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NBA Power Rankings: Contenders Abound

As we inch toward the NBA playoffs, the Miami HEAT are boiling while the Los Angeles Clippers have set their sails. Here’s the latest power rankings.

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This season, across the NBA, free agency seemed to come a bit earlier than expected. With the Los Angeles Clippers emerging as the clear midseason winner, it is them and the Oklahoma City Thunder that may have done the most to improve their odds of rising to the top of the Western Conference. Still, it is those pesky San Antonio Spurs that simply know their identity and play basketball their way. And with the returns of Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker to the lineup, the Spurs are longing to return to the NBA Finals to right last year’s wrong.

But, if Glen Davis and Danny Granger have anything to say about it, they will each suit up for Doc Rivers and alongside Chris Paul to help the Clippers valiantly re-rise to the top of the West.

Houston (Rockets) we (may) have a problem… Or two.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City, the return of Russell Westbrook has been coupled with the addition of Caron Butler, fortifying the Thunder’s perimeter defense. It is well-timed, considering the calf injury that is expected to keep Thabo Sefolosha sidelined for the next four-to-six weeks.

Out East, with the Miami HEAT scorching everything they have come into contact with, it is them and the Indiana Pacers—who have made a few additions of their own—that remain the object of our affection. Seldom do we see the contenders at the top reinvent themselves along the way, but that is the story of Week 18.

In New York City, as the Brooklyn Nets have closed the gap on re-cementing themselves as a winning basketball team, it is the New York Knicks who have looked like a team that has quit on its season. The Knicks are free-falling, and only remain in the playoff conversation because the Atlanta Hawks are having issues of their own.

On Monday night, the Nets bested the Chicago Bulls and returned to .500—a mark that has long eluded most of the Conference’s teams. As we head toward the playoffs, the Nets have emerged as a team we are extremely interested in, though the Toronto Raptors—enjoying their own assent—continue to tickle our imagination, as well.

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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