Monday, April 7, 2014

How Much of a Chance Do the Knicks Have? (Power Rankings, Week 23)

Do you like nachos and beer? Well, I can't give you either of those things, but I can show you some dunks! Like Marreese Speights reaching new heights. And Russell Westbrook stealing then dealing. Finally, don't forget about Brandin Knight, the posterizee-turned-posterizer.

In this week's rankings, the top four (Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, and Houston) remained intact. Meanwhile, the Bulls (who we covered last week) moved into the top 10 on the strength of a five-game winning streak.

Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at a pair of teams trying to secure playoff spots -- the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors.

Here are my Week 23 Power Rankings, with all records current through Sunday:
30. Milwaukee Bucks (14-63)
29. Philadelphia 76ers (17-60)
28. Orlando Magic (22-55)
27. Utah Jazz (24-53)
26. Boston Celtics (23-50)
25. Los Angeles Lakers (25-52)
24. Sacramento Kings (27-50)
23. Detroit Pistons (28-49) 
22. New Orleans Pelicans (32-45)
21. Cleveland Cavaliers (31-47)
20. Denver Nuggets (33-44)
19. New York Knicks (33-45)
18. Atlanta Hawks (34-42)
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (38-38)
16. Charlotte Bobcats (39-38)
15. Washington Wizards (40-37)
14. Brooklyn Nets (42-34)
13. Memphis Grizzlies (45-32)
12. Phoenix Suns (46-31)
11. Dallas Mavericks (47-31)
10. Toronto Raptors (45-32)
9. Chicago Bulls (45-32)
8. Indiana Pacers (53-25)
7. Golden State Warriors (48-29)
6. Portland Trail Blazers (50-28)
5. Miami Heat (53-23)
4. Houston Rockets (51-25)
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (55-21)
2. Los Angeles Clippers (55-23)
1. San Antonio Spurs (60-17)

New York Knicks
(Photo via
A season that began with such promise quickly became a nightmare as the Knicks went 2-11 in November. Even a brief renaissance in early January couldn't mask the deficiencies on New York's roster.

But here we are, with four games left in the regular season, and the Knicks are looking to take over the eighth seed from the Hawks. I guess that qualifies the 'Bockers as relevant, so we feel obligated to discuss them here. We've looked at some of the, um, less savory events around the team, but this is New York's first close-up in the power rankings.

Despite losing in Miami* on Sunday, the Knicks have won 12 of their last 17 games. Still, they will need help from a crappy Atlanta team to get into the postseason. The Hawks have six games left and they hold a 2-game lead (three in the loss column) over the Knicks.

*The Knicks were defeated, but fans got to see J.R. Smith make some meaningless history.

So could this year end up like 1999, when the Knicks entered the postseason as the eighth seed and rolled all the way to the Finals? In short, no. For one, that was the year of the lockout, when teams had just 50 regular-season games to mesh. In addition, the 1999 Knicks never had to contend with a team like LeBron James' Heat.

Basically, even the most optimistic Knicks fans shouldn't expect anything resembling L.J.'s four-point play this spring.

Golden State Warriors
(Photo via
After Sunday night's win over Utah, Golden State appears to be in good shape to snag one of the West's last three playoff spots. The Dubs hold a three-game lead over ninth-place Memphis, and they sit a hair ahead of both Dallas and Phoenix.

Golden State has a realtively easy road to the postseason. The Warriors will play three of their last five games against losing teams and will also face the non-contending Timberwolves in their penultimate game. Their lone remaining challenge is a matchup in Portland next Sunday night. That should be a fun one to watch.

In an odd bit of news, Golden State got rid of of its second assistant coach in as many weeks. Still, it doesn't seem like the organizational turmoil is affecting the team's play. As coach Mark Jackson remarked, "A great pastor said, 'You cannot fix the foundation in the middle of a storm. It's too late then.' The foundation has been laid, and it's going to hold up." Umm...yeah. Anyways, because of that strong foundation, we should get to see Stephen Curry and Co. in the playoffs.

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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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