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Betting On Hoops? Cappers Picks NBA Power Rankings

2014 NBA Handicapping

The teams are set to enter the stretch run following the All-Star break. With races heating up and postseason positioning on the line, don’t expect to see any team hold anything back the rest of the way. [ad-4468020]

Here are the power rankings entering the 17th week of the NBA schedule.

1. Indiana Pacers (40-12): The Pacers’ grasp on the top spot isn’t as tight as some seem to think. They’ll need to win games down the stretch to further their gap over Miami if they’re going to come away with the home court advantage they desire once that inevitable series rolls around.

The team went into the break scoring a season-worst 73 points at home in a loss to the Mavericks, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to seem them come out of the break extra motivated.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-12): The prospect of adding Russell Westbrook back into this lineup actually seems like a bad thing given how well they have played without him.

The team will be tested right out of the break in a date with the Heat on Thursday night. Oklahoma City will be looking for the season sweep in the series, but Miami will want none of that.

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3. Miami Heat (37-14): LeBron James has seemingly started to get interested in the season and it’s really reflected on the stat sheet.

There’s no need to worry about a slow start after the break as he’ll be giving it his all in the team’s first game with Kevin Durant on the other side and all the MVP talk that has surrounded both players.

4. Houston Rockets (36-17): The Rockets made some significant changes in the offseason, so it’s important to cut them some slack for a mediocre start. The team won 10 of its final 12 games heading into the All-Star break, and with James Harden and Dwight Howard really finding their groove, Houston is going to be a team to watch out for.

5. Los Angeles Clippers (37-18): Blake Griffin has found another gear of late, and that’s meant big things for the Clippers. Griffin has poured in 35.4 points per game, and the Clippers scored 122.5 points per game in the two games in which Chris Paul appeared before the break.

All-Star weekend couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time for the team, but if they can carry their momentum into the next week, they’ll be able to make a run at the top spot in the West.

6. San Antonio Spurs (38-15): The Spurs have gone 7-7 in their last 14 games, and things won’t get any easier after the break with games at the Clippers, at Portland, and at Phoenix in a four-game stretch. It’s tough to imagine Coach Popovich not sitting his stars in at least one of those games.

They also have a slew of injuries to battle with.

7. Portland Trail Blazers (36-17): Damian Lillard showed off his impressive collection of skills during All-Star weekend, but if there were a defensive contest he wouldn’t have been invited to that one. The Trail Blazers would be higher up on this list if they played a lick of a defense, or just generally showed some interest in seeing the other side miss a shot.

8. Phoenix Suns (30-21): Goran Dragic needs some love. He belonged at the All-Star Game but instead found himself on the sideline.

He’s carried the Suns to their best record at the All-Star break since Mike D’Antoni left town, and with big wins on their resume like the one they picked up in Indiana, no one wants to draw the Suns in the first round.
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9. Memphis Grizzlies (29-23): Injuries have plagued this club all season. They’d be in a much different situation if they had been able to keep their starting five on the court for 82 games.

It sounds like Marc Gasol’s knee injury isn’t serious, and Mike Conley is expected back sooner rather than later. Tony Allen’s return is also close and will be pivotal.

10. Toronto Raptors (28-24): The Raptors were an afterthought in a weak Atlantic Division entering the season, but the Rudy Gay trade has transformed the team into a legitimate contender for a home date in the first round of the playoffs.

They’ve quietly ranked fourth in the Association in scoring defense.

11: Golden State Warriors (31-22)
12. Chicago Bulls (27-25)
13. Dallas Mavericks (32-22)
14. Washington Wizards (25-27)
15. Atlanta Hawks (25-26)
16. Brooklyn Nets (24-27)
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (25-28)
18. New Orleans Hornets (23-29)
19. Charlotte Bobcats (23-20)
20. Denver Nuggets (24-27)
21. New York Knicks (20-32)
22. Detroit Pistons (22-30)
23. Boston Celtics (19-35)
24. Utah Jazz (19-33)
25. Cleveland Cavaliers (20-33)
26. Los Angeles Lakers (18-35)
27. Sacramento Kings (18-35)
28. Orlando Magic (16-38)
29. Philadelphia 76ers (15-39)
30. Milwaukee Bucks (9-43)

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