NBA Power Rankings: Counting Down the Top 10 Teams in the League

Will LeivenbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2012

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The Heat not hustling in the fourth quarter. Andrew Bynum jacking up thoughtless three-pointers. The Bulls rolling without Derrick Rose. The Spurs surging in the West.

The NBA world was not turned upside down in the last week, but that doesn't mean we—the humble, loyal fans—didn't fervently watch as our teams and rivals gave us a glimpse into what the postseason may hold.


Heat Losing Steam

Losing two in a row, for the Miami Heat, is not the end of the world for Heat fans nor any form of salvation for Heat-haters. Rather, it's simply the cycle of basketball. Off-days happen, even for a team glimmering with a trifecta of superstars.

The concern, however, is the Heat's willingness to put up a fight in the final stretch of a game. If they become complacent as soon as the opposing team gains a double-digit lead, they don't deserve to go far in the playoffs.

But more importantly, they legitimately may not make it to the Finals, which most fans and experts alike have been quick to surmise is the natural progression of this hyped-up powerhouse of a team.


The Lakers' Puzzle

Let's get one thing straight: The Lakers are better with Ramon Sessions, but that doesn't mean their problems are even close to resolved.

Their biggest wild card is their 24-year-old giant, Andrew Bynum. The Lake Show won't have anything to show at the end of the season unless Bynum begins adjusting his attitude. Whether that means thinking twice before hurling up a three-pointer or holding his tongue when he disagrees with a referee's call, Bynum needs a dose of maturity and to realize he's the Lakers' X-factor.

The Lakers depend on Bynum as both a defensive and offensive presence. Being truly present, involved and putting up a fight for each second he's on the court will be Bynum's biggest obstacle on the road to the postseason. 


Rose-less Bulls Still the Favorite

The Bulls were the first team to 40 wins, first to clinch a playoff spot and have played their last seven games without MVP point guard Derrick Rose.

Impressive is an understatement; they're 20-5 at home, 20-6 on the road, first in rebounds per game and second in points allowed per game. There's a team cohesiveness within Chicago unlike any other team in the NBA. That is why writing off the Bulls to concede the top spot in the East to the Heat is as presumptive as assuming Tiger Woods will win every major championship in which he competes.

Don't give away the victory before the game has even begun.


Spurs Surging

No one has as much momentum as the San Antonio Spurs in the West.

The Thunder have held the top spot all season, and they were the favorite even before the season began. However, with a few late pickups at the trade deadline, plus the trio of experience in Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, the Spurs have rapidly become the biggest threat to OKC.

Sure, they struggled last season right off the bat against the Memphis Grizzlies. But this is a revamped, reinvigorated squad that blends veteran experience with youthful talent and speed (special shout-out to Tiago Splitter and Danny Green, who have been making a profound impact on both ends of the court). 


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