clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NBA power rankings: The Spurs and Rockets are coming to get the Warriors

New, comments

Golden State closes out the month of March as the first team to reach 60 wins, but the Rockets and Spurs are preparing their playoff challenges.

1. Golden State Warriors (60-13. Last week: 1)

The Warriors came to play in March, losing just two games while tearing through the NBA. A showdown with the Clippers on Tuesday to close out the month gives Golden State a chance to end on a high note.

2. Atlanta Hawks (55-18. Last week: 2)

The Hawks are in full-on cruise control mode, really living up to the "Spurs of the East" reputation they've built this season. That's no surprise considering they've clinched the conference already. The Hawks may drop games while starters rest, but that doesn't take away from what they've accomplished to be in position to let their guys rest up before the playoffs.

3. Houston Rockets (50-23. Last week: 5)

The Rockets are hitting their stride at the right time, taking over the No. 2 seed out West while Dwight Howard makes his long-awaited return. Howard's played limited minutes over his first three games back, but getting him back on the court over the final weeks of the season is huge for Houston.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (48-27. Last week: 4)

What happens when the red-hot Cavaliers take on the 76ers? LeBron James tries to turn the franchise into rubble one dunk at a time:

5. San Antonio Spurs (47-26. Last week: 7)

It's been a long ride for the Spurs, but San Antonio finding its groove at the end of the season has turned into the death and taxes of the NBA. The Spurs have been on a roll lately, picking up a handful of quality wins that includes a 39-point beatdown of the Thunder. San Antonio has been just as good as Golden State through March, outscoring opponents by 13.5 points per 100 possessions:

1

6. Memphis Grizzlies (50-24. Last week: 3)

The Grizzlies tumble out of the top five for the first time in a long time. March hasn't been good for Memphis, and dropping three straight games last week only solidifies the team's struggles. Instead of making the most of a long season of consistent play, the Grizzlies lost to the Warriors, Cavaliers and Spurs in the span of a week.

7. Los Angeles Clippers (49-25. Last week: 6)

Who has the second-longest winning streak in the NBA right now? The Clippers have been on a roll and are still within striking distance of jumping into home court advantage in the first round. The aforementioned game against Golden State on Tuesday is huge for Chris Paul and company.

Also, Blake Griffin's spinning block on Jonas Jerebko was incredible:

8. Portland Trail Blazers (47-25. Last week: 9)

Damian Lillard willed the Trail Blazers out of a sixth straight loss with a big game against Utah, and the Blazers followed it up with a home win over Denver. Portland needed this little streak as it heads into a tough road schedule to end the year. Wednesday against the Clippers is a great opportunity to get a playoff sneak peak.

9. Chicago Bulls (45-29. Last week: 12)

Joakim Noah may be the most valuable bench defender in the NBA, this time doing just enough to trick DeMar DeRozan into tossing him a ball on the sidelines:

10. Dallas Mavericks (45-29. Last week: 8)

Monta Ellis sat out of his first game of the season on Sunday, ending a streak of 237 consecutive games played. His consistency has been big for Dallas over the years, especially with a roster filled with players who have been in and out, as Mavs Moneyball's Tim Cato shows with this crazy graphic:

1

11. Toronto Raptors (43-30. Last week: 13)

The Raptors dropped two of their three games last week, beating up on the lowly Lakers for their lone victory. On the plus side, they've clinched the Atlantic Division "title" again, well ahead of their competition.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (42-32. Last week: 10)

The Thunder are about to enter a gauntlet of games, facing the Mavericks, Rockets, Grizzlies and Spurs over their next four contests. Getting nearly 40-pieced by the Spurs was a tough blow to take this late in the season, along with Kevin Durant being sidelined for four-to-six months. Tough times.

SB Nation presents: Russell Westbrook’s most ridiculous highlight moments

13. Washington Wizards (41-33. Last week: 11).

The Wizards haven't been able to replicate the strong play they had through the first two months of the season, currently in a rut after losing five of their previous six games. Lining up against the 76ers and Knicks could stop the bleeding before hitting the road to visit the Grizzlies.

14. New Orleans Pelicans (39-34. Last week: 15)

Anthony Davis is leading the NBA in PER at 31.1, per Basketball-Reference, and is on track to join Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the only three players to put up that kind of amazing production since 1990.

15. Phoenix Suns (38-36. Last week: 14)

The Suns' loss to Oklahoma City may have been the final nail in their coffin, as they dropped the tiebreaker and fell four games out of the eighth seed. The big shift around the trade deadline ultimately doomed the Suns, while Russell Westbrook put Oklahoma City on his back one triple-double at a time. It's not over, but really ... this is probably over.

16. Milwaukee Bucks (36-37. Last week: 18)

The Bucks are fairly comfortable in their playoff position, but the Heat aren't. This game-winning sequence that ended in the hands of Khris Middleton could be the difference between the Heat missing and making the postseason.

17. Miami Heat (34-39. Last week: 16)

Dwyane Wade destroyed the Pistons, dropping 40 points and putting on a show for the ages. It's a joy to watch him go to work when he's locked in:

18. Utah Jazz (32-41. Last week: 17)

Trevor Booker didn't have anything nice to say about former Jazz teammate Enes Kanter, ripping him for his lack of defensive effort:

19. Brooklyn Nets (32-40. Last week: 21).

The Nets have a very tough schedule to close out the year, with just three non-playoff teams remaining and a high-stakes game against the Pacers on Tuesday. Brooklyn has done its best to hang in through the long season, but these final 10 games will put the Nets to the test.

20. Indiana Pacers (32-41. Last week: 22)

The Pacers are still very much in position to make the playoffs, which remains one of the most improbable potential playoff run storylines to follow through the end of the season. The word on Paul George's return remains very much a "we'll see." He is participating in drills, though, which is very cool.

21. Boston Celtics (32-41. Last week: 20)

Boston's remaining schedule looks exhausting. Two games against the Bucks. Two games against the Raptors. Two games against the Cavaliers. Charlotte and Indiana are both gunning for the eighth seed still. The Celtics have done a great job of getting to this point, but are still chasing the Nets with a tough schedule ahead.

22. Charlotte Hornets (31-41. Last week: 19)

The Hornets' game against the Celtics on Monday could make or break their playoffs hopes. It's been a wild ride kept alive by a great stretch of play from Mo Williams until Kemba Walker could return.

23. Detroit Pistons (28-45. Last week: 24)

The battle for the bottom seeds in the Eastern Conference is heated, and the Pistons stand at the gate. They play the Hornets twice, along with games against the Celtics, Pacers and Heat. Stan Van Gundy's team holds the keys, which is bad news for opponents because Detroit's pendulum is swinging the right way right now. The team has won five of its last seven games.

24. Denver Nuggets (28-46. Last week: 23)

Denver is going through the motions for the time being, even dropping a game to the 76ers on its way to the finish line of a disastrous season.

25. Sacramento Kings (26-46. Last week: 26)

If there's a story worth reading on the Kings as they try to get to an offseason reset with George Karl, it's the genesis of Nik Stauskas' "Sauce Castillo" nickname, which Sactown Royalty beautifully laid out. The highlight?

26. Orlando Magic (22-52. Last week: 25)

The biggest news coming out of Orlando was Shaquille O'Neal's induction into the franchise's Hall of Fame, which included this interesting quote and plenty of more headline-worthy bits from the Big Aristotle, via Zach Oliver of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

His move to the Lakers hurt the Magic as a franchise, but O'Neal admits that if he could go back, things would be different. "Knowing what I know now, I would've stayed," he said. "I would've stayed, fulfilled my seven years, and then after seven years looked at it differently."

27. Los Angeles Lakers (19-53. Last week: 28)

The Lakers won a total of three games in March, scrounging together enough points to beat the Pistons, Timberwolves and 76ers. Now, I'm not saying they're tanking, but they sure are losing every game they're supposed to as the season comes to an end. Monday in Philadelphia on the second half of a back-to-back in the final game of a five-game road trip is a spring breeze for their draft lottery odds.

28. Philadelphia 76ers (18-56. Last week: 29)

Philadelphia's schedule is tough to close out the year, filled with teams fighting for their playoff lives and seeding. Monday against the Lakers is one of the final games the 76ers are going to have to stumble over themselves to drop. L.A. is fighting for its top-five position and the 76ers want them to move out of that spot to get their draft pick, so this should make for some (horribly) compelling basketball for both fan bases.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-57. Last week: 27)

The Timberwolves are the darkhorse tanking champion of the Western Conference. Despite having young, productive talent and established players, they've managed to out-maneuver the Lakers at the bottom of the West. Minnesota is going to add another premiere young player to Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, though, which is an exciting prospect.

30. New York Knicks (14-60. Last week: 30)

Phil Jackson's first full season with the Knicks will end in franchise-worst fashion, as SB Nation's Liam Boylan-Pett explores:

Every way you look at it, these Knicks are bad. They have the second-worst offensive rating in the league (only the Philadelphia 76ers are worse) at 97.1 points per 100 possessions. They're second-worst in defensive rating, too, giving up 107.6 points per 100 possessions (the Minnesota Timberwolves are worse). Their net rating of -10.5 is the worst in the league by nearly two points.