By Danny Dragin
One week remains in the NBA season and the haves are separating from the have-notes. Unfortunately for the Celtics, they’re looking very much like the latter after the news that Kyrie Irving is out for the season. In any event, here’s how the top teams in the NBA shake out, courtesy of WEEI.com’s Danny Dragin and his weekly power rankings. (Previous rank in parentheses)
1. Houston Rockets (1): 64-15
The Rockets have lost two of their last three games against the Trail Blazers and the Spurs. Houston has had the one seed locked up for the majority of the season, and with the Warriors not at 100 percent, they look poised to make a serious push at the Finals.
2. Golden State Warriors (2): 57-22
Steven Kerr and Kevin Durant found themselves in disagreement after the Warriors loss to the Pacers. Kerr said the loss was due to lack of effort, but Durant made it seem like the loss was more on the game plan. The Warriors get ready to start the first round without Steph Curry, who could be gone for a good portion of the playoffs.
3. Toronto Raptors (3): 56-22
Although Toronto is the No. 1 seed in the East, people are still counting it out of the Finals. Expectations are that Toronto will do what Toronto does during the postseason, which is implode.
4. Boston Celtics (4): 53-25
Kyrie Irving is done, and the Celtics probably are, too. Many are counting out the C’s playoffs chances, but they’ve managed to show they’re still a tough out whoever they throw on the court.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (6): 49-30
LeBron is once again a serious contender for MVP like always, and the Cavs look like they have a life they finish the season with nine wins in their last 10 games. They will have a huge test Friday against the 76ers, which could be a potential playoff matchup.
6. Philadelphia 76ers (10): 48-30
Ben Simmons has managed to average a triple double through a 12-game win streak, while Joel Embiid stays out with an injury to his face.
7. Portland Trail Blazers (5): 48-31
The Trail blazers tried to make a statement while Damian Lillard sat out against the Rockets. With a late game comeback they managed to cut the lead all the way down, but Chris Paul iced the game with a last-second layup.
8. Indiana Pacers (9): 47-32
Bojan Bogdanovic put on a show against the Warriors, scoring 28 points. The quietly talented Pacers beat the Warriors by 20 points and they play the Raptors Friday in Toronto.
9. Utah Jazz (14): 46-33
The Jazz might be the NBA’s biggest surprise, moving into the fourth seed without a superstar. They managed to get out of this multi team battle for a playoff spot in the Western Conference and they are now poised to be in a perfect spot to at least compete in the first round.
10. San Antonio Spurs (12): 45-34
It looks like Kawhi Leonard won’t be making a comeback anytime soon. Don’t be surprised if the Spurs shop him to the highest bidder.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (8): 45-34
The Thunder could have a serious problem down the stretch. They’re clinging to the sixth seed, but in danger of missing the playoffs completely.
12. Washington Wizards (13): 42-37
John Wall wants the calls LeBron gets. “When I turn the corner and get downhill, I don’t get those same calls when people put their hands on me or contact me,” he told reporters after losing to the Cavs. “I already knew the play before it when I drove on LeBron, I wasn’t going to get a call so why even put myself in that position?”
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (11): 44-35
Jimmy Butler is supposed to return to the lineup on Friday and the Timberwolves need him now more than ever. A loss to Denver dropped them into a tie for eighth with the Nuggets, who they also close the season against.
14. Miami Heat (17): 43-36
Kelly Olynyk made $1 million for playing two minutes the other night, as part of a bonus for playing 1,700 minutes overall.
15. New Orleans Pelicans (7): 44-34
Jordan Crawford signed a contract with New Orleans for the remainder of the season. Crawford won’t make a huge difference, but he will definitely add some scoring to a team that is riddled with injuries and in need of another hot hand.
16. Denver Nuggets (16): 44-35
Denver also has a shot to make to the playoffs but once again needs everything to go perfectly. Luckily the Nuggets are healthy, which could help against teams like the Timberwolves and Pelicans.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (18): 42-37
Milwaukee beat the injury-riddled Celtics, but then lost to the Nets, a bad omen for their playoff consistency.
18. Los Angeles Clippers (15): 42-37
The Clippers have three games left against beatable teams, and they probably need to win them all. Currently they are 10th, but that could change in a week.
19. Detroit Pistons (21): 37-41
Everything continues to point in the direction that Stan Van Gundy will be unemployed by the end of the season, but reports came out this week that Reggie Jackson could be attempting to save his coach’s job, which could be more of an effort to save Reggie Jackson’s job.
20. Los Angeles Lakers (19): 34-44
Lonzo Ball could be shut down for the remainder of the season as he gets ready to make a big splash for next season. The Lakers are one of the teams that could be actively recruiting Kawhi Leonard during the offseason, which could be the answer to all their problems.
21. Charlotte Hornets (20): 34-45
Mitch Kupchak looks like he will become Charlotte’s new general manager, which could mean the end of head coach Steve Clifford.
22. New York Knicks (22): 27-51
The Knicks look like they could be a team to be reckoned with next year as long as they make the right decisions in the offseason. Trey Burke continues to impress, which could keep them away from Trae Young in the draft.
23. Chicago Bulls (25): 27-51
The Bulls could look extremely different next season if they decide to get rid of some of their pieces and build around players like Lauri Markkanen and Denzel Valentine.
24. Brooklyn Nets (24): 26-53
The only exciting part of the Nets season has been that Spencer Dinwiddie could potentially win most improved player. They also traded for Jahlil Okafor. Someday they’ll maybe even spend one of their own first-round picks.
25. Sacramento Kings (23): 25-54
Sacramento’s talented young roster could start to pay off next year. The Kings are another team who should make a push for Kawhi Leonard.
26. Dallas Mavericks (26): 24-55
Dirk Nowitzki will have season ending surgery on his ankle, which could make some Mavericks wishing that he had it earlier in the season.
27. Orlando Magic (28): 24-54
The Magic have tried to put a glorified G league team on the court for the majority of the season and then they got rid of their top scorer who was already borderline mediocre.
28. Atlanta Hawks (27): 22-57
It seems like more people have been going to the Atlanta Hawks games to watch their halftime shows more than their actual games.
29. Memphis Grizzlies (29): 21-57
Memphis could not have made more insignificant news with the signing of MarShon Brooks to a multi-year deal.
30. Phoenix Suns (30): 20-59
A report came out this week saying that the Suns were glad that they didn’t make a trade for Kyrie Irving during the offseason, claiming they “won” the non-trade. But considering the Suns have barely been able to win a game this season, I wouldn’t call that accurate.
Full article @ NBA Power Rankings: Celtics had a nice run, but time to consider the real contenders
Source: GreenStreet Blog