NBA Power Rankings: Golden State starting to pull away

1. Golden State Warriors (57-13, Previous: 1) – Six straight wins for the NBA’s best team, including the most recent 107-76 shellacking over the Washington Wizards in which the Wiz scored 27 points in the second half. Yes, 27.

2. Atlanta Hawks (53-17, Previous: 2) – Three straight losses (all out west) and five losses in their last nine games. They are still going to finish with the top seed in the East, but it’s important to go into the playoffs playing good basketball. Luckily for them 11 of their last 12 games are against East teams.

3. Houston Rockets (47-23, Previous: 3) – James Harden had his eighth 40-point game of the season on Monday, the third most in franchise history over the course of one season. Dwight Howard is also on track to return this week.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (46-26, Previous: 4)- “Hey, Kevin! Take this picture of me and my friends! Oh, and you can’t sit at our table. Loser.” – LeBron James to Kevin Love after a game, probably.

5. Memphis Grizzlies (50-21, Previous: 5)- Three straight wins and five out of six, but let’s see where they’re at next week at this time after games against the Cavs, Warriors, and Spurs. Those will surely be fun ones.

6. Los Angeles Clippers (46-25, Previous: 8) – The Clippers’ 5.6 points differential is actually second-best in the NBA behind the Warriors (10.7). The bad news is Jamal Crawford’s calf injury could keep him out the rest of the season.

7. Portland Trailblazers (44-24, Previous: 6) – The Blazers are dealing with some injuries right now, including one to LaMarcus Aldridge’s thumb. He was listed as doubtful for Tuesday’s game against the Warriors – and it might be a good idea to sit him out more often than not until the playoffs.

8. Oklahoma City Thunder (40-30, Previous: 9) – The Thunder have now separated themselves by 2.5 games for the West’s 8th seed. Russell Westbrook now has 10 triple-doubles this season. After all his injuries, that’s impressive as heck.

9. San Antonio Spurs (44-25, Previous: 10) – No team is shooting better than the Spurs over the last week, as they come in at 51-percent in their last three games, including a nine-point win over the Hawks. Big games ahead against the Mavericks (twice), Thunder, and Grizzlies.

10. Dallas Mavericks (44-27, Previous: 7) – Another week, another angry Rick Carlisle. But this time it’s not with just Rajon Rondo, but his entire team. This comes after two straight losses to the Grizzlies and Suns.

11. Toronto Raptors (42-28, Previous: 11) – They were blown out by the Bulls on Friday night, but have a chance for redemption on Wednesday. The third seed is up for grabs, and should be something the Raptors, Bulls, and Wizards really try for so they don’t have to play one of the other two in the first round.

12. Chicago Bulls (43-29, Previous: 14) – Well, the Bulls officially clinched a playoff spot earlier this week. Now they just have to get healthy before it gets here. Jimmy Butler returned on Monday, which is obviously huge for them.

13. Washington Wizards (40-30, Previous: 12) – See: Golden State Warriors. Just 27 points in the second half? That is comically bad. Listen, the Warriors have a great defense, but that’s ridiculous. Pull it together, Washington.

14. New Orleans Pelicans (37-33, Previous: 13) – Four losses in their last five games plus one game on deck against the Houston Rockets put this Pelicans team at a crossroads. They can’t slide any further away from the Thunder at this point.

15. Boston Celtics (31-39, Previous: 17) – The Celtics managed to go 5-3 without Isaiah Thomas who has been nursing a bruised tailbone. It sounds like he’ll be ready to go for a huge game on Wednesday against the Heat.

16. Utah Jazz (31-39, Previous: 18) – The Jazz have purchased the NBA D-League Team Idaho Stampede. There would be a good joke in here prior to their hot streak, but instead it’s a smart move for a team that looks to make a playoff push as early as next season.

17. Miami Heat (32-37, Previous: 20) – Dwayne Wade’s March: 10 games, 7-3 record, 32.6 minutes, 25.4 points, 50.5 field goal percentage, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals. If he keeps this up, the Heat will hold onto a playoff spot.

18. Phoenix Suns (38-33, Previous: 16) – Happy retirement to former Suns guard Steve Nash, who won two MVPs with the Suns in the mid-2000’s. It’s sad that injuries ruined his last few seasons, but boy was he fun to watch in his prime.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (34-36, Previous: 19) – It’s a race against time for this Bucks team that has seen its comfortable playoff position vanish. Going into Tuesday, they are now just three games up on the 8th-seed Celtics. Be very afraid, Milwaukee!

20. Indiana Pacers (30-40, Previous: 15) – What happened in Indiana? They were one of the hottest teams in the NBA for a bit, and Paul George was reportedly close to returning – everything was going Indy’s way. Now they’ve lost six in a row and need George more than ever.

21. Charlotte Hornets (30-39, Previous: 21) – A 1-4 road trip mercifully comes to an end for the Hornets, who currently find themselves on the outside looking in on the playoff hunt. But there’s still plenty of time to change that.

22. Brooklyn Nets (29-40, Previous: 22) – Went into Monday’s game at home against the Celtics winners of four of their last five games. Proceeded to lose by 19 to Boston. That’s why this team is going nowhere.

23. Denver Nuggets (27-44, Previous: 23) – It’s been a tough couple of seasons for Danilo Galinari due to knee issues, so it was good to see him drop 40 points in a win over the Magic on Sunday.

24. Detroit Pistons (26-44, Previous: 24) – Three good wins for the Pistons since last week over the Grizzlies, Bulls, and Celtics. Unfortunately, they lost ten games prior to that and are no longer playoff hopefuls.

25. Orlando Magic (22-50, Previous: 25) – Back-to-back triple-doubles for Elfrid Payton last week. Thats the type of thing Magic fans should be focused on – not the fact the team has lost 11 of its last 14 games.

26. Sacramento Kings (24-45, Previous: 26) – Forget that the Kings have won the last two games. Forget that DeMarcus Cousins has moves like a point guard though he stands at seven-feet tall. The Kings had a baby race on Sunday. Yes, a race featuring babies. It was actually amazing.

27. Los Angeles Lakers (18-50, Previous: 27) – So the Lakers beat the Sixers on Sunday, but the problem is if they end up with the No. 6 or higher pick in the upcoming lottery, they forfeit that pick to Philly. So this really was the worst possible win.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-54, Previous: 28) – Allegedly the Timberwolves and Knicks played each other over the weekend. We aren’t sure if either team won or if it even made a sound.

29. Philadelphia 76ers (17-53, Previous: 29) – I know every year we say “Could College Team X beat Worst NBA Team Y?” I always say there’s no chance. But do I think the Kentucky Wildcats could beat the Sixers? Ehhh . . . where is the game being played?

30. New York Knicks (14-57, Previous: 30) – With the Grizzlies in town, Marc Gasol was obviously asked about free agency. When he said he hasn’t ruled anything out because he hasn’t thought about anything, that turned into, “HE HASN’T RULED NEW YORK OUT! WOOOO!” Sad time in NY…

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