NBA Power Rankings
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 4/8/2011
This will be the final edition of Doc’s NBA Power Rankings with odds to win the NBA Finals in parantheses courtesy of Bodog. There is less than a week in the regular season and some teams are fighting for seeding while Memphis and Houston are vying for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
1) Chicago Bulls (15/4)
Their schedule has been a steady dose of cupcakes lately, but the Bulls, the top team in the Eastern Conference, are doing what good teams do: taking care of business against the likes of Phoenix, Toronto, Detroit and Minnesota in the last week. The Derrick Rose MVP case gets stronger and the Bulls are keeping the heat on the Spurs for the overall No. 1 seed.
2) Boston Celtics (11/2)
If we can believe the Boston Celtics, then this ranking is deserved. They say Shaquille O’Neal’s right calf strain is not serious, although the big man is listed as ‘out indefinitely’. If he is able to go in the postseason the Celtics will have the most grizzled veteran postseason bunch in the Eastern Conference and maybe the league.
3) San Antonio Spurs (6/1)
If there is such thing as peaking at the wrong time, the Spurs certainly did that this season. They had won 60 of their first 79 games and that cannot be forgotten, but how many top overall seeds have endured a six-game losing streak as late in the season as March and April? Since the losing streak, San Antonio has rebounded with three wins over Phoenix, Atlanta and Sacramento, but the warning signs of an early playoff exit are there.
4) Los Angeles Lakers (12/5)
The most surprising thing about the Lakers latest head-scratching three-game losing streak is that it was the team’s fourth of the season. The defending champs appear reluctant to take on the tag of favorites this year with their sporadic losing streaks. But what we will remember most about the Lakers play this past month is their nine-game winning streak that featured a pair of wins against Dallas.
5) Miami Heat (7/2)
Everyone jumped on the Miami Heat when they lost 102-90 at Cleveland. LeBron, Bosh and Wade silenced the critics by winning their next three on the road, but then they go ahead and lay another egg at home against Milwaukee in a 90-85 loss. The Heat should be dangerous in the playoffs because they seem to only lose to teams that are not going to the playoffs.
6) Orlando Magic (20/1)
The Magic have been one of the most consistent teams over the past two months. If you’re a betting man then you may disagree. Orlando is an awful 3-15 ATS in its last 18 games, but while they may not blowout garbage teams like they should, Dwight Howard and company always seem to find a way to win. They’ve done it enough to all but assure themselves a No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
7) Oklahoma City Thunder (16/1)
There is an elevated sense of interest around this year’s Oklahoma City playoff push. The team is all grown up and they will get a decent seed, likely a No. 4. And with the combination of Kevin Durant (27.8 ppg), Russell Westbrook (8.2 apg) and Serge Ibaka (7.6 rpg), the Thunder are a serious threat to the older teams in the Western Conference.
8) Dallas Mavericks (18/1)
A recent four-game losing streak has the Mavericks losing their grip on the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. The seeding issue for Dallas is not that big of a deal mainly because Dallas has proven to be the best road team in the NBA this year. They are almost identical at home (26-12) as they are on the road (27-13).
9) Denver Nugget (30/1)
The much-hyped Carmelo Anthony trade was supposed to make one team a championship contender but it turns out the Nuggets, not the Knicks, are the ones better off for the deal. Without Anthony in the lineup, holdovers Ty Lawson, Nene, J.R. Smith and former New York Knick, Wilson Chandler, have flourished.
10) Portland Trailblazers (60/1)
The Trailblazers have secured a playoff spot and will likely occupy either the sixth, seventh or eighth seed in the Western Conference. They are the typical lower-seeded playoff team that nobody is talking about, but maybe we should with LaMarcus Aldridge blossoming into a 20/10 player and Andrew Miller becoming a more than capable guard.
11) New Orleans Hornets (150/1)
The Hornets are going to the playoffs, and that alone should get Monty Williams into NBA Coach of the Year discussions. They may have astronomical odds to actually win a title, but they could be a tough out in the first round with a great home-court advantage and all the intangibles Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor bring to the table.
12) Memphis Grizzlies (150/1)
March and April have been brutal for Memphis in the injury department, but the Grizzlies have been finding a way to notch wins. It will be hard to keep those wins coming without the services of Rudy Gay (shoulder), Jason Williams (back) or Xavier Henry (knee). Gay and Williams are out for the season and Henry is out for four weeks, which could end being the season if Memphis gets bounced early in the first round.
13) New York Knicks (50/1)
Don’t look now, but here come the Knicks. Things looked like they could go terribly wrong as the wheels seemingly were falling off during a six-game losing streak. But behind Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire the Knicks got things turned around with an overtime win over the Magic that began a five-game winning streak.
14) Atlanta Hawks (100/1)
Even after back-to-back wins over Orlando and Boston it is getting harder and harder to take this Hawks team seriously with their inconsistent play. The Hawks may be permanently supplanted in the Big Four of the East, which now consists of Chicago, Boston, Orlando and Miami.
15) Houston Rockets (500/1)
The Rockets may not have been much of a contender this year without Yao Ming, but they were definitely more exciting to watch and there is hope in the future with guys like Kevin Martin, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson.
16) Philadelphia 76ers (150/1)
The 76ers are returning to the playoffs after a 13th-place finish in the Eastern Conference last season. They will likely be a No. 7 seed, so any hope of winning the franchise’s first playoff series since 2003 seem faint.
17) Indiana Pacers (250/1)
Basketball fever is running rampant around Indiana, and it is not just because of the Butler Bulldogs. The Indiana Pacers are heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. And much like Butler’s ending, do not accept a pleasant outcome.
18) Phoenix Suns (eliminated)
The brand of basketball the Suns were playing sells seats, but when you play sub -500 basketball in the Western Conference there are no playoff seats to be sold.
19) Utah Jazz (eliminated)
One has to wonder where this team would be if Jerry Sloan stuck around. They likely wouldn’t be in 11th place in the west and four games under .500.
20) Golden State Warriors (eliminated)
Not that this team had much of a chance for the playoffs, but a 10-30 road record is ultimately what did this team in.
21) Milwaukee Bucks (eliminated)
Miami, Los Angeles (Lakers), Dallas, Atlanta and New York, the Bucks somehow found a way to win in all those cities. At least the person in charge of making the 2010-11 Milwaukee Bucks highlight reel will have some footage to use.
22) Charlotte Bobcats (eliminated)
The latest Kwame Brown experiment went like this: 25 minutes, 6.7 rebounds, 7.4 points per game. It might be the last experiment.
23) Los Angeles Clippers (eliminated)
All the big upsets and the big dunks by Blake Griffin kind of overshadowed what was yet another decrepit season from Los Angeles’ other team.
24) Sacramento Kings (eliminated)
DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Beno Udrih, the talent and potential appear to be there, but nobody is going to believe it until they see it and by then the team might be in Anaheim.
25) Detroit Pistons (eliminated)
When the Pistons splurged on Ben Gordon I’m pretty sure they were expecting more than 11.5 points per game.
26) New Jersey Nets (eliminated)
Counting down the days until they leave New Jersey, both the franchise and the fans.
27) Washington Wizards (eliminated)
The season highlight is the new version of the John Wall Dance, the one where he starts swinging at 7-foot centers.
28) Toronto Raptors (eliminated)
All things considered, the Raptors might be the worst team in the NBA over the last two years, but it was refreshing to watch inspired efforts fueled by youngsters Ed Davis, DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson, and all this with Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon on the bench.
29) Cleveland Cavaliers (eliminated)
The fact that these Cavaliers rank third in the NBA in average attendance (20,089) while ranking dead last in the league for most of the year, may go down as the oddest sports statistic of all time.
30) Minnesota Timberwolves (eliminated)
There are about 567 things that need to happen to make the T’wolves competitive next season, and one of them is changing divisions. Minnesota was 1-13 against division rivals this season. But then again even if you put these guys in the Sun Belt Conference it might not be much better.
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