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Caption:OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 29: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors tries to steal the ball from Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards at ORACLE Arena on March 29, 2016 in Oakland, California.

NBA Power Rankings: Warriors Strongly Maintain No. 1 Spot

Following their 102-94 home win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors are now 67-7 this season and ranked first in the Western Conference.

NBA Power Rankings: Warriors Strongly Maintain No. 1 Spot

The Warriors have reached a long string of records this season, including the best start ever to a season of any professional sports team at 21-0 after defeating the Toronto Raptors 112-109 on Dec. 5. They would eventually reach 24-0 before falling to the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 12. In a recent win over the Orlando Magic, Steph Curry became the first player in NBA history to make 300 3-pointers in a year. As a team, the Warriors have already dropped 952 threes for an average of 13 per game, getting closer than ever to the 1,000 3-pointer mark. Golden State has also won 53 straight regular-season games at their very own Oracle Arena, dating back to the 2014-2015 season.

However, the record everyone is most eager to see the Warriors beat — as they prepare to play their final nine games this regular season — is the Chicago Bulls’s record of 72 wins in a season held in the 1995-1996 season, when they were led by Michael Jordan and lost only 10 games. A 7-2 finish is all it will take for the Warriors to break the Bulls’ famous record.

The Warriors thus clinch the No. 1 spot in the Week 22 NBA power rankings for the 2015-2016 season. The San Antonio Spurs (61-12) come in at a close second. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich appears intent on prioritizing rest for his key players for the remaining 17 days of the regular season.

2015-16 Power Rankings: Week 22

Last Week: 1

As the Warriors continue to chase the prospect of a 41-0 record at Oracle Arena, it’s worth noting that the record-holding Celtics, who went 40-1 in 1985-86, were beaten at Boston Garden that season only by a Portland team that featured Mychal Thompson, father of Golden State sharpshooter Klay Thompson. Those Celts, for the record, also went 10-0 in the 1986 playoffs at home.

Last Week: 2

As Power Rankings jinxes go, last week’s was a new one. We kept the Spurs at No. 2, despite loud calls from various corners to bump them into the top spot after they won their big Golden State showdown, but still somehow jinxed ’em. When San Antonio squandered a 23-point lead in Charlotte mere hours after the rankings were released, it marked the biggest blown lead in the Tim Duncan era.

Last Week: 6

As we marvel at OKC’s 15-0 record in games that featured a triple-double from Russell Westbrook — compared to a mere 7-4 record in such games last season — it’s also looking like the top four seeds are essentially set in the West now. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, each of the West’s current top-four teams is a 99.6 percent bet or higher to finish where it is.


Last Week: 4

LeBron James began the season 20th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. By season’s end, he’ll be on the brink of the top 10. But you’re not going to convince us, no matter what you say and no matter how well he has played individually lately, that we’re out of line to question some of his leadership decisions this month — when the Cavs could clearly use some stability as the playoffs approach.


Last Week: 3

One reason the Raps looked so hard for a power forward at the trade deadline is because they weren’t sure what they would get from DeMarre Carroll once he returned from injury. Heading into the final 10 games of the regular season, with time realistically fading to leapfrog Cleveland for the East’s No. 1 seed, Toronto still doesn’t have its marquee offseason signing back yet. Carroll hasn’t played since Jan. 3.


Last Week: 5

The Hawks lost their first three games after the trade deadline, but they’ve found stability after that initial blip, with those trade rumors from the winter fading further. The Hawks are riding the league’s No. 2-ranked defense to a 13-3 surge. Kyle Korver, meanwhile, continues to look more and more like Kyle Korver, as covered in greater detail in theenclosed tweet.

Last Week: 8

By this time next week, Blake Griffin will have finally returned to the lineup for the first time since Christmas. The Clippers, to be fair, have done as much as they could without him, going 28-14, but they can only hope seven games in April and a first-round series with the banged-up Grizzlies provide enough time to work him back in, because they’re pretty much locked into a dreaded second-round battle with Golden State.


Last Week: 9

Toronto, Atlanta and even Boston have all generated more ”East’s biggest threat to the Cavs” chatter than the Hornets, but maybe this is the week that changes, with Charlotte headed to Cleveland on Sunday afternoon. In (roughly) the past 25 games, Charlotte is tops in the East at 18-5 and Kemba Walker is averaging 22.9 PPG, 5.7 APG and 4.6 RPG. Cleveland, in the same span, is 17-7.


Last Week: 7

Covering this again because it came up Sunday night on the #NBAInsiders on ESPN Radio and just want to make sure we’re clearer than we were on the air: Because Hassan Whiteside started 40 games this season and mathematically can’t get to 41 as a reserve, he won’t be eligible for Sixth Man Award consideration in spite of his knockout production off the bench (16.4 PPG, 12.7 RPG and 3.5 BPG in 28.9 MPG).


Last Week: 10

Isaiah Thomas’ run of 12 successive games as the Celtics’ outright leading scorer — including 28 points in his return to Phoenix on Saturday night — has left him just one game shy of the franchise record established by a certain Larry Joe Bird in 1987-88. Next up for Thomas, though: head-to-head matchups on the road against the Clippers’ Chris Paul, Portland’s Damian Lillard and Golden State’s Steph Curry.


Last Week: 11

After his Sunday night efforts in a much-needed home triumph over Houston, Paul George is up to nine games this season with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds, compared to just 10 such games total in PG-13’s first five NBA seasons. The Pacers, though mired for weeks closer to No. 8 in the East than they hoped to be, quietly clinched their 27th successive season with a winning record at home last week.


Last Week: 13

When you haven’t tasted the playoffs since Allen Iverson was on the roster, back in 2009, you can’t spend too much time worrying about your first-round opponent. So the Pistons will learn to live with it if they finish eighth and draw LeBron James in Round 1. On a franchise-record homestand spanning nine games, Detroit is 5-2 entering meetings with OKC and Dallas, and 5-0 excluding two losses to the Hawks in a span of 10 days.


Last Week: 14

Damian Lillard last week became the first player in league history to drain more than 800 3-pointers in his first four seasons, surpassing Klay Thompson’s NBA record of 784. For those who believe the Blazers still have hope of stealing the No. 5 seed away from Memphis: Six of their final eight games are at home, with Lillard getting another shot at a homecoming game Sunday in Oakland.


Last Week: 15

Something we got into Sunday night on the NBA Insiders on ESPN Radio: Would Utah, given its penchant for controlling the pace, prove to be a tougher first-round playoff opponent for Golden State than you think? The Jazz are up to No. 9 in defensive efficiency and have held Steph Curry to 18.0 PPG in the teams’ three meetings. That’s Curry’s lowest scoring average against any foe this season.


Last Week: 12

When Houston hosts Chicago on Thursday night, you’ll be looking at two teams that began the season with a preseason over/under in the 50s in Las Vegas and now find themselves scuffling just to finish eighth in their respective conferences. Last week’s fall-from-ahead home loss to Utah was the third time this season that the Rockets squandered an 18-point (or bigger) lead.

Last Week: 19

I imagine we’re all rooting for the same thing Tuesday night when the Wizards visit Golden State: Something close to what we got on Feb. 3 when these teams met in the nation’s capital. Steph Curry shot 11-for-15 from the 3-point line en route to 51 points, while John Wall countered with 41 points and Draymond Green added to the occasion with one of his 12 triple-doubles this season.


Last Week: 18

Injuries have forced the Grizzlies to use 27 players through their first 73 games, tying the 1995-96 Dallas Mavericks for the league’s single-season record. But that’s not the truly amazing part. Of the nine previous NBA teams to use at least 24 players in a season, none made the playoffs. The Grizz might still slip out of the No. 5 spot in the West, but they ARE (almost certainly) going to the postseason.


Last Week: 16

After three straight losses to sub-.500 teams, Chicago plays seven of its next eight against current playoff teams. So it’s no wonder ESPN’s BPI is giving the unraveling (and some would say checked out) Bulls only an 18 percent shot to make the playoffs, which doesn’t get any easier to process — even when factoring in all of their injuries — when you remember these same Bulls are 4-0 against Toronto this season.


Last Week: 17

We came into the season saying the Mavs needed huge bounce-back-from-injury seasons from Chandler Parsons and Wes Matthews, as well as a max-out season from Deron Williams, to make the playoffs with this roster. As well as Dirk Nowitzki has been playing since the All-Star break, it’s hard to see how they get there now with Parsons (knee) lost for the season and D-Will (abdominal strain) suddenly ailing, too.


Last Week: 21

The improbable 36-foot heave at the horn from Emmanuel Mudiay that cruelly denied Philadelphia its 10th victory of the season was the NBA’s eighth buzzer-beater in 2015-16, followed the next night by a J.J. Redick buzzer-beater. They join Utah’s Gordon Hayward, then-Net Joe Johnson, Boston’s Avery Bradley, Dallas’ Deron Williams, Toronto’s Cory Joseph and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic (who has two).

Last Week: 23

The constant turmoil in Sactown means we haven’t had the opportunity to write about our man, Omri Casspi, or our cousin, Willie Cauley-Stein, nearly as much as we’d hoped, but both were among the fivesome of Kings reserves who reached double figures in Sunday night’s rout of Dallas. That’s a first for this franchise since the team was still playing out of Kansas City in March 1982.

New York

Last Week: 25

A home-and-home sweep of the Bulls featuring two strong performances from Kristaps Porzingis adds up to the Knicks’ best week since early January. Sunday’s sight of Syracuse advancing to the Final Four had to be bittersweet for Carmelo Anthony, given that his Knicks were formally eliminated from the playoffs on the same night, but we’ll see if Robin (and Brook) Lopez can enjoy his 28th birthday Friday.


Last Week: 24

Elfrid Payton became just the third player this season to post a triple-double off the bench, joining Hassan Whiteside and Marcus Smart, but that came in a heavy loss in Detroit. The true highlight of the week, of course, was the 22-point pounding of Chicago, which featured the sort of gaudy O we’ve scarcely seen from an team that has slipped into theleague’s bottom six in offensive efficiency.


Last Week: 20

All the recent promise from the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker can’t camouflage the Bucks’ ongoing issues on D (No. 21 in defensive efficiency after placing No. 2 last season) or the fact that a five-game losing streak, including last week’s 0-3 showing against playoff-bound Cleveland, Atlanta and Charlotte, has wrapped up the sixth successive non-winning season for the franchise.


Last Week: 28

Brooklyn’s visit to South Beach on Monday will give the Nets their first up-close glimpse of the rejuvenated Joe Johnson, who’s shooting better than 50 percent from the floor as one of the key sparks in the Heat’s recent 10-4 surge. It should be noted, though, that the Nets have been quite the spoilers of late with their unexpected wins last week over LeBron James’ Cavs and Paul George’s Pacers.


Last Week: 26

The Wolves recently announced that Target Center will soon undergo a needed renovation. As for a shakeup in the basketball department, owner Glen Taylor — in the wake of recent word from our own Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst about the stalled sale of a minority stake in the franchise — now says he’s going to give GM Milt Newton and maybe even coach Sam Mitchell more time.

Last Week: 22

Anthony Davis wound up playing in 61 games this season. Since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976-77, only 17 players achieved All-NBA status playing 61 or fewer games — and only four of those coming from teams with losing records. But Davis, for all of the Pelicans’ many injuries and struggles, still ranks in the top 10 in PPG, RPG and PER, so don’t be shocked if he snags a (lucrative) spot on the All-NBA third team.


Last Week: 27

The Suns (and really, Suns fans) have suffered enough in 2015-16, but it’s important to remember when discussing the second-half rise of 19-year-old Devin Booker that A) he has shot only 27.5 percent from 3-point range since earning an All-Star Weekend invite to the 3-point contest, and B) that we’ll have no idea if Booker, Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe can all co-exist in the same backcourt next season.

Last Week: 29

Only nine games left on the schedule for Kobe Bryant, who says he plans to play them all after missing 16 of the Lakers’ 73 games. (Is it starting to get dusty in here for you, too?) Sure looks like the only two stories in the whole league at this point that can wrest the spotlight away from Golden State’s chase of 73 wins are LeBron James’ changing moods and the Kobe farewell tour.

Last Week: 30

Home games against the Hornets, Pacers, Pelicans, Knicks and Bucks; road dates with the Hornets, Raptors and Bulls. Those are the foes still looming on the schedule, with the Sixers a combined 0-18 this season against those teams, raising the very real possibility of an 0-8 finish. Philly, of course, needs to manufacture at least one victory to avoid the second 9-73 campaign in franchise (and league) history.
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Written by Pablo Mena

Writer and assistant editor for NY Giants and Rangers fan. Film and TV enthusiast (especially Harry Potter and The Office) and lover of foreign languages and cultures.

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