April 23rd, 2012
By Luka Papalko
1. Spurs – they’ve only lost 2 games in the last month and the rest of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli could pay off during the playoffs.
2. Bulls – they have the best overall record in the league by a ½ game and are looking to close out the season to ensure home-court throughout the playoffs.
3. Heat – it's playoff time for the Heat which is the most important stage for LeBron James at this point in his career.
4. Thunder – it’s a concerning trend that lately they’ve struggled with playoff caliber teams.
5. Pacers – Frank Vogel has done a very good coaching job this season and should be a top candidate for Coach of the Year.
6. Clippers – the key for the Clippers in the playoffs will be getting consistent contributions outside of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
7. Grizzlies – they’ve played 14 games in 20 days and have an 11-3 record in April.
8. Lakers – Ron Artest’s elbow against James Harden should cost him at least the first round of the playoffs and maybe more.
9. Hawks – they’ll be a tough out in the playoffs but Al Horford not being able to return for the playoffs hurts their chances.
10. Celtics – with injuries to their perimeter players, Avery Bradley has taken advantage of that and has had a very good end to the season.
11. Mavericks – the Mavs are getting healthy at the right time in preparation to defend their title.
12. Nuggets – the Denver frontcourt has been very productive with Javale McGee playing well since the trade and Kenneth Faried playing like one of the best rookies in the league.
13. Knicks – right now they’re battling for the 7th or 8th seed but either way they’ll have a tough 1st round matchup.
14. Magic – with Dwight Howard now out for good, this team looks like an easy out in the playoffs and their future is in serious doubt.
15. Jazz – Devin Harris playing well has helped them in their playoff race and now their destiny is in their own hands.
16. 76ers – the Sixers will sneak into the playoffs but because of their collapse, they will have to face a very tough Bulls or Heat team.
17. Suns – they’re a game out of the 8th seed with a huge game against Utah coming up on Tuesday.
18. Bucks – the Monta Ellis trade wasn’t enough to propel them into the playoffs as they’re too far back with too little time.
19. Rockets – after being in a good position to make the playoffs, they’ve lost 7 of their last 8.
20. Trail Blazers – the Blazers have lost 6 out of their last 7 and look to be in for an overhaul this off-season.
21. Hornets – they continue to play good basketball in the month of April with a 7-5 record.
22. Pistons – in the past month they’ve had 8 wins but only 1 has come against a team with a winning record.
23. Raptors – they’ve played good defense throughout the season but the problem for them all year has been scoring.
24. T’Wolves – they ended their 11 game loss streak with a win over Detroit on Thursday. They’ve managed to win 3 games in the last month.
25. Nets – MarShon Brooks seems to have a hit a rookie wall after a very good first half as his efficiency and productivity have fallen off a bit since.
26. Warriors – they finally ended their 9 game loss streak with a win Sunday against Minnesota.
27. Kings – they have two 2 wins in their last 4 but they’ve lost 9 games in April by a margin of 14.4 points a game.
28. Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving played Sunday after missing 9 straight games. Irving should finish the season and win the Rookie of the Year award.
29. Wizards – 3 straight wins and 5 out of their last 7 is impressive for a team that has struggled to put it together for most of the season. Right now they’re playing spoiler in the East, having beat 3 teams in the playoff hunt recently.
30. Bobcats – they’re on pace to set the record for worst winning percentage of all-time.