NBA Power Rankings: Playoff Payoff

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With another NBA season drawing to a close, Basketball Insiders brings you its final Power Rankings heading into the postseason.

It has been a long and winding road for all 30 of the league’s franchises with some monumental disappointments—the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves lead the way here—as well as some astonishing surprises – the Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Bobcats, please take a bow.

But as the regular season is set to end on Wednesday night, there are still some matters to be determined. In the Eastern Conference, the Miami HEAT and Indiana Pacers are still vying for the top seed. The magic number for the Pacers is one entering Monday night, and we are inclined to believe that the HEAT would not necessarily mind ending up second. It would help them avoid the Brooklyn Nets in the second round—much to our chagrin.

Out West, the most compelling storyline revolves around the dogfight that has ensued for the seventh and eighth seed. The Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks have been in a three-team battle for just two spots for what seems like weeks. With the Mavericks defeating the Suns on Saturday night, the Mavericks clinched, leaving the Grizzlies and Suns vying for the eighth seed.

What makes things really interesting is that the Grizzlies happen to play the Suns and Mavericks in their final two games. If the Grizzlies lose both, they could end up as the ninth seed.

And let’s recall: the last time the Grizzlies entered the playoffs as the eighth seed, it was 2011 and they scored the shocking upset over the first-seed San Antonio Spurs. There is no guarantee that history would repeat itself in these playoffs, but we have learned to never say never.

Between now and Wednesday, there is still a lot to be determined, and the playoff picture may still be altered dramatically.

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.