NBA Power Rankings: 3/3/15
By: Alex Dittmar
1. Atlanta Hawks (47-12)
Riding a four-game win streak, the Hawks now hold the league’s best win percentage thanks to the Warriors loss to the Nets and the Grizzlies two loss week. With wins over the Mavs, Bucks and Heat in that stretch the Hawks are getting quality wins at the right time.
2. Golden State Warriors (46-12)
They would have been #1, but it was not meant to be thanks to a tough loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Sure, it came at the end of a tough road stretch, but it still is not the best loss to take. With three playoff caliber teams coming in the next week, they have a great opportunity to earn the #1 slot back next week.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (42-16)
They break the top two, then swiftly lose to Sacramento by 12 and the Clippers by 18. Not going to bode well for your rankings, though this still is a very dangerous team. A big game against the Rockets in Houston looms this week, which could prove their worth once again.
4. Houston Rockets (41-18)
There’s a new King James! James Harden got the best of the previous King in the matchup against the Cavs (though he got a 1-game suspension for a crotch kick to LeBron). This team is playing some of its best basketball, and it doesn’t even have Dwight Howard. They play two of the top 3 teams in the rankings this week in Atlanta and Memphis, so they have an excellent opportunity to legitimize themselves as true title contenders.
5. Portland Trail Blazers (39-19)
Beating OKC while overcoming yet another Russell Westbrook triple-double was quite impressive. Couple that with a victory over the Spurs and this team has proved to be a force in the stacked West. I’ve been a fan of this team all year thanks to the Lillard-Aldridge combo, and they continue to prove me right.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (40-21)
They put a whooping on Memphis on the road following a loss to the Rockets, then finished off their road trip with wins over Chicago and Minnesota. This is a team that keeps trucking along even without Blake Griffin, so I can’t even imagine how good they’ll be when he gets back (and possibly add Javale McGee for front court depth?)
7. Cleveland Cavaliers (37-24)
It’s been an up and down week for the Cavs, getting a big win over Golden State to start off the week, followed by two losses to the Pacers and Rockets, though those were both without Kyrie Irving. They’re still playing good basketball, but watching them, especially late against the Rockets, gave me some pause, LeBron can’t iso his way to a championship.
8. Dallas Mavericks (40-22)
Rondo is still trying to find his rhythm with this team, as evidenced by his problems with coach Rick Carlise, but that is to be expected for a mid-season acquisition. A win over the Pelicans got them back on track, and two big tests await this week on the road against Portland and Golden State that can help judge this teams place out West.
9. Toronto Raptors (38-22)
The five-game losing streak came to an end on Monday… Against the 76ers. The first four games of the losing streak were against high-quality West opponents, but the loss to the Knicks put this team against the ropes. A game against Cleveland in Toronto this week could be helpful in gaining their swagger back.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (33-27)
Russell Westbrook is a beast. He was getting triple-doubles galore before getting a dent put into the side of his head. Though lost in the shuffle was that in two of those games that he earned a triple-double, the team lost. So maybe it’s best to stop with the video game stats for the good of the team, since they still have some work to do to guarantee their playoff position.
11. San Antonio Spurs (36-23)
They earned their first ever losing record on their rodeo road trip, and their first four-game losing streak coming out of an all-star break since 1989, so maybe I wasn’t wrong last week when I said they were on the decline…
12. New Orleans Pelicans (32-28)
They may not have Anthony Davis or Jrue Holiday, but they are playing some of their best basketball, winning five straight before a road loss to the Mavericks. None of the wins came against particularly great opponents, but you have to win the games you’re expected to win, especially when you are chasing OKC and San Antonio for a playoff spot.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (32-27)
They suffered two bad losses to the Lakers and Jazz, but that comes with the adjustment of losing your starting PG. MCW will find a way to fit in, since his game is predicated on passing he needs more of a rapport with the other players to make a real impact. And Giannis Antetokounmpo is a beast, so that helps boost the rankings.
14. Indiana Pacers (25-34)
They are now 8-2 in February, and Paul George is slated to return in a few weeks. Now they seem prepared for the playoffs thanks to wins over Golden State and Cleveland and should be a dangerous first-round opponent come playoff time.
15. Chicago Bulls (37-23)
Derrick Rose, 4-6 weeks. Jimmy Butler, 3-4 weeks. It really can’t get much worse for this team. Every time they seemed poised to make an impact, a big injury happens. Now they just hope they can stay in the top 4 and earn home-court advantage in the first round and hope to have Butler and Rose fully recovered by then. Until that time, it could get real ugly.
16. Phoenix Suns (31-30)
Things got chippy when Goran Dragic faced his former team, and it did not go well for them. They are now 3-9 in February and are fading fast from the West playoff hunt, a tough pill to swallow after such a promising start.
17. Boston Celtics (23-34)
Boston has been playing quite well, helped by the acquisition of Isaiah Thomas. They even gave Golden State a good scare before losing by 5 after a ferocious comeback by the Warriors. They are now fully entrenched in the sad East playoff race and seem to be in a good position.
18. Brooklyn Nets (25-33)
Thanks to two wins against Dallas and Golden State, this team is in position of the 8 seed in the East. Those two wins were big for Brooklyn, and suddenly not getting rid of Brook Lopez at the deadline could payoff for a chance at a playoff birth.
19. Washington Wizards (34-26)
I don’t know what’s going on in DC. Just before February they were the 2 seed in the East. Now they are losing to Minnesota and Philadelphia and squeaking out wins against Detroit. They need to figure out what’s wrong, and fast, because this team is way too talented for the way they are playing right now.
20. Charlotte Hornets (24-33)
A tough 2-6 stretch has put a damper on their playoff push, but they are still in decent position and considered one of the most likely teams to fill one of the East’s last two playoff spots. A game at Brooklyn on Wednesday will be a key matchup to keep them right in that race.
21. Utah Jazz (23-35)
They’re on a 6-2 run including wins over Portland and San Antonio, and Rudy Gobert has proven to be a defensive anchor on the interior. This young, talented team is starting to find a rhythm, which could be scary for years to come.
22. Miami Heat (26-33)
Goran Dragic has been nice, and Hassan Whiteside continues to amaze, but they just don’t look like a playoff team. They haven’t been able to beat anyone who’s better than them record wise (until Phoenix last night) and they are looking at an uphill battle without Bosh.
23. Detroit Pistons (23-36)
They were looking good, then they lost to the Knicks and Wizards and suddenly things aren’t so nice in the Palace. They still have a shot at a playoff spot, but it’s looking more and more out of reach.
24. Sacramento Kings (20-37)
Mostly here just because I love Demarcus Cousins (even if he sat against the Spurs). George Karl had a good start, but not having Boogie and Darren Collison hurts. They’re still not bottom five though.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-46)
I still love KG, and they lost close games to Memphis and the Clippers, so they can stay out of the cellar for a little while longer despite having a god-awful record.
26. Orlando Magic (19-42)
They’re 19-42 and not totally out of the East playoff race. Which is pretty sad. But they are not nearly that good yet, and a 15-point loss to the Hornets proved that.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (16-42)
They went on a nice little three game win streak, including wins over Milwaukee and Utah, so they are showing a little bit of life. And you gotta love Swaggy P standing up for his girlfriend Iggy Azalea. Sometimes you need a little conflict to get the competitive juices flowing.
28. Denver Nuggets (20-39)
1, 2, 3… 6 weeks! That’s the motto, and it may have been the reason coach Brian Shaw got fired. This is a bad team, and a bad team that no longer cares, so it can only get worse from here.
29. New York Knicks (12-46)
Just when all looked lost, they find a way to beat Detroit and Toronto, which gives the fans something to cheer about before the season totally falls apart, so they come out of the basement for at least a week.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (13-47)
Meanwhile, they lost to Toronto, so that moves them down a peg from the Knicks. Also they cut Javale Mcgee, which hurts me. I was hoping to see him flying around in the red white and blue, but it was not meant to be.