Blakely's NBA Six Pack Power Rankings: Apr. 3
Blakely's NBA Six Pack Power Rankings
BOSTON — The building blocks for what some teams hope will be a successful playoff run, are starting to settle into place with the best of the best pulling away.
And those that seemed to be on shaky ground but still in position to be in the postseason, are starting to crumble before our very eyes.
This is how it is this time of year in the NBA, which makes for a lot of competitive games down the stretch.
Even teams like the Boston Celtics who will miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2007, have a lot to gain with a strong finish to the season.
And by no means does a strong finish equate to lots of wins.
Teams that are bad still have some qualities about them that are worthy of focusing on and just as important, building off of going forward.
For the Celtics, that would be trying to remain a competitive team whose downfall more than anything else, is their inability to finish off games in the closing minutes.
Improving in that area of their play, should be the motivation right now with the outcome being irrelevant.
The whole "play for pride" theory is way overblown, and is often used as a convenient motivation tool for bad teams.
"You really should play for pride anytime you step on the court," Boston's Brandon Bass told CSNNE.com earlier this season. "Whether you're a playoff team or not, that shouldn't matter."
And as we have seen lately, a team's desire to get into the playoffs is much, much stronger than whatever lottery-bound teams like Boston have been trying to use to remain engaged this time of year.
Look at games on Wednesday.
The New York Knicks overwhelmed the Brooklyn Nets by 19 points.
Boston was waxed by 26 points by the Washington Wizards.
Orlando lost by 21 points to a Cleveland team that's just two games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
And Philadelphia, this season's favorite punching bag for teams, was destroyed by 30 points by Charlotte in the Bobcats' quest to improve their playoff position.
It's the end-of-the-season in the NBA, where big wins and blowouts become the norm.
And with that, here's this week's power rankings:
THE FLAT PACK
Current Ranking (last week)
30. (30) Philadelphia — THE SIXERS WON A GAME! THE SIXERS WON A GAME! THE SIXERS WON A GAME!
29. (29) Milwaukee — Bucks need to win seven of their last eight games to avoid finishing with the worst record in franchise history.
28. (28) Orlando — Nikola Vucevic has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for Orlando, tallying 36 double-doubles which ranks 11th in the NBA.
27. (26) Boston — Six straight losses for Boston is currently the league's longest losing skid. The good news? Philly comes to town on Friday.
26. (27) Utah — Since their inaugural 1974-1975 season, the Jazz have never had the No. 1 overall pick. #longoverdue
25. (23) Detroit — Of course the league's biggest disappointment, Detroit, kept the Sixers from being the league's biggest loser when it comes to consecutive losses.
BACK OF THE PACK
24. (25) Los Angeles Lakers — Another year with Mike D'Antoni running the show as head coach? #notkobeapproved
23. (24) Sacramento — One of the best of the bad teams, a win over Golden State on Friday would give them their second, three-game winning streak of the season.
22. (21) New Orleans — If Jrue Holiday (leg) and Ryan Anderson (neck) bounce back from season-ending injuries, look for the Pelicans to be in the playoff hunt next season.
21. (17) Denver — The creamy Nuggets have shown little resistance defensively this season, giving up 105.9 points per game which is the third-highest points allowed average in the NBA this season.
20. (20) Atlanta — The Knicks have overtaken the Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot, which is good for the Hawks who could benefit more from a lottery pick this year than a short-lived playoff appearance.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
19. (19) Minnesota - The Kevin Love-to-LA Lakers rumors will persist all summer until a trade is made or Love says he's staying with the Timberpuppies. #wordsyouwillnothear
18. (22) Cleveland — Only two games back of the eighth and final playoff spot, the Cavs have won five of their last six games.
17. (18) New York — Is a trip to the playoffs enough for Mike Woodson to keep his job? Probably not. But a trip to the second round would then make things interesting.
16. (15) Dallas — Huge four-game road trip begins tonight in Los Angeles against the Clippers.
15. (13) Memphis — Controversial win at Denver recently serves as a reminder to us all ... #everygamematters
14. (14) Charlotte — Al Jefferson proving he's more than a scorer; he too can lead a team into the postseason.
13. (11) Phoenix — Suns payroll near the bottom of the NBA, but they are in the heat of playoff race. #moneyspentwisely
12. (12) Washington — We hear a lot about Chicago sneaking up on teams in the playoffs. But don't sleep on John Wall and the Wizards.
11. (8) Golden State — The potential for a strong finish is there, with six of last seven games against non-playoff teams.
RUNNING WITH THE PACK
10. (9) Portland — Has won four in a row in part because of a transition defense that's allowing 13 points off turnovers. That ranks sixth in the NBA during that time period.
9. (16) Brooklyn — Hard to imagine how far Jason Kidd has come, from being overwhelmed at first to one of the overwhelming favorites for Coach of the Year.
8. (10) Toronto — The magic number is 5 for the Raptors to lock up the Atlantic Division for the first time since 2007.
7. (7) Chicago — Nobody puts the defensive clamps on you like the Chicago Bulls who are giving up a league-low 90.7 points per game.
LEADERS OF THE PACK
6. (5) Houston — Three losses to three playoff-quality opponents. Not a good sign on the eve of the postseason.
5. (2) Indiana — How the mighty have fallen, with the Pacers going 8-10 in March.
4. (6) Miami — If they can hold on to the top spot in the East, that would deliver a huge psychological blow to the Pacers, their stiffest competition.
3. (3) Oklahoma City — Wins in eight of their last 10 games, the Thunder are starting to once again strike fear in opponents just in time.
2. (4) Los Angeles Clippers — You get the feeling that if the Clippers can stay healthy - and that's a big, 72-point type 'If' - they can make a long deep playoff run.
1. (1) San Antonio — No matter how much Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has stressed rest over success this time of year, it seems his team literally can't lose.