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Gambling On Hoops? Cappers Picks NBA Power Rankings

2014 NBA Handicapping

The teams that really plan to make a run have begun to show their teeth in the stretch following the All-Star break. Now the intensity level is about to get ramped up another couple of notches with the playoffs right around the corner. [ad-4468020]

Here are the power rankings entering the 19th week of the NBA schedule.

1. Indiana Pacers (46-13)

The acquisition of Evan Turner isn’t getting nearly the attention it deserves – he was the second overall pick less than four years ago, and he’ll give head coach Frank Vogel more at the defensive end of the court than Danny Granger ever did. Many have been quick to knock Indiana off the top of the rankings with the Heat streaking, but the Pacers know they’ll need to stay ahead of Miami to maintain home-court advantage throughout the postseason – the team is 29-3 in their own building.

2. Miami Heat (42-14)

The Heat have finally gotten their game into gear, and there’s no need to look very far to figure out why. LeBron James has accepted the challenge of playing with the mask and has thrived under his new headgear. A motivated Heat squad should have the rest of the Eastern Conference cowering in fear.

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3. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-15)

Let’s face it: Kevin Durant is the MVP. A three-game losing streak (all at home), nearly threatened to cost the team the top spot in the Western Conference, but they were able to get back into the win column with a pair of victories to close out the week. Russell Westbrook appears to be getting back into gear as well, averaging 23.6 points and 6.6 assists over his last three games.

4. Los Angeles Clippers (41-20)

The team made some significant acquisitions after the trade deadline bringing in Glen Davis and Danny Granger to really shore up their bench, a spot that’s been a problem for them at times, particularly at the power forward position. With that problem resolved and Chris Paul looking like the Chris Paul of old, the Clippers appear poised for a long playoff run.

5. Houston Rockets (40-19)

With wins in 11 of their last 13 games, the Rockets look like the real deal. It took some time to incorporate Dwight Howard into their system, but now that they’ve had the time to do so, they look like a legitimate title contender. They’ll get a chance to prove that they are just that this week with dates against Miami and Indiana.

6. San Antonio Spurs (43-16)

Ho-hum. It’s just business as usual in San Antonio. And we probably won’t get to see the real Spurs until the playoffs roll around, though we may get a taste this week when Miami makes a stop at the AT&T Center. San Antonio took two of three from Miami at the AT&T Center in the 2013 NBA Finals.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (33-25)

The Grizzlies are finally getting healthy, and while they haven’t been able to climb back into the West’s top eight just yet, they’ll get there eventually, and they’re a team that no club wants to face in the first round. The duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph really have the ability to take over games, while Mike Conley has taken his game to another level.

8. Chicago Bulls (33-26)

The Bulls have quietly won nine of their last 10 games, and no Eastern Conference team has a better record in 2014. The team’s scoring defense still ranks second in the Association and they’ve been able to score on top of that, averaging 104.8 points on their current four-game winning streak, reaching the century mark each time.
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9. Phoenix Suns (35-24)

Getting Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe fully healthy for the postseason should be the team’s top priority now that a top four seed in the West is out of the question. If they are healthy come playoff time, watch out.

10. Toronto Raptors (33-26)

The Raptors have been a completely different team since the Rudy Gay trade, but one thing that hadn’t changed was their average record in their own building. Well, the team is beginning to impose its will and home, finally, posting a 13-4 record at home in its last 17 home games.

11. Portland Trail Blazers (41-18)
12. Golden State Warriors (36-24)
13. Dallas Mavericks (36-25)
14. Brooklyn Nets (28-29)
15. Minnesota Timberwolves (29-29)
16. Washington Wizards (31-28)
17. Charlotte Bobcats (27-32)
18. New Orleans Pelicans (23-36)
19. Atlanta Hawks (26-32)
20. Denver Nuggets (25-33)
21. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-37)
22. New York Knicks (21-39)
23. Sacramento Kings (20-39)
24. Detroit Pistons (23-36)
25. Boston Celtics (21-38)
26. Utah Jazz (21-38)
27. Los Angeles Lakers (20-39)
28. Orlando Magic (18-43)
29. Philadelphia 76ers (15-44)
30. Milwaukee Bucks (11-47)

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