Blakely's NBA Six Pack Power Rankings: Mar. 27
Blakely's NBA Six Pack Power Rankings: Mar. 27
BOSTON — With less than a month's worth of regular season games left, the NBA playoff picture is slowly but surely coming into focus.
There's a clear distinction between those who played well enough to be seriously thinking about an NBA title and those wishing for as many ping-pong balls as possible - Yeah Philly, I'm talking about you!
But in between those two extremes, you have a lot of teams that are in that good, but not-great zone.
And while it's easy to discard those teams as patsies, that would be a mistake.
A big mistake.
The Toronto Raptors are such a team that has played well enough to be in the postseason and likely earn home court through at least the first round, but doesn't appear capable of doing much other than showing up only to get disposed of quickly by a team with more depth (Brooklyn), talent (Miami) or both (Indiana).
"We know we'll be the underdog no matter where we are (seeded)," Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan told CSNNE.com. "But we're hungry to just play and prove we're a better team than a lot of people might think."
Of course, success for them and a lot of other teams will depend heavily on where they finish in the standings.
"We want to finish as high as we can to give ourselves the best chance of winning," DeRozan said. "Like I said, we're a hungry team out to prove we're better than a lot of people think."
And with that, here's this week's NBA power rankings.
THE FLAT PACK
Current Ranking (last week)
30. (30) Philadelphia — We've seen tanking before, but the Sixers have taken it to historic depths with 25 straight losses.
29. (29) Milwaukee — With no playoff appearances in four of his six seasons in Milwaukee, you have to wonder how long the Bucks will stick with GM John Hammond.
28. (28) Orlando — An already rough season gets tougher with three of next four against playoff-caliber foes.
27. (25) Utah — Trey Burke won't win the award, but he should get some Rookie of the Year love from voters.
26. (26) Boston — With a slew of draft picks and trade exceptions, anything short of a major addition this offseason for the Celtics would be a huge letdown.
25. (27) Los Angeles Lakers — A win at Milwaukee tonight would give them a three-game winning streak for the first time since Nov. 17-24, 2013.
BACK OF THE PACK
24. (23) Sacramento — Another season, another lottery pick for the Kings. Some things never seem to change.
23. (22) Detroit — A wing player with a consistent jumper needs to be at the top of Detroit's wish list this offseason.
22. (24) Cleveland — Cavs have won three straight with Dion Waiters leading the way, averaging 21.3 points in that span.
21. (21) New Orleans — Moving Tyreke Evans into the starting lineup has been a change for the better for Evans as well as the Pelicans.
20. (17) Atlanta — There's still time for their status to change, but the Hawks are looking very much like they will be the league's eighth seed.
MIDDLE OF THE SCRUM
19. (19) Minnesota — Rookie Gourgui Dieng coming on strong of late with at least 11 rebounds in five of Minnesota's last six games.
18. (15) New York — One of the few - OK, the only team - in the East not in the playoffs that's making a legit push towards getting to the postseason.
17. (20) Denver — Arguably the toughest schedule to close out the season, eight of their final 10 games are against playoff teams.
16. (11) Brooklyn — The team no one in the East wants to see in the first round, the Nets have won seven of their last 10 games.
15. (13) Dallas — Mavericks have split their last four games in large part because of a defense that's giving up an NBA-high 21 fast break points per game during that span.
14. (18) Charlotte — Wednesday's overtime win over Brooklyn was huge in their quest to at the very least hold on to the No. 7 seed in the East.
13. (12) Memphis — Important stretch coming up for the Grizzlies with five of their next six games on the road.
12. (14) Washington — Trevor Ariza providing some much-needed leadership for the Wizards, averaging more than 17 points per game in the month of March.
11. (16) Phoenix — That whole Phoenix rising from the ashes metaphor you hear so often, is indeed applicable to this Suns team that has reeled off five straight wins are now firmly back in the playoff chase.
RUNNING WITH THE PACK
10. (10) Toronto — The All-Star to superstar jump we saw with Paul George last year in the playoffs? Don't be surprised if we see a similar jump in the postseason by DeMar DeRozan.
9. (8) Portland — The Blazers have dropped three straight, all of which have come with LaMarcus Aldridge (back) sidelined. Coincidence? Nope. He means that much to them this time of year.
8. (7) Golden State — The demotion of assistant coach and former Celtic Brian Scalabrine has caused a divide among management (in Scal's corner) and the players who are on the side of head coach Mark Jackson.
7. (9) Chicago — Is there any team in the East besides the Bulls that can screw up the dream matchup in the Conference finals between Indiana and Miami?
LEADERS OF THE PACK
6. (6) Miami — Watching the Heat play, they seem to be a team that's still trying to find a rotation they can rely on. Not a good look for a team looking to three-peat.
5. (5) Houston — Don't read too much into Houston winning three straight with Dwight Howard sidelined. All three wins were over non-playoff teams Cleveland, Minnesota and Utah.
4. (2) Los Angeles Clippers — Chris Paul takes 12 shots and misses each of them? #thingsyouwontseeagain
3. (3) Oklahoma City — The Thunder continue hold residence with the top teams, but don't have the look of a champion-to-be anymore.
2. (4) Indiana — Win over Miami on Wednesday night was a major gut-check moment for this Pacers team.
1. (1) San Antonio — Playing the best basketball of the Tim Duncan era having reeled off 15 straight wins. #betterwithtime