NBA Power Rankings: Can the Aging Spurs or Celtics Win Another Title?

Sean Delorge@@sdelorgeCorrespondent IIIApril 19, 2012

With one week left in the regular season, here is my NBA Power Rankings for April 19.

1. San Antonio Spurs (Past week: 5-0)
After going 5-0 last week, the Spurs look like the class of the West. I’m not sure what they are drinking out there, but they have found the fountain of youth. Look for Popovich to start resting starters in the last week of the regular season. (Previous rank: 2)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (Past week: 3-1)
The Thunder have too much offensive firepower to be stopped. If they can improve defensively they will overcome the elder Spurs team and win the West. (Previous rank: 1)

3. Chicago Bulls (Past week: 3-1)
The Bulls beat the Heat despite a terrible game by Derrick Rose. This team is deeper than we thought. (Previous rank: 3)

4. Los Angeles Clippers (Past week: 4-0)
The Clippers are riding a five-game winning streak and are coming together at the right time. If they stay healthy they will contend with the Thunder and the Spurs in the playoffs. (Previous rank: 8)

5. Boston Celtics (Past week: 3-1)
The Celtics, like the Spurs, have found the fountain of youth. Despite a hiccup against the Knicks, the Celtics are gearing up for a long playoff run. (Previous rank: 4)

6. Los Angeles Lakers (Past week: 3-1)
Andrew Bynum seems to have gotten the message. He has been playing at a higher level recently and looks like the dominant center that the Lakers thought he was. With big games coming up against the Spurs and Thunder, we will learn a lot about the Lakers before the playoffs begin. (Previous rank: 6)

7. Miami Heat (Past week: 4-1)
The Heat have big games coming up against the Bulls and Celtics and need to show they are ready for the playoffs. When healthy and committed, this team has the talent to win a championship. The question is, do they want it? (Previous rank: 6)

8. Indiana Pacers (Past week: 4-0)
The Pacers have flown under the radar nationally despite being one of the NBA’s most consistent teams. They have won six in a row and 10 of their last 11 games. They are young and have one of the few legitimate centers in the league. Watch out Miami and Chicago. (Previous rank: 9)

9. Memphis Grizzlies (Past week: 3-2)
The Grizzlies have been consistent all year, but will only go as far as Rudy Gay takes them in the playoffs. Unless Zach Randolph catches fire or Marc Gasol becomes more of a scoring threat, the Grizzlies don’t have the offense to win in the playoffs. (Previous rank: 7)

10. New York Knicks (Past week: 3-1)
The Knicks have improved under Mike Woodson and seem recommitted to winning. If Amar'e Stoudemire can return for a tune-up before the playoffs the Knicks will be a wildcard in the Eastern Conference. (Previous rank: 16)

11. Dallas Mavericks (Past week: 3-2)
With Dirk looking like a man possessed the Mavericks have a fighting chance in the first round. If they can maintain their hold on the six seed they would at least have a fighter’s chance against the Lakers. (Previous rank: 10)

12. Utah Jazz (Past week: 2-2)
Despite back-to-back losses, the Jazz have held on to the last spot out west. They have a unique combination down low, and Devin Harris can erupt at times making them a thorn in the side of their opponent in the first round. (Previous rank: 15)

13. Atlanta Hawks (Past week: 3-1)
The Hawks are 6-2 in their last eight games and one of the losses was against the red hot Celtics. Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Tracy McGrady will be able to score in the playoffs, but can they defend? (Previous rank: 11)

14. Phoenix Suns (Past week: 2-2)
The Suns continue to play well and are fighting for a playoff spot. With one game left against the Jazz, that could determine who gets the last spot out west. (Previous rank: 18)
15. Philadelphia 76ers (Past week: 1-3)
The Sixers continue to stumble down the stretch and fortunately an easy schedule to end the season will help them maintain their playoff spot. However, a one-and-done is in the near future for this young team. (Previous rank: 12)
16. Denver Nuggets (Past week: 2-2)
The Nuggets defeated the Rockets twice, maintaining the seventh seed and a playoff spot. While they have pieces to build going forward, they likely face a first-round exit in the playoffs. (Previous rank: 17)

17. Orlando Magic (Past week: 2-2)
Despite the continued Dwight Howard saga, the Magic manage to press on. However, this is a team that needs to completely blow up and start over in the offseason. (Previous rank: 14)

18. Houston Rockets (Past week: 0-4)
After winning four in a row, they went on a five-game losing streak that all but sealed their fate as a lottery team. (Previous rank: 13)
19. Milwaukee Bucks (Past week: 1-3)
The Bucks made moves at the deadline but won’t see results until next year. This is a team desperate for a big man and would love to win the Anthony Davis lottery. (Previous rank: 20)

20. Detroit Pistons (Past week: 1-3)
The Pistons need to use the amnesty clause on Ben Gordon and bring a new feel to the franchise. Rodney Stuckey is a good player, but the Pistons need another scorer to take the pressure off Stuckey and Greg Monroe. (Previous rank: 24)
21. Minnesota Timberwolves (Past week: 0-4)
Despite an 11-game losing streak, this team has pieces to build around. Like the Pistons the Timberwolves need to rid themselves of lazy and disappointing players before they can improve. (Previous rank: 19)
22. Toronto Raptors (Past week: 2-2)
The Raptors need to find an identity and stick with it. If this team wants to become a fast-paced scoring team, then they need to bring in some players that can shoot and a point guard that can run the offense. (Previous rank: 27)
23. Portland Trail Blazers (Past week: 0-4)
Despite a four-game losing streak, the Trail Blazers have pieces to build around going forward. Now that the Greg Oden era is over they can move on and bring in someone to go along with LaMarcus Aldridge. (Previous rank: 21)

24. New Jersey Nets (Past week: 1-3)
After losing difficult games, news came out that the Nets almost traded for Paul Pierce. I am not sure what their plan is, but they need more than Pierce to entice Deron Williams to stay. (Previous rank: 22)
25. Golden State Warriors (Past week: 0-4)
The Warriors are struggling through a six-game losing streak and have nothing to show for it this year. Next year, however, if Andrew Bogut stays healthy they can return to the playoffs. (Previous rank: 23)
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (Past week: 1-4)
The Cavaliers continue to struggle without Kyrie Irving. In the offseason, the Cavs should try to move Anderson Varejao and get as much as they can to build for the future. (Previous rank: 25)

27. Sacramento Kings (Past week: 1-2)
While the Kings have talented players, they don’t play like a team. A new coach and some trades to change the locker room dynamic would do this franchise some good. (Previous rank: 26)

28. New Orleans Hornets (Past week: 3-1)
The best news the Hornets got all year was when they found themselves an owner. Hopefully now that Tom Benson has control of the team they can start to rebuild. (Previous rank: 28)

29. Washington Wizards (Past week: 2-2)
John Wall needs to take a giant leap in his third year or else the Wizards will be looking at their fourth straight losing season. There is hope that they could land Anthony Davis in the draft and pair him with Nene, but the cupboard is still bare in Washington. (Previous rank: 29)

30. Charlotte Bobcats (Past week: 0-5)
With an 18-game losing streak and the league’s worst record it can’t get any worse for the Bobcats. Oh wait, it can. The head coach has started to fight with his players. (Previous rank: 30)


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