The NBA all-star break is upon us and some things still remain the same. Carmelo Anthony is still in Denver, the Wizards still can’t win on the road, the Heat are still not as good as everyone thought they would be, and the Cavaliers are not as bad as everyone thought they would, they’re worse. Here is this week’s edition of the NBA power rankings with previous ranking listed in parentheses followed by odds to win the NBA Finals courtesy of BetUS.
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1. San Antonio Spurs (1) +450
Not even a 10-point loss at Chicago right before the all-star break could dampen the first half of the season the Spurs had. Owners of the best record in the NBA, the Spurs won seven of 10 games on its longest road trip of the season to head into the break.
2. Boston Celtics (2) +400
The Celtics get the obvious nod here ahead of the Heat for three simple reasons: they are 3-0 against Miami this season. Boston owns two wins at home against Miami and one in South Beach. Needless to say, the aging Celtics have been rejuvenated by this Eastern Conference rivalry.
3. Miami Heat (4) +200
The Heat helped LeBron James exercise his demons with a pair of thrashings against his former team, the Cavaliers, and on Wednesday the Heat helped Chris Bosh leave his former home a winner with a win at Toronto. The Heat are coming together at the right team even if they are still an average bet (28-27-1 ATS).
4. Chicago Bulls (6) +1600
The Bulls put an exclamation point on their first half of the season with a four-game winning streak to close things out, including a 109-99 win over the best team in the NBA, San Antonio, just hours before the all-star break. Not a bad note to close on, but the oddsmakers still are not buying in.
5. Dallas Mavericks (10) +1600
Reports of the Mavericks demise have been greatly exaggerated. After the injury bug decimated the Dallas starting lineup, the Mavs bounded together and started to look a lot like the dominant team we had gotten used to in November and December. Dallas went into the all-star break having won 13 of 14 with only a Denver Nuggets buzzer beater standing between them and a second winning streak of at least 12 games.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (5) +2000
The surging Thunder will be well represented during all-star weekend. Kevin Durant is a starter in the All-Star Game and participant in the Three-Point Contest, Russell Westbrook is a reserve in the game and participant in the Skills Challenge and Serge Ibaka is one of four contestants in the NBA Dunk Contest.
7. Los Angeles Lakers (3) +300
Most years the all-star break would be a perfect time to get away for a few days and lay low. There will be none of that this year for the Lakers, who have lost three games in a row heading into all-star weekend in the Staples Center. Each loss has been drastically worse than the next. First there was the 14-point loss at Orlando, and then the 20-point thrashing at the hands of the Bobcats and then a loss that would get any coach besides Phil Jackson fired, a five-point loss to the hapless Cavaliers.
8. Orlando Magic (11) +1200
When you have Dwight Howard (22.8 points, 13.8 rebounds, 59.2-percent from the field and 2.1 blocks per game), you’ll live with being the worst free-throw shooting team in the league.
9. Portland Trail Blazers +10,000
It wasn’t exactly murderer’s row (Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto, Detroit, Minnesota and New Orleans), but the Trail Blazers are headed to the all-star break riding a six-game winning streak, best in the NBA.
10. Atlanta Hawks (9) +10,000
With Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford and Marvin Williams, even at 34-21, it is safe to say the Hawks are underachieving.
11. Denver Nuggets (12) +10,000
As of Thursday night Carmelo Anthony was averaging 25.2 points per game and he was playing for the Nuggets, the best scoring team in the NBA. Take Anthony off this team (like many are trying to do) and the Nuggets are not No. 11, they’re not even in the top 20.
12. New Orleans Hornets (8) +5000
It is amazing what one player can mean to a team and with the Hornets we are not talking about Chris Paul. Since losing Emeka Okafor to an injury on Jan. 30 the Hornets have lost seven of nine and talk about the team has gone from playoffs to contraction.
13. Memphis Grizzlies (16) +20,000
The Griz were playing their best basketball of the season. They had won nine of 11, including four in a row heading into the break and then in typical Memphis fashion, the wheels fell off. Rudy Gay partially separated his left shoulder in the final game before the break and he and his 19.8 points per game are expected to miss a month. Not sure if that injury could have came at worse timing for the Griz.
14. Utah Jazz (7) +10,000
The only winners in the Jerry Sloan/Deron Williams debacle were the other teams in the Northwest Division. The NBA lost a legendary coach, one of the premier point guards is now being booed at home sometimes, and Utah has fallen from Western Conference contender to side show.
15. New York Knicks (14) +8000
There is a certain symmetry that comes with Mike D’Antoni-coached teams. When he was in Phoenix the Suns were almost always the worst defensive team but best offensive team. Those stats transferred over to the Knicks when he had made the move to MSG. And now the Knicks are second in the league in offense and second to last in defense.
16. Golden State Warriors (20) +25,000
The Warriors have four players shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the three-point line, Stephen Curry (.415), Dorell Wright (.401), Reggie Williams (.428) and Vladimir Radmanovic (.410). And of course that list does not even including leading scorer, Monta Ellis (.364). The Warriors always have a shooters chance, and after a three-game win streak heading into the break, they have a shooters chance to make the postseason.
17. Phoenix Suns (15) +12,500
You want to take the Suns serious after it posts sweeps against Golden State and Utah home and home in the same week, but then they go ahead and lose at home to Sacramento.
18. Philadelphia 76ers (19) +20,000
In the last month the 76ers can claim wins over the Nuggets, Knicks, Hawks and Spurs. Not too many teams in the league can claim those kinds of wins over an entire season, but then again not many teams can say they’ve lost to Toronto, Washington and Cleveland – twice.
19. Houston Rockets (18) +15,000
Too bad this isn’t the NHL, or maybe Houston would have a better shot at the playoffs. The Rockets have lost five overtime games already this season. In the NHL at least you get a point for losing in extra time.
20. Charlotte Bobcats (24) +20,000
Charlotte was holding their heads high out after a 20-point win over the Lakers, but in what must be standard luck for the Bobcats, the Lakers go out and get embarrassed by the Cavaliers the very next night completely nullifying Charlotte’s win. On top of that Charlotte followed the Lakers win with a 12-point loss at Chicago a night later.
21. Los Angeles Clippers (17) +30,000
With all eyes constantly on Blake Griffin, a lot of people seem to fail to recognize that the Clippers stink. Despite Griffin’s constant heroics the Clippers head to the break at 21-35 and 13th place in the Western Conference.
22. Indiana Pacers (21) +15,000
Replacing Jim O’Brien with Frank Vogel has vaulted the Pacers back into the playoff picture, but that is more of a commentary on the weak Eastern Conference than praise of the Pacers. Indiana has won seven of 10 games under Vogel and entering the break they are currently the No. 8 seed in the east.
23. Detroit Pistons (23) +50,000
It’s amazing how a dying, aging franchise can mirror the city in plays in. The Pistons could use a government bailout too.
24. New Jersey Nets (29) n/a
The Nets have reportedly arranged a sit down with Carmelo Anthony and team owner Mikhail Prokhorov. That is more than any other bottom-dwelling team is doing, and that is probably why NBA Finals odds are not available for New Jersey.
25. Milwaukee Bucks +20,000
The Bucks might have the best home-court advantage in the league. The team who is 13 games under .500 is somehow 13-13 at home. Now if they can only find a way to win on the road, where the Bucks are 8-21.
26. Toronto Raptors (26) n/a
Give the Raptors credit for coming alive against the Heat and making sure Chris Bosh did not leave without a fight. Andrea Bargnani stepped up in a big way with 35 points and Toronto hung in there until the end against Miami before succumbing to the Heat. The only thing they have a chance to win this year is the NBA Dunk Contest, where DeMar DeRozan will represent the Raptors over all-star break.
27. Sacramento Kings (28) n/a
This one must fall under the “a broken clock is right twice a day” category. In the midst of losing seven of eight games, the Kings found a way to win 113-108 at Phoenix without DeMarcus Cousins.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (27) n/a
The T’wolves should petition to switch divisions. It is the all-star break and Minnesota still has not won a divisional game in 10 tries.
29. Washington Wizards (29) n/a
The Wizards staked their claim as second-worst team in the league with a 115-100 win at Cleveland.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (30) n/a
The Cavs knocked off the Clippers and Lakers in a five-night span and they are still ranked last in the league. That gives you a good idea of the hole they dug themselves during the now infamous 26-game losing streak.