The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 21

The regular season has 3 weeks left and playoff spots and seeds are not yet finalized. The Spurs own the best record in the West but OKC and the Clippers still have a mathematical chance to catch them. Meanwhile, #5 (Blazers) to #9 (Suns) are separated by just 2.5 games. It's a shame that one of them will not make the playoffs even with a winning record.

As for the East, Indiana and Miami are still battling for the top spot. They still have 2 games against one another which could ultimately decide who gets home-court in the Eastern playoffs. Teams #3 to #8 are pretty much set with the Knicks (#9) having an outside shot of sneaking in.

Hero team of the week: The Spurs have won 14 straight games even without their full arsenal of players. They are peaking at the right time.

Sucky team of the week: 25 losses and counting for the obviously tanking Sixers. I hope they don't get the #1 pick in the draft.

The standings are current up to March 26, 2014 and the rankings from Last Week refer to Week 20.

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Kevin Durant's latest explosion versus the Raptors MIGHT
have wrapped up the MVP race in his favor. 

1. San Antonio Spurs | 54-16 | Last Week: 1 | Same
With their current win streak of 14 games, the Spurs have tied their longest ever with Coach Pop at the helm. They defeated the Warriors twice without all of their big guns and they just keep on winning regardless of who plays or not. They have 4 games left before being perfect in March.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder | 52-19 | Last Week: 4 | +2
Russell Westbrook got hurt vs the Raptors but luckily, nothing serious occurred and he was declared healthy afterwards. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant probably clinched the MVP after his blistering effort vs the Raps where he scored 51 points and made the game-winning three without Westbrook.

3. Los Angeles Clippers | 50-21 | Last Week: 2 | -1
The Clippers have the best home record in the West at 31-5. Blake Griffin has scored 20 or more points in 30 straight games (franchise record) and is probably #3 in the MVP race. There's also a chance that JJ Redick could be healthy before the start of the playoffs.

4. Houston Rockets | 48-22 | Last Week: 6 | +2
They won 4 straight games even with Dwight Howard missing 3 of the 4 games with a sprained ankle. James Harden scored 30+ points on 54% shooting in 3 of his past 5 games. Terrence Jones continues to blossom with his improved scoring and versatility on defense.

5. Miami Heat | 48-21 | Last Week: 5 | Same
Even after going 7-7 in March, Miami still has a legitimate shot at #1 in the East if they beat Indiana in their last 2 meetings with them. Their defense and intensity are suffering right now and some internal bickering is taking place. So, a win vs the Pacers is much needed. Let's see if Miami shows up.  

6. Indiana Pacers | 51-20 | Last Week: 3 | -3
Indy has failed to score more than 80 points in their last 2 games and both were losses to the Grizzlies and Bulls. Andrew Bynum is out indefinitely while Roy Hibbert has been struggling in his last 10 games (9 points, 5 rebounds) but he loves playing Miami.

7. Golden State Warriors | 44-27 | Last Week: 7 | Same
Dating back to last year's playoffs, the Dubs have lost 7 straight games vs the Spurs including 3 this season. Two of those losses came against a depleted Spurs' team. Curry and Thompson have made 400 threes between them and both are shooting at 41% from deep.

8. Portland | 45-27 | Last Week: 8 | Same
LaMarcus Aldridge missed the last 7 games and the Blazers are 3-4 in that span including a 3-game losing streak during a crucial part of the season. Dorell Wright started the last 3 games and he has been okay with averages of 10 points and 6 rebounds in 23 minutes.

9. Memphis Grizzlies | 42-28 | Last Week: 10 | +1
They lost a close game to Miami when Gasol left with a sprained ankle but they came back the next night and defeated the Pacers with Gasol in the lineup. Mike Miller has played well in his last 2 games ( 12 points, 5 rebounds) after getting his championship ring from Miami.

10. Dallas Mavericks | 43-29 | Last Week: 9 | -1
The Mavs squandered a lead vs the Nets and then went on to lose in OT. Dallas came back on their next game to beat OKC in OT behind a masterful game from Dirk (32 points, 10 boards and 6 assists). Jose Calderon also delivered 22 points after suffering an elbow to the face in his previous game.

11. Phoenix Suns | 42-29 | Last Week: 12 | +1
The Suns are just half a game behind the 8th spot in the West. They have one game each vs Dallas (road) and Memphis (home) during the last week of the regular season. Eric Bledsoe is starting to heat up after scoring at least 20 points in his last 3 games.

12. Chicago Bulls | 40-31 | Last Week: 13 | +1
No Derrick Rose and no Luol Deng but the Bulls keep winning. They now have the 3rd seed in the East and whether they play the Heat or Pacers in the playoffs, they aren't scared of both. Joakim Noah is a legitimate MVP candidate while Taj Gibson is a strong candidate for MIP and Sixth Man.

13. Toronto Raptors | 39-31 | Last Week: 11 | -2
The Raps had two tough losses to the Hawks and Thunder, both in OT. They are just 5-5 in their last 10 games and the Bulls overtook them for 3rd in the East while the Nets are just 1.5 games behind them. Terrence Ross is having a solid sophomore season shooting threes (41%).

14. Brooklyn Nets | 37-32 | Last Week: 15 | +1
Jason Kidd won his first game back in Dallas as a coach. They played 2 games in OT during their recent Western road trip and went 1-1. Kevin Garnett has missed their last 13 games with back problems and their is no timetable for his return. The Nets are 10-3 during that span.

15. Washington Wizards | 36-34 | Last Week: 14 | -1
Without Nene, Marcin Gortat is playing a lot better. Gortat posted 3 straight double-doubles in his last 4 games. For the month of March, Gortat has 7 double-doubles in 11 games. Veteran Drew Gooden has been amazing since joining them. He is averaging 17 and 8 in his past 5 games.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves | 34-35 | Last Week: 16 | Same
Nik Pekovic is hurt again with a sprained ankle. He missed their last 5 games. During that span, rookie Gorgui Dieng received starter minutes and he has not disappointed. Dieng posted 4 double-doubles including a monster game of 22 points and 21 boards vs the Rockets. 

17. Charlotte Bobcats | 34-37 | Last Week: 17 | Same
The Bobcats appear to be safely entrenched at the 7th spot in the East. Sophomore Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is having a somewhat disappointing season. His points, rebounds, assists and blocks are all lower than his rookie year. Plus for a good defender, he was the primary guy on Melo (62 pts) and LBJ (61 pts).

18. New Orleans Pelicans | 30-40 | Last Week: 21 | +3
The Pelicans have won 3 straight games against quality teams with wins over Atlanta, Miami and Brooklyn. Anthony Davis continues to amaze with 3 straight games of 30 points or more to go with 10+ rebounds. Tyreke Evans is also playing like a former ROY winner.

19. Denver Nuggets | 32-39 | Last Week: 19 | Same
The Nuggets lost their 3rd player to an ACL injury when JJ Hickson got hurt vs Dallas. He was having a fine season (12 points, 9 boards). The other players with ACL injuries are Danilo Gallinari and Nate Robinson. Look for Mozgov and Darrell Arthur to improve their numbers with Hickson out.

20. Atlanta Hawks | 31-38 | Last Week: 18 | -2
The Hawks are just 5-5 in their last 10 games but they still have the 8th spot in the East. They have a 3-game lead over the Knicks and they hold the tiebreaker against them. Lou Williams finally played last March 21 after having DNP-CDs since early March.

21. New York Knicks | 29-42 | Last Week: 20 | -1
The Knicks are 8-2 in their last 10 games but their previous 2 losses have been terrible. They lost to the Cavs without Kyrie Irving at MSG. Next, they got blasted by the Lakers by 31 points. That game included a 51-point explosion by a bunch of bench players.

22. Cleveland Cavaliers | 28-44 | Last Week: 23 | +1
The Cavs are showing signs of life even without Kyrie Irving. They will probably not make the playoffs but playing hard promotes a winning atmosphere. Rookie Anthony Bennett missed their last 8 games with a knee injury to add more misery to a VERY disappointing season.

23. Detroit Pistons | 26-44 | Last Week: 22 | -1
Josh Smith is having a brutal first season with the Pistons. He got benched a few times and had shouting matches with coaches. Smith is also shooting an abysmal 25%  from downtown while taking more than 3 attempts per game. Overall, he is at 42% which is a career-low.

24. Sacramento Kings | 25-45 | Last Week: 24 | Same
The experiment of DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas playing with Rudy Gay has not worked wonders for the Kings. They have more losses than wins with Gay in the lineup and the Kings are last in team assists and 25th in points allowed.

25. Los Angeles Lakers | 24-46 | Last Week: 25 | Same
Steve Nash played on March 21 after missing 5 weeks with a nerve injury. Nash then proceeded to miss the next 2 games with a variety of ailments. Pau Gasol also missed games due to vertigo while Nick Young is back and shooting the ball like he never missed any games (22 ppg).

26. Boston Celtics | 23-47 | Last Week: 26 | Same
The Celtics are 1-7 in their last 8 games and the lone win was against the Heat whom they've beaten twice this season. Rajon Rondo is averaging 14 assists over his past 3 games and just missed getting a triple-double against his favorite pals from Miami.

27. Utah Jazz | 23-48 | Last Week: 27 | Same
Richard Jefferson has started 71 games for Utah and he has been solid. RJ is averaging 10 points while shooting 43% from downtown. Trey Burke is having a fine season (13 points, 5 assists) but his shooting needs a lot of work (38% from the field).

28. Orlando Magic | 20-52 | Last Week: 28 | Same
Orlando has lost 9 of 10 games they own the worst road record at 4-34. Their last road win was against the Sixers last February 26. They are 2-10 in their past 12 games and those two wins came vs the Sixers. Victor Oladipo needs to explode if he wants to steal the ROY from MCW.

29. Milwaukee Bucks | 13-58 | Last Week: 29 | Same
The Bucks have lost 8 straight and they have been relatively competitive, meaning the point differential was below double digits. They have a good young core with Knight, Henson, Middleton and Giannis but veteran leadership and talent are still needed.

30. Philadelphia 76ers | 15-56 | Last Week: 30 | Same
The NBA record for futility is 26 straight losses. The Sixers are at 25 games and looking ahead to their schedule, #26 will probably happen (at Rockets). After Houston, their schedule lightens up with 4 straigh games against teams below 0.500.

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

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