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Pacers' free fall continues, Bucks hit rock bottom

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The Pacers have the second-worst net rating (-12.3) in the NBA the last two weeks, ahead of only the Jazz.

There are still plenty of unknowns with less than two weeks left in the regular season. Among the more curious topics:

• What in the world is wrong with the Pacers? This week's biggest faller (No. 5 to No. 13) is having an identity crisis at the wrong time. Contenders aren't supposed to bicker and get blown out this late in the season. Indiana has the talent to bounce back and make a run at the Finals, but does it have the mental makeup? The last few weeks don't sit well.

• Can you accidentally make the playoffs? The Hawks are dangerously close. General manager Danny Ferry is more focused on long-term building than snagging the eighth seed, but with a two-game cushion on the Knicks (who trail by three in the loss column), Atlanta will have to go out of its way to miss the postseason.

• Who will emerge from the scramble for the final playoff spots in the West? The Mavericks and Suns are currently in, with the reeling Grizzlies one game behind eighth-place Phoenix and 1½ games behind seventh-seeded Dallas. With all three teams set to face each other before the end of the season, we might not get an answer until next week's finale.

• Is it possible to sink lower than the 76ers? OK, we actually know that answer thanks to the Bucks, who broke Philadelphia's stranglehold on No. 30 for the first time in weeks. Well done, Milwaukee.

Here's where all 30 teams stand in the SI.com Power Rankings, which features the same top three for the third straight week.

(All records and statistics are through April 6.)

2014 NBA playoffs: Current projected matchups for the first round

SI Now: Pacers' free fall, the West battles down the stretch
On Monday's SI Now, Sports Illustrated NBA producer Matt Dollinger discusses the Pacers latest identity crisis, the scramble for the final playoff spot in the West, and the Atlanta Hawks potentially making the playoffs by accident.
NBA Power Rankings
 
1 San Antonio Spurs
Last Week: 1
Since: 2-1
The Spurs aren't losing any sleep over the end of their 19-game winning streak, but the way it was snapped -- with a loss to the Thunder -- might be leaving them a little restless. San Antonio fell to 0-4 against Oklahoma City this season.
 
2 Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 2
Since: 3-1
Debating whether Blake Griffin or Chris Paul has been more valuable to the Clippers is like debating whether your arms or your legs are more important to your body. Both are critical to Los Angeles' title chances, which seem to grow by the day.
 
3 Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 3
Since: 1-2
The Thunder used the starting lineup of Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook in all but six games last season. This year, that group has started only 20 games because of injuries, leading Scott Brooks to do some unconventional things. The latest: Rookie Andre Roberson has started the last eight games, despite posting an 8.3 Player Efficiency Rating this season.
 
4 Miami Heat
Last Week: 6
Since: 3-1
Miami Heat (53-23)
A first-round matchup with the Knicks probably wouldn't be the Heat's first choice. Miami fell behind 16-3 and needed a 38-point performance from LeBron James to overcome New York on Sunday.
 
5 Houston Rockets
Last Week: 4
Since: 2-2
Most teams dream of having a dominant center. The Rockets have two. Dwight Howard has missed five consecutive games, but Omer Asik has filled in admirably, averaging 12 points and 16.8 rebounds, including two 23-board games.
 
6 Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 7
Since: 3-1
The Warriors have lost as many games (two) as assistant coaches in the past two weeks. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but back-to-back wins by a combined 61 points suggests more stability among the team than its recent coaching dismissals would indicate.
 
7 Phoenix Suns
Last Week: 9
Since: 2-1
Phoenix Suns (46-31)
The three-headed juggernaut of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Gerald Green averaged 76.5 points in crucial victories over the Trail Blazers and Thunder last week. With four of the team's five remaining games on the road, the trio can't afford to take its foot off the gas as the West's frantic three-team race for two playoff spots enters the final stretch.
 
8 Dallas Mavericks
Last Week: 14
Since: 3-1
The yin to Dirk Nowitzki's yang, Monta Ellis has turned out to be one of the best free-agent signings of last offseason. The guard has raised his shooting percentage from 41.6 to 44.9, hasn't missed a game and has proved to be Dirk's best scoring sidekick since an in-his-prime Jason Terry.
 
9 Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 12
Since: 4-0
We already know that the Bulls boast a top defense. So when Chicago's offense is even mildly respectable, the team is nearly unbeatable. The Bulls topped 96 points three times last week to move to 26-2 when eclipsing that number.
 
10 Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 13
Since: 3-1
Only two East teams rank in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency: Toronto and two-time defending champion Miami. It may be time to hop on the Raptors' bandwagon while it's still fashionable. The Raptors have won six of seven, including victories against the Rockets and Pacers last week.
 
11 Brooklyn Nets
Last Week: 10
Since: 3-1
Kevin Garnett, 37, looked solid in his first action in more than five weeks, scoring 10 points (5-of-6 shooting) and grabbing four rebounds in 13 minutes in Saturday's win over Philadelphia. With KG back in the starting lineup, the once-depleted Nets now look surprisingly deep heading into the playoffs.
 
12 Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week: 11
Since: 2-1
The Blazers have won five of six to clinch their first playoff berth since 2011 and restore some faith after a dreadful March. Having LaMarcus Aldridge back to his dominant self certainly helps.
 
13 Indiana Pacers
Last Week: 5
Since: 1-3
Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast. The Pacers have lost five of six and eight of 11, but somehow the losses feel like the least of their problems. Their body language and lack of chemistry suggest that they can't stand one another.
 
14 Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week: 8
Since: 2-2
The Grizzlies have chosen the wrong time to hit the skids. Memphis has lost four of six, dropping out of the top eight in the West. With the Heat, Suns and Mavericks among the opponents in the Grizzlies' last five games, a final surge won't come easy.
 
15 Charlotte Bobcats
Last Week: 16
Since: 4-0
The Bobcats are playoff-bound for just the second time in franchise history. It's easy to poke fun at Michael Jordan for his track record as an executive, but give His Airness credit for letting general manager Rich Cho run things. Charlotte has gone from seven to 21 to potentially 40-plus victories in three seasons.
 
16 Washington Wizards
Last Week: 15
Since: 2-2
The Wizards lead the Bobcats by one game for the No. 6 seed, but it's not like they are dying to face the projected third seed, Toronto, in the first round. Washington is 1-3 against the Raptors, with its only win requiring triple overtime.
 
17 Atlanta Hawks
Last Week: 22
Since: 3-1
OK, Eastern Conference. You win. We give up. The Hawks looked dead in the water after losing six straight games, but have rebounded to win three of four. They're closing in on their seventh consecutive playoff berth.
 
18 Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 19
Since: 2-2
Beat the Grizzlies, edge the Heat in double overtime and then lose to the Magic? That's some serious range.
 
19 New York Knicks
Last Week: 18
Since: 2-2
The most interesting fact to come out of J.R. Smith attempting an NBA-record 22 three-pointers against the Heat? That the mercurial guard didn't already hold the record. With Carmelo Anthony hobbled and the Knicks two games behind Atlanta with four remaining, we're getting dangerously close to baseball season in New York.
 
20 Denver Nuggets
Last Week: 20
Since: 1-3
Will Brian Shaw get a second year with the Nuggets after a disappointing season? Denver will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and is poised to have at least 20 fewer victories than last season. If Shaw is shown the door, there's a former mentor in New York who could come calling.
 
21 New Orleans Pelicans
Last Week: 17
Since: 0-4
It appears Anthony Davis has captured the rest of the league's attention. In four games last week, the rising superstar was held to 12.7 points on 41.5 percent shooting. After all, teams tend to start game-planning to stop you when you put up numbers like Davis did last month (24.4 points and 10.8 rebounds).
 
22 Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Week: 21
Since: 1-2
Is it cats or Cavs who have nine lives? Either way, Cleveland's season is feeling short of breath after losses in two critical games: a rout in Atlanta and an overtime defeat at home to Charlotte despite Kyrie Irving's career-high 44 points.
 
23 Detroit Pistons
Last Week: 24
Since: 2-2
When watching the Pistons, I'll inevitably start thinking about the TV show 24. Not because of any similarities (although a trigger-happy Josh Smith playing Jack Bauer would be something), but because I hear this incessant music in the back of my brain. It's only a matter of time until the front office blows this baby up.
 
24 Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 25
Since: 2-2
Rudy Gay has passed more than ever since coming to Sacramento (career-high 16.4 assist percentage vs. 10.5 career average), but it's still pretty astounding that a player as talented as Gay has played 583 NBA games and never had nine assists. To Gay's credit, he tied his career high of eight in Sunday's loss to Dallas.
 
25 Orlando Magic
Last Week: 26
Since: 1-2
One night after shooting only 5-of-20 in 30 minutes in a loss to Charlotte, Kyle O'Quinn bounced back with 14 points (on 6-of-7 shooting), 13 rebounds and four blocks in a victory over Minnesota. The second-year power forward has played more in the second half of the season, with averages of 8.3 points and 7.1 rebounds in 22.1 minutes since the All-Star break.
 
26 Utah Jazz
Last Week: 27
Since: 1-2
Utah Jazz (24-53)
It's going to be tough to keep Alec Burks out of the starting lineup next season. The third-year guard has doubled his scoring average this season (from seven to 14) and topped 20 points in his last two games while hitting 25-of-26 free throws.
 
27 Los Angeles Lakers
Last Week: 23
Since: 0-4
Pau Gasol may not be in the Lakers' future plans, but several teams are expected to pursue him as a free agent this offseason, according to SI.com's Chris Mannix. Gasol has missed seven of the last eight games because of vertigo.
 
28 Boston Celtics
Last Week: 28
Since: 0-4
Rajon Rondo's first triple-double of the season, against Philadelphia doesn't ease the pain of losing to the Pistons and 76ers (at home!) in the same week. The Celtics have lost eight straight and 13 of 14, with their only victory coming, strangely, against the Heat.
 
29 Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week: 30
Since: 1-3
The Sixers have won two of five. To contrast, the Pacers have won two of nine. Philadelphia has 17 victories, which was its seemingly ambitious over/under number before the season.
 
30 Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 29
Since: 0-4
The Bucks haven't beaten a team that was above .500 at tip-off all season. With three fewer wins than Philadelphia, Milwaukee is not only set to be best positioned to win the draft lottery but also has the inside track on finishing last in our end-of-season rankings.
 
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