Well we've arrived at the conference semifinals, meaning there are eight teams remaining in the NBA playoffs. Some teams appear to be hitting their stride, while others are already looking like they may be on their way out.
So, here are the combined power rankings for both the Eastern and Western Conference at this point in time in the playoffs.
The 76ers come in at eighth place in the rankings. They are currently tied up 1-1 with Boston, and their Game 1 loss was by only one point. To be fair, their Game 2 win was only by one point, which is a testament to how close the series really has been.
I actually think the 76ers have a decent chance to beat Boston in this series. They were able to accomplish what they wanted to do on the road, which was to steal a game in Boston. Now they get to go home and try and go up 2-1. If they can win Game 3, watch out for the Sixers.
The 76ers are a solid team and are capable of making a run. Will they do it? Probably not, which is why they sit currently in eighth.
This might be an unpopular choice, but I have the Lakers sitting in seventh at the current moment. They looked absolutely horrible in Game 1 against the Thunder. The journalist who asked Kobe if they could guard the thunder was spot on, and I loved the question.
Kobe answered "no" albeit sarcastically. But the truth is they can't guard the Thunder, and the series at this point is all but over. It seems strange to say that about a Kobe Bryant lead team, but I just don't think they can match up at all with the Thunder.
Oklahoma City in five at the most, book it.
It seems a lot of people have the Celtics rated pretty high still, but the fact of the matter is that they're in a dead even series with the consensus No. 8, Philadelphia. I think that the series at this point is a legitimate toss up.
However, if Rondo can keep putting up these triple-doubles and feeding Pierce, Garnett and Allen, and not bump any refs along the way, then the Celtics are definitely a dangerous team and can beat anyone remaining in the playoffs on any given night.
In order to do that, they'll need to beat the 76ers, who are going home with a series that's all tied up. Let's see what happens.
The Clippers had to play a very tough, seven-game series against the Memphis Grizzlies, which was extremely physically taxing. Now they're squaring up with a Spurs team that is coming off a sweep and had time to rest its old muscles and joints.
The Clippers were beaten pretty thoroughly in Game 1, as they allowed San Antonio to pull away down the stretch. However, I still think the Clippers have a shot if they can make the adjustments they need and get some better defensive play out of their bigs.
I think what really hurts the Clippers is that DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin seem to score solely off of dunks. Take that away and force them to take shots from outside three feet and they're rendered basically ineffective.
If the Spurs can continue to do that, they'll win the series with ease.
After last nights Pacers victory, I have to say I was thoroughly impressed. Not only did the Pacers prove they can play with the Heat, they showed they can win a tough game and grind it out down the stretch. It would've been a little easier if they made some free throws, but that's another story.
The Pacers need to turn the ball over less, and with the absence of Chris Bosh, they need to really try and work the ball inside more to get easy buckets. Roy Hibbert needs to play better and pull down some offensive rebounds.
The Pacers have a good chance to win the series. We've all seen LeBron fold before down the stretch in games, so perhaps it will happen again and the Pacers can eek out the series and win it in seven. They proved they can win on the road in Miami, so why not?
In terms of being in the No. 3 spot, the Thunder have nothing to be ashamed of. The top three on this list are about as close as they could possibly be. My reason for putting the Thunder at No. 3 is that I believe they are the second-best team in there conference, meaning I'd favor the Spurs in a seven-game matchup.
The Thunder are obviously riding high after their 29 point victory over the Lakers in Game 1, and it's tough to see them somehow losing this series. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are playing very well, and James Harden is killing it for them coming off the bench.
Oklahoma City can absolutely make a run and win the NBA Championship this year. However, without home-court advantage, It'll be hard for them to win a series against San Antonio. The Thunder perhaps have the best home-court advantage in the NBA, but I doubt they can win on the road if it were to come to a Game 7 with the Spurs.
The Heat are in the No. 2 spot simply because I still have doubts on whether or not they will win their series with Indiana. The Pacers have shown them to be vulnerable, and without Chris Bosh, it's tough to see them winning a championship.
The Chris Bosh injury will probably ultimately doom this team. If they were to make it to the finals and play either the Spurs or the Thunder, it's hard to envision them winning a series due to their utter lack of an inside presence. Still, any team with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade can never be counted out.
If they get past the Pacers, the Heat will be a tough matchup for either Boston or Philadelphia, so don't be at all surprised to see them make it all the way to the finals for a second straight year.
The Spurs are perhaps the most under the radar No. 1 overall seed I can remember in a long time. I never even really heard about them at all throughout the season. They are second in the NBA in scoring and are in the top 10 in both rebounding and assists. Simply put, they play great all around basketball.
San Antonio also doesn't turn the ball over all that much, which makes it really difficult for opposing teams to outscore them. Assuming they play the Thunder next round, we're in for an awesome series, it'll be really fun to see if Durant and Westbrook can find a way to win four against San Antonio.
Had the Heat still had Bosh, they'd be ahead of the Spurs at this point. Since they don't, I can't see Miami beating the Spurs, especially since they'd have to play without home-court advantage. If Tony Parker, Ginobli and Duncan continue playing at a high level, then this team is the clear favorite to win the NBA Finals.
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