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NBA Power Rankings: Spurs And Bulls Lead, But Heat And Thunder Might Be More Daunting

The weekly NBA Power Rankings see the structure hold at the top, but find plenty of reason to be afraid of the trailers.

April 15, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (1) brings the ball up court during the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE
April 15, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (1) brings the ball up court during the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

The finish line is within sight. The NBA regular season will end in just under two weeks; some teams have as few as four games remaining. While there has been plenty of churn in the middle of our weekly NBA Power Rankings, the structure at the top has held: the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls are incredibly imposing, and the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, though with some hiccups, might be even better.

Further down the table, we see what teams have played with pride down the stretch (hello, Hornets!) and which have shamed themselves (word to the Warriors).

All records current as of Tuesday.

Rank Team Record Last Week SB Nation Blog
1. San Antonio Spurs 43-16 W: MEM, PHX, GS; L: UTA, LAL Pounding The Rock
The Spurs have a revenge match against the Lakers on Tuesday, but it still doesn't matter. Nothing matters for the Spurs until April 28 or 29, when their playoff quest for one more ring with Tim Duncan begins. So long as the team enters healthy and with a modicum of freshness, they will be a daunting task for any and all West contenders. That's all that matters.
2. Chicago Bulls 46-15 W: NY, MIA, DET; L: WAS Blog-a-Bull
The perception of the Bulls as a wounded duck is setting in, because we're seeing suggestions from insane Knicks fans that New York should opt for the No. 8 seed to draw Chicago in the first round. I'm not even going to ask if you're high. I'm going to skip straight to "What are you high on?"
3. Oklahoma City Thunder 44-17 W: MIL, SAC, MIN; L: LAC x 2 Welcome To Loud City
If the Thunder pull back ahead and claim the No. 1 seed, their likely second-round opponent would be the Clippers (who just beat them twice in two days) or the Grizzlies (who took them to what seemed like 17 games last spring). Neither poison looks particularly appetizing.
4. Miami Heat 43-17 W: CHA, NY, NJ; L: BOS, CHI Peninsula Is Mightier
The way he closed out New York and New Jersey over the last couple of days, it's almost as if LeBron James is trying to remind everyone that he's still the best player in the league. Thankfully, some of us never forgot.
5. Indiana Pacers 39-22 W: TOR, CLE x 2, MIL, MIN Indy Cornrows
Danny Granger picked the right time to become the player we all hoped he could be. Since the All-Star break, he's shooting 46 percent from the floor, 40 percent on threes, 90 percent from line and scoring 19 points in 32 minutes.
6. L.A. Lakers 39-22 W: NO, SA, DEN, DAL Silver Screen And Roll
Kobe Bryant is so good at sitting on the bench in a suit. WINNER. (Seriously, though, he buys nice suits.)
7. L.A. Clippers 38-23 W: OKC x 2, MIN, GS; L: MEM Clips Nation
Beating the Thunder twice makes for a heckuva week, but something tells me Clips fans are paying more mind to that loss to the Grizzlies. L.A. has beaten the Grizz twice this season, but giving Memphis any bit of confidence is dangerous. Should be a hellacious series.
8. Memphis Grizzlies 35-25 W: LAC, PHX, UTA; L: SA, NO Straight Outta Vancouver
We're looking at another postseason in which Memphis will never have home court advantage. We're also looking at another postseason in which Memphis does not give a fork about home court advantage.
9. Boston Celtics 36-25 W: MIA, ATL, NJ, CHA; L: TOR CelticsBlog
While we gawk in amazement at Kevin Garnett's second second wind, dig into what advanced metrics say and do not say about Rajon Rondo in Paul Flannery's excellent piece for WEEI.
10. Denver Nuggets 34-27 W: GS, MIN, HOU x 2; L: LAL Denver Stiffs
JaVale McGee. NBA Playoffs. April 28. Be there.
11. Atlanta Hawks 36-25 W: TOR, ORL; L: BOS, TOR Peachtree Hoops
</keeps checking on Al Horford> Seriously, if they get Al Horford, easily the roster's best player, back for the playoffs? We need to be ready for the potential of the Hawks in conference finals. They took a healthy Bulls squad to six last year, and Jeff Teague and the bench are improved.
12. Phoenix Suns 32-29 W: MIN, HOU, POR; L: MEM, SA Bright Side of the Sun
Alvin Gentry joins about six other guys who deserve real consideration for Coach of the Year.
13. Dallas Mavericks 34-28 W: SAC, GS, POR; L: LAL, UTA Mavs Moneyball
Rick Carlisle has been going small frequently, with Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Jason Terry on the court together. It seems like the fact they are a combined age of something like 115 would negate any quickness advantage.
14. New York Knicks 31-29 W: MIL, WAS; L: CHI, MIA Posting And Toasting
Peeling off one game in a playoff series has to be considered a win at this point, right? The thing is: this team should be better than the Knicks exactly one year ago. Those Knicks didn't have a tenable point guard (Chauncey Billups was injured) and Amar'e Stoudemire was banged up. But this version has Tyson Chandler. The Knicks should be a lot better than "flirting with .500."
15. Orlando Magic 36-25 W: DET, CLE, PHI; L: WAS, ATL Orlando Pinstriped Post
In the end, Orlando's record with Dwight Howard was too solid for his injury to tank them out of the playoffs. Now let us be regaled with an underwhelming playoff series!
16. Utah Jazz 32-30 W: SA, HOU, DAL; L: NO, MEM SLC Dunk
The Jazz's season will undulate 17 more times in the final four games of the season. It's the only way that this season can be resolved.
17. Houston Rockets 32-29 W: POR; L: UTA, PHX, DEN x 2 The Dream Shake
How to lose your playoff spot in four games: register four losses in six days to the three teams you are competing with for a spot. What a painful week for the Rockets.
18. Philadelphia 76ers 31-29 W: NJ, TOR; L: NJ, ORL Liberty Ballers
It's almost as if the early season Sixers and the late season Sixers are two completely different teams.
19. Milwaukee Bucks 29-31 W: DET; L: OKC, NY, IND Brew Hoop
Welp, this team, it really was nice knowing you, Bucks. (While we're here, huge congratulations to Alex Boeder, a Brew Hoop writer who got called up to A well-deserved honor.)
20. Portland Trail Blazers 28-34 W: GS; L: HOU, DAL, SAC, PHX Blazer's Edge
Ah, now they've hit their tanking stride. Just needed LaMarcus Aldridge to get injured.
21. New Orleans Hornets 19-42 W: SAC, UTA, MEM, CHA; L: LAL At The Hive
It wasn't perfect, but the NBA's run as owners ended up pretty good. Dell Demps and Monty Williams deserve mounds of credit for their work both as a playoff team last year and a rebuilding squad this season.
22. Detroit Pistons 22-38 W: CHA; L: ORL, MIL, CHI Detroit Bad Boys
Oh my goodness, Lawrence Frank freed Charlie Villanueva!
23. New Jersey Nets 22-40 W: PHI; L: PHI, BOS, MIA NetsDaily
The Nets have two more games in New Jersey. Given that the opponents are the Knicks and Sixers, Nets fans will almost assuredly be outnumbered. Sounds about right. (It's kinda criminal how the Ratner and Prokhorov management teams treated Newark and north Jersey. We'll see if the league ever gives Newark another shot with a committed club that isn't just biding time.)
24. Toronto Raptors 22-40 W: BOS, ATL; L: IND, PHI, ATL Raptors HQ
Dwane Casey and Monty Williams are fighting for the Patton award. There's a crazy amount of fight in this club.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves 25-37 L: PHX, DEN, LAC, OKC, IND Canis Hoopus
The investigation is just sitting right there for the taking: David Kahn is totally tanking the team to improve the Wolves' second-round pick.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers 20-39 W: CHA, WAS; L: IND x 2, ORL Fear the Sword
So the last-season Cavs aren't nearly as bad as the Bobcats and Wizards. I'd gotten worried there for a moment.
27. Golden State Warriors 22-38 L: DEN, POR, DAL, LAC, SA Golden State of Mind
Mark Jackson should be ashamed to trot out these lineups with a straight face.
28. Sacramento Kings 20-41 W: POR; L: DAL, NO, OKC Sactown Royalty
This is always, always how it ends up for Sacramento.
29. Washington Wizards 15-46 W: CHA, ORL, CHI; L: NY, CLE Bullets Forever
This team has one legit piece for the future. One.
30. Charlotte Bobcats 7-53 <mushroom cloud> Rufus On Fire
</whistles the theme to Love Boat>