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NBA D-League Power Rankings: March 29, 2011

by Matthew Brennan, NBA

March 29, 2011: The Power Rankings return for the final week of the 2010-11 regular season. The Iowa Energy have locked up the number one seed and home-court advantage for the entire playoffs, while many teams below are still jostling for playoff positioning. The race for the final spot in the the postseason is a four-way battle between Fort Wayne, Idaho, Texas, and Austin. All will be settled by the end of Saturday night's slate of game as the regular season concludes.

The Energy defeated Erie on Friday to clinch home-court for the entire playoffs, but then suffered a lopsided loss on Sunday to split the series with their conference rival. They close out the regular season with two games in New Mexico on Friday and Saturday. The Thunderbirds, who split a pair of games in Iowa in December, are one of only four teams to defeat the Energy at home this season.
The Bighorns have been red-hot lately and have moved into first place in the Western Conference by a half-game over Rio Grande Valley and Tulsa. They host Austin and Bakersfield this week before finishing the season in Bakersfield on Saturday night. Jeremy Lin was recalled by the Warriors earlier this week and will not be able to return on assignment this season.
The BayHawks are one game out of earning home-court advantage in the first-round with two games left to play. They'll face Sioux Falls and Maine this week, two teams that they have easily handled this season with a combined 7-2 record. Forward Ivan Johnson is not letting up down the stretch, scoring 33 points each in his last three games.
The Vipers are stumbling down the stretch, losing three of their last four to fall out of first place in the West. They'll look to rebound with two home games against Springfield to finish the regular season. Hasheem Thabeet is averaging 7.3 points and 7.3 rebounds after his first four games on assignment from the Rockets.
The 66ers are just 4-7 in March but still have a chance to win the Western Conference. They'll close out the schedule with two home games against Dakota, who they defeated in their only meeting this season. Byron Mullens has been recalled to the Thunder for the third time, meaning he will not be able to return to Tulsa on assignment.
The Flash, in the playoffs for the third straight season, won in Dakota on Monday for their third win in their last four games. They host Bakersfield on Wednesday before traveling to Idaho to close out the regular season. Forward Brandon Costner continues to excel down the stretch with 20.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in March.
The Jam are stumbling down the stretch after losing four of their last six, but can still make up some ground in playoff positioning. They face conference rivals Utah and Reno (twice) to close out their regular season schedule. Trey Johnson scored 37 points in Friday's win over Maine, his ninth game of 30 or more points this season.
The Mad Ants continue to hold on to a slim lead for the final playoff berth and are a lock to finish ahead of both Idaho and Austin if they win their final two games, which would leave only Texas as a potential threat to pass them. Fort Wayne is a combined 6-2 against Maine and Sioux Falls, their last two opponents on the schedule. See the Texas post for the tie-breaker scenarios in case of a Legends-Mad Ants deadlock, which would not turn out in Fort Wayne's favor.
The Legends are a half-game behind Fort Wayne with their home finale against Springfield on Wednesday before two trips to Austin. Texas would win out a tiebreaker against Fort Wayne in the event they finish with the same record. The season series is 1-1 and Texas is currently 10-14 against teams at .500 or better while the Mad Ants are 4-19. The Legends are also 4-2 against Idaho and 2-0 against Austin in the event of a three or four-way tie-breaker.
The Stampede don't control their own destiny but can still sneak into the playoffs if Texas and Fort Wayne falter over the last week. They finish the regular season with two home games against Utah, who they are 1-4 against this season. First-round pick Luke Babbitt has been recalled by Portland after averaging 20.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 14 games.
The Toros are still alive for a playoff berth, but they have some work to do trailing by one and half games with three left to play. They visit Reno on Tuesday before hosting Texas for their last two games. Austin will have an NBA player in tow this week after the Spurs assigned rookie Da'Sean Butler on Monday.
The Wizards will miss the playoffs for the first time since joining the NBA D-League for the 2006-07 season. They finish with two road games in Tulsa before hosting Sioux Falls on Monday to close out the regular season. Renaldo Major is playing very well down the stretch with 20.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in March.
The Thunderbirds had won four in a row but a lopsided loss to Fort Wayne on Sunday eliminated them from postseason contention. They'll finish up their season with two home games against Iowa on Friday and Saturday. Jamine Peterson was named Performer of the Week after averaging 38.0 points and 12.5 rebounds over his last two games. He will be eligible for June's NBA Draft.
The Red Claws split a pair of games in Bakersfield and return home to face Fort Wayne in their home finale Thursday night. They'll finish the season in Erie on Saturday night and look to improve their 1-6 mark against the BayHawks in 2010-11. DeShawn Sims is a candidate for Player of the Month with 24.5 points and 6.3 boards in April.
The Armor fell to New Mexico in their home finale on Saturday and finish out the schedule with three games in Texas against the Legends and the Vipers. 76ers forward Craig Brackins is back on assignment and scored 23 points with five rebounds on Saturday.
The Skyforce end the season with three straight games on the road while they try to snap a six-game losing streak. They'll have to finish out the year without their top player Patrick Ewing Jr., who earned a GATORADE Call-Up to the Hornets on Saturday.