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John Rohde's NBA power rankings

By John Rohde, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.coms Published: March 3, 2012
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(Through Friday's games)

1. Miami Heat (28-8): When the Heat is on, it is clearly the class of the league. LeBron James is having a sensational season, but will he shoot or pass on the final shot?

2. Chicago Bulls (30-8): Key is Derrick Rose's health. If his back holds up, he is good enough to carry his underappreciated supporting cast to the NBA Finals.

3. OKC Thunder (29-7): Thunder holds a slight edge as the top team in the Western Conference, but OKC still must prove itself against San Antonio head-to-head.

4. San Antonio Spurs (25-11): No Manu Ginobili for 27 games and counting, yet somehow the Spurs are still making a solid bid as the best team in the West.

5. Los Angeles Clippers (21-13): Despite losing Chauncey Billups, the Clippers remain a serious contender for the Pacific title and have acquired solid role players.

6. Los Angeles Lakers (22-14): They're not what they've been in the past, but the Lakers still start three players who have been All-Stars, including two 7-footers.

7. Orlando Magic (23-14): While Dwight Howard rules underneath, the Magic attempts (26.4) and makes (10.2) more 3-pointers than any team in the league.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (21-15): The Grizzlies are on solid ground despite injuries to Zach Randolph and Darrell Arthur while playing NBA's toughest schedule.

9. Dallas Mavericks (21-16): The Mavs miss Tyson Chandler far more than they're willing to admit. Lamar Odom has been MIA, even when he's with the team.

10. Denver Nuggets (20-17): Treading water while anxiously awaiting the hopeful Monday return of Danilo Gallinari, plus the day-to-day saga of Nene's calf.

11. Portland Trail Blazers (18-18): Essentially six players average double-digits in scoring (Raymond Felton is at 9.9). Blazers are better than their record.

12. Philadelphia 76ers (22-15): Easy schedule is starting to catch up with Philly. Sixers are an unselfish team that plays great defense, but struggles to score.

13. Indiana Pacers (22-12): Quietly going about its business in an efficient manner while flying under the radar, but has benefitted from the third-easiest schedule.

14. New York Knicks (18-18): Carmelo, Amar'e and Tyson were all cheering for teammates from the bench the other night. Keep an eye on the Kumbaya Knicks.

15. Boston Celtics (18-17): Aging Celtics can still scare you if they remain healthy. Remember, they start four players off the 2008 world championship team.

16. Houston Rockets (21-16): The Rockets have stabilized after a slow start, but they're about to play seven of eight on the road, including a March 13 stop in OKC.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (18-19): Last year's most underachieving team is hovering around .500 and is no joy for anyone to face. Could surge into the playoffs.

18. Atlanta Hawks (21-15): Lost center Al Horford for the entire regular season, but he could be back for the playoffs — if the injury plagued Hawks are still alive.

19. Phoenix Suns (16-20): This is no way for Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash to live his life after such a stellar career, but the Suns could sneak into the playoffs.

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