NBA Power Rankings: Where the Rest of League Stands During Miami Heat's Streak

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2013

CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 20:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates after scoring the game-tying basket in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on March 20, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Heat defeated the Cavaliers 98-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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In case you haven't heard, the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat are streaking this spring, having won 24 straight games dating back to Super Bowl Sunday.

Miami also boasts the best record in basketball this March, having won 53 of its first 67 games of the regular season. If the playoffs started today, the Heat would have home-court advantage through the NBA Finals and would no doubt be favored to win their second straight title.

So, with the Heat locked into our No. 1 spot, where does the rest of the league stand with less than a month to play?

Let's take a look.

*Heat's biggest threats in the East are italicized.

No. 1. Miami Heat (53-14)

The Heat have won 24 straight games and it seems they can't even be beaten after spotting the opponent a 27-point lead in the second half. Defending champion Miami is far and away the best team in basketball at the moment.

No. 2. San Antonio Spurs (52-16)

No one is going to mistake the Spurs for the Heat anytime soon, but if you compared records, you would have a hard time telling them apart. 

No. 3. Denver Nuggets (47-22)

The Nuggets' impressive 13-game winning streak has been lost in the shuffle with the Heat winning 24 straight. But keep an eye out for this Denver team. It's super athletic and definitely a contender in the Western Conference with Oklahoma City losing James Harden.

No. 4. Oklahoma City Thunder (50-19)

OKC will be in the championship mix this spring considering it boasts two of the best players on the planet in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But unlike last year, the Thunder have some serious competition in the West this year with San Antonio, Denver, Memphis and the L.A. Clippers looking like title contenders. 

No. 5. Memphis Grizzlies (46-21)

Behind Denver, Memphis is the second-hottest team in the Western Conference, having won eight of its last 10 games overall. And don't look now, but the Grizzlies are the top defensive team in the NBA this season, holding opponents to just 89 points per game on average.

No. 6. Los Angeles Clippers (47-22)

The Clippers are just 4-4 over their last eight games and must improve on the glass in order to be a factor in the postseason. Los Angeles ranks 19th in rebounding this year.

No. 7. Indiana Pacers (42-26)

Although it depends on who you ask, many experts will tell you that the Indiana Pacers are the biggest threat to the Miami Heat in the East this year, which is good news for the Heat.

Don't get me wrong, the Pacers are a strong team, but they are just 15-18 on the road and only scoring 94.4 points per game this season. That sort of offensive production and poor road play isn't going to beat Miami in a seven-game series. 

Indiana has potential, but it has lots of work left to do before playoff time. 

No. 8. New York Knicks (40-26)

It's hard to believe the Knicks began the season 18-5, considering New York is just 22-21 since. The Knicks are just 5-5 over their last 10 games and look to be fading in the Eastern Conference.

Still, New York has played Miami tough this season, blowing the Heat out twice and losing a close battle at Madison Square Garden earlier this month. Although the Knicks need to improve their ball movement in order to challenge the Heat in a seven-game series, they have the stars and shooters to keep pace with Miami on the offensive end.

Defensively, New York has to improve as well in order to contain Miami's explosive fast-break attack and force the Heat to score in the half court.

No. 9. Brooklyn Nets (40-28)

A top-five team in terms of points allowed, Brooklyn's defense will make it a tempting pick come playoff time. But still, I'm not sure I trust this inexperienced squad in the postseason. 

Yes, the Nets are dangerous, but they aren't a threat. 

No. 10. Golden State Warriors (39-31)

The Warriors look to be a solid playoff team for the first time in a while. Led by sharpshooter Stephen Curry, Golden State actually features a superstar it can rely on night in and night out. 

No. 11. Atlanta Hawks (38-30)

Atlanta has won four of five this March, but the Hawks' poor rebounding is holding them back. At this point, it's hard to see Atlanta even getting out of the first round of the playoffs, even if they start on their home court.

No. 12. Los Angeles Lakers (36-33)

The Lakers are finally a few games above .500, but they aren't a lock for the playoffs just yet. L.A.'s 23-point loss at Phoenix on Monday is a sign that this team has a ways to go before it can be considered a threat to the Western Conference's top dogs in a seven-game series. 

No. 13. Boston Celtics (36-31)

Boston's unselfish play and ball movement has been key during the post-Rajon Rondo injury run. The Celtics have won 16 of 24 since their point guard went down. Unfortunately, four of those eight losses have come in the last six games. 

Still, the Celtics, who have already beaten the Heat once this season, will be fine so long as they avoid the No. 4 or No. 5 seed in the East. If Boston can lock down the No. 6 or No. 7 spot, then it wouldn't have to play the Miami Heat until the Eastern Conference finals.

The C's play tremendous defense, boast experience and are well coached with Doc Rivers on the sideline. Until they are knocked out, they can't be counted out.

No. 14. Houston Rockets (37-31)

Unless Houston improves on the defensive end, it's not going to win anything meaningful this year. The Rockets can score plenty, yes, but they won't be able to outscore the conference's better teams this spring.

No. 15. Chicago Bulls (36-30)

Even with Derrick Rose in the lineup, this Bulls team would have a tough time challenging Miami and Indiana. Chicago looks to be a lock for the playoffs, but a deep run seems very unlikely given the current trend the Bulls are on.

Chicago is just 4-6 over its last 10 games. 

No. 16. Milwaukee Bucks (34-33)

The Bucks look primed for the playoffs by default, given how weak the East is again this year. Milwaukee's reward for making the postseason? 

Most likely the Heat in the first round.

No. 17. Utah Jazz (34-34)

A month ago, the Utah Jazz were seven games above .500. Now, Utah is at .500 and looking up at the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference standings.

It's time to panic in Utah.

No. 18. Dallas Mavericks (32-36)

It's definitely hard to believe the Mavericks are just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot in the West, but it's true. If the Mavs can string together some wins here this spring, they could return to the postseason against all odds.

No. 19. Portland Trail Blazers (31-36)

Another team out West that's not yet out of the playoff race, the Portland Trail Blazers must find some consistency in order to challenge for the final postseason spot this spring. 

Portland hasn't won more than two games in a row since early January. 

No. 20. Washington Wizards (24-43) 

If you take Washington's 0-12 start into consideration, the Wizards are actually doing pretty decent this season. The Wiz are 24-31 following their terrible start and have won six of their last 10 overall.

No. 21. Toronto Raptors (26-42)

The Raptors have been competitive this season, but they won't have a playoff berth to show for it. Toronto has bee a below-.500 team as of late, and you can't have that this time of year in order to challenge for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

No. 22. Philadelphia 76ers (26-41)

Like Toronto, Philadelphia is eight games back of the No. 8 seed in the East, which means the 76ers are headed for the lottery this summer. Philly is just 3-7 over its last 10 games and has been remarkably dreadful on the road this year, dropping 24 of 30 games away from home.

No. 23. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-42)

Minnesota has actually played well at home this season, winning 16 of 32 games. It's on the road where the Timberwolves really struggle, though. They are just 7-26 outside Minneapolis. 

No. 24. Sacramento Kings (24-44)

The good news: The Kings are 5-5 over their last 10 games. The bad news: No team in the NBA is giving up more points this season than Sacramento (104.8 points per game allowed).

No. 25. New Orleans Hornets (23-46)

New Orleans isn't doing anything well this season. Although the Hornets beat Boston on Wednesday, they are still just 3-7 in the month of March. Who will New Orleans draft to play alongside Anthony Davis next year?

No. 26. Phoenix Suns (23-46)

This team wouldn't be competing for the NBA title with Steve Nash at point guard, but it would at least be in the mix. Instead, the Suns are destined for another lottery pick.

No. 27. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-46)

Not only is Cleveland just 2-8 over its last 10 games, but the Cavaliers are fresh off blowing a 27-point second-half lead at home to the Miami Heat. Granted, it was against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but it's still a telling result for Byron Scott's squad.

No. 28. Detroit Pistons (23-46)

No team has been worse than the Detroit Pistons over its last 13 games. Detroit is just 1-12 over its last 13 games and has dropped nine straight games to begin March.

The Pistons' last win came against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 27.

No. 29. Orlando Magic (18-51)

Orlando is the only team in the league with fewer than three wins in its division. The Magic also possess the second-worst record and scoring differential (-6.7) in the NBA this year.

No. 30. Charlotte Bobcats (16-52)

The worst record and scoring differential (-9.7) in the NBA belong to the Charlotte Bobcats. Like the Miami Heat at No. 1, there's no arguing with the Bobcats at No. 30.

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

Follow _Pat_Clarke on Twitter


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