The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 20

The San Antonio Spurs are sitting atop the standings and the Power Rankings. They are all healthy and it's showing in their winning margins. The Spurs have won 10 straight games and 7 of those games were at least 10 points or more. The Clippers have also been hot lately and with injuries to JJ Redick and Jamal Crawford, they haven't successfully challenged the Spurs or the Thunder for the top 2 spots in the West.

Meanwhile, the Pacers are starting to get back into rhythm and one of their best games of the season came against the Pistons where they overcame a 25-point deficit and won in overtime. The defending champs are somewhat struggling a little bit and teams like the Bulls and Nets cannot wait to play the Heat in the playoffs.

Hero team of the week: The Spurs have won 10 straight games and have the best record in the NBA.

Sucky team of the week: 21 and counting for the Sixers. They can realistically challenge the record of 26 straight.

The standings are current up to March 18, 2014 and the rankings from Last Week refer to Week 19.

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The best PF in NBA history is still producing decent numbers in his 16th year in the league
(Image from: USA Today Sports)

1. San Antonio Spurs | 50-16 | Last Week: 1 | Same
The Spurs have won 10 straight and that could stretch to 12 before they face the GSW on the road where the Spurs own the best road mark at 24 and 8. If SAS can beat the Dubs, they can be at 18 straight before a Finals preview with the Pacers on March 31.

2. Los Angeles Clippers | 48-21 | Last Week: 2 | Same
The Clippers have won 11 of their last 12 games. They fell short vs the Nuggets where they are now 2-13 in their last 15 at Denver. Danny Granger has played 8 games for them and averaging 9 points while Glen Davis has been a non-factor with just 4 ppg.

3. Indiana Pacers | 50-17 | Last Week: 6 | +3
Indy has recovered from dropping 4 straight by winning 4 straight. They now have a 3-game lead over Miami for #1 seed in the East. It doesn't matter that they beat poor teams (Sixers (2x), Pistons, Celtics) because great teams are supposed to beat inferior teams.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder | 49-18 | Last Week: 4 | Same
Russell Westbrook has played 11 games since coming back from his knee injury. His numbers during that stretch are: 22 ppg, 8 apg and 5 rpg on 47% shooting. Those are "healthy" Westbrook numbers. However, OKC is just 6-5 in those games that Russ has played.

5. Miami Heat | 45-19 | Last Week: 5 | Same
A much needed win at home vs the Rockets lessened the concerns about their recent struggles: 5-5 in their past 10 games. A good sign for D-Wade and Miami, in his past 9 games: 22 ppg, 4 rpg, 5 apg on 56% shooting. Ray Allen also has back-to-back games of at least 24 points.

6. Houston Rockets | 45-22 | Last Week: 3 | -3
Their hot start to begin March has been forgotten as they lost 3 of their past 4 games, all 3 losses on the road. Chandler Parsons has struggled since the All-Star break. His scoring is down to 13 points (from 17 before the break) and he is shooting at 38%, down from 50%.

7. Golden State Warriors | 42-26 | Last Week: 7 | Same
The Splash Brothers had a great game vs the Blazers. They combined for 64 points and 9 of 19 from deep. Klay Thompson hit 2 crucial threes in the last minute to escape with the win. He has been money from downtown in his last 4 games: 62% and 22 ppg.

8. Portland | 43-24 | Last Week: 8 | Same
LaMarcus Aldridge could miss a few more games dealing with a lower back contusion. He missed 2 games already and the Blazers are 1-1. Nic Batum is trying to make up for that missing production. Batum has scored at least 22 points in the past 2 games. His season average is 13.

9. Dallas Mavericks | 41-27 | Last Week: 10 | +1
The Mavs have won 4 of 5 games and now occupy the 7th spot in the West with quality wins over the Pacers and Thunder. Dirk has been struggling a little bit with his offense (19 ppg, on 46% shooting) and his defense or lack of it was pointed out by Mark Cuban to the media.

10. Memphis Grizzlies | 39-27 | Last Week: 9 | -1
Since January 1, the Grizzlies are 26-10 (among the best records in the NBA) and have 1.5 games lead over the Suns for the 8th spot. Marc Gasol won't be winning DPOY but he has been instrumental in orchestrating their turnaround. Memphis is 29-14 in games he played.

11. Toronto Raptors | 37-28 | Last Week: 12 | +1
Who here predicted that the Raptors would be in the playoffs and grab the 3rd seed in the East? I definitely did not. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continue to provide the scoring while Amir Johnson, Grievis Vasquez and Jonas Valanciunas have been reliable supporters.

12. Phoenix Suns | 38-29 | Last Week: 11 | -1
Phoenix is just 5-5 in their last 10 games but they are still within reach of a playoff spot. Eric Bledsoe is healthy and back in the starting lineup. Hopefully, that rotation change won't affect Gerald Green who has been producing big games as a starter.

13. Chicago Bulls | 37-30 | Last Week: 13 | Same
The Bulls would love to get the 3rd seed in the East to possibly face the Heat in the 2nd round of the playoffs. All-Star center Joakim Noah is doing all he can to make sure that the Bulls keep winning. Noah's past 10 games: 14 ppg, 10, rpg, 7 apg and 2 bpg.

14. Washington Wizards | 35-31 | Last Week: 14 | Same
Good win by the Wizards over the Nets with John Wall leading the way. He finished with 33 points on 10-15 shooting. Wall has improved his jumper dramatically and even increased his range to the three-point line. He already has a career-high 89 made threes and a career-high 36% from deep.

15. Brooklyn Nets | 34-31 | Last Week: 15 | Same
The Nets are 3-0 vs the Heat with two of the wins by just a point. Paul Pierce relishes his match ups with LeBron James. In 3 games vs LBJ this season, Pierce is averaging 24 points on 54% shooting which are easily his best numbers. PP is averaging 14 ppg and 44% shooting for the year.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves | 33-32 | Last Week: 16 | Same
It appears that Minny won't be making the playoffs this year despite of Kevin Love posting monster numbers each night. The T'wolves are actually among the top teams in points (4th), rebounds (6th) and assists (7th) but they are a mediocre defensive team (22nd).

17. Charlotte Bobcats | 33-35 | Last Week: 17 | Same
Gerald Henderson is back from injury and his presence helped the Bobcats win 3 of their last 4 games. His 13 points and 3 rebounds is nice but his defense is more important. It also helps that Al Jefferson had 3 straight games of at least 25 points and 10 boards.

18. Atlanta Hawks | 30-35 | Last Week: 18 | Same
So, the Hawks are precariously holding on to the 8th in the East with a 4-game lead over the Knicks. They have won 4 straight games even without Lou Williams who is out due to personal reasons. Since snapping his 3-point streak last March 2, Kyle Korver is 17 of 27 from deep.

19. Denver Nuggets | 30-37 | Last Week: 21 | +2
The Nuggets knocked off the Heat and Clippers last week to make it their best week of a disappointing season. Kenneth Faried has picked up his game. In his last 10 games: 21 points and 10 rebounds on 64% shooting to go along with 5 double-doubles.

20. New York Knicks | 27-40 | Last Week: 20 | Same
They hired Phil Jackson to be president of their basketball operations. Let's see if Phil can turn the Knicks to a championship contender in the future. By the way, the Knicks have won 6 straight games but still trail the Hawks by 4 games. It hurts that they don't have games vs the Hawks left.

21. New Orleans Pelicans | 27-39 | Last Week: 19 | -2
The first 40-20 game of the season belongs to Anthony Davis after he blasted the Celtics with career-highs. Davis is averaging 33 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks in his last 5 games. Meanwhile, Tyreke Evans is playing well too: 22 points, 6 assists and 5 boards.

22. Detroit Pistons | 25-41 | Last Week: 22 | Same
Andre Drummond could miss 1 game or a bunch of games due to a neck injury. Last season, he injured his neck/back and missed a handful of games. Greg Monroe should use this opportunity to be more aggressive on offense and showcase his skills to other teams because he could be traded in the summer.

23. Cleveland Cavaliers | 26-41 | Last Week: 23 | Same
Another lost season and another injury to Kyrie Irving. He injured his biceps and could be out for at least 2 weeks. It would be prudent to simply shut him down for the season since the Cavs are not going to the playoffs. Among Irving's other past injuries include: foot, finger, nose and hand.

24. Sacramento Kings | 23-44 | Last Week: 26 | +2
Is DeMarcus Cousins the best center in the NBA? He leads all centers in points, is 4th in rebounds and 3rd in double-doubles. DMC is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds and shooting numbers. His defense and effort have improved but there's still room to grow.

25. Los Angeles Lakers | 22-44 | Last Week: 24 | -1
Kobe Bryant won't play for the rest of the year and that's a great decision on his part. There's no need to further embarrass himself or worse, get hurt playing meaningless games for the Lakers. Steve Nash also won't play this season be he plans to play next season to get his money.

26. Boston Celtics | 22-46 | Last Week: 26 | Same
Kris Humphries is getting some playing time and he has made the most of it. In his last 5 games, Hump is averaging 12 points and 11 rebounds. Meanwhile, Jared Sullinger is having a decent sophomore season. He increased both his scoring and rebounding.

27. Utah Jazz | 22-46 | Last Week: 27 | Same
Utah is 1-9 in their past 10 games and now own the worst record in the West once again. Their last 2 losses have been blowouts to the Spurs and Rockets on the road. Enes Kanter has been solid for them (12 ppg, 7 rpg) but you get the feeling that Utah expected more from him.

28. Orlando Magic | 19-48 | Last Week: 28 | Same
Orlando has actually 5 good players (Afflalo, Vucevic, Oladipo, Harris, Nelson) but they lack depth after those guys. Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson are promising young players but what they could use is a perimeter player who can create their own shot.

29. Milwaukee Bucks | 13-54 | Last Week: 29 | Same
The Bucks have the worst record in the NBA but their longest losing streak was "only" 11 games. Even if they lose their last 15 games, they will only have a 19-game losing streak. The last time the worst team got the 1st pick in the Draft was 2004 where Orlando picked Dwight Howard.

30. Philadelphia 76ers | 15-52 | Last Week: 30 | Same
The Sixers have lost 21 games and counting. Their last win (1-point game) was on January 29 vs the Celtics. Their next 5 games will be against quality teams so getting a win is highly unlikely. That will push their streak to 26 straight to tie the longest in NBA history.

Biggest Jump of the Week: Pacers +3
Biggest Drop of the Week: Rockets -3

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