NBA Power Rankings: Where Each Team Stands in Final Month of Regular Season

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2013

Mar 18, 2013; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Records do not mean everything in the NBA, especially with the playoffs right around the corner.

A good record will help for seeding and to secure home-court advantage in the postseason. However, wins in November mean little at this stage of the year.

With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the only thing that matters at this point is which team is playing better. The hotter team will most often be the victor in any playoff series.

Keeping this in mind, here is a look at the latest power rankings.


1. Miami Heat (58-16)

The Heat showed incredible depth by defeating the San Antonio Spurs without LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. However, wins and losses at this point mean little.

Miami has the best record in the NBA and should secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Aside from that, simply staying healthy is all that matters as the Heat look to defend their title.


2. Oklahoma City Thunder (54-20)

With four days off to prepare for a home game against the Spurs, the Thunder should be able to finally get back to the top of the Western Conference.

However, Russell Westbrook will have to improve his efficiency for Oklahoma City to have success in the postseason.


3. San Antonio Spurs (55-19)

Although San Antonio survived the absence of Tony Parker, losing Manu Ginobili for a month will be another challenge.

The Spurs have lost their last two games without the veteran guard, and the remaining schedule continues to be tough. 

They have the depth to remain among the top teams in the Western Conference, and their experience will help them to contend for a title. However, a first-place finish is unlikely. 


4. Denver Nuggets (50-24)

Although the loss to the New Orleans Hornets was relatively embarrassing, the Nuggets have already moved past it with a solid win over the Brooklyn Nets.

With nine players averaging at least eight points per game, this team has enough depth to make it dangerous in the playoffs.


5. New York Knicks (47-26)

Although the Knicks will finish far behind the Heat in the standings, this team has the ability to pull off the upset in the playoffs.

The current nine-game winning streak has featured some incredible performances by Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. If the offense continues to score at this rate, the Knicks will play deep into the spring.


6. Memphis Grizzlies (50-24)

After they defeated the Spurs at home, the schedule gets significantly easier for the rest of the year. The Grizzlies only have one game remaining against a top-10 team in the league.

While the squad's defensive prowess will keep Memphis in any game, the inability to score with consistency will likely prevent any sort of deep run in the postseason.


7. Indiana Pacers (48-27)

Like the Knicks, the Pacers are starting to peak at the right time with five wins in a row. In addition, the ability to defend and rebound makes them tough for anyone to beat.

However, the biggest difference from last year's team is the emergence of Paul George. The third-year player is averaging 17.9 points per game, up 5.8 points per game from last season. With him and David West scoring well on a regular basis, the team finally has some consistent offense.

If the Pacers can earn the No. 2 seed in the East, they should at least be able to reach the conference finals.


8. Los Angeles Clippers (49-26)

Three straight losses in the competitive Western Conference is not a good recipe for success. The Clippers have struggled against other top teams, and the defensive effort has been abysmal lately.

The squad's athleticism will make it a tough matchup for older teams like the Spurs or Lakers, but it seems less likely that the Clippers will take home a title this season.


9. Brooklyn Nets (42-33)

The Nets have only one more game in its eight-city road trip, and they face some very winnable matchups for the rest of the season.

With six of the last nine games against teams currently out of the playoffs, Brooklyn should end the season on a high note.


10. Golden State Warriors (42-32)

Regardless of what Golden State does for the remainder of the year, Warriors fans should be happy about the squad's performance so far.

The team is on the brink of its first playoff appearance since 2007, and the roster is full of exciting talent. There should be a lot of hope for the next few years.


11. Houston Rockets (41-33)

If there is a team that can pull off a major upset in the postseason, it is the Houston Rockets.

James Harden can put up points as well as anyone in basketball, and the rest of the roster features young talent that helps out everywhere on the court.

While the defense leaves much to be desired, the offense has the ability to outscore anyone in the league.

With the right matchup, the Rockets can win a best-of-seven series and shock the world with an extended run in the playoffs.


12. Chicago Bulls (40-33)

Injuries are causing the season to fall apart, but the Bulls continue to prove that there is a lot of fight in them.

Still, having the worst offense in the NBA is not likely to lead to much success in the postseason. The important thing is setting up for next year when Derrick Rose is completely healthy.


13. Atlanta Hawks (42-33)

Atlanta finally ended its two-week stretch of alternating wins and losses by defeating the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers in back-to-back games.

However, this is just an example of what the Hawks are: a middling team that wins games it should and loses to better teams.


14. Los Angeles Lakers (39-36)

It seems impossible for the Lakers to play with the lineup that was projected at the start of the year. Now that Pau Gasol is back from his injury, Metta World Peace and Steve Nash are missing games.

However, Kobe Bryant is reaching the point where he will not allow Los Angeles to miss the playoffs.

The future Hall of Famer had a triple-double in a win over the Dallas Mavericks, after falling one rebound shy of accomplishing that feat in the victory over the Sacramento Kings the game before.

If Bryant continues this all-around level of play, there is little chance the Lakers miss the playoffs.


15. Utah Jazz (39-36)

Utah does not want to give up its eighth spot in the Western Conference and has won five games in a row to remain tied with the Lakers.

However, tough upcoming games against the Nuggets, Thunder and Grizzlies will make the next couple of weeks interesting.


16. Boston Celtics (38-36)

The Celtics continue to stay competitive despite that the lineup on the court does little to remind you of years past. Avery Bradley and Jeff Green shine as potential stars of the future.

However, the injuries are too great for Boston to make a run this postseason.


17. Milwaukee Bucks (36-37)

While the Wizards are coming on strong and the 76ers are sticking around, Milwaukee should be able to hold onto the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Of course, six road games in the final 10 contests should ensure that the squad has a losing record in the postseason.


18. Washington Wizards (28-46)

The Wizards were 5-28 without John Wall this season and are 23-18 since he returned. Although this might be too little too late, this is a good sign heading into next season.

Between him and Bradley Beal, Washington can feel confident that the organization is building a future winning team.


19. Dallas Mavericks (36-38)

Dallas had an opportunity to be only one-half of a game behind the Lakers in the standings, but the Mavericks were blown out in a 20-point loss on the road.

There might not be any coming back from this type of embarrassment.


20. Portland Trail Blazers (33-41)

The Trail Blazers were in close competition for a playoff spot throughout most of the season, but the recent five-game losing streak shows that they do not belong with the top teams in the league.

All five games were against projected playoff teams, and Portland was not within single digits in any contest.

It seems like a good time to start looking ahead toward next year.


21. Philadelphia 76ers (30-43)

This has been a rough year to be a 76ers fan. Not only is the team unlikely to reach the postseason, but Andrew Bynum produced nothing this year and Maurice Harkless is looking good for the Magic.

At least Jrue Holiday continues to impress as one of the best young point guards in the NBA.


22. Minnesota Timberwolves (27-46)

While Minnesota had to deal with some devastating injuries this season, plenty of players are proving that they will be around for a long time.

When Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Derrick Williams are all playing together, this will be a good team.


23. Sacramento Kings (27-47)

There are few long-term certainties when it comes to the Kings. 

We do not know if the team is moving to Seattle, the team's top player DeMarcus Cousins dealt with trade rumors all year and the rest of the squad is incredibly inconsistent.

At least the squad is able to steal a win or two every so often. 


24. New Orleans Hornets (26-48)

The Hornets went an impressive 4-3 in a seven-game homestand that featured games against some of the best teams in the NBA. During that time, they defeated the Celtics, Grizzlies and Nuggets.

The team has a lot of players capable of filling up the box score, and Anthony Davis is playing about as well as the team could have hoped in his first year.

A good draft pick could have this team in the playoff hunt next season.


25. Toronto Raptors (27-47)

After losing seven of the last eight games, Toronto is ready to call it quits on the season.

Rudy Gay has had his moments for the Raptors, but he is not the consistent leader who will turn things around for this organization.


26. Detroit Pistons (25-50)

Detroit already has as many wins in April as it did in March. Of course, this is not something to be proud of after going 1-13 last month.

However, the frontcourt of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe is starting to look good for the future.


27. Phoenix Suns (23-51)

Like most teams hanging around the bottom of the power rankings, the Suns are in the midst of a terrible slide. With 10 losses in the past 11 games, Phoenix has become more concerned with getting a good draft pick at this point.


28. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-51)

Kyrie Irving's return could not end what has now become a nine-game losing streak. When the point guard is healthy, however, he makes everyone on the court better.

As a result, the Cavaliers are being smart by slowing down his return to keep him healthy for the future.


29. Orlando Magic (19-56)

The Magic have a few exciting players to watch between Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless, not to mention the steady play of Arron Afflalo.

Unfortunately, this has not translated to enough wins this year, and the squad now has a chance to finish with the worst record in the league.


30. Charlotte Bobcats (17-57)

The good news is that March was the Bobcats' best month since November. The bad news is that it only featured four wins.

Charlotte is too far behind to claw its way out of the cellar. 



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