Power Rankings: Week Twenty-Four

With roughly two weeks left of the season, the playoff picture is starting to become more clear. See if your team is staying hot in this pivotal part of the season, or if they are about to slip down the standings. 

  1. Golden State Warriors(69-8)- Golden State will not be able to accomplish the feat of an undefeated season at home thanks to the Boston Celtics. Golden State still is on track to break the all time record for wins in a season, but with two games left against the Spurs, you have to wonder if Popovich will attempt to stop their chances of being the record holders. With the rebuilding Timberwolves and two games against both Memphis and San Antonio to close out the season, Golden State has a great chance to at least tie the record if not break it.
  2. San Antonio Spurs(64-12)- San Antonio had a relatively easy schedule, but were able to get a convincing win over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night. With only five games left, and Golden State not looking like it is going to collapse, San Antonio will be stuck with the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs. If they can pull together, they do face off with the Warriors twice over the next ten days, so they have the chance to end the chance of the Warriors breaking the all time win record.
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers(55-22)- With all the debate last week about resting LeBron or fending off the Raptors for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, Cleveland was able to balance things out. They started the week of slow against the Rockets, but bounced back to two key victories over the red hot Hornets and Hawks. Cleveland is still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and will be hard to knock them off, if their chemistry does not do it first.
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder(53-24)- After the impressive basketball the Thunder had been playing, many of us thought they were done with their fourth quarter meltdowns, but it resurfaced against the Rockets on Sunday afternoon. Oklahoma City will likely match up against Memphis in the first round of the playoffs, which will the easiest of the playoff teams, due to all of their injuries. Oklahoma City has the talent to win the championship, but it is unknown whether they have the mental toughness to make it happen.
  5. Toronto Raptors(51-25)- This past week Toronto blew their chances for the number one overall seed in the conference. Although they will not achieve this goal they will still have home court advantage for the playoffs. Toronto has cooled off recently, so unless they find their mojo again, they could be upset in the opening round, by a young hungry team like Detroit.
  6. Los Angeles Clippers(48-28)- The Clippers had their four game winning streak snapped in a close fought battle with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The good news, Blake Griffin is back on the court for the Clippers, who desperately need him to regain his form before the playoffs if they want to make any noise. Their remaining schedule should allow for them to close out on a hot streak, and provide the weaker opponents to help Griffin regain his confidence.
  7. Charlotte Hornets(44-32)- As the season nears its end, Charlotte continues to remain one of the hottest teams in the league. Their loss to Cleveland on Sunday was a reminder of the much needed work they need to do to ready themselves for a playoff battle against a team like Cleveland. As long as Marvin Williams continues to be a terrific shooter, Charlotte has a good chance to play spoiler in the playoffs.
  8. Atlanta Hawks(45-32)- Much like the Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta’s hot streak came to a halt against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. They were almost able to make a triumphant comeback, but fell short in the latter half of the fourth quarter. The Hawks have the veteran presence to make some noise in the playoffs, so whoever they match up with in the first round could be looking at a long battle.
  9. Miami Heat(44-32)- Miami did not have a good trip out west this past week. They were unable to knock off the Lakers or Trail Blazers, and barely slipped by the Kings. Miami needs to quit adjusting themselves down to their competition, as they could be their likely downfall in the playoffs starting in a few weeks. If Miami can finish the season healthy, they could be the biggest test to LeBron making it back to the finals.
  10. Boston Celtics(45-32)- Boston was able to go in the Oracle, and come out on top. They became the first team of the season to achieve this feat. Although they started their west coast trip on a bad note, they finished strong, and or looking at having some serious momentum going into the final weeks. Their defensive intensity will not be something opposing teams look forward too when points become a lot harder to find in the playoffs.
  11. Detroit Pistons(41-36)- With Chicago getting hot this past week, Detroit needs to watch out behind them, as they close out on a rather difficult schedule. Games on the road against the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic to start the week will not be easy, but Detroit should win these games if they are truly playoff material. They close the week off against the Wizards, who gave them a beating last time, so we will see how Detroit handles that situation.
  12. Indiana Pacers(41-36)- As the case with Detroit, Indiana now has to worry about Chicago, who decided to get hurt last week. With games against Cleveland and Toronto this week, things are only looking worse for the Pacers. if they can at least split this series, the remaining three games have three teams in the current top ten for lottery selections, so they have an excellent chance of slipping in by that narrative.
  13. Portland Trail Blazers(41-37)- Portland, with their current momentum looks destined to a first round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. Although they would unlikely win this seven game series, this would be the only watchable series in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Blake Griffin is still shaky, and the deadly duo of McCullum and Lillard can light up the arena, so Portland should not be overlooked in the first round.
  14. Utah Jazz(39-38)- Utah remains hot as the playoffs look to begin very shortly. Utah has now won ten of their last thirteen games, and have a great shot at outlasting the Mavericks or Rockets for one of the two final playoff spots. They face both the Clippers and Spurs at home this week, and Utah needs to upset one of these two to keep their hopes high, before they end the week with the inconsistent Nuggets.
  15. Chicago Bulls(39-38)- Chicago had a busy week, playing five games all over the Eastern part of the country. The traveling does not stop for Chicago, as they finish the year with three of their last five games on the road. Miami and Cleveland will be the hardest competition, but if they can sneak by these two, and beat the below average opponents left, Chicago could pull the miracle of making it to the playoffs yet again.
  16. Dallas Mavericks(39-38)- After struggling for much of the last month, Dallas was able to snap off a four game winning streak to save their playoff chances. They lead the Rockets by a half game for the final playoff spot, so every win will count from now on. The remaining schedule will not be easy, but this team is desperate to make it to the playoffs, and try and give Dirk another chance at a title.
  17. Houston Rockets(38-39)- Houston has just won three of their last ten games, and many fans do not want to even see them in the playoffs. Even if the fans do not want them there, Houston has the easiest schedule remaining between Utah, Dallas, and themselves, so the players will make the decision of who gets the seventh or eighth seed. Even with an easy schedule, Houston will still probably disappoint us.
  18. Memphis Grizzlies(41-36)- Memphis is currently on a six game losing streak, and have lost ten of their last twelve games. With their recent demise, they have a shot to miss the playoffs, which would probably be best for this franchise, as they are starved of young talent. If Houston can get its act together, they would be a lot more watchable in the playoffs than the Grizzlies.
  19. Washington Wizards(37-40)- Unless a miracle happens, Washington is virtually eliminated from playoff contention, thanks in large part to their inconsistency. Their offseason will be about finding depth, and more scoring, as Kevin Durant has said many times, Washington is not in his plans if he decides to sign elsewhere, ending their pursuit of the superstar.
  20. Denver Nuggets(32-46)- I do not know what to make of Denver this season. They will have a couple game winning streak, and then drop four of their last five as they have just done. I know they are not thriving for a winning season, but make up your mind on tanking or winning already. Their final four games are against four Western Conference playoff teams, which should help them increase their lottery percentages for the top pick.
  21. Orlando Magic(33-44)- Orlando almost had a five game winning streak, but were unable to hold off the Milwaukee Bucks in the final minutes of their game Friday night. Even though wins do not matter at this point, it is nice to see the chemistry finally take hold, and see what this young team can do in the future.
  22. Milwaukee Bucks(32-45)- Milwaukee was able to snap their five game losing streak by beating the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic. Even with a career high in points from Giannis Antetokounmpo on Sunday night, Milwaukee was not able to knock off the surging Chicago Bulls. With Parker and Antetokounmpo finding their strides, and with a offseason to refine these skills, next year should be a big step for the young Milwaukee Bucks.
  23. Sacramento Kings(31-46)- Sacramento has won four of their last six games, and seem to be enjoying their role messing up the playoff standings. They were officially eliminated this week, making it ten straight seasons with no playoffs in Sacramento. This offseason will be crucial to see if management can put together a team, or even they try a new rebuild without Cousins.
  24. New Orleans Pelicans(29-47)-Much like the Kings, New Orleans, devoid of star players(all hurt), continue to mess with the standings by winning games they have no business in. Although the front office cannot be healthy about moving down the lottery, at least the backups are getting confidence for next season.
  25. New York Knicks(31-47)- New York has given up on basketball for the season, and the headlines have turned to Kristaps Porzingis losing in FIFA matchups with teammates. New York can play spoiler in their last game if Indiana is still in their current position, and that could be the most fun part of the Knicks season, before they head towards a long, uncertain offseason.
  26. Minnesota Timberwolves(25-52)- Although much of the hype around Towns has faded away, mainly in part to it becoming an every night thing, Andrew Wiggins has exploded in his scoring efforts. The final ten days will not be easy for the Wolves, but at least losses will increase their chances of getting the number one overall selection again.
  27. Brooklyn Nets(21-56)- Well Brooklyn is back on a five game losing streak, after a couple wins. The remaining schedule hosts five playoff contending teams, so the odds for Boston getting a top five lottery selection are very high.
  28. Phoenix Suns(20-57)- Phoenix is currently on a six game losing streak, and little hope for progress next season. Phoenix will be heading into the offseason with a likely top five pick, and a bunch of veteran players, who should be dealt to focus on a rebuilding process. The final five games could show who is worth keeping around, and who should be dealt.
  29. Los Angeles Lakers(16-60)– We all got a vintage Kobe sighting on Sunday night against the Boston Celtics, as Kobe dropped 34 points. Kobe was also to give rival Dwayne Wade a crucial loss on Wednesday night, s it was a pretty good week for him. The drama between Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell have quieted down, but the front office will pursue trades for Young this offseason just for precautions.
  30. Philadelphia 76ers(9-68)- Philadelphia has now lost twelve straight games. The only excitement I can imagine for this team is the thought of summer league, and get to see what Joel Embiid will bring after two years of injury. It has just become too hard to write anything positive for the 76ers.

By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17


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