Welcome to the final NBA Power Rankings of the 2014-15 regular season. For all the talk of the parity, just two teams finished with 60-plus wins. The tank race between Philadelphia, Minnesota and New York is laughable. The sheer disregard of effort has been pathetic. But with the playoffs approaching, let’s take a last look at the top spots in the power rankings.
1) Golden State Warriors (65-15) – In the 21st century, only the 2000 Los Angeles Lakers, 2007 Dallas Mavericks, 2008 Boston Celtics, 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers and 2013 Miami Heat finished with a better record than the Warriors. Golden State still has the opportunity to get to 67 wins, which would be a franchise high. Of the five teams that finished with a better record than them this century, three went on to win the title. Stephen Curry’s crew is primed to bring the title back to the bay.
2) San Antonio Spurs (55–26)- Since Feb. 27, the Spurs are 21-3. If they win the NBA Finals in June, we have to kick them out of the league. Gregg Popovich is a wizard who has solved the regular season. This team, which languished as the seventh seed for most of the year, is almost guaranteed the second seed now. The more I think about it, the Spurs are the NBA equivalent of the New England Patriots. Great, stoic, acerbic-witted coaches, humble yet historically great franchise cornerstones and the rest of the roster is made up of the right mix of high character role players. Each year, the media counts them out and each year, these franchises win 50-plus/11-plus games and compete for the title. Bravo.
3) Cleveland Cavaliers (51–29)- He won’t win, and he probably doesn’t deserve it, but there is no question LeBron James is the single most valuable player in the NBA. Look at the turnaround the Cavs made upon his arrival. While LeBron spent four years leading Miami to the NBA Finals, the Cavs made four consecutive years in the lottery, coming away with the number one pick three times. With King James back in Ohio, the Cavs are headed back to the playoffs as the prohibitive favorite in the Eastern Conference. Looking for his fifth consecutive trip to the Finals, LeBron stands alone atop the mountain. He’s the most important player in this league, bar none.
4) Atlanta Hawks (60–20)– A round of applause is in order for the most successful season in the history of the Atlanta franchise. Despite a mediocre second half, the Hawks put together a tremendous season. A nine-game lead over the second seeded Caveliers, having four players selected to the All Star team and clinching home court throughout the East is an accomplishment. It may not end with a championship parade, but that does not mean it was a waste.
5) Los Angeles Clippers (54–26)- Why does everyone suddenly hate Chris Paul? Is it the incessant flopping? The “Kevin Hart overly aggressive little man” syndrome he displays? The constant bitching to the refs? Yes, all very obnoxious. But CP3 is the league’s best point guard and the best bet to have a 2011 Dirk Nowitzki-esque individual run to the Finals. I hope and pray we are lucky enough to see a Warriors-Clippers series.