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March 31, 2008 6:00 AM

NBA Power Rankings

Posted by Percy Allen

Each week we take a look at the NBA and rank the teams in order every Monday morning. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

Rank

Team (Previous rank)

Comment

1.

Boston (1):

Four wins away from the best turnaround in NBA history. Doc Rivers needs to consider resting the Big Three during their final nine games when they play just one team with a winning record. They can clinch the best record in the NBA and home court advantage throughout the playoffs with two more wins.

2.

San Antonio (5):

Look who's at the top of the Western Conference standings again. Remember that four-game losing streak a few weeks ago? Didn't think so. They've won seven straight. Remember Damon Stoudamire? Didn't think so. He's played just 21 minutes in the past seven games and is buried on the bench behind Jacque Vaughn. Oh yeah, and remember Brent Barry? He's back.

3.

Detroit (8):

The Pistons are too much of a veteran team to believe in statement wins in March, but Friday's victory against Cleveland was huge. LeBron James has terrorized Detroit in the past, but the league's leading scorer finished with just 13 points, which was his second lowest this season.

4.

New Orleans (2):

Face it folks, they aren't going anywhere. And this week, they have sure-fire wins against Miami and New York that will keep them at the top of the standings.

5.

Utah (4):

They're phenomenal at home, but they're also the only team among the top six in the West with a losing road record. Sunday's loss at Minnesota makes no sense.

6.

LA Lakers (3):

Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum can't return soon enough. Jot it down. Kobe Bryant will pick up another technical foul, which will force a one-game suspension. As for the MVP award, Kobe is the best player and it's unfortunate that he's never won the trophy, but that doesn't mean he should win it this year. Kevin Garnett and Chris Paul are just as deserving.

7.

Phoenix (6):

Shaquille O'Neal blasts Miami. "We have professionals who know what to do.No one is asking me to play with Chris Quinn or Ricky Davis. I'm actually on a team again." Pat Riley shoots back: "He didn't want to play for that kind of situation (at) 35 years old. He wanted to go to a contender and we sent him there. We sent him to Utopia and I don't know why he's not happy."

8.

Washington (7):

It must be fun covering a guy like Gilbert Arenas. If you hadn't seen it already, check out his latest blog entry at NBA.com. Not sure if it's comical or disturbing. Or maybe it's just Gilbert being Gilbert. To top it off, he says he's willing to take a pay cut if the team re-signs Antawn Jamison.

9

Houston (9):

For some reason Tracy McGrady plays better on the road (26.4 scoring average) than at home (18.1), which is a good thing because their next four games are on the road.

10.

Denver (13):

George Karl says naysayers questioning his job security is expected. "I don't think it has anything to do with this year. Between the fourth and fifth year with a team is where the honeymoon and the criticism and the posses begin. I've had a great 3 1/2, four-year run of love and affection. And you can't have it forever. The fan is fantastic. But there's always going to be a part of fans that are against you. And there's going to be a part of those fans that are going to love you to a fault."

11.

Orlando (10):

They had their streak of 10 games in which they have at least 10 three-pointers snapped in last week's loss to San Antonio.

12.

Golden State (12):

Is it just me or does Davidson's Stephen Curry look and play like a young Monta Ellis? Chris Webber calls it quits, ends nine-game comeback attempt and retires after 15 years in the NBA because of chronic knee soreness. As for whether he's a Hall of Famer, well, the short answer is no. But that shouldn't diminish an amazing career.

13.

Cleveland (14):

Can we end the LeBron James MVP talk right now? He's out of the race and there's little that he can do to get back in it. The Cavaliers should be more concerned with holding off Washington for the fourth playoff spot and home court advantage in the first round.

14:

Philadelphia (11):

Don't be surprised if they streak past Toronto and Washington in the standings and make a run at Cleveland for home court advantage in the first round.

15.

Dallas (15):

Maybe it's sadistic, but I want to see the look on Mark Cuban's face if if the Mavericks don't make the playoffs. Nobody does disappoint like Cuban. Wonder if he'll go on a firing spree? Will he blow up the roster? Without injured Dirk Nowitzki, they'll need the J-4 crew (Jason Kidd, Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse and Jason Terry) to keep them in the race.

16.

Atlanta (17):

The Hawks are playing their best basketball of the season - 8-4 in the past 12 games - and a win tonight at Memphis would give them a 2-game lead over New Jersey for the eighth place in the playoff standings.

17.

Toronto (20):

Heck of a week. Two changes in the starting lineup, a new guy (Linton Johnson) in on a 10-day contract and the end of a Derrick Martin's not-so illustrious career. T.J. Ford replaces Jose Calderon and Rasho Nesterovic steps in for an ineffective Andrea Bargnani.

18.

Indiana (18):

Not sure what Larry Bird has done to deserve the GM job. He approved the trade to Golden State involving Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington and Mike Dunleavy. He also gave Sarunas Jasikevicius a three-year, $12M contract. Jasikevicius is no longer in the NBA. Said Bird: "I've been doubted since the first time I stepped on a basketball court, so it's no different."

19.

Minnesota (19):

Memphis' Rudy Gay is the leading Most Improved candidate, but Al Jefferson deserves serious consideration. His rebounding average (11.5) is the same, but he increased his scoring average (21.0) by five points and made the jump from potential superstar to franchise stud.

20.

Charlotte (26):

Coach Sam Vincent is reportedly on the hot seat after just one season, but not sure if Michael Jordan will fire his former teammate after just one season. Emeka Okafor played in his 84th consecutive game for the Bobcats, breaking the record of 83 set by Melvin Ely.

21.

Portland (16):

Ease up Nate. What's the big fuss about Greg Oden playing in a pickup game? Last I checked, he's a basketball player and basketball players play basketball. Also, don't be surprised if Dwane Casey reunites with McMillan in Portland next season.

22.

Sacramento (21):

Ron Artest isn't expected opt out and wants to return next season, which isn't necessarily a good thing for the Kings. They should continue re-tooling and trade Artest, their biggest bargaining chip, for a starting point guard. Not sure why they're still holding on to Quincy Douby.

23.

New Jersey (22):

In their last six home games, they've scored 116.8 on averaged and on the road they've averaged 89.0 since Devin Harris arrived. The former Mavericks guard, who spent four seasons in Dallas, has set or tied career highs in every major category including points (26), assists (15), rebounds (8) and minutes (41).

24.

Chicago (25):

First Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Chris Duhon and now Andres Nocioni rebels against the Bulls establishment. What's going on in Chicago? Nocioni balks on the bench and gets banished to the locker room. GM John Paxson needs to take a hard look at squad he's assembled and make changes this summer.

25.

Memphis (24):

Wasn't this supposed to be Darko Milicic's breakout season? Well the second-overall pick in 2003 is averaging just 7.3 points, a career-high 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, which is 10th in the NBA.

26.

Miami (27):

Cause for concern? Dwyane Wade has played just 315 of a possible 430 games during his career. Also, Alonzo Mourning, 38, sounds as if he'll attempt a comeback after season-ending knee surgery.

27.

Milwaukee (23):

They should be eliminated from the playoffs this week and soon after the season ends coach Larry Krystkowiak will lose his job. This season is not entirely his fault. Former GM Larry Harris deserves much of the blame, but the new GM will likely pick a new coach.

28.

New York (28):

With Donnie Walsh reportedly headed to the Big Apple after the season, expect the rumors about Jermaine O'Neal to pick up steam. Walsh and Isiah Thomas have always been O'Neal's biggest fans and he desperately wants to leave Indianapolis.

29.

LA Clippers (29):

Elton Brand has been medically cleared and wants to play before the season ends. He also says he wants to return, but didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of opting out his contract to become a free agent. The scarcity of teams with salary cap space suggest he’ll stay in Los Angeles.

30.

Seattle (30):

Derrick Rose's play in the past two weeks has made it a two-man race for the No. 1 pick in draft. Michael Beasley is still the odds-on favorite to be chosen first, but if the Sonics nab the top pick they'll likely take the Memphis Tigers guard.

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