The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 24

This is the final week of the Power Rankings for 2012-2013. All 16 teams and their seeds are known. It literally took the last day and last game of the regular season to sort out everything. The playoffs are finally here and it starts this weekend! The Utah Jazz laid an egg on their biggest game of the season by losing to the Grizzlies in a rout, thus the Lakers made it to the postseason even without Kobe Bryant. The Lakers finished strong with 5 straight wins plus they crept up to the 7th spot by beating the Rockets in overtime.

Another surprise last week was the Spurs letting go of Stephen Jackson due to differences with Coach Pop. Captian Jack cannot play in the playoffs for other teams. A bigger surprise? The Spurs signed Tracy McGrady and he will be eligible to play in the playoffs after playing for the Chinese Basketball League.

Guess who has the longest winning streak going into the playoffs? The Miami Heat has won 8 straight while resting players and playing for nothing. They are poised to defend their title and all gears are turning. On the losing side, the Spurs are limping to the finish while the Pacers just gave games away with their starters still playing their usual minutes.

The Pacers and Celtics only played 81 games due to their tilt being cancelled because of the tragic incident at the Boston Marathon last Monday. Our prayers go out to Boston.

The standings are current up to April 18, 2013. The rankings from last week refer to Week 23.
Pau Gasol and the Lakers made the playoffs before playing their last game.
How much noise can they make in the postseason without Kobe?
(Image from: Bleacher Report)
1. Miami Heat | 66-16 | Last Week: 1 | Same
The Heat still continued to win even when sitting/resting players. Their bench is deep especially when the role players are hitting their shots. Miami is 31-0 when making at least 10 treys and they are 38-2 when scoring over 100 points. They finished the season top 5 in both points and points allowed.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder | 60-22 | Last Week: 3 | +1
The Thunder still got the best record in the West and they reached 60 wins even without Harden. Westbrook and Durant took their games into another level in the regular season. Can they raise it to another gear in the playoffs? Who will be their 3rd dependable scorer?

3. Denver Nuggets | 57-25 | Last Week: 4 | +1
The Nuggets lost Kenneth Faried to a sprained ankle and he missed a couple of games but the Nuggets still won those games. Faried is expected to be ready for the playoffs. Ty Lawson is back and he appears healthy. Wilson Chandler and Brewer have stepped up since Gallo went down

4. New York Knicks | 54-28 | Last Week: 2 | -2
The Knicks finished with a 13-game win streak which was their best 1993-94.  Melo corralled the scoring title from Durant and probably earned himself some votes for MVP runner-up. JR Smith will attract a lot of votes for Sixth Man award. The Knicks also signed Quentin Richardson for the playoffs.

5. Memphis Grizzlies | 56-26 | Last Week: 6 | +1
Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies did his brother Pau a huge favor by beating the Jazz. The Grizz finished with the stingiest team defense and DPOY votes will go to Marc and some to Tony Allen. Zach Randolph played like an All-Star with 25 points and 19 rebounds in his final regular season game.

6. San Antonio Spurs | 58-24 | Last Week: 5 | -1
The Spurs have lost 4 of 5 and they are limping to the playoffs. Injuries to Ginobili and Parker could make them ripe for an upset to the hot Lakers. A baffling roster move was done last week when they released Stephen Jackson who was popular in the locker room. A more surprising move was to get T-Mac.

7. Los Angeles Clippers | 56-26 | Last Week: 7 | Same
The Clippers have won 7 straight (5 against inferior teams) and will get the home-court advantage in the 1st round vs the Grizzlies. The Clips are going to the playoffs somewhat healthy with Billups and Butler getting some minutes in the last couple of games.

8. Indiana Pacers | 49-32 | Last Week: 8 | Same
The Pacers failed to win 50 games by dropping 3 straight and getting 1 winnable game cancelled. It was not due to them resting players since Paul George, West and Hibbert played their normal minutes. Their defense just let them down especially after giving 117 to the Cavs then 105 to the Sixers.

9. Brooklyn Nets | 49-33 | Last Week: 9 | Same
The Nets will have home-court advantage in the 1st round vs the Bulls. Deron Williams has played like an All-Star lately: 25 and 8 in his last 10 games. Too bad Derrick Rose wont be around to play D-Will. Reggie Evans and Joakim Noah battling in the paint will be fun to watch in the playoffs.

10. Golden State Warriors | 47-35 | Last Week: 10 | Same
Stephen Curry has claimed the record for most three-pointers in a season with 272 which passed Ray Allen's 269. Curry had a magnificent season as he finished 7th in scoring and 14th in assists. The Warriors going to the playoffs is icing on the cake.

11. Chicago Bulls | 45-37 | Last Week: 12 | +1
Still no word on Rose being back for the playoffs but you never know. At least Noah, Gibson and Hamilton are back playing although they are not completely healthy. Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler have been spectacular lately. Even Carlos Boozer has shown signs of solid work.

12. Los Angeles Lakers | 45-37 | Last Week: 14 | +2
No Kobe but the Lakers still made the playoffs. They were almost out of it but they climbed up to the 7th spot with 2 crucial wins over the Spurs and Rockets. Steve Nash has been hurt but Steve Blake has provided support with 47 total points and 11 assists over the last 2 games.

13. Houston Rockets | 45-37 | Last Week: 11 | -2
The Rockets had a chance to climb to the 6th spot last week but a couple of losses and bad shooting nights from Harden doomed the Rockets. They are now in the 8th spot and will face Harden's old team, the OKC Thunder. This will be Jeremy Lin's first taste of postseason action and he needs to step up his game.

14. Atlanta Hawks | 44-38 | Last Week: 13 | -1
The Hawks sorta tanked the last couple of games to make sure they stay in 6th spot and not climb any higher. The reported shoulder injury for Al Horford is probably nothing serious but you have to be concerned if you're a Hawks' fan since Horford's shoulder has been a nagging problem before.

15. Boston Celtics | 41-40 | Last Week: 16 | +1
The Celtics managed to finish the season over .500 by playing only 81 games. Concerns on the basketball court became secondary after the horrific incident of the Boston Marathon. That catastrophe could motivate and boost the Celtics' aspirations to upset the Knicks in the playoffs. Im not counting on that to happen.

16. Milwaukee Bucks | 38-44 | Last Week: 17 | +1
The Bucks are happy to be in the postseason and they're lucky that Brandon Jennings did not suffer a major sprained ankle in their last game. The rookie, John Henson has received minutes lately and he has made the most out of them. Henson has had 3 double-doubles in his last 5 games.

17. Utah Jazz | 43-39 | Last Week: 15 | -2
The Jazz failed to show up for their biggest game of the season by losing to the Grizzlies in a rout. Only Al Jefferson scored in double figures with 22 points vs the Grizzlies. Paul Millsap has struggled offensively in the last month and the Jazz might elect to have Derrick Favors as their PF of the future.

18. Dallas Mavericks | 41-41 | Last Week: 18 | Same
The Mavs finally got to .500 which meant that their shaggy, ugly beards were shaved. Dirk finished strong but that was not enough to overcome their poor start without him. OJ Mayo cooled off in the 2nd half of the season and Coach Carlisle lamented the fact that Mayo did not play hard.

19. Toronto Raptors | 34-48 | Last Week: 22 | +3
My wildcard pick to make the playoffs fell way short. They finished the season strong with 5 straight wins but it was a little too late. Kyle Lowry had an underwhelming season while Landry Fields went into a steep decline. Good news: Valanciunas and DeRozan seem to be growing as players.

20. Philadelphia 76ers | 34-48 | Last Week: 20 | Same
A lost season for the Sixers due to Bynum's injury and now Coach Doug Collins is gone. It will be a very busy summer for the Sixers as they reflect on what to do with Bynum and who will coach the team. Credit to Jrue Holiday and Thad Young for still having great seasons.

21. Portland Trailblazers | 33-49 | Last Week: 19 | -2
The Blazers have lost 13 straight which ties a franchise-record done in 1971-72. They were hovering around  a playoff spot during All-Star break but once injuries affected their starters, their weak bench was unable to overcome the injuries. Still, Damian Lillard should easily win ROY.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves | 31-51 | Last Week: 21 | -1
Ricky Rubio had a somewhat good season, playing 57 games while averaging 10 points and 7 assists. He should be better and stronger for next season. The biggest issue is Kevin Love's health or lack of it. Love only played 18 games and his shooting was horrendous (35%) during that stretch.

23. Washington Wizards | 29-53 | Last Week: 23 | Same
Bradley Beal and John Wall will be an exciting young duo for next season once they get to play together. Wall had career-highs in scoring and shooting and his midrange jumper was vastly improved. The Wizards need to draft/sign a decent young big man to support their back court players.

24. Detroit Pistons | 29-53 | Last Week: 26 | +2
The Pistons closed with a disappointing 5-5 in their last 10 games. Brandon Knight did not improve much from last year, same with Greg Monroe. On the bright side, Jose Calderon was solid in the 28 games he played while Andre Drummond looks promising if he stays healthy.

25. Sacramento Kings | 28-54 | Last Week: 25 | Same
The Kings lost 4 straight to end the year and they even lost their last home game of the season which could be their last game in Sacramento. Cousins is a great offensive talent and arguably among the top centers but his attitude and temper ruins his effectiveness on the court. DMC needs to grow up fast.

26. New Orleans Hornets | 27-55 | Last Week: 24 | -2
Ryan Anderson and Grievis Vasquez will find themselves nominated in some awards ballot but the disappointing part is that Anthony Davis will not win ROY. The Pelicans hope that Davis comes back stronger and healthier next season. The same for Austin Rivers who got hurt after having a miserable year.

27. Phoenix Suns | 25-57 | Last Week: 28 | +1
Goran Dragic was a nice pick-up for the Suns this season and he delivered with 15 points and 7 assists. Gortat was also solid before he got hurt and was lost for the season. Overall, the Suns performed as expected after Steve Nash left. Wildcards like Beasley and Wesley Johnson cannot be depended each game.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers | 24-58 | Last Week: 27 | -1
The Cavs lost to the Heat without their Big 3 and now they have lost Coach Byron Scott. Kyrie Irving was lackluster in his past couple of games. He ended up with just 4 points to a loss to the Sixers. That effort and attitude needs to change if the Cavs want to finally compete next year.

29. Charlotte Bobcats | 21-61 | Last Week: 30 | +1
The Bobcats are finally out of the 30th spot in the last week of the Rankings. This season can be called "successful" since they won more games than last year and no longer occupy the bottom of the standings. Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson had good offensive years.

30. Orlando Magic | 20-62 | Last Week: 29 | -1
The Magic fell to the bottom of the league due to their massive injury list. Afflalo, Turkoglu, Davis, Nelson all missed a large chunk of their games. On the bright side, Tobias Harris has been a wonderful addition. He led the team in scoring during his 27-game stint. Nic Vucevic was also a beast on the glass as he finised top 3 in boards and double-doubles.

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