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NBA power rankings 2015: The Warriors march ahead ... again

Beware the Ides of March. And the Warriors. Golden State is back in command of the NBA.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

1. Golden State Warriors (46-11, Last week: 1)

How good have the Warriors been? Golden State's 10.4 average point differential heading into Sunday is 6.3 points better than the second-place Grizzlies' 4.1 differential. The Hawks, leading the East by double-digit games, just so happen to be beating opponents by an average of 6.3 points. That's both an awesome coincidence and an amazing testament to the Warriors' success, even if they take a few losses along the way.

2. Atlanta Hawks (47-12, Last week: 2)

It'd take a collapse for the Hawks to lose their grip on the No. 1 seed in the East. Atlanta is on track to be the top representative for their conference for the first time since '93-94, a 57-25 season that resulted in a second-round knockout. The Hawks' 10-game lead on a pack of teams around the 37-win mark is plenty of cushion through the final leg of the season.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (42-16, Last week: 3)

The Grizzlies are cruising along, slowly peeling away from the "other" West teams. A showdown with the Rockets on Wednesday is a huge game as playoff positions begin to tighten. Houston leads the season series 2-1 and is just 1½ games behind Memphis for the No. 2 seed.

4. Houston Rockets (41-18, Last week: 7)

James Harden's Most Valuable Player resume gets more impressive as the Rockets roll on. It's good that everything is digital these days, so we can just embed this crossover on LeBron James into his highlights section:

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (37-24, Last week: 4)

LeBron James' second-coming and dash into the MVP race took a hit like the rims in Houston on Sunday. James made just three of his 11 free-throw attempts, including two misses in overtime that served as nails in the coffin for a big game.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (39-19, Last week: 5)

The Trail Blazers find their way out of the top five, but they'll have a chance to vault back into it soon with games against the Clippers, Mavericks and Rockets coming up over the next two weeks. It certainly didn't hurt that Arron Afflalo dropped 11 points in the fourth quarter against the Thunder as the Trail Blazers rallied for a win.

7. Los Angeles Clippers (39-21, Last week: 11)

Chris Paul and the horrible, terrible, no good, very mean crossover:

8. Dallas Mavericks (39-22, Last week: 6)

Things aren't going smoothly with Dallas and Rajon Rondo, and that's not just the difference of opinion that turned into a shouting match between Rick Carlisle and his starting point guard. Dallas' offensive efficiency has taken a huge hit -- a swing of almost 10 points per 100 possessions -- though its defense has improved a bit:


9. San Antonio Spurs (36-23, Last week: 10)

The Spurs are awfully quiet for being defending champions. San Antonio was left off the hook through a chunk of the season because Kawhi Leonard was out, but he's been back for a bit and the Spurs still haven't really taken off. A week against the Kings, Nuggets and Derrick Rose-less Bulls might help them get on a bit of a roll.

10. Toronto Raptors (37-22, Last week: 8)

The Raptors' five-game losing streak is their longest of the season, and dropping one to the Knicks is unforgivable even if Kyle Lowry was getting some rest. If they lose on Monday to the 76ers, it's time for #WeTheNorth to be very worried about this team's outlook.

11. Chicago Bulls (37-23, Last week: 9)

Derrick Rose is out with another knee injury, but the city of Chicago has become "numb" to it by this point, as SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell writes:

Chicago has been desensitized to this sort of thing. The feeling didn't swell, it was mostly just numb and cold.

Rose will be back at some point. The Bulls will be fine too, at least as much as they can be. The realities around the player and the team have changed again, and with it both will need to adjust. Rose wasn't counted on to be a one-man army this season, and it's likely he will never be that player again.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (33-27, Last week: 12)

The Thunder have absorbed what's felt like endless injuries to both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook all season, but they've done enough to be in position to make the playoffs. They might be the most dangerous No. 8 seed of all time if things stay the course.

13. Washington Wizards (34-26, Last week: 13)

It's not a good thing that the Timberwolves' lone 20-point victory of the season came against the Wizards. Washington won a total of three games in February, matching the Knicks' win total for the month. The pressure will only rise with four games coming against playoff teams (Bulls, Heat, Bucks, Grizzlies), with a meeting mixed in against a Hornets team trying to scrape it's way into the postseason.

14. Milwaukee Bucks (32-27, Last week: 14)

The Bucks are taking their surprising point guard swap the hardest. They've won just once with Michael Carter-Williams in the lineup and that was against the stripped-for-parts 76ers. Milwaukee, like Phoenix, shook up a roster that could have cruised into the playoffs and focused instead on its long-term vision.

SB Nation presents: How Michael Carter-Williams made it to the NBA

15. New Orleans Pelicans (32-27, Last week: 16)

Do you know how many minutes Anthony Davis has played during the Pelicans' five-game winning streak? Nine. Nine minutes. New Orleans is getting just enough production from guys like Alexis Ajinca to put together enough wins to leap over the Suns in the Western Conference standings. It's going to be a wild race to the end of the season for New Orleans.

16. Phoenix Suns (31-29, Last week: 15)

The Suns had their lowest-scoring half in franchise history (24 points) while Brandon Knight, their "prize" in dumping Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, finished the game with one point and two assists on 0-for-6 from the field. It's clear Phoenix punted on a playoff run this season and now the Suns have to prove it was the right move over the next two or three years.

17. Brooklyn Nets (24-33, Last week: 17)

Because who doesn't need a 360 dunk in their life?:

18. Charlotte Hornets (24-33, Last week: 18)

Charlotte was in the market for a veteran point guard leading up to the trade deadline and Mo Williams has fit the bill. He's putting up 23.4 points and seven assists per game in five outings for the Hornets. Totally sustainable.

19. Miami Heat (25-33, Last week: 19)

Miami's last three games have been decided by three points or fewer, but a 1-2 record during those games (win over Orlando that went into overtime) has the Heat against the ropes while the playoffs slip away.

20. Indiana Pacers (25-34, Last week: 20)

Good AWESOME news: Paul George participated in his first full practice since breaking his leg with Team USA. He's not expected back in the lineup over the next couple of weeks, but the fact that one of the league's most exciting young talents is this close to getting back on the court is exciting.

21. Boston Celtics (23-34, Last week: 23)

Good: The Celtics led the Warriors by 26 points on Sunday.

Bad: The Celtics gave up a 26-point lead on Sunday in a loss to the Warriors.

22. Utah Jazz (23-35, Last week: 22)

Utah is 4-1 since the trade deadline, including wins over the Bucks, Spurs and Trail Blazers. Their lone loss to the Lakers was especially painful because L.A. didn't have Nick Young, but for a team that's been flirting with the bottom five for much of the year, they might actually be turning a new page with Enes Kanter moving out of town.

23. Detroit Pistons (23-36, Last week: 21)

It's hard to imagine Stan Van Gundy will let Reggie Jackson continue putting up 17.3 field goals per game while shooting 33 percent from the field. It hasn't exactly been a great start for the newly matched couple.

24. Sacramento Kings (20-37, Last week: 24)

Sacramento is just tugging along to get through a fractured season. The future with George Karl may be bright and unknown, but the present of this team is lackluster. Now's a good time to re-hash that the Kings' 2015 first-round pick is top-10 protected through the 2017 draft and belongs to Chicago.

25. Denver Nuggets (20-39, Last week: 26)

The Nuggets are ready for the '14-15 season to be all the way over and they're counting it down, via Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post:

A fourth-quarter huddle late in the Nuggets' 104-82 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday broke with this phrase: "1-2-3 ... six weeks!"

As in six weeks to go until the end of the season. That's 24 games, 46 days and 1,152 minutes away.

Yeah. That's rough.

26. Orlando Magic (19-42, Last week: 25)

The best thing going for Orlando might be interim coach James Borregowho started out as a video coordinator for Gregg Popovich and the Spurs:

"You're in that cave for hours, breaking down film, talking to coaches, looking at tendencies, personnel. You're watching some of the greatest coaches, seeing what kind of sets that do. How they use offense, how they use defense. So for me, I watched so much basketball my first two or three years, so it gave me a really great base to see what I liked as a coach, what worked, and really build a philosophy or a base.

27. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-45, Last week: 27)

Finally, Kevin Garnett is BACK .... in Minnesota. KG's first game back with the Timberwolves ended in a 20-point victory over the Wizards. It was a sight to behold.

28. Los Angeles Lakers (16-42, Last week: 30)

Just when the world thought the Lakers were going to turn it around for no-analytics-nonsense Byron Scott after they strung together a season-high three wins, they dropped one to a Thunder team without Westbrook, Durant and Steven Adams.

OK, so nobody thought that.

29. Philadelphia 76ers (13-46, Last week: 28)

Nerlens Noel isn't getting the kind of rookie recognition that Andrew Wiggins is, but he's come on strong after sitting out last season with an ACL injury. Still, it's hard to judge the 76ers roster considering they've found minutes for 24 players this season.

30. New York Knicks (12-46, Last week: 29)

Andrea Bargnani and Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks to back-to-back wins and Lou Amundson had a 17-point, 14-rebound outing in one of those games. Just a friendly update in case you were curious how Phil Jackson and the crew are killing time until lottery day.