NBA Power Rankings: April Beckons

NBA Power Rankings: April BeckonsThe NBA regular season is almost done. So who is surging and who is slumping? This week’s full NBA Power Rankings are after the jump.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (52-20) - Previous Rank, 1: The Lakers stayed unbeaten this week and continue their second half run. They’ve won six games in a row, which is the longest active win streak in the NBA. They look unbeatable right now, but they host the surging Mavericks Thursday. Maybe Dirk can settle down Kobe Bryant and company. If not, they do play the Spurs in two weeks. – Mark Donatiello

2. Chicago Bulls (53-19) – Previous Rank, 2: The Bulls have won four in a row behind Derrick Rose’s push for MVP. They have only one loss in the Central division, along with the best home record in the Eastern Conference. Nobody in the East scares this team, let alone the Central. A matchup with division rivals in Indiana should be an easy series – provided the Knicks stop losing. – MD

3. San Antonio Spurs (57-15) – Previous Rank, 3: Have we just gotten bored and started to underrate them? - Joe Lazauskas

4. Miami Heat (50-22) – Previous Rank, 5: It’s starting to feel inevitable that they’ll leapfrog Boston for the 2 seed. The way the Knicks are playing right now, Lebron might average 50 points per game in the first round. – JL

5. Boston Celtics (50-21) – Previous Rank, 4: It hasn’t been easy going for the Celtics. They’ve lost most of their last ten games, and they’ve really been struggling to come up with a new, post-Perk identity. And the Miami Heat are creeping in on their hold of the 2 seed. All that, and Rajon Rando seems to have forgotten how to shoot a basketball.- Matt Berman

6. Dallas Mavericks (51-21) - Previous Rank, 6: If the Mavs win the finals, I’m pretty sure that a delirious Mark Cuban will declare that he’s running for president. – JL

7. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-24) – Previous Rank, 7: They’ve won 8 of their last 10 and are now just gearing up for a serious playoff run. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have done everything possible this season to make the Thunder the “second favorite team” of most NBA fans outside of OKC or LA. - MB

8. Orlando Magic (47-26) – Previous Rank, 9: Dwight Howard probably should be MVP; he’s shooting 60% and is the most dominant defensive player in the league. Too bad for him that Derrick Rose has such a pretty name. – JL

9. Denver Nuggets (44-29) – Previous Rank, 8: As this Knicks sink, the Nuggets keep lighting it up. It’s hard to see the new-look Nuggets making it out of the first-round of the playoffs in the West, but it will be exciting to watch them try. – MB

10. Portland Trailblazers (42-30) – Previous Rank, 10: Yet another team that makes the Northwest Division seem like the most fun place on earth. The Trailblazers have been stellar lately, which is enough to make sure that they’ll be in the playoffs. After awful injuries to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, the success of this team is flat-out astonishing. – MB

11. Atlanta Hawks (41-32) – Previous Rank, 11: Fun game: drink until you believe that the Hawks can win more than one series in the playoffs. We’ll see you in the emergency room. – JL

12. Memphis Grizzlies (40-33) – Previous Rank, 14: They’re a poor man’s San Antonio Spurs. Too bad they’ll have to play the Spurs in the first round. – JL

13. Philadelphia 76ers (37-36) – Previous Rank, 12: The rise of the 76ers continues and they have gotten a nice lock on the sixth seed in the East. However, if things stay as they are now, they probably won’t stand much of a chance against the Miami Heat in the first round. But Coach Doug Collins deserves COY all the same. – MB

14. New Orleans Hornets (42-31) – Previous Rank, 13: David West has torn his ACL. Hornets fans are mourning; Lakers fans are celebrating. – JL

15. Houston Rockets (38-34) – Previous Rank, 15/16: Do Houston fans just stare at the Eastern Conference standings and cry hysterically? – JL

16. Indiana Pacers (32-42) – Previous Rank, 18/19: Battling for the right to lose to the Bulls in the first round, Indiana is hovering around .500 lately. That’s actually an improvement from their 32-42 season record. If they stay this “hot” they’ll probably make the playoffs. Maybe Reggie Miller will come out of retirement to get his record back from Ray Allen.- MD

17. New York Knicks (35-38) – Previous Rank, 15/16: If you’re a Knicks fan, look away and hope things are better by the time the playoffs role around. Right now, the Melo-Amar’e All-Stars have one win in ten. They’ll be great eventually, but right now they are playing like the worst team in the NBA. – MB

18. Phoenix Suns (36-35) - Previous Rank, 18/19: If nothing else, the Suns are fun to watch. They’re not going to catch the Rockets, so they’ll need the Hornets and Grizzlies to both stumble. It looks like Steve Nash won’t make the playoffs this year; they’re simply too far behind. – MD

19. Charlotte Bobcats (30-42) – Previous Rank, 21: This team is an injury wasteland pushing hard for a playoff spot. If the Pacers keep falling, it could be in reach. It’s hard to see how it happened, but they have a mean back-to-back wins against the Celtics and Knicks to help their case. - MB

20. Utah Jazz (36-38) – Previous Rank, 17: For the Jazz, this season will always be remembered as the season they lost both Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan. With youth and draft-picks aplenty, it only gets better from here. - MB

21. Golden State Warriors (31-42) – Previous Rank, 23: They’re well below .500 this season, but Golden State is building something. Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, and David Lee give the Warriors a “big three” of their own. Dorell Wright’s 16+ points per game give Golden State four capable starters. Unfortunately, the rest of the roster is as useful as a condom filled with hot sauce. - MD

22. Milwaukee Bucks (29-43) – Previous Rank, 20: Andrew Bogut averages a double-double in relative obscurity in Milwaukee. They need the Pacers to fall off pace a bit if they’re going to sneak into the playoffs. It’s not looking good for the Bucks this year. – MD

23. Los Angeles Clippers (29-45) – Previous Rank, 24: Blake Griffin is fun to watch, isn’t he? They have five players averaging double-digit points but the team still can’t win. Maybe instead of spreading the ball around and losing, they should just let Blake Griffin dunk on everybody every play. Stop pretending it wouldn’t work. – MD

24. Detroit Pistons (26-47) – Previous Rank, 22: DEEETROIIIIT  BASKETBAAAALL? What happened? Once intimidating, the franchise is in disarray and if not for the Cavaliers they’d be last in the Central division. Thank goodness LeBron took his talents to South Beach. – MD

25. New Jersey Nets (23-49) – Previous Rank, 25: Deron Williams has some serious injury problems but may be coming back this week to kick off the all new Knicks-Nets rivalry. Other then that? Nothing to see here. - MB

26. Sacramento Kings (20-52) – Previous Rank, 27: The Kings have won three in a row. They’re three wins away from last place Kevin Love and the T-Wolves in the battle for the most lottery picks in the Western Conference. – MD

27. Toronto Raptors (20-53) – Previous Rank, 26: They’ve lost their last four AND they play in Canada. Sorry, DeMar.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers (14-57) – Previous Rank, 29: Tis better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all. No titles with James, but at least Cleveland got a taste of what winning is like before plummeting to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. – MD

29. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-56) – Previous Rank, 28: Kevin Love is hurting, Anthony Randolph is blowing up, and the Timberwolves’ largely abysmal season has almost come to a close.

30. Washington Wizards (17-54) – Previous Rank, 30: Personally, I’m shocked that Republicans haven’t started blaming Obama for the Wizards yet. – JL

Agree? Disagree? Comment about it. See you next week.

Photo by Tim Wang

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Matt Berman is a writer and student living in Washington, DC. He has also fumbled around the internet elsewhere. If you Google him, he is the one who has written for Talking Points Memo and Newswee ...read more

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