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NBA Power Rankings: Brooklyn Brawlers

After 21 Weeks, the Brooklyn Nets have proven that they belong in the category of contenders in the Eastern Conference.

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After 21 weeks and with April around the corner, we are now officially at that point of the NBA season where every single game could make a monumental difference.

Despite winning eight games in a row, with Sunday night’s home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks have seen their playoff hopes take a tremendous blow.

With the recent struggles of both the Miami HEAT and Indiana Pacers, the HEAT have been unable to close the gap on Paul George’s team, but the two teams are set to meet on Wednesday night in the first of their final two battles of the regular season (the second is in a few weeks). Still, it looks quite simple: if they split those games, the Pacers will earn home court advantage, but if the HEAT sweep those two, it is them who will enter the playoffs as the number one seed.

Out West, a late surge by the Phoenix Suns has seen them close the gap on the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies for one of the two final playoff spots out West, and with the teams still having games coming up against one another, it is impossible to know which of those three teams will be sitting at home once the postseason begins. But one of them will.

And in terms of the theme of “one of them will,” we focus on the Eastern Conference playoff picture. As it stands, two of the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards will advance to the second round of the playoffs, and at this point, it is impossible to ignore the Nets. Brooklyn is 27-10 since January 1 and have knocked off their fair share of playoff contenders this season.

For the first time all year, the Nets have cracked our top 10 after a few gutsy performances and an undefeated week. With chemistry, some newfound heart and one of today’s top closers in Joe Johnson, they are simply hitting their stride at the right time, much like the “Never doubt the heart of a champion” 1995 Houston Rockets.

Although we have long settled on the idea that the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Pacers and HEAT were the top teams in their respective conferences, the fields in both conferences seem to be improving, with six of the East’s eight current playoff teams boasting winning records and the Charlotte Bobcats (who have scored some major victories of their own), just two games under.

There is a lot of basketball left and a lot to still be decided, and yes, the Nets may have something to say about how things shake out in the Eastern Conference.

Have a question or comment on Moke’s Weekly Power Rankings? Feel free to ask him a question in his Weekly NBA Chat, held each Friday afternoon.

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders.

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