NBA power rankings

By Sam Amico

The Heat’s historical run leaves little doubt who deserves the top spot. But the Spurs and Thunder have been equally consistent in their pursuit of No. 1.

Also: Check out the week’s best performances.

1 Heat 56-14

Even when Dwyane Wade sits, the Heat just keep on rolling. Makes you think today’s LeBron James is good enough to lead just about anyone to an historical streak.

2 Spurs 53-17

Spurs hardly skipped a beat without Tony Parker. Now that he’s back, we may be looking at the one team that could beat the Heat.

3 Thunder 52-19

Anymore, it seems like people are unimpressed with how good they are, simply because Thunder make it look so effortless. And you can bet Kevin Durant and the gang will continue to do so.

4 Nuggets 49-23 +2

The franchise-tying streak finally ended at 15. But that’s still just one loss in 16 games, and the deep, cohesive Nuggets are still dangerous.

5 Clippers 48-22

Clippers tok a major step in terms of defense and unity since the beginning of the year. They will have to take another if they hope to beat the very best in the postseason.

6 Grizzlies 47-23 -2

Overall, the Grizzlies look even better without Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington. How that’s possible is anyone’s guess — but it’s happening.

7 Pacers 44-27

The East’s second-best team has done it all year via pure will and hustle. How far the Pacers go in the playoffs, however, will likely fall on Paul George’s shoulders.

8 Knicks 42-26

This is supposed to be the season Carmelo Anthony carries the Knicks somewhere special. The health of a New York knee hasn’t been this important since the days of Bernard King.

9 Nets 41-29

The talent is there, but the consistency is still lacking. At this point in the season, it’s not real clear what the Nets can do to change that.

10 Warriors 41-31 +1

The Warriors survived a post-All-Star break lull and are playing some of their best basketball. Without a doubt, Andrew Bogut is finally starting to fit in.

11 Rockets 39-31 +4

Their spot in the playoffs now seems secure. On that note, even as good as James Harden is, perhaps no team has overachieved more.

12 Hawks 39-32

Started strong, survived the Josh Smith trade rumors, and have been breaking even since. For a team with a bunch of expiring contracts, the Hawks have been pretty fun.

13 Bulls 38-31 +1

How far the Bulls go has always been dependent on Derrick Rose. They still play hard enough to scare opponents without him but won’t be winning any titles anytime soon.

14 Celtics 36-33 -4

Resting an ailing Kevin Garnett is a good strategy when you’re thinking about the playoffs. But it’s not doing much for the Celtics as far as the regular season is concerned.

15 Lakers 36-35 -2

It’s become increasingly difficult to believe the Lakers will pull it together in time for anything special. Their place as one of the most disappointing teams of all time is nearly secure.

16 Jazz 35-36 +2

Toughest part of the schedule appears behind the Jazz, giving them continued hope for playoffs. But even though it’s unofficial, the Jazz’s postseason has already begun.

17 Mavericks 34-36

If Dirk Nowitzki had been healthy from the start, things might have been different. But there are worse things than adding a lottery pick to a team of strong veterans.

18 Bucks 34-35 -2

Trades, free agency, coaching changes … none of it seems to matter when you’re the Bucks. They continue to look like a team that’s spinning its wheels and on the brink of first-round elimination.

19 Trail Blazers 33-37

Addressing the bench and figuring out what to do with J.J. Hickson are the two biggest issues of the off-season. Until then, Blazers fans can celebrate Damian Lillard, who’s all but wrapped up Rookie of the Year honors.

20 76ers 27-43 +1

Andrew Bynum hasn’t played a game, and perhaps never will in this city. Read: The Sixers’ offseason will be considerably more interesting than what took place on the floor.

21 Wizards 26-44 +2

If nothing else, the Wizards spent the season discovering John Wall really is a winner who makes his teammates better. That’s quite a discovery.

22 Raptors 26-44 -2

The Raptors are a better team with Rudy Gay. Now all they need to do is find more parts to build around him.

23 Timberwolves 24-44 -1

Another lost season is likely to result in major change. The Wolves can start by hoping Kevin Love returns healthy.

24 Hornets 25-46 +3

A name change is likely to be the least noticeable difference about the Hornets/Pelicans entering next season. What they’re able to receive in return for Eric Gordon will be considerably more noteworthy.

25 Suns 23-48

Best thing that the Suns can do is make sure the Jazz make the playoffs. That way, the Suns get the Lakers’ lottery pick. How’s that for an end-of-the-season goal?

26 Kings 25-46

The Kings are shooting the ball remarkable well for a team that is facing an uncertain future. That goes for both where the Kings will play next season and who will actually be on the roster.

27 Pistons 24-47 -3

Forming nasty habits by practically mailing it in. So while Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond are nice pieces, the Pistons must figure out what to do with the dead wood.

28 Cavaliers 22-47

When Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao are healthy, the Cavs might be a playoff team. Without those three, you get whatever this is.

29 Magic 18-53

It’d be easy to trash them for losing all the time, but there’s no doubt coach Jacque Vaughn has the Magic playing hard. Adding a dynamic scorer could take them places quickly.

30 Bobcats 16-54

With the way things are looking, they’ll hold this spot for the next two seasons. Sometimes consistency is an ugly word.