The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 23

There's one week left of regular season basketball and nothing has been decided yet regarding seeds and the final playoff spots for both conferences. We might literally know the final 16 teams on last night (or game) of the season.

Here's a quick summary of the playoff spots: The Thunder, Clippers and Rockets are still battling for better seeds in the 2nd to 4th spots while the Spurs will get home-court advantage for the rest of the playoffs as the best team in the league. The Blazers have clinched a playoff spot while the Warriors aren't formally in yet. Another win or two should finalize that. The battle for the 7th and 8th spots is between 3 teams (Mavs, Suns, Grizzlies) and it's too close to call right now.


Over in the East, the Heat and Pacers seem to be avoiding the #1 seed. Both teams have failed to rightfully claim the top spot due to lackluster performances. As for seeds 3rd to 5th, the Raptors, Bulls and Nets are within 2 games of each other and the positions could be different by next week. Even 6th and 7th between the Wizards and Bobcats could be interchanged by the end of the season. Lastly, the Hawks own the 8th spot but the Knicks still have "life", although they don't control their own destiny.

Hero team of the week: The Mavericks won 4 straight games, all on the road to give themselves a slight cushion for the 7th or 8th playoff spot

Sucky team of the week: The Knicks had a chance to battle the Hawks for the 8th spot but they dropped games to the Wizards and Heat.

The standings are current up to April 9, 2014 and the rankings from Last Week refer to Week 22.

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Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers are looking for answers
after losing 7 of 10 and falling to the 2nd seed in the East
(Image from: Indystar.com)




1. San Antonio Spurs | 60-18 | Last Week: 1 | Same
The Spurs are 20-2 in their last 22 games and still the best team in the league. However, they are 0-4 vs OKC (2-10 in the last 2 years including playoffs) and 0-3 vs the Rockets. Manu Ginobili won't win Sixth Man of the Year but he is having a solid season.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder | 56-21 | Last Week: 2 | Same
Great win by OKC vs the Spurs who were unable to contain KD and RW. Unfortunately, OKC was not able to catch the Spurs due to back-to-back losses to Houston and Phoenix. Kevin Durant just passed Michael Jordan in consecutive games with 25 points or more.

3. Los Angeles Clippers | 55-23 | Last Week: 3 | Same
DeAndre Jordan leads the NBA in rebounds and FG percentage while being 3rd in blocks and 8th in double-doubles. Jordan is averaging 10 and 14 for the year. DJ is in prime position to win one or both the Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards.

4. Miami Heat | 53-24 | Last Week: 4 | Same
Dwyane Wade has missed 7 straight games and 26 games overall. His absence is hurting their rotations and asking LBJ to do everything especially when Chris Bosh has been ineffective. Bosh has fancied himself as a 3-point shooter but is only 5 of 24 (21%) from deep in his last 6 games.

5. Houston Rockets | 52-25 | Last Week: 5 | Same
Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley are both injured with no definite return dates. Fortunately, they have Omer Asik who is getting starter minutes and producing like a starter. Asik is averaging over 11 points and 17 boards while filling in for Howard.

6. Portland | 50-28 | Last Week: 7 | +1
The Blazers won 4 of 5 with LaMarcus Aldridge back in the lineup. They clinched a playoff berth while also trying to prevent GSW from taking the 5th seed from them. Their last 2 games at home vs the Warriors and Clippers will probably dictate who they play in the 1st round.

7. Golden State Warriors | 48-29 | Last Week: 8 | +1
Amid their 3-2 performance over the past 10 days, the Dubs are not getting any healthier. Andrew Bogut is back and played 1 game while David Lee is still uncertain of his return. Andre Iguodala is also being bothered by a  nagging hamstring injury.

8. Indiana Pacers | 53-25 | Last Week: 6 | -2
Indy can still get the top seed in the East but with the way they've been playing in the last month, that seems very unlikely. They are 3-7 in their last 10 and even the wins looked ugly and shaky. Roy Hibbert has been a non-factor lately and even got benched vs the Hawks.

9. Dallas Mavericks | 48-31 | Last Week: 11 | +2 
Dallas won 4 straight games to put themselves safely into the 7th spot. They own the tie-breaker over the Suns and Grizzlies if all three end up with the same records. Dirk Nowitzki is now 10th in the all-time scoring list after he passed the "Big O" Oscar Robertson.

10. Phoenix Suns | 46-31 | Last Week: 10 | Same
The Suns still control their playoff destiny after big wins over the Blazers and Thunder last week. PJ Tucker had his best game of the year vs OKC after he poured in 22 points and 7 rebounds. Eric Bledsoe also had his best game when he scored 30 points vs Portland.

11. Memphis Grizzlies | 45-32 | Last Week: 9 | -2
Memphis cannot afford any more losses in their last 5 games if they want to make the playoffs. It also helps that they have games vs Dallas and Phoenix in the last week of the season. They need Courtney Lee to start producing points again to help ease the burden on Z-Bo, Gasol and Conley.

12. Chicago Bulls | 45-32 | Last Week: 12 | Same
Take a guess who leads the team in scoring? The answer is DJ Augustin who averages close to 15 per game. He led them in scoring in 3 of their past 5 games, all wins. The Bulls are now the #1 team defensively but they are also 30th in team scoring.

13. Toronto Raptors | 45-32 | Last Week: 13 | Same
The Raptors want home-court advantage in the 1st round and also the division title so expect them to play at a high level even if their last 5 games are all against non-playoff teams in the East. Jonas Valanciunas has played well lately: 18 and 9 in his past 5 games.

14. Brooklyn Nets | 43-34 | Last Week: 14 | Same
Paul Pierce loves to play against LBJ and his team has dominated their match-ups during the regular season. The Nets swept the Heat 4-0 and they are definitely looking forward to seeing Miami in the playoffs. Brooklyn has been the best Eastern team since January 1.

15. Washington Wizards | 40-37 | Last Week: 15 | Same
The Wizards are just 5-5 in their last 10 and are in danger of dropping to the 7th spot to a hotter Bobcats' squad. They play the Bobcats next and also have Miami in their remaining schedule. Maybe they want to play the Pacers in the 1st round whom they recently beat last month.

16. Charlotte Bobcats | 39-38 | Last Week: 17 | +1
The Bobcats have won 4 straight games and will be in the playoffs. One of the major reasons is the superb play of Al Jefferson who was recently named the Eastern Player of the Week. Big Al went crazy with 4 straight double-doubles while averaging 25 and 13 last week.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves | 39-38 | Last Week: 16 | -1
Nice week for the T'wolves who beat the Heat in double OT and then routed the Spurs by 19 points. However, they will not make the playoffs and it has been another disappointing season for them despite of Kevin Love producing ungodly numbers of 26 points and 12 rebounds.

18. Atlanta Hawks | 34-43 | Last Week: 20 | +2
The Hawks are just 3-7 in their last 10 yet they still hold the 8th spot and will most likely hold on to it while the Knicks are sputtering at the finish. Their last 5 games aren't easy with 3 of those against playoff teams but if they win at least 3, they should safely make the playoffs.

19. New York Knicks | 33-45 | Last Week: 18 | -1
The Knicks still have "life" but they don't control their playoff destiny. Their remaining 4 games are all vs playoff teams too. JR Smith has been shooting threes at an amazing rate in his last 3 games (24 of 50) but Carmelo has struggled in his past 2 games due to injury (12 points, 9 of 31 FGs).

20. Denver Nuggets | 33-44 | Last Week: 21 | +1
Multiple injuries have derailed their season including three ACL problems (Hickson, Robinson, Gallinari) while Wilson Chandler, Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee have missed big portions of the season too. It has been a tough first-year for rookie coach Brian Shaw who also clashed with Andre Miller.

21. New Orleans Pelicans | 32-45 | Last Week: 19 | -2
The Pelicans have lost 5 straight after winning a season-high 5 consecutive. Anthony Davis was limited by injuries during that stretch and his production showed that (13 points, 6 rebounds on 42% shooting). Meanwhile, Ryan Anderson had a successful surgery on his herniated disc.

22. Cleveland Cavaliers | 31-47 | Last Week: 22 | Same
So, the Cavs will not make the playoffs again. This will be the 4th straight year out of the playoffs after LBJ left them. They lost 2 of their past 3 games with Kyrie Irving back in the lineup including a crucial loss to Atlanta. They were 4-4 in the 8 games that Irving missed which gave them "life".

23. Detroit Pistons | 29-49 | Last Week: 23 | Same
The biggest news concerning the Pistons might be the possible resignation of team president, Joe Dumars. He was the architect of their 2004 championship but his most recent moves (Jennings, Josh Smith) have not exactly worked out, thus, it might be time to move on elsewhere.

24. Sacramento Kings | 27-51 | Last Week: 24 | Same
Isaiah Thomas has missed the last 8 games with a quad injury and it's possible he won't play again this season especially since rookie Ray McCallum is having a solid time playing starter minutes. McCallum had a span of 5 games where he scored double digits including a career-high 27 points.

25. Los Angeles Lakers | 25-53 | Last Week: 25 | Same
One of Mike D'Antoni's coaching style is not playing defense and the Lakers are definitely showing that. They are 29th in team defense and also 26th in point differential. Meanwhile, Steve Nash has played 3 of their past 5 games and moved into 3rd in the all-time assists category.

26. Orlando Magic | 22-55 | Last Week: 26 | Same
Another team beset with injuries: the Orlando Magic. Tobias Harris, Nic Vucevic, Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson all missed significant time. Those are four of their starters and best players. No one on their team has played all 77 games with Victor Oladipo leading the way with 75 games played.

27. Utah Jazz | 24-54 | Last Week: 28 | +1
Trey Burke has struggled mightily over the last two weeks. He scored 6 points or less in 4 of their last 5 games. He did score 24 points and had 15 assists in a blowout loss to the Warriors but that was mostly in garbage time. Overall, Burke is having a decent season after missing training camp.

28. Boston Celtics | 23-54 | Last Week: 27 | -1
The Celtics lost 8 straight games including one to the horrible 76ers. Rajon Rondo completed a triple-double in that game but they still lost by 9 points. Jeff Green is having a disappointing season shooting the ball. Green is at a career-worst 41% from the field.

29. Philadelphia 76ers | 17-60 | Last Week: 30 | +1
The Sixers are a more respectable 2-8 in their last 10. They still trail the Bucks by 3 games for the worst record in the NBA even after having a 26-game losing streak. MCW is having a solid season even after battling multiple injuries (16 points, 6 boards and 6 assists).

30. Milwaukee Bucks | 14-63 | Last Week: 29 | -1
The Bucks are back at the bottom where they belong for having the worst record in the NBA. Their nightmare of a season just got worse after the injured Larry Sanders got suspended 5 games for smoking marijuana. He will serve those games next year when he is eligible to play.

Biggest Jump of the Week: Mavericks & Hawks +2
Biggest Drop of the Week: Pacers, Grizzlies & Pelicans -2


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