The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 22

The Miami Heat Streak is finally over at 27 and they have now lost 2 of their last 4. They won over the Spurs without LeBron and Dwyane (who are on the "maintenance program" but they could not beat the Knicks at home without 2 of the Big 3. Melo and his 50 points allowed the Knicks to beat the Heat and keep their 9-game win streak alive. The Knicks and Pacers are in a tight race for the 2nd seed.

Over in the West, the Spurs and Thunder are separated by 1 game for the chance to get home-court advantage in their bracket and they are playing each other on Thursday. All the excitement though is on the race for the 8th spot between the Lakers and Jazz who own the tiebreaker over LAL. The Lakers defeated the Mavs on Tuesday to technically (but not officially) eliminate the Mavericks from playoffs contention. The Mavs are 2.5 games behind the 8th spot with only 8 games left for them.

The standings are current up to April 3, 2013. The rankings from last week refer to Week 21.
Chris Bosh reminded everyone that he used to be a
pretty good player like when he was a Toronto Raptor
(Image from: Miami Herald)

1. Miami Heat | 58-16 | Last Week: 1 | Same
The Heat has the 2nd best home record at 32-4 and they have the best road record at 26-12. They dominated the West going 25-5 against them and going 6-0 vs the top 3 teams in the West (Spurs, Thunder, Nuggets). The other top teams in the East are a different matter (2-5 vs Knicks and Pacers).

2. Denver Nuggets | 50-24 | Last Week: 2 | Same
The Nuggets are 8-2 in their last 10 games and Ty Lawson has missed 4 of their last 5 games with a foot injury. Lawson will be out for another week. The Nuggets are still fighting for positioning with the Grizzlies and Clippers. The Nuggets are the deepest and most balanced team in the NBA with 6 players over 11 ppg.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder | 54-20 | Last Week: 4 | +1
The Thunder has a chance to catch and overtake the Spurs for the #1 seed with a win on Thursday. Their next 5 games will be against playoff teams so winning is important for them if they want home-court advantage in the West. Have you seen this KD and D-Wade COMMERCIAL?

4. San Antonio Spurs | 55-19 | Last Week: 2 | -2
The Spurs are struggling a little bit with injuries to Manu Ginobili (3-4 weeks) and minor aches with Duncan. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games including a lose to the B-team of the Heat. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are both in the top 10 in PER, the 3rd pair of teammates in the top 10 (Heat and Thunder).

5. Memphis Grizzlies | 50-24 | Last Week: 5 | Same
Marc Gasol played the last 4 games and the Grizzlies went 3-1 with him averaging 18 points, 6 rebs and 4 assists during that stretch. Mike Conley has been great lately: 21 points, 6 assists and 2 steals on 51% shooting. Their defense has held their opponents to an average of 90 points in the last 3 games, all wins.

6. Indiana Pacers | 48-27 | Last Week: 7 | +1
The Pacers went 4-0 in their Western road trip including wins against the Rockets and Clippers. Roy Hibbert is playing like an all-star: 21 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks on 56% shooting in his last 5 games. The loss of Granger for the year must have awakened sleeping giant's offensive skills.

7. New York Knicks | 47-26 | Last Week: 8 | +1
The Knicks are heating up and so was JR Smith last week who had 3 straight games of at least 32 points coming from the bench. Smith has propelled himself as the leading Sixth Man contestant. The Knicks have won their season series with the Celtics and Heat (both at 3-1).

8. Los Angeles Clippers | 49-26 | Last Week: 6 | -2
The Clippers are officially slumping (4-6 in past 10) and have lost 3 straight. Their starters have struggled including being down 24 to the Pacers while their bench brought them back into the game and almost won it. Griffin has been a big part of the struggle: 16 and 6 on 44% shooting during last week.

9. Brooklyn Nets | 42-31 | Last Week: 9 | Same
Deron Williams has not beaten the Jazz since being traded to the Nets. On the plus side, he has been playing well since getting treatment for his knees: 22 ppg, 8 apg in March. Reggie Evans has been a great addition including 22 points and 26 boards vs the Blazers followed by 15 and 16 vs the Nuggets.

10. Golden State Warriors | 42-32 | Last Week: 10 | Same
Stephen Curry continues to make threes at a ridiculous rate (3.4 made/game on 46%) and his scoring places him 7th in the NBA. Meanwhile, David Lee is running away with the double-doubles category, having a 5-game lead over 2nd placer: Dwight Howard whom he elbowed on the lips a week ago.

11. Houston Rockets | 41-33 | Last Week: 11 | Same
Omer Asik had a big game of 22 points and 18 rebounds to carry the Rockets vs the Magic. James Harden has missed the last 2 games with an injury but the Rockets won both games including a rout vs the Clippers. Jeremy Lin (failed to reach 10+ points in 3 of 5 games) needs to contribute more if the Rockets are going anywhere in the playoffs.

12. Atlanta Hawks | 42-33 | Last Week: 12 | Same
Zaza Pachulia is out for the season due to an Achilles injury. That leaves more minutes for Horford and Smith. Devin Harris has been hot in his past 2 games: 21 points and 6.5 assists on 54% shooting. The Hawks are in 5th spot which gives them a match-up with the Nets (season series 2-2).

13. Chicago Bulls | 40-33 | Last Week: 13 | Same
The Bulls snapped the Heat Streak last week then went on to lose 2 of their next 3 games. Their win vs the Pistons marked the 18th straight time they have beaten them. Derrick Rose is still mum on when his debut will take place. Joakim Noah has missed their last 6 games.

14. Utah Jazz | 39-36 | Last Week: 18 | +4
The Jazz has won 5 straight and they have the tiebreaker over the Lakers. Al Jefferson has been good during their streak with 21 points and 9 boards. Mo Williams has been great in his last 3 games with 22 points and 6 assists. Randy Foye has made 16 threes in their last 5 games.

15. Los Angeles Lakers | 39-36 | Last Week: 15 | -1
Kobe has played 48 and 47 minutes in his last 2 games. He is already playing like the playoffs have started. Kobe notched his first triple-double of the year as his Lakers beat the Mavs on the night they honored Shaq's number. Nash could be back on the court by Friday vs the Grizzlies.

16. Boston Celtics | 38-36 | Last Week: 15 | -1
The Celtics might be losing games on purpose to get the 8th seed so they can play the Heat in the first round.  Injuries to KG, Pierce and Courtney Lee have helped them lose 7 of their past 9 games. Jeff Green has been  great as a starter: 21 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in his past 5 games.

17. Milwaukee Bucks | 36-37 | Last Week: 17 | Same
The Bucks are closing in to the 7th spot and although they say they want to play the Heat, privately they probably want to avoid them. Brandon Jennings has been erratic and is on a shooting slump (33% shooting). His minutes have been cut down in the 4th and Jennings complained to the media.

18. Dallas Mavericks | 36-38 | Last Week: 16 | -2 
The Mavs have played great in March going 11-5 to have a slight chance at the 8th spot. The Lakers extinguished that hope with a big win over the Mavs. Dirk has scored at least 33 in 2 of their past 3 games but he failed to produce (11 points on 31% shooting) in their most important game of the season.

19. Portland Trailblazers | 33-41 | Last Week: 19 | Same
The Blazers are officially out of the playoffs and have lost 5 straight including twice to the Jazz to help them in their playoff push. LaMarcus Aldridge has missed the last 3 games with an ankle injury but he is still expected to be back and play the last remaining games of the season.

20. Washington Wizards | 28-46 | Last Week: 20 | Same
The Wizards continue to play well and win ballgames. Bradley Beal came back from injury vs the Raptors and made 6 threes plus a win. John Wall had a 35-point game last week to follow up his 47 a couple of games back. The Wizards are finishing strong to give fans hope of a better season next year.

21. Philadelphia 76ers | 30-43 | Last Week: 21 | Same
Evan Turner had a couple of 20-point games and the Sixers have won 3 straight during a wasted season. A couple of bright spots have been the emergence of Jrue Holiday and Thad Young. Both guys are viable candidates for Most Improved Player.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves | 27-46 | Last Week: 24 | +2
The T'wolves had 2 impressive wins last week against the Thunder and Celtics. Nik Pekovic has been dominant in their 2 wins going for 22 and 15 vs the Thunder then 29 points vs the Celtics. With 9 games remaining, it might be best for Kevin Love to forego playing another game for the year.

23. Toronto Raptors | 27-44 | Last Week: 22 | -1
Rudy Gay had 34 points and shot efficiently vs the lowly Pistons but the Raptors lost that game by 10. Amir Johnson has been their most consistent player on both ends of the floor and he could get some consideration for MIP or Sixth Man. Their losing record doesnt help his case though.

24. New Orleans Hornets | 26-48 | Last Week: 24 | Same
The Hornets lost 2 straight without Vasquez and they immediately won vs the Cavs once Vazquez and his 25 points and 9 assists came back from injury. Anthony Davis is finishing the season strong with 2 more double-doubles in the last 2 weeks. He is averaging 16 and 10 during that stretch.

25. Sacramento Kings | 27-47 | Last Week: 25 | Same
DeMarcus Cousins had a bizarre (or dumb) shot selection during the closing seconds of their game vs the Lakers. DMC took 2 (two!) three-point attempts when his team was down by 3. He missed both shots then had a third try on their last possession which he also missed. DMC handed the Lakers a crucial win.

26. Detroit Pistons | 25-50 | Last Week: 28 | +2
The Pistons are 3-15 in their last 18 games. Their best win was vs the Raptors during Jose Calderon's first game back in Toronto after his trade to the Pistons. Andre Drummond is back from his injury and has averaged 9 points and 7 boards in the 3 games that he played.

27. Phoenix Suns | 23-51 | Last Week: 26 | -1
The Suns have lost 6 straight and are 1-10 in their last 11, the lone win coming against the Lakers in a rout. The Suns appear to be clearly tanking by resting their best player, Goran Dragic to give minutes to the rookie, Kendall Marshall who had 10+ assists in 2 of 3 games.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers | 22-51 | Last Week: 27 | -1
The Cavs had Kyrie Irving play again even though the initial plan was to shut him down for the season. Dion Waiters has not come back from his injury and it seems that he may not play again this season. Luke Walton has been solid in his limited minutes (5 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in his last 5 games).

29. Orlando Magic | 19-56 | Last Week: 29 | Same
The Magic are among the leaders in missed games due to injuries (Turkoglu, Davis, Nelson) but they got Vucevic back last week and he quickly got 2 double-doubles in 2 losses. They have a good front court for the future with Vucevic and Tobias Harris.

30. Charlotte Bobcats | 17-57 | Last Week: 30 | Same
The Bobcats got a win vs the Magic for their highlight of the week. Josh McRoberts has been inserted in the starting lineup and he has been okay. Byron Mullens used to have that spot but was benched recently until an injury has kept him out for the last 3 games.

Biggest Rise: Jazz +4
Biggest Fall: Multiple Teams at -2
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