Official Bleacher Report NBA Playoff Power Rankings, Week 2

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2012

Official Bleacher Report NBA Playoff Power Rankings, Week 2

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    The NBA playoffs have been a wild ride thus far.

    Triumph, failure, injuries—you name it, the second week of the postseason had it.

    The Oklahoma City Thunder continued to roll while the Miami Heat hit a minor bump in the road, and the New York Knicks have found life while the Chicago Bulls have been pushed to the brink.

    Though the first round is still brimming with unanswered questions, the Association's playoff teams are beginning to assume their rightful places in the NBA food chain. 

16. Utah Jazz

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    Postseason Record: 0-3

    The Jazz face elimination on Monday, and while they won't be the first team to exit on the heels of a sweep, they have shown us nothing that would make us believe they can steal even one from the Spurs.

    Credit San Antonio's efficient two-way play for picking apart Utah with little effort, yet don't overlook the Jazz's failure to rise to the occasion.

    Utah is getting outhustled on both ends of the court and allowing the Spurs to shoot over 50 percent from the floor for the series.

    A championship was never in the cards for the Jazz this postseason, but a better overall showing was supposed to be.

15. Dallas Mavericks

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    Postseason Record: 0-4

    Here, the Mavericks make their final appearance in the postseason power rankings.

    Much like the Dallas-Oklahoma City series of last year, the closeness of this one is not reflected in the Thunder's sweep.

    That said, the Mavericks stumbled considerably at home in their last two games.

    They came out listless and unprepared in Game 3, shooting a horrendous 34.2 percent from the field and committing 15 turnovers. Then, in Game 4, Dallas watched James Harden turn a 13-point deficit into a six-point victory.

    Dirk Nowitzki and company played with a lot of heart to close out the year, but their late collapse was more than disappointing.

14. Atlanta Hawks

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    Postseason Record: 1-3

    Though the Celtics continue to do what they do best in the postseason—execute—the Hawks have played uninspired basketball the past two games.

    Atlanta's struggles were originally supposed to stem from the absence of Josh Smith, yet even with him on the floor, the team didn't appear ready to compete in Game 4, committing 18 turnovers and allowing Boston to shoot over 50 percent from the field.

    The Hawks are heading back home down 3-1 and need to play a slew of consecutive games that resemble their efforts in Game 1 to have a chance at coming out of this series.

13. New York Knicks

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    Postseason Record: 1-3

    Slow your roll, Knicks fans. 

    New York's victory over the Heat in Game 4 was impressive, in an ugly sort of way, but there's hardly reason to think the Knicks can recover.

    Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire rallied the team to their lone postseason victory in more than a decade, but their supporting cast left cause for concern.

    Not only are the Knicks even thinner on point guards with Baron Davis' latest injury, but they're also facing a 3-1 deficit.

    As Tyson Chandler dutifully pointed out, "History is made to be broken," yet somehow it doesn't appear on the verge of fragility this year.

12. Orlando Magic

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    Postseason Record: 1-3

    Without Dwight Howard, the Magic were easily supposed to be at the bottom of a list like this, so any kind of distance established from last should be considered a victory.

    After stealing Game 1 against the Pacers, the Magic nearly stole Game 4, but Indiana just proved to be too deep a team in overtime, and the Magic now head back to Indy facing elimination.

    Orlando has a lot of decisions to make over the offseason, and hopefully it is prepared, as it seems it will be starting very soon.

11. Chicago Bulls

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    Postseason Record: 1-3

    If it's not Derrick Rose's ACL, it's Joakim Noah's ankle or Luol Deng's wrist.

    While the Bulls are playing through one of the most unfortunate seasons any team has ever experienced, they have persevered all season. After losing three straight to the Sixers, though, it appears Chicago may be running out of gas.

    The Bulls made some questionable decisions down the stretch on Sunday and find themselves in a 3-1 hole as they return to Chicago for Game 5.

    Can the Bulls come from behind to steal the series?

    The regular-season version of this team says yes, but the postseason one says otherwise.

10. Denver Nuggets

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    Postseason Record: 1-3

    The Nuggets instilled hope with a victory in Game 3 over the Lakers but fell in a tightly fought match Sunday night; they now face elimination in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

    Denver's unselfish, superstar-less dynamic is intriguing, and undeniably effective, but it's proved no match for Kobe Bryant and his crew in the long haul.

    The Nuggets roster is laden with young talent, but they are seemingly poised to fall to one of the most experienced teams of all.

9. Indiana Pacers

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    Postseason Record: 3-1

    Someone needs to tell the Pacers that the Magic are as easy an opponent as they're going to face in the postseason.

    While Indiana is heading back home to embrace a win-and-advance scenario, the team has struggled, at times, to keep Orlando at bay.

    After dropping the first game, the Pacers were in control over the next two but then allowed the Magic to come storming back in Game 4, a contest they were lucky not to lose.

    Speaking of luck, it will only get you so far. Needless to say, Indiana has cause for concern moving forward.

8. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Postseason Record: 3-1

    Even without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Bulls are a talented team. Subsequently, no one can belittle the Sixers' effort thus far.

    Philadelphia is heading back to Chicago with a chance to pull off the upset that hardly anyone believed possible.

    Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes have caught fire at the most opportune time, and Andre Iguodala continues to make understated plays on both ends of the floor.

    The Bulls still are the type of opponent who can come raging back, but at this point, you have to like the Sixers' chances.

7. Boston Celtics

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    Postseason Record: 3-1

    If there were any doubts left as to whether the Celtics were serious about making another championship push, they were erased on the heels of a 22-point victory over the Hawks Sunday night.

    After a somewhat improbable Rajon Rondo-less victory in Game 2, Boston has rattled off another two straight wins to put itself in the driver's seat.

    Rondo continues to pick apart Atlanta's defense, and the seasoned veterans continue to knock down a high percentage of their shots from the field.

    It's that type of play that will carry them through to the next round, and perhaps beyond.

6. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Postseason Record: 1-2

    The Grizzlies-Clippers series has without a doubt been the most exciting matchup thus far.

    After watching a 27-point lead disappear in Game 1, Memphis redeemed itself with a win in Game 2. A second straight victory was within reach on Saturday as well, but once again, a poor shooting performance in the fourth quarter doomed the Grizzlies.

    We have seen Memphis at its best through the first three quarters of the game, but unfortunately, more often than not, it's the last quarter that counts the most. 

    If the Grizzlies wish to make a serious playoff push for the second straight year, they are going to have to resolve their issues down the stretch or risk being run out of the postseason by Chris Paul.

5. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Postseason Record: 2-1

    Despite a handful of lackluster performances from an array of his teammates, Chris Paul has carried the Clippers to a 2-1 series lead over the Grizzlies.

    Much like Memphis tends to shy away from the fourth quarter, Los Angeles has developed a penchant for mediocrity through the first three.

    Aside from Paul, hardly anyone is attacking the basket, nor is anyone making cuts down the lane or moving well without the ball in general.

    The Association's best point guard has carried the Clippers this far, but unless he gets some consistent contributions from the rest of the team—a grounded Blake Griffin included—they may find themselves on the wrong end of this series soon enough.

4. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Postseason Record: 3-1

    After an unimpressive Game 3 performance that saw Kobe Bryant shoot a Carmelo Anthony-like 7-of-23 from the field, the Lakers rebounded on Sunday, clawing their way to a 92-88 victory in Denver.

    While Bryant continues to score, it is the play of his supporting cast, specifically Andrew Bynum, that has built the Lakers a comfortable cushion.

    It remains unclear how Los Angeles will match up with the likes of Oklahoma City and San Antonio over a seven-game span, but for now, the Lakers are playing like a team that wants to land Bryant another ring. 

3. Miami Heat

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    Postseason Record: 3-1

    The Heat are still in the driver's seat in their series against the Knicks but have been an inconsistent bunch since opening up a 2-0 lead.

    Miami essentially gave Game 3 to New York over the first three quarters but was fortunate enough that the Knicks refused to take it. And in Game 4, you couldn't help but shake the feeling it was not the Knicks who won, but the Heat that lost.

    Outside of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, no one—not even Chris Bosh—has stepped up. Mike Miller is missing open looks, Udonis Haslem is getting into foul trouble and Shane Battier is struggling to defend Carmelo Anthony.

    Playing in cruise control may get the Heat past the Knicks, but it's not going to win them a title.

2. San Antonio Spurs

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    Postseason Record: 3-0

    The Spurs are in complete and utter control right now.

    They're averaging more than 107 points per game for the series on 51.2 percent shooting from the field while holding the Jazz to just 38.8 percent.

    Each of San Antonio's victories has come by a double-digit margin, and the team has been unrelenting in its ability to force turnovers.

    The Spurs have a chance to put Utah out of its misery Monday, and if the first three games have been any indication, they will take full advantage of the opportunity.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Postseason Record: 4-0

    The Thunder made quick work of the Mavericks.

    That said, Oklahoma City exuded resilience beyond its aggregate age, prevailing in all three of the series' close games.

    A lot of credit is owed to James Harden, who had a Chris Paul-like "never say die" air about him in the fourth quarter on Saturday night.

    Don't tell Russell Westbrook, but he has convinced me he is a max player.