Eastern Conference Power Rankings: Atlanta Stays on Top, Everything Else is Chaos

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Eastern Conference Power Rankings

It was an up and down week in the Eastern Conference that saw multiple teams’ championship aspirations rise and fall.

The Chicago Bulls lost stars Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler for extended periods of time while their Cleveland Cavaliers rivals recorded their most impressive win of the season.

The Washington Wizards have fallen off a cliff and the Atlanta Hawks just keep chugging along. The Indiana Pacers meanwhile have been secretly dominant and have scratched and clawed their way into the playoff race.

It was a crazy week that will likely be the harbinger of things to come as the playoffs inch ever closer.

These rankings are not representative of the teams’ records up to this point, only their recent performance. This will be updated weekly and will likely look drastically different as the end of the season nears.

NBA Eastern Conference

Charlotte Hornets

11. Charlotte Hornets (24-33)

As the second half of the season tips off, the Charlotte Hornets are within striking distance of the playoffs. After a strong run in January, the Hornets’ momentum slowed to start the month of February. A favorable schedule to end the regular season should pave the way to a low playoff seed if Miami or Brooklyn drops out.

12. Boston Celtics (23-34)

The addition of Isaiah Thomas at the trade deadline has already been paying early dividends for the scrappy Celtics. The team ended the month of February on a three-game winning streak that included a revenge game against Thomas’ former Suns team. What this trade means for the Celtics future is unclear, but for the moment, the Celtics have become a sneaky playoff hopeful.

13. Orlando Magic (19-42)

After firing coach Jacque Vaughn, the Magic saw marginal improvement through the month of February. They beat the teams clearly weaker than them (Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles), and lost to teams better than them (almost everybody else). The one surprise came in a win against New Orleans.

14. New York Knicks (12-46)

How bad are the Knicks? They can’t even seem to tank properly. After buying out Amar’e Stoudemire, and sitting Carmelo Anthony down for the rest of the year, signs pointed towards a two-tank race to the bottom of the Eastern Conference between New York and Philadelphia. Then New York rose up to beat two potential playoff teams (the Detroit Pistons and the Toronto Raptors) to finish off the month of February. The Knicks can’t even suck properly.

15. Philadelphia 76ers (13-47)

The 76ers are happily back on the bottom of the junk heap in the Eastern Conference. The team took advantage of the trade deadline by jettisoning all the pesky talent that ran the risk of the Sixers winning the occasional game. The only notable win of the last month occurred against the Wizards last Friday, and even that doesn’t look great anymore.

(Continue on next page for No. 6-10)

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Adam is a recent graduate from San Diego State University. He currently works for SDSU in corporate sponsorship for the Athletics Department. He's happy to be a staff writer for Cavaliers Nation, and you can follow him at @AMH08.