The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 23

The New York Knickerbockers are the hottest team in the league and they have the hottest scoring player in the last 3 weeks. The Knicks have the current longest streak at 13 games and they have a chance to extend that streak to 15 before playing the Pacers. Carmelo Anthony has overtaken Kevin Durant for the scoring title (0.3 lead) and Melo now leads the NBA in jersey sales. The Knicks are back in the top 5 in our Power Rankings and it is their first appearance for 2013. Things are looking good for the Knicks at the moment but can that translate into wins in the playoffs?

Over in the West, the Jazz and Lakers are making things very interesting for the 8th spot. This could boil down to the last game of the regular season. The Lakers need to be 1 game up on the Jazz to get into the playoffs with 4 remaining games on their schedule while the Jazz has 3 to go. The Jazz appear to have an easier schedule but if the Lakers sweep their last 4, they get in. I think the Lakers will make it.

There's one more week left in the regular season and this is the 2nd to last edition of this season's Rankings. The playoffs begin on April 20. Let's get it on!

The standings are current up to April 10, 2013. The rankings from last week refer to Week 22.
Melo and the Knicks have been on fire.
They have the 2nd seed in the East
(Image from:
1. Miami Heat | 61-16 | Last Week: 1 | Same
The Heat has legitimate concerns regarding Wade's injury. He has missed 7 of their last 9 games. They are still winning without him but they need him healthy once the playoffs begin. LBJ is on pace to get career-highs in shooting percentage and rebounds per game. His 4th MVP in 5 years is waiting for him.

2. New York Knicks | 51-26 | Last Week: 7 | +5
The Knicks had an impressive win over the Thunder last Sunday. Their 13-gamer is the longest they've had since 1993-94 and their Atlantic Division title is their first since 93-94. Melo has been so hot lately (last 5 games: 40.6 points, 8 boards on 61%) that he has placed himself in the topic for MVP runner-up.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder | 57-21 | Last Week: 3 | Same
They did the Lakers a favor by beating the Jazz instead of tanking. Winning gives them a chance for the #1 seed in the West and a potential date with the Lakers in the 1st round. Kevin Durant will most likely lose the scoring duel to Carmelo. Westbrook is partly to blame due to Russ still shooting more than KD. 

4. Denver Nuggets | 53-24 | Last Week: 2 | -2
The Nuggets lost Gallinari (16 ppg, 5 rpg) to an ACL injury and that ruins their chances for a run to the NBA Finals. Still, the Nuggets have capable players like Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler to compensate for Gallo. The most important thing is to have Ty Lawson ready for the playoffs.

5. San Antonio Spurs | 57-20 | Last Week: 4 | -1
The Spurs could still end up with the #1 seed in the West if Coach Pop does not rest his players. The big problem though is that Tony Parker is hurting with various ailments on his leg: could be his foot, ankle or knee. Kawhi Leonard has been great in his last 2 games (23 points and 10 boards).

6. Memphis Grizzlies | 53-25 | Last Week: 5 | -1
Mike Conley has been their go-to-guy during clutch situations. Conley won 2 games (Spurs, Kings) and then lost to the Lakers when he took the last shot for the Grizzlies. He also has been scoring pretty well in their last 5 games (22 points on 60% shooting).

7. Los Angeles Clippers | 51-26 | Last Week: 8 | +1
The Clippers got their first 50-win season in 40+ years and this was their 1st Pacific Division title in franchise history. They managed to sweep the Lakers (4-0) in the season series. How weird is that the Clippers and Warriors represent California in the playoffs instead of the Lakers?

8. Indiana Pacers | 49-29 | Last Week: 6 | -2
The Pacers appear to be locked in to the 3rd spot in the East. They scuffled versus the Thunder and Wizards before overcoming a 20-point deficit to beat the Cavs. A 50-win season is still possible although 3 of their 4 games are against playoff teams (Knicks, Nets, Celtics).

9. Brooklyn Nets | 45-32 | Last Week: 9 | Same
The Nets will be in the playoffs during their inaugural year in Brooklyn. They have set a franchise record in road wins for the season and home-court advantage seems a lock for the 1st round. Reggie Evans had 2 monster games last week (averaging 22 boards and 16 points).

10. Golden State Warriors | 45-33 | Last Week: 10 | Same
The Warriors have clinched a playoff spot and will be back in the postseason since 2010. They are still jockeying with the Rockets for the 6th spot which gives them a date with the Nuggets. Klay Thompson made   sure they made the playoffs, last 3 games: 25 ppg on 53% shooting.

11. Houston Rockets | 44-34 | Last Week: 11 | Same
The Rockets are officially in the playoffs thanks to a boneheaded goal-tending call they got from Jermaine O'Neal and the Suns. James Harden is back producing big numbers (25, 6 and 6 in his last 4 games) but their biggest concern is Chandler Parsons who is still out with an injured calf muscle.

12. Chicago Bulls | 42-35 | Last Week: 13 | +1
The Bulls are heading into the playoffs with a lot of injuries: Noah, Deng, Gibson and of course D-Rose. Carlos Boozer is doing all he can do (last 5 games: 20 ppg and 12 rpg) but he needs help on offense. Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson wont be the answer come playoffs.

13. Atlanta Hawks | 42-36 | Last Week: 12 | -1
The Hawks have lost 3 straight and the 6th spot is not theirs for the taking since the Celtics are  just 1.5 games away. Jeff Teague is on a mini-slump to end the season: 12 ppg on 33% shooting in his last 5 games. Kyle Korver has a minor injury that has limited his effectiveness.

14. Los Angeles Lakers | 41-37 | Last Week: 15 | +1
If the Lakers sweep their last 4 games, they will make the playoffs regardless of what the Jazz does. MWP coming back after 12 days of recovery time from knee surgery that takes 6 weeks to heal has been amazing. Kobe will not allow this team to lose, scoring 23 of his 30 pts in the 4th vs the lowly Hornets.

15. Utah Jazz | 41-38 | Last Week: 14 | -1
The Jazz will need help to make the playoffs even if they win their last 3 games. They had the opportunity to further their chances vs the Thunder but they fell way short of a win at home. Mo Williams and Gordon Hayward have played well lately but things might be too late for the Jazz.

16. Boston Celtics | 40-37 | Last Week: 16 | Same
The Celtics have Garnett, Pierce and Courtney Lee back playing so they are relatively getting healthier for the playoffs. KG's return muted the scoring performance of Jeff Green who only had 8 points. That was Green's lowest output in the last 15 games.

17. Milwaukee Bucks | 37-40 | Last Week: 17 | Same
The Bucks are slotted to the 8th spot and a 1st round date with the Heat seems very likely. It appears that they wont have much of a chance vs the Heat after the Bucks handily lost to the Heat without Wade and Bosh. Larry Sanders has failed to catch Serge Ibaka for the blocks per game title.

18. Dallas Mavericks | 38-39 | Last Week: 18 | Same
The Mavs will eventually get to 0.500 which gives Dirk and company a chance to shave their hideous beards. The bigger problem: they will miss the playoffs for the first time after 13 seasons in the postseason. Dirk's injury and his slow recovery truly killed their chances early in the season.

19. Portland Trailblazers | 33-44 | Last Week: 19 | Same
The Blazers have lost 8 straight and it appears that they could lose more due to the injuries to a lot of their starters. Aldridge, Batum, Hickson and Matthews could be all out in their next few games. It's very possible that the heavy minutes they logged during the season wore their bodies down.

20. Philadelphia 76ers | 31-46 | Last Week: 21 | +1
The Sixers have lost 15 straight to the Heat during the regular season. Luckily, they wont meet the Heat in the playoffs. The Sixers have plummeted to 29th in scoring and they have a road record of 9-29 which is 6th worst in the league.

21. Minnesota Timberwolves | 29-48 | Last Week: 22 | +1
The T'wolves gave Coach Adelman his 1000th career win and it's very possible that Adelman will retire in the summer. Kevin Love continues to have a bad luck when it comes to health. He had knee surgery that officially ruled him out for the season.

22. Toronto Raptors | 30-48 | Last Week: 23 | +1
Rookie Jonas Valanciunas had a career game vs the Wizards with 24 points and 10 boards and a win. He was starting to play consistently lately but a neck injury vs the Bulls probably ended his season. The Raptors definitely need to trade Bargnani in the summer to free up minutes for Jonas and Amir Johnson.

23. Washington Wizards | 29-49 | Last Week: 20 | -3
Bradley Beal has been shutdown for the season. The Wizards have barely played this year with a full and healthy lineup. John Wall continues to sizzle scoring 37 and 33 points in 2 of his last 3 games. His mid-range jumper looks nice and he should incorporate a three-point shot into his arsenal over the summer.

24. New Orleans Hornets | 27-51 | Last Week: 24 | Same
Eric Gordon is ending his season in a bad note. He got into a verbal confrontation with his coach vs the Jazz then he got benched in their next game. Against the Lakers, he played bad defense vs Kobe and coughed up a couple of turnovers. Anthony Davis is playing well with 3 double-doubles in his last 5.

25. Sacramento Kings | 27-50 | Last Week: 25 | Same
DeMarcus Cousins continues to baffle us weekly with his idiotic and dumb words and actions. DMC had a conflict with his coach last week and was benched for the duration of that game. On the next game vs the Mavs, he only played 9 minutes as punishment. The Kings have lost 4 straight.

26. Detroit Pistons | 26-52 | Last Week: 26 | Same
The Pistons finally won a game against the Bulls after 19 tries. This was their first win vs the Bulls since 2008.   The Pistons can build a modest win streak with their upcoming games vs the Cavs, Bobcats and Sixers. Brandon Knight has played well in the last 2 games: 22 points and 6 assists.

27. Cleveland Cavaliers | 24-53 | Last Week: 28 | +1
The Cavs have lost 3 games this year after leading by at least 20 points. They lost a 27-point lead 3 weeks ago vs the Heat and then they lost to the Pacers after being up by 20. The good news: Kyrie Irving is playing again and he seems healthy for now.

28. Phoenix Suns | 23-55 | Last Week: 27 | -1
The Suns have lost 10 straight and the good news is that they get a draft pick from the Lakers coming from the Steve Nash trade. Luis Scola is suddenly playing better at the end of the year with 2 double-doubles in his last 5 games. Jermaine O'Neal has been solid too: 13 points and 6 boards.

29. Orlando Magic | 19-59 | Last Week: 29 | Same
The Magic is on a race vs the Bobcats on who gets the best chances of landing the #1 pick in the 2013 draft.  The Magic appears to have the tougher schedule with games vs the Celtics, Bulls and Heat. Nic Vucevic should be in the coversation for Most Improved Player.

30. Charlotte Bobcats | 18-60 | Last Week: 30 | Same
The Bobcats may have their answer for the PF starting slot: Josh McRoberts. They tried with Tyrus Thomas and Byron Mullens but McRoberts seem to be the most suitable for that spot. Or they can also draft someone in the upcoming 2013 draft.

Biggest Rise: Knicks +5
Biggest Fall: Wizards -3
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