March 3 -- Welcome to NBA.com's 17th Power Rankings of 2004-05. Please note that these rankings are the view of one humble Click and Roll scribe and are not "official" rankings. Have a comment? Let us know.

As for the e-mail, well, the Top Three seems to be the magic number. Everyone wants to be there.

Mauricio in Coral Gables, Fla. asks: "What is up with your rankings? Dropping the Heat three places because they lost two close games to red-hot teams without Shaq! Maybe No. 2 at worst! And now they're still the only team undefeated in their own division after sweeping Orlando last weekend! Miami better be in the top three next week!"

Then there's Ross in Denver: "Seattle should at least be no. 3 in the rankings, look at their success of teams that are over .500."

And finally, Jamie from Charlottesville, Va. weighs in: "The Pistons should be in the top three in the power rankings. They have won 9 out of 10 games and they are 3-0 on a West Coast road trip. Even though the meat of the road trip is still to come. But [they get] a depleted Phoenix team on Thursday, a streaky Sonic team on Friday and a depleted King team on Sunday.

"I am sure that the excuses that are listed above will be used. But as a Piston fan we don't make the schedule, we just play the schedule. And unfortunately for those teams, the injuries wouldn't matter anyway because the Pistons are on fire."

Like I said, everyone wants to be in the top three. Oh well, I'm going to disappoint two of those fanatics above. Now, on to the rankings!

High jump of the week: Celtics (+5)
Free fall of the week: Lakers (-5)

TEAM (LAST WK) REC. BREAKDOWN
1
San Antonio (1)
44-13
Still tops. Did you know TD's averaging 35.0 minutes per game this season, the lowest of his career? And the Spurs are still getting it done. Frightening!
2
Phoenix (2)
43-14
Not as nasty without Nashie, though they are 2-1 without him since the break. Gut check comes when the defending champs roar into town tonight (10:30 p.m. TNT).
3
Detroit (6)
36-19
They started the season at No. 1, and fell as far as No. 12, but the defending champs have proven to be tough. They're 3-0 on West trip with Suns, Sonics and Kings staring them in the face.
4
Seattle (4)
40-16
Went 3-1 since last Rankings with only blemish being an ugly 26-point drubbing in Brew Town. Trounced both Pacers and Cavaliers on three-game cross-country trip.
5
Miami (5)
42-16
Good week. Swept intrastate rivals Magic in a back-to-back and got Zo back, giving them the top three picks from the 1992 Draft on the squad (Shaq - 1, Zo - 2, Laettner - 3)
6
Dallas (3)
38-18
Quick, get Dirk extensions! He cuts his shag and the Mavs struggle, getting tripped by the Clips. Doesn't get any easier with three games in four days starting Friday against the Lakers.
7
Washington (9)
32-24
This team is tough, and now that they have Larry Hughes back (31 points in a win over the Rockets on March 2), they're going to get tougher. Woe to their first round playoff opponent.
8
Houston (8)
33-25
Have lost four of their last five, including a seven-point defeat at home to the Jazz. The schedule's scary too. After hosting Mavs, four in a row on the road, starting in PHX.
9
Memphis (11)
32-25
Though they've won two in a row without him, the Grizzlies need Pau Gasol back but quick. Still, Battier (15.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Cardinal (19.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg) have stepped up over last three.
10
Sacramento (10)
36-23
Roared out of the gate after the C-Webb trade with two wins, including one against Webber and the Sixers. But the road (two losses in a row) and injuries are taking their toll.
11
Cleveland (7)
31-25
That's four consecutive losses for the Cavs, including a 17-point loss to the Sonics at home. Lack of depth is beginning to show. Thankfully, four of their next five are at home.
12
Chicago (13)
29-25
Went 7-4 in February. Pretty good. Lost to the Rockets by 30 (at home no less). Pretty bad. Have five of next six on the road. First game away from the United? In San Antonio. Gulp!
13
Boston (18)
30-28
The Celtics got Walker back. Walker got his No. 8 back. And after three wins (and no losses) with 'Toine in C's green, the Celtics are back and fans at the [Blank] Center love it.
14
Orlando (15)
29-27
Lost two to intrastate rival Heat (Ouch!), but showed they had the moxie to fight back and win against a depleted Kings team. Better play well now as eight of next 11 are on the road.
15
Indiana (14)
28-28
Two losses in a row have dropped them back to .500 and clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Start a grueling four-game, six-day trip West in Denver on March 3.
16
Denver (19)
28-29
The Nuggets have won four in a row and are one-half game behind the Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Sked's cushy too, with an eight-game March homestand.
17
L.A. Lakers (12)
28-28
As of last week, they had won three games in a row for the first time all season. They wiped that out with a four-game skid. Next three are at home, but against Mavs, Pacers and Clips.
18
Philadelphia (16)
27-30
Too bad the Sixers don't play the Bucks all the time. That's Philly's only win in the last five. C-Webb looks like he's having trouble. He needs to step it up to help make playoff push.
19
Minnesota (17)
28-30
Lost three of their last four including a stunner to the Warriors at home. Incredibly, they are only one game behind the Lakers for the last playoff spot in the West.
20
New Jersey (21)
26-32
Winners of three in a row and are only 1 games behind the Sixers in the Atlantic and three games behind Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
21
L.A. Clippers (22)
26-32
Wow, after losing eight in a row, the Clips have won three of their last four, including a nine-point win over the Mavs in L.A. Could have been four if not for a short-armed layup in Utah.
22
Toronto (24)
24-33
Had a three-game winning streak snapped by the Spurs (no shame there). They have a rough week, with three games in four days starting Friday in Grizzly-land.
23
Milwaukee (20)
23-32
Like the villagers to Frankenstein's monster, A.I. torches the Bucks. He's averaged a sick 47.3 ppg in three games against them. Have four games in the next five days.
24
New York (25)
24-33
Well, well, well. That's one well for each consecutive Knicks win. And all have been over quaility opponents: Sixers, Pacers and Lakers (almost blew an 18-point lead, though).
25
Utah (26)
20-37
Like the Knicks, they've won three in a row. But they have a rugged week with two on the road, including a visit with the Spurs and back home for the Pacers.
26
Portland (23)
22-33
Hate to see you go, Mo. A horrible five-game homestand (1-3 so far with Pacers looming) didn't help. Then they get Suns and Nuggets on the road.
27
Golden State (27)
17-40
Started wicked-long eight game trip with loss to Memphis, but stunned the Wolves in Minnesota. Get to see the Wizards on Friday, with Knicks, Sixers and Pistons soon thereafter.
28
New Orleans (28)
12-45
Traded B-Diddy in a move for the future. Snapped four-game skid with a win over the new school Charlotte team.
29
Charlotte (30)
12-43
Got a quality win over the Kings on March 1. Another reason to smile? Okafor's gone for 14.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg in his last five.
30
Atlanta (29)
10-47
All I have to say is they've lost 10 in a row.