the #2 seed. Roy Hibbert has started to contribute more lately: last 10 games: 15 ppg and 9 rpg.

8. New York Knicks | 43-26 | Last Week: 13 | +5
The Knicks have won 5 straight making them the 2nd hottest team to the Heat. Kenyon Martin has been great of late, scoring double figures in 3 of his last 5 games. JR Smith has been hot too as he torched the Celtics with 32 points and 7 boards on 54% shooting plus a win.

9. Brooklyn Nets | 41-29 | Last Week: 10 | +1
Brook Lopez has been in the top 5 in PER for most of the season. He has been very efficient in their last 10 games: 20 points on 56% shooting. His frontcourt mate, Reggie Evans has been a beast on the glass. He has grabbed 10+ rebounds in 11 of 12 games in March.

10. Golden State Warriors | 41-31 | Last Week: 11 | +1
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are ranked 1 and 3 in threes made while the Warriors are #1 in in three-point shooting. Andrew Bogut has struggled scoring but his defensive presence (2 blocks) and rebounding (9 per game) have been a great boost to the Warriors.

11. Houston Rockets | 39-31 | Last Week: 12 | +1
The Rockets have won 3 straight and they are putting distance between them and the 8th spot. They have 3 tough games coming up versus playoff teams including a back-to-back against the Grizzlies and Clippers. James Harden has scored at least 20 points in 10 of 11 games including the last 5 games.

12. Atlanta Hawks | 39-32 | Last Week: 14 | +2
Kyle Korver has made at least one trey in 63 consecutive games for the Hawks. He leads the NBA in 3P% at 46 percent. The Hawks have a chance to catch the Bulls for a higher seed and distance themselves from the Celtics with wins in their upcoming games (Raptors, Celtics, Magic).

13. Chicago Bulls | 38-31 | Last Week: 15 | +2
The Bulls have a chance to end the Heat Streak but they will have to do it possibly without Joakim Noah and Richard Hamilton. Derrick Rose is still not expected to play unless a big surprise debut is planned. Nate Robinson has been solid lately: 19 points and 7.6 assists in his last 5 games.

14. Los Angeles Lakers | 36-35 | Last Week: 9 | -5
A week ago, the Lakers had a chance to climb up to the 6th spot but 3 straight losses to weaker teams including the Suns and Wizards have kept them at the 8th spot. Their core group of Nash, Howard, Gasol, MWP and Bryant is 6-13 when playing together.

15. Boston Celtics | 36-34 | Last Week: 8 | -7
The Celtics have lost 5 straight and Kevin Garnett could be out another week while Courtney Lee has a sprained ankle. The Bucks are lurking by 1.5 games behind them and their once decent record since Rondo was lost for the season has been reduced to 16-11.

16. Dallas Mavericks | 35-36 | Last Week: 18 | +2
The Mavs are suddenly back in the playoff hunt for 8th spot. They will play 6 of their last 11 games at home and 6 games will be against playoff teams. The will play the Lakers next Tuesday and a win would give them a tie-breaker edge on the Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 33 vs the Clippers in a win.

17. Milwaukee Bucks | 34-35 | Last Week: 16 | -1
The Bucks have lost 3 straight but they are safely in the playoffs since the 9th spot in the East is behind by 7.5 games. Larry Sanders had 3 double-doubles in his last 5 games and he still leads the league in blocks. Sanders also leads the league in ejections at 5. 

18. Utah Jazz | 35-36 | Last Week: 17 | -1
The Jazz need to catch the Lakers and simply end up with the same record since they own the tie-breaker against them. They have winnable games vs the Blazers and Suns coming up, plus their remaining schedule features only 5 of 11 playoff teams down the stretch. 

19. Portland Trailblazers | 33-37 | Last Week: 19 | Same
It seems that the Blazers are a long shot to squeak into the playoffs unless they win all their remaining games especially the ones vs the Lakers, Mavs and the Jazz twice. It will be very tough since 9 of their remaining games will be against playoff teams.

20. Washington Wizards | 26-44 | Last Week: 25 | +5
John Wall erupted for a career-high 47 points and 8 assists vs the Grizzlies in a win. That was the first 40+ point game allowed by the Grizzlies for the season. The Wizards are a decent 21-16 with Wall in the lineup. If he played for the whole year, the Wizards could certainly be in the playoffs.

21. Philadelphia 76ers | 27-43 | Last Week: 23 | +2
Spencer Hawes is not on the same level as Bynum but at least Hawes is playing and healthy. Hawes has been solid in his last 10 games: 15.5 ppg, 10 rpg and 2 bpg. The Sixers might be better and safer by sticking with Hawes instead of gambling on Bynum again in the summer.

22. Toronto Raptors | 26-44 | Last Week: 20 | -2
Rudy Gay will still try to play in their remaining games instead of being shut down for the season. That aint good news for rookie Terrence Ross who needs minutes to learn and improve. Jonas Valanciunas has been effective in his last 5 games: 13 points and 7 rebounds.

23. New Orleans Hornets | 25-46 | Last Week: 27 | +4
The Hornets have won 3 straight including a rout of the Nuggets minus Vasquez and Gordon. The rookie, Brian Roberts had a career-high 18 assists in that win. The Hornets could have another crack at snapping a long win streak, since the Heat is in town on Friday.

24. Minnesota Timberwolves | 25-44 | Last Week: 24 | Same
Since his triple-double 9 games ago, Ricky Rubio has only had 10+ assists once and the T'wolves went 3-5 during that stretch. Nik Pekovic seems healthy enough and his 2 double-doubles in the last 4 games affirms that. Derrick Williams has started to play inconsistently again.

25. Sacramento Kings | 25-46 | Last Week: 22 | -3
The Kings dont have a lot of good things happening on the court as they are headed for another 50-loss season. Off the court, things are looking good for the city of Sacramento since a plan to keep them there has been launched and a new arena could be part of the deal.

26. Phoenix Suns | 23-48 | Last Week: 21 | -5
The Suns followed up their big win vs the Lakers with 3 straight losses. Micheal Beasley continues to be inconsistent while Wesley Johnson has been okay in thier last 10 games: 13 ppg and 4 rpg. Goran Dragic missed out on a triple-double after getting 31 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds in a loss to the Nets.

27. Cleveland Cavaliers | 22-47 | Last Week: 26 | -1
The Cavs had a 27-point lead vs the Heat in the 3rd quarter without Irving, Varejao and Waiters. The Heat woke up and managed to erase that deficit in less than 9 minutes to eke out a win. Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson are good players for their future to go along with a young backcourt of Irving and Waiters.

28. Detroit Pistons | 24-48 | Last Week: 28 | Same
The Pistons are 1-9 in their last 10 games and they escaped with a 1-point win over the Bobcats last Saturday then they followed that up with a blowout loss to the T'wolves. The Pistons have clearly lacked interest in playing hard: 8 of their past 11 losses have come in routs.

29. Orlando Magic | 18-53 | Last Week: 29 | Same
The Magic has lost 7 straight and their injuries continue to mount. Arron Afflalo is out for the season and Nik Vucevic has missed the last week with concussion symptoms. On the bright side, Tobias Harris has played extremely well for them and the rookie, Maurice Harkless has shown signs of brilliance.

30. Charlotte Bobcats | 16-54 | Last Week: 30 | Same
The Bobcats are in the bottom 5th in all major categories. They are last in assists and 29th in defense. LBJ had more assists than their whole team when they played last Sunday. They still get credit for improving from last year which is a +9 in games won.

Biggest Rise: Knicks and Wizards +5
Biggest Fall: Celtics -7
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