1. San Antonio (53-16): As the season winds down the Spurs have the top record in the NBA, despite adjusting to many injuries. How do they do it? I’ll let Tony Parker explain it :
It doesn’t seem to matter who plays for the Spurs, they have a system in place and if every player plays their role the system will produce wins.
2. LA Clippers (49-21): The Clips have won 12 of their last 13, with the only blemish coming two games ago against the Nuggets in which the team couldn’t get a shot to fall in a rough fourth quarter. Blake Griffin was awful in that game, but besides that effort, he has consistently been the third best player in the league this year. This team is ready for the second season to start and health is the only thing that should get in their way. This week after what should be an easy win against Milwaukee, I’m looking forward to seeing Griffin matchup against Anthony Davis and Dirk in back to backs starting Wednesday. Should be a fun week.
3. Oklahoma City (51-18): Russell Westbrook went down and Kevin Durant scored 51 pts. The Thunder have already proven that they can play VERY effectively without Westbrook. They are two games behind the Spurs and 2 1/2 games above the Clippers. At this point, I think OKC is best served to avoid Memphis, so they should plan their winning schedule accordingly. Oh, if you didn’t believe me about Durant:
4. Houston (47-22): The Rockets are 18-5 in their last 23 games. They are scoring at their usual nascar rate and now they are finally defending at a level befitting a contender. This team is united and ready to roll with the players it currently has (Carmelo rumor notwithstanding), nothing shows this more than Chandler Parsons, convincing Dwight Howard and Jeremy Lin to support his Gators.
— Chandler Parsons (@ChandlerParsons) March 22, 2014
5. Miami (47-21): If a normal team went 4-7 in their last 11 with less than 15 games remaining on the schedule it would be a cause for concern. However, since the Miami Heat have won back to back titles us fans will give them a break. Chris Bosh for one, seems unwilling to accept the pass that we are giving his team, going on the record to explain what he thinks of the Heat’s recent play
“We don’t talk about it. We’re not expressing ourselves in the locker room or on the court. So I figure I’ll be the first one to say it, ‘We suck.’ ”
“And we need to turn it around. And if we don’t turn it around, we’ll be watching the championship at home ”
6. Indiana (51-19): Something is wrong with Indiana. Andrew Bynum potentially grifted them, Paul George is getting catfished, Lance Stephenson had a baby and went to the club THAT night, and they aren’t winning games and playing Pacers basketball from the early parts of the season. Weird to see them in this spot.
7. Golden State (44-27): Honestly, streaky is the word that comes to mind when describing the Warriors. If they can play at a high level consistently, they are as good as anyone, but it’s not always there. Their last game, a loss to the Spurs, is nothing to get down about, but with a nice 6 day break before playing Memphis this Friday, the team will be healthy for what should prove to be a playoff like atmosphere. Only 4 of their remaining opponents are playoff teams, and they need to play well against this top competition to get have some confidence and momentum heading into the playoffs.
8. Portland (45-25): Portland has quietly plummeted down the standings out West. At one point, the best team in West and now, stuck in the fifth seed. Thirty point losses to the Bobcats are certainly not a good look heading into the home stretch. They only have three wins in their last 10 and the steady model of consistency that Portland has built throughout the season isn’t there anymore. Panic time.
9. Memphis (41-28): The Grizzlies have gone 9-3 in their last 12 allowing them to jump both the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks on their way to the 7th seed. While fast pace high octane offenses are en vogue lately the Grizzlies are riding their trademark “Grit and Grind” defense into the playoffs. If you don’t believe that their defense is good enough just ask the Indiana Pacers who Memphis held to a season low 71 points last Saturday.
10. Dallas (42-29): Will the Mavs be able to hold off the late charging Suns? As of now the most intriguing topic in the NBA is which two teams out of Phoenix, Dallas and Memphis will make the playoffs. While I expect Dallas and Memphis to win this race, watch out for the health of Monta Ellis (who has recently missed practice with a thigh ailment) to throw a wrench into Mark Cuban’s plans.
11. Chicago (39-31): Derrick Rose is officially out for the season. Surprise! Listen, this team is going to be a problem for any team in the playoffs. They are literally an obstacle. A really tough video game boss that you’d rather not face. Indiana and Miami need to posture themselves correctly so they don’t have to go against this impenetrable force of little-to-no-offensive-production.
12. Phoenix (41-29): Only a half game out of the playoffs, but it feels as if this team is doing all they can and still not getting over the hump. The guard rotation of Bledsoe, Dragic and Green is a deadly trio for opposing defenses. They need the Morris Twins, Frye, and the rest of the front line to really bring it in these last three weeks in order for the team to be able to sneak into one of the final seeds. March ends with what should be 4 very winnable games.
13. Toronto (39-30): The Raptors continue to play well and if it weren’t for Kevin Durant dropping 51 on them in a double OT loss, I’d be buying in to this Masai Ujiri built team for a deep playoff run. I can’t see them going past the first round, but with their excellent guard play and depth, they seem to be able to play up to any opponent. In truth, they almost never look over-matched, and I continue to be shocked by this team since the Rudy Gay trade. All in All, they look like a good bet to keep home court as their next four games are Cleveland, Boston twice, and Orlando. The face a very difficult start to April next week against three of the NBAs finest, before closing out the season again facing some of the worst teams.
14. Brooklyn (37-31): Like true vets, this team has found their grove post the all-star game going 10-2 in March. Marcus Thornton has given the bench the shot in the arm it needed and all of the rotation players have been putting in quality minutes. It’s not the same person who steps up every night, but a team with balance can be the most dangerous type. Now they just need a healthy KG, he is out at least the next three games as they play his injury cautiously heading into the final stretch.
15. Washington (36-34): At two games over .500, Washington is the 6th seed in the East but only 3 games back of the fourth seed and home court advantage in the first round. On the Opposite end of the spectrum, the Wiz are only two games out of the 7th spot and a first round meeting with the Heat. What do I predict will happen? The Wizards will be the same mediocre team they have been all season, hang onto the 7th spot by virtue of winning half of their remaining games then play a spirited yet hardly watched series against the Raptors.
16. Charlotte (34-36) Congratulations Bobcats, you are going to the playoffs! Where you will play against the Heat and promptly get swept. It is possible that Al Jefferson could put the team on his back and win a game or two but in the end this team is not ready for the spotlight. Hopefully the experience will help youngsters Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in their development.
17. Minnesota (34-34): So, they allowed 122, 129, and 127 in their last three games. I wouldn’t say that’s great by any means, but hey, they’re out of it. I say more random practice dunk videos:
18. Denver (32-38): Don’t really know what to make of this team. Post-Melo they haven’t been able to find a late game identity, but they have a lot of depth. I say this team needs to make a splash and start making everyone available. They need an injection of life, whether it be a player in the draft or making a trade. This team is stagnant.
19. New York (29-41): Even after winning 8 straight and throwing out a sad loss to the Cavs, I can’t buy into what the Knicks are doing. I’m just not impressed and couldn’t see them making noise in the postseason. Mike Woodson has to go and I just know, that once Phil has put together a solid team, he is going to come down from those executive seats to take over as coach again. The future is not as bleak anymore, but the present still stinks up the gym.
20. Atlanta (31-37): The Hawks weather the storm and remained in the playoff race while injuries ravaged the team (most notably Paul Millsap) to go 5-2 in their last 7. If the Hawks can pick up their play, expect them to make a late push and climb all the way to the 6th seed in their remaining games. If that news didn’t get you excited maybe you will enjoy this 15 foot tall Millsap statue
21. New Orleans (29-40): Anthony Davis is a top 10 player in the NBA with an MVP upside. Since the Pelicans have been disappointing this year I figured NOLA fans would appreciate a few quotes about their superstar.
Spoelstra on Anthony Davis: “This kid will be competing for an MVP” very soon.
— Michael Wallace (@WallaceNBA_ESPN) March 22, 2014
Brad Stevens on Anthony Davis: “I think he’s unreal… If there are 10 better players in the league I haven’t seen them.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 17, 2014
22. Cleveland (27-44): Kyrie Irving got hurt and Jarrett Jack has been ballin’ out a bit. He was part of an illustrious list of players to score their season/career high against the Knicks when Cleveland snapped NYK’s win streak. That’s something? Right? RIGHT?!
23. Sacramento (25-45): They have been playing just well enough so that they aren’t in contention for a high lottery chance. This franchise can’t do anything right it seems and a huge off-season awaits for them. I believe a comeback to prominence is near for the Kings, but it still may be two seasons away, and I’ve been saying that since they drafted Demarcus…
24. Detroit (25-44): Don’t look now, but the Pistons have been sucking just enough to through themselves into Tank-a-Palooza. Keep everyone from “Pistons drafting Darko Milicic with the number 2 pick” footage. It could get nasty.
25. LA Lakers (23-46): It’s a mess, but a whole new roster will be in place come next season. If they can buy into what the 76ers have done (lose every game), they may have an outside shot at pairing Embiid or Parker with Kobe for next season. Does anyone really want to watch tomorrow’s Knicks @ Lakers game?
26. Boston (23-47): I need my team to lose every damn game the rest of the way. I want..nay, I need a top 3 pick come June and with just a little helo from the Lotto gods this can be a reality. I will accept the NBAs 4th worst record and nothing else this year. in terms of recent, Avery Bradley has returned strong from his ankle injury and may be playing himself into getting a quality offer sheet from a team this summer.
27. Orlando (19-52): Since Orlando fans have suffered enough, I’m going to use this space to post GIFS of players they could land with their top 5 pick in the NBA draft.
28. Utah (23-47): Hey look, happy things happened in Utah!
29. Philadelphia (15-55): Terrible, take a lap. 24 losses in a row and counting.
30. Milwaukee (13-57): Read this amazing story about the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, because he is the only thing worth talking about in Milwaukee. Dude sold sunglasses and now he’s here.