Friday, April 25, 2014

NBA Playoff Power Rankings

1. #2 seed Miami Heat [lead Bobcats 2-0]
2. #5 seed Portland Trailblazers [lead Rockets]
3. #5 seed Washington Wizards [lead Bulls 2-0]
4. #4 seed Los Angeles Clippers [lead Warriors 2-1]
5. #7 Memphis Grizzlies [lead Thunder 2-1]
6. Atlanta Hawks [lead Pacers 2-1]
7. Dallas Mavericks [tied with Spurs 1-1]
8. Brooklyn Nets [tied with Raptors 1-1]
9. Toronto Raptors [tied with Nets 1-1]
10. San Antonio Spurs [tied with Mavericks 1-1]
11. Oklahoma City Thunder [trail Grizzlies 2-1]
12. Golden State Warriors [trail Clippers 2-1]
13. Indiana Pacers [trail Hawks 2-1]
14. Houston Rockets [trail Trailblazers 2-0]
15. Chicago Bulls [trail Wizards 2-0]
16. Charlotte Bobcats [trail Heat 2-0]

Current Playoff Predictions

Round One 

Indiana Pacers over Atlanta Hawks 4-3
Original Prediction: Pacers in 5

Miami Heat over Charlotte Bobcats 4-1
Original Prediction: Heat in 5

Brooklyn Nets over Toronto Raptors 4-3
Original Prediction: Nets in 7 

Washington Wizards over Chicago Bulls 4-1
Original Prediction: Bulls in 6

San Antonio Spurs over Dallas Mavericks 4-2
Original Prediction: Spurs in 6 

Oklahoma City Thunder over Memphis Grizzlies 4-3
Original Prediction: Thunder in 7

Los Angeles Clippers over Golden State Warriors 4-2
Original Prediction: Clippers in 6

Portland Trailblazers over Houston Rockets 4-1
Original Prediction: Rockets in 6 

Round Two 
Washington Wizards over Indiana Pacers 4-1
Original Prediction: Pacers in 6 

Miami Heat over Brooklyn Nets 4-2
Original Prediction: Heat in 5 

San Antonio Spurs over Portland Trailblazers 4-2
Original Prediction: Spurs in 6

Oklahoma City Thunder over Los Angeles Clippers 4-2
Original Prediction: Clippers in 6 

Conference Finals 

Miami Heat over Washington Wizards 4-1 
Original Prediction: Pacers in [sigh] 7

San Antonio Spurs over Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2
Original Prediction: Spurs in 6 


San Antonio Spurs over Miami Heat 4-3
Original Prediction: [sigh, sigh, sigh…] Pacers in 6 
Finals MVP: PG Tony Parker, Spurs 
Original Finals MVP Pick: SF Paul George, Indiana Pacers 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Don't forget to...

Don't forget to…check out the new NBA Playoffs voting polls at the bottom of the page!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What does Larry Legend have to say to the team he built?

Editor's note: When this title references Larry Legend, it means Larry Bird. 
                  (Larry Bird)

Pop it Paul:
Paul George hindered the Pacers' efforts against the Hawks by taking many shots like this one. 

The #1 seed in the East, the 55-27 Indiana Pacers, lost 101-93 to the 37-45 #8 seed Atlanta Hawks in Indiana. The Pacers were out of sync all game, at one point dropping down by 20 points. The Hawks were at the top of their game, with Point Guard Jeff Teague scoring 28 points. Teague was too quick for anyone on the Pacers and scored in the lane at will. Paul George was continually popping long-isolation 2-pointers, while Lance Stephenson took multiple 360 layups with three players on him that ended up getting stuffed. Roy Hibbert and David West were no-shows, and Frank Vogel could simply could not get the defense onto the explosive Teague or get Lance and George to PASS the ball. The reason I think that Lance was such a flat-out ball-hog is that he is trying too hard to prove to people that he was wrongly snubbed from the All-Star game. PG-24's reason for being a selfish ball-hog: with all the talk during the beginning of the year about Paul George for MVP have given George a puffed-up head and he is forcing shots, trying to force a takeover of the game, rather than letting the game come to him. And if I was Larry Legend, and I was in THAT demoralized, head-hanging locker room I would flat out let the Indiana guys HAVE IT. This is what I envision he will likely say (without the foul language:) 

"Paul, pass the ball! You look like Carmelo [Anthony] out there! You might be a budding star, but you're no superstar. It's a team game. 

"Every one of you can be replaced. Even you, Paul. Even you, Roy. 

"Lance!!! You have teammates!! Pass the ball!!!!!

"David, we need more out of you. You have to play like the veteran-leader that you are. 

"Roy! You didn't show up tonight! Where were you? We were playing against the Hawks tonight, but I didn't see you're defense. Actually, I didn't see any OFFENSE from you either. You might win Defensive Player of the Year, but you can STILL be replaced. 

"George [Hill], you played the best out of anyone in our starting lineup, but you have to step it up and be more of a leader on the court. It's time to earn your 8 million dollar contract. 

"If you have a problem with Frank [Vogel], then I'll show you where the door is. Frank is going to be the coach of this team next year, so if your not OK with that, then maybe you shouldn't be here. Because tonight, you sure weren't playing like you wanted to be here. So next game, you'd better play a whole lot better if you want to be here next year." 

Happy Resurrection Day (Easter!)

He is risen!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The NBA Playoff Picture

In the NBA, all 8 playoff spots have been locked up, and now we just have a few more battles over seeding remaining in the season's final days. Below is the current standings and my projections as well as my award picks for the year.

Eastern Conference

1. Indiana Pacers 
Current record: 55-26
Prediction: 55-27
With their last game of the season being Wednesday at home against the 23-57 Magic, the Pacers have no reason to play their starters against Orlando seeing as how they've already clinched the #1 seed in the East. Which is relieving for Pacers fans since their starters desperately need rest. 
2. Miami Heat
Current record: 54-27
Prediction: 55-27
Although the Heat have nothing left to play for in the regular-season, they should be able to grind out an ugly win against the 18-63 76ers in their season-closer. Right now, getting the Big 3 healthy for the playoffs is a bigger concern though.
3. Toronto Raptors
Current record: 48-33
Prediction: 49-33
With Wednesday night's showdown in New York against the nothing-left-to-play-for Knicks looming, the Raptors have as good a chance of securing the #3 seed [and thus avoiding Brooklyn in round one] as they do of losing it. They own the tiebreaker over the Bulls, with whom they are tied in the win-loss column, and a win against New York would give them the #3 seed.
4. Chicago Bulls 
Current record: 48-33
Prediction: 49-33
The Bulls should win their last game of the season Wednesday night against the Bobcats [who are settled in as the East's #7 seed], but even then it is unlikely that they will get the #3 seed. I don't see Toronto pulling off a huge blunder and settling for a first-round matchup with the dark-horse Nets.
5. Brooklyn Nets 
Current record: 44-36
Prediction: 45-37
Although technically they haven't yet mathematically clinched the East's #5 seed, they will likely win one of their two final games against mediocre New York and Cleveland. But here's an interesting question: Would you rather have the #6 seed? If they got it they would have an easier first-round matchup against Toronto and [if they won the series] would [almost definitely] face rival Miami in the second-round. The same Miami that are looking for a three-peat and the same Miami that Brooklyn swept 4-0 in the season-series.
6. Washington Wizards 
Current record: 43-38
Prediction: 44-38
The Wizards have what should be an easy-win in their last game of the season Wednesday night against the 25-56 Celtics in Boston. Why is getting the #6 seed so important? Because with it Washington can avoid facing the Heat in the first-round, and rather face a more-winnable Toronto.
7. Charlotte Bobcats 
Current record: 42-39
Prediction: 42-40
The Bobcats were in position to snag the #6 seed a few weeks ago, but a hot-streak by Washington has put them back down to #7 in the East. Even if the Wizards lose, it'll be tough to win against a Chicago team that still has quite a lot to play for. Although they'll likely be defeated handily by Miami in Round One of the playoffs, it has been a breakthrough year for a team not expected to make the playoffs anyway.
8. Atlanta Hawks 
Current record: 37-44
Prediction: 37-45
The Hawks lost one of their best players [Josh Smith] in free agency, but added a player that has proven to be just as good if not better than Smith in first-time All-Star Paul Millsap, and the Hawks were headed for the #4 seed in the East. Then their two best players [Millsap and Center Al Horford] went down to injury and they struggled greatly. Now they've limped to the finish-line and just barely made it to the playoffs. They might have been better suited purposely missing the playoffs and settling for a lottery-pick, because the odds of them beating Indiana in Round One are…not exactly great.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 

Indiana Pacers [55-27] over Atlanta Hawks [37-45] 

Game 1: Pacers 
Game 2: Pacers 
Game 3: Hawks 
Game 4: Pacers 
Game 5: Pacers 

Miami Heat [55-27] over Charlotte Bobcats [42-40]

Game 1: Heat 
Game 2: Bobcats
Game 3: Heat 
Game 4: Heat
Game 5: Heat 

Washington Wizards [44-38] over Toronto Raptors [49-33] 

Game 1: Raptors
Game 2: Wizards 
Game 3: Wizards 
Game 4: Raptors
Game 5: Raptors 
Game 6: Wizards 
Game 7: Wizards 

Chicago Bulls [49-33] over Brooklyn Nets [45-37] 

Game 1: Bulls 
Game 2: Nets 
Game 3: Bulls 
Game 4: Bulls 
Game 5: Nets 
Game 6: Bulls 

Eastern Conference Semifinals 

Indiana Pacers [55-27] over Chicago Bulls [49-33] 

Game 1: Bulls 
Game 2: Pacers 
Game 3: Bulls 
Game 4: Pacers 
Game 5: Pacers 
Game 6: Pacers 

Miami Heat [55-27] over Washington Wizards [44-38] 

Game 1: Heat 
Game 2: Heat 
Game 3: Heat 
Game 4: Wizards 
Game 5: Heat 

Eastern Conference Finals 

Indiana Pacers [55-27] Miami Heat [55-27]

Game 1: Pacers 
Game 2: Heat 
Game 3: Pacers 
Game 4: Heat 
Game 5: Pacers
Game 6: Heat 
Game 7: Pacers 

Western Conference 

1. San Antonio Spurs 
Current record: 62-19
Prediction: 62-20 
The Spurs are the only team in the league to win 60 games this year, and they will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. If they make it to the Finals, that is. 
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 
Current record: 58-23
Prediction: 59-23 
It would take the Thunder losing their final game [an easy win against Detroit], and the Clippers winning their final two games for OKC to somehow slip out of the #2 spot in the West. In other words, they're locked-in as the #2 seed. 
3. Los Angeles Clippers 
Current record: 56-24
Prediction: 57-25
As I stated above, it would take some unforeseen calamity for the Thunder to slip down to the West's #3 seed. With games on consecutive nights coming up, the Clippers will go 1-1 in their final two games. 
4. Houston Rockets 
Current record: 54-27 
Prediction: 54-28
The Rockets are locked-in as the #4 seed, and that should be the deciding factor in their Round One series against the Trailblazers. However, home-court won't matter at all if they can't get starting Point Guard Patrick Beverly [torn meniscus] healthy for the playoffs. 
5. Portland Trailblazers 
Current record: 53-28
Prediction: 54-28 
The Blazers' last game of the season, against the Clippers, will most-likely be a game in which neither team has anything to play for. And it'll be on national television. But the Clippers will be on the second-night of a back-to-back so I see Portland winning it in a somebody-has-to-win contest. 
6. Golden State Warriors 
Current record: 50-31 
Prediction: 50-32
Locking up the #6 seed was huge for this team, but their chances of upsetting the Clippers took a devastating blow when starting Center [and defensive-anchor] Andrew Bogut went down with a broken rib that will likely sideline him for the entire playoffs. 
7. Memphis Grizzlies 
Current record: 49-32 
Prediction: 50-32 
8. Dallas Mavericks 
Current record: 49-32
Prediction: 49-33
These teams have fought hard through the entire season and they managed to knock a deserving Phoenix Suns team out of playoff-contention. They will play each other Wednesday night in Memphis in a game that will decide the #7 seed in the West. In my book, the game being played in Memphis gives the Grizzlies an advantage. 

Western Conference Quarterfinals 

San Antonio Spurs [62-20] over Dallas Mavericks [50-32] 

Game 1: Spurs 
Game 2: Mavericks 
Game 3: Spurs 
Game 4: Spurs 
Game 5: Mavericks 
Game 6: Spurs 

Oklahoma City Thunder [59-23] over Memphis Grizzlies [50-32] 

Game 1: Thunder 
Game 2: Thunder 
Game 3: Grizzlies 
Game 4: Grizzlies 
Game 5: Grizzlies 
Game 6: Thunder 
Game 7: Thunder 

Los Angeles Clippers [57-25] over Golden State Warriors [50-32]

Game 1: Clippers 
Game 2: Clippers
Game 3: Warriors 
Game 4: Clippers 
Game 5: Warriors 
Game 6: Clippers 

Houston Rockets [54-28] over Portland Trailblazers [54-28] 

Game 1: Rockets 
Game 2: Trailblazers 
Game 3: Rockets 
Game 4: Trailblazers 
Game 5: Rockets 
Game 6: Rockets 

Western Conference Semifinals 

San Antonio Spurs [62-20] over Houston Rockets [54-28]

Game 1: Rockets 
Game 2: Spurs 
Game 3: Spurs 
Game 4: Spurs 
Game 5: Rockets 
Game 6: Spurs 

Oklahoma City Thunder [59-23] Los Angeles Clippers [57-25] 

Game 1: Clippers 
Game 2: Thunder 
Game 3: Clippers 
Game 4: Thunder 
Game 5: Clippers 
Game 6: Clippers 

Western Conference Finals 

San Antonio Spurs [62-20] over Los Angeles Clippers [57-25]

Game 1: Spurs 
Game 2: Spurs 
Game 3: Clippers 
Game 4: Clippers 
Game 5: Spurs 
Game 6: Spurs 

NBA Finals 

Indiana Pacers [55-27] over San Antonio Spurs [62-20] 

Game 1: Pacers 
Game 2: Spurs 
Game 3: Pacers 
Game 4: Pacers 
Game 5: Spurs 
Game 6: Pacers 
Finals MVP: IND SF Paul George 

Award Picks 

Most Valuable Player [Top 5]: 
1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder 
2. Lebron James, Miami Heat 
3. Paul George, Indiana Pacers 
4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 
5. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves 

Defensive Player of the Year [Top 5]: 
1. Paul George, Indiana Pacers 
2. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers 
3. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls 
4. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets 
5. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs 

Most Improved Player [Top 5:] 
1. Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers 
2. Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns 
3. Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns 
4. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns 
5. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings

Coach of the Year [Top 5:]
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs 
2. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls 
3. Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers 
4. Terry Stotts, Portland Trailblazers 
5. Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks 

Rookie of the Year [Top 5:] 
1. Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic 
2. Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers 
3. Trey Burke, Utah Jazz 
4. Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks 
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

6th Man of the Year [Top 5:]
1. Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers 
2. Nick "Swaggy P" Young, Los Angeles Lakers 
3. Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
4. Manu Ginobli, San Antonio Spurs
5. Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets 

Least Valuable Player Compared To Their Contract [Top 5:] 
1. Gilbert Arenas, Free Agent 
Salary: $20,300,000
2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers 
Salary: $30,453,805
3. Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks 
Salary: $21,679,893
4. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets 
Salary: $18,166,430 
5. Kevin Garnett 
Salary: $12,433,735 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Uconn's star

Shabazz Napier was instrumental in leading Uconn to the men's college basketball national title over a run-and-gun Kentucky squad. He became the first player in NCAA history to cut down the nets as both a freshman AND a senior. And while Kemba Walker carried that 2011 title team to an improbable tournament victory, Napier learned from Walker and has developed his game to be much like that of former teammate Walker. 

He has the automatic jump-shot that other Division I players can only dream of. And he's not just about scoring, he's constantly looking for an open man and/or an easy bucket. Napier will just randomly pull up from 30 feet away and effortlessly knock down a shot that not even Lebron James can hit %50 if the time.

 He's also actively involved on the defensive end. He has quick hands that make him excellent at pick-pocketing an unsuspecting ball-handler and getting an easy bucket. When it comes to who will be the best player out of this year's highly-anticipated NBA Draft, I've been riding the bandwagon of Syracuse freshman Point Guard Tyler Ennis all year. I'm also pretty high on Australian Point Guard Dante Exum. But when I watch Shabazz Napier play I see Stephen Curry. (Curry is the best-shooter in today's game for those of you who don't know.) 

Curry could also shoot from multiple feet behind the three-point line, and they both share a gift that cannot be taught: the ability to get the ball into the hands of an open man. Although Napier is currently projected to be a lottery pick, I'm hoping he'll miraculously slip down to my Pacers. But Napier hasn't always resembled Curry. 

In his freshman year, he averaged just 7.8 points per game. However, that same year he had an above-average 50.7 true-shooting percentage (which factors in two-pointers, three-pointers, and free throws.) That total increased over his sophomore and junior years and this year he is having a career year with a true-shooting percentage of 59.1 percent and a career-high 18 points per game. 

And another thing that he's benefited from is staying in college all four years. It's developed him into a much smarter, well-rounded player than he would have been if he'd left after his sophomore year. 

The bottom line is: forget about Jabari Parker. This guy is the most NBA-ready player in the draft. He could be the next Stephen Curry, and if not, he still looks like a safe bet to be a strong 6th man. 

In totally unrelated news: 

The Indiana Pacers have regained the lead over the Miami Heat for the East's coveted #1 seed  with just a few days left in the season.

What's this strange sensation I'm feeling? 

Is this...hope?!?! 

As excited as I am for my Pacers, with upcoming games @ Miami and vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, they'll need to be at the top of their game to get home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs. But  Coach Frank Vogel hasn't been able to find a way to get his team to play good basketball with any kind of consistency recently. He better figure something out before Friday night's clash with Miami, or it'll be another season down the drain in Indy. 

What are your thoughts on the article? Do you have any questions? Post your comments and/or questions!


What's wrong with Indiana?
The Pacers were a seemingly insurmountable 3 games ahead of rival Miami Heat with 12 games to go and they led the tiebreaker as well. Then they lost to the Wizards in Washington, and the Heat easily handled the league-worst Bucks. Alright, I thought at the time, at least we still have a 2-game lead. I then wrote the article that I recently published about the game being on in the NBA between the two archenemies. Then Indiana dropped a third straight game to Cleveland (!), without star (and only All-Star) Kyrie Irving (!!!). Of course Miami responded by defeating the Raptors in Toronto. The Pacers then lost 101-77 to the San Antonio Spurs at home! As if on cue, Miami won again! After another Pacers loss was coupled with a Miami win, the Heat lead Indiana by 1-game going into the season's final week! And with upcoming games against the Thunder, and @ the Heat, the Pacers are in no condition to get back atop the East standings and snatch the #1 seed before the playoffs start. There's no way this Pacers team, especially in its current state, can BEAT THE HEAT in a best-of-seven playoff-series WITHOUT home-court advantage. (Sigh.) Goodbye season, goodbye...

The Houston Texans signed injury-prone former New York Giants Running Back to a 1-year deal. Brown should be a nice complimentary back to aging-star Arian Foster, who missed a large chunk of last season with a nagging knee-injury. The Giants opted not to re-sign Brown after they signed journeyman Rashad Jennings, who played solid last year for the Raiders when starter Darren McFadden, in a hope to solidify last years mediocre-is-an-overstatement running game along with David Wilson, who struggled with fumble-issues when he was healthy, and missed a lot of the season from a neck injury that team doctors say could come back to him at any given time. 

The Raiders have traded for former Texans Quarterback Matt Schaub and the 49ers have traded for former Jaguars Quarterback Blaine Gabbert. 

The Colts have re-signed Cornerback Vontae Davis, but they lost Running Back Donald Brown to the Chargers and Pro Bowl Safety Antoine Bethea to the 49ers. 

Who cares? 
Actually, I actually watched an ENTIRE baseball game the other night. And by entire I mean the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. 

The World Cup (my favorite sporting event) is coming in June! I can't wait! I'll have you covered with a preview of it when the time comes. 

If you are a golf fan, you are reading the wrong blog. But if you ARE a golf fan and you ARE reading this, Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the prestigious Masters with a back injury. 

College Basketball 
The Uconn Huskies won the men's National Championship Monday. They defeated the Kentucky Wildcats. 

Sophomore Oklahoma State Point Guard Marcus Smart, Freshman Syracuse Point Guard Tyler Ennis, and Freshman Kansas Shooting Guard Andrew Wiggins have all entered the NBA Draft. Fellow freshmen Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid are weighing whether or not to enter the draft. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

NBA Playoff Picture

NBA Playoff Picture 
Eastern Conference 
1. Miami Heat 53-23
Prediction: 58-24
2. Indiana Pacers 53-25
Prediction: 55-27 
3. Chicago Bulls 45-32
Prediction: 49-33
4. Toronto Raptors 45-32 
Prediction: 48-34 
5. Brooklyn Nets 42-34
6. Charlotte Bobcats 39-38
Prediction: 42-40 
7. Washington Wizards 40-37
Prediction: 41-41
8. Atlanta Hawks 34-42
Prediction: 36-46 

Conference Quarterfinals 
(1) Miami over (8) Atlanta 4-0
(2) Indiana over (7) Washington 4-2
(3) Chicago over (6) Charlotte 4-1
(5) Brooklyn over (4) Toronto 4-2

Conference Semifinals 
(1) Miami over (5) Brooklyn 4-2
(2) Indiana over (3) Chicago 4-3

Conference Finals 
(1) Miami over (2) Indiana 4-3 

1. San Antonio Spurs 60-17
Prediction: 64-18
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 55-20 
Prediction: 60-22 
3. Los Angeles Clippers 55-23
Prediction: 59-23
4. Houston Rockets 51-25
Prediction: 54-28 
5. Portland Trailblazers 49-28
Prediction: 52-30
6. Golden State Warriors 47-29
Prediction: 51-31 
7. Dallas Mavericks 47-31 
Prediction: 49-33
8. Memphis Grizzlies 45-32
Prediction: 49-33

Conference Quarterfinals 
(8) Memphis over (1) San Antonio 4-2 
(2) Oklahoma City over (7) Dallas 4-1 
(3) Los Angeles over (6) Golden State 4-3
(4) Houston over (5) Portland 4-3

Conference Semifinals 
(4) Houston over (8) Memphis 4-3
(3) Los Angeles over (2) Oklahoma City 4-3 

Conference Finals 
(3) Los Angeles over (4) Houston 4-2

NBA Finals 
Game 1: Clippers 
Game 2: Heat 
Game 3: Clippers 
Game 4: Clippers 
Game 5: Heat 
Game 6: Clippers 
Los Angeles over Miami 4-2 
Finals MVP: LAC PF Blake Griffin 

Award Picks 
MVP: SF Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder 
Defensive Player of the Year: C Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls 
6th man of the Year: PG Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder 
Most Improved Player: PG Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns 
Coach of the Year: Steve Clifford, Charlotte Bobcats 

Friday, April 4, 2014

NBA Power Rankings #16 Part 3

18. New York Knicks 33-43
With last night's 110-81 thrashing of the rival Nets, the Knicks not only won their third-straight game and their eleventh of fourteen, but they also propelled themselves [by percentage points] into the East's 8th and final playoff spot over the struggling Atlanta Hawks. But with all six of their remaining games against playoff teams, the excitement could be short-lived. 
Last Ranking: 21 
19. Denver Nuggets 33-42
In a disappointing first-year for former Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, the Nuggets have been derailed by injuries. It will be interesting to see, should they get their squad fully-healthy, where they end up in the tightly-contested West next year. But with six of their final seven games against legitimate title-contenders they'll likely fail to reach 35 wins. 
Last Ranking: 19
20. New Orleans Pelicans 32-43 
Anthony Davis leaving Wednesday's game with back spasms has to worry Pelicans fans. He is their future and a double-double machine. But with upcoming games against the Trailblazers, Suns, Rockets [twice,] and Thunder [twice,] it might be wise just to let the injury-prone big man sit out the rest of the season. It would be a terrible thing for this team to be ready for a trip back to the playoffs for the first time since the Chris Paul era just to see Davis go down to some season-ending back injury.
Last Ranking: 20
21. Atlanta Hawks 32-42 
Although the Hawks have lost six of their last seven games and fell behind to the Knicks [as mentioned above] in the race to be annihilated by Miami in the first round, the Knicks [as mentioned above] have one of the toughest schedules in the league remaining, while the Hawks have an up-and-down schedule remaining with tough-games @ Indiana and against Miami but also more-than-winnable games against Boston, against Detroit, against Cleveland, and @ Milwaukee. 
Last Ranking: 18
22. Cleveland Cavaliers 31-45 
The Cavaliers seemed to be out of the playoff picture just a couple of days ago, they were far behind the Hawks for the East's #8 seed and had to play the East-best Pacers without superstar Kyrie Irving. But somehow they miraculously won that game, and with just one game remaining against a team with a winning-record, they could potentially make a run at the playoffs and a first-round humiliation from Miami that three teams [New York, Atlanta, and Cleveland] are all chasing. 
Last Ranking: 22

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NBA Power Ranking #16 Part 2

9. Golden State Warriors 46-28
Although they ARE just 2 games back from the Trailblazers in the West standings for that #5 seed, and they do have just 2 games left against teams with a winning-record, the feeling is that the Warriors are going to stay put in the standings and head into the West as a #6 seed. They do, however, play the Blazers on April 13 in Portland. 
Last Ranking: 9 
10. Phoenix Suns 44-30
The Suns, on a scorching hot 8-2 stretch and who have won 6 of their last 7 games, still look to have hope for the playoffs thanks to Dirk Nowitzki & co. losing to Golden State in Dallas. And All-Star snub Goran "The Dragon" Dragic is further cementing himself as the #3 Point Guard in the NBA [behind only Chris Paul of the Clippers and Stephen Curry of the Warriors.] Semi-star Eric Bledsoe's long-awaited return [from injury] doesn't hurt either. 
Last Ranking: 11
11. Toronto Raptors 42-32
It's become a real possibility that the Raptors don't get the #3 seed in the East, with them leading over the Bulls only because of a superior average point-differential. Toronto, 5-5 in its last 10 games, also has upcoming matches against the Rockets and Pacers. But their schedule after that? @ Milwaukee [14-60,] Philadelphia [16-58,] New York [32-43,] @ Detroit [27-47,] Milwaukee, and @ New York. Which means they could close the season on a 6-game winning-streak.
12. Chicago Bulls 42-32 
Winners of four of their last five, the Bulls continue to campaign role-player Taj Gibson for 6th Man of the Year. With all 8 of their remaining games against teams with losing-records, an 8-0 run to end the season, and surprisingly become the #3 seed, would not only boost team-morale in the wake of star Derrick Rose's latest knee-injury, it would also vault Coach Tom Thibodeau up to the top candidate for the NBA's prestigious Coach of the Year award. 
Last Ranking: 13
13. Brooklyn Nets 40-33 
The streaking Nets have won three-in-a-row and seven of their last nine. With only one of their final nine games coming against a team with a winning-record, it's more than a pipe dream to envision them not-so-quietly sneaking up the standings and taking the #3 seed in the East from the Raptors or Bulls. In Year 1 of Jason Kidd's coaching tenure, I'd say it's worked out so far. Unfortunately, they have two of the worst contracts in the NBA on their hands in washed-up veterans Joe Johnson and Deron Williams. Just think, what would have happened if semi-star Center Brook Lopez had not broken his often-injured foot and been ruled out for the season. Well, let's just say that Pacers-Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals would not be such a sure thing. 
Last Ranking: 14
14. Dallas Mavericks 44-31 
The defensively-challenged Mavs, have lost the #8 spot in the West standings. They better find a way to defend, because they have a grueling last 7 games that includes playing against playoff teams such as: @ Los Angeles [Clippers,] San Antonio, and two all-important games against the other two teams contending for the West's final two playoff spots: vs. Phoenix and @ Memphis. And something tells me  that if they give up 102 points per game over this homestretch, they're not exactly playoff-bound. 
Last Ranking: 10
15. Washington Wizards 38-36
The Wizards have, predictably, struggled since starting Center Nene was ruled out for the season. But John Wall [#4 on my list of top Point Guards in the NBA currently,] is going to carry them into the playoffs in the putridly awful Eastern Conference. But can he carry them through a playoff series and win one? I don't think he can. At least, not at this point in his career. And if shooters Bradley Beal and/or Trevor Ariza aren't hitting shots, then they'll be lucky to win a game, let alone a whole series in its entirety. 
Last Ranking: 16
16. Charlotte Bobcats 36-38 
Mathematically Charlotte still has a "chance" at getting the #6 seed in the East over the Wizards and thus avoiding the mammoth that is was Indiana, but it seems like they'll be more content to rest up for the playoffs and worry about winning a game or two against the [sigh] Pacers. Of course, at this point it doesn't seem entirely unlikely that they wind up beating Indy in round 1! Anyway, this is a bright young team and with a couple more pieces, they could be contending for a title sooner than you think. 
Last Ranking: 15
17. Minnesota Timberwolves 36-37 
The T-Wolves, 8th in the league in rebounding and 4th in points per game, are one of the best teams in recent memory to not be within 5 games of a playoff spot at the seasons end. They sit at the #10 spot in the West, separated from #8 Phoenix by a whopping 7.5 games, they're stats say they should be among the West's elite. Sure, they are defensively-challenged, but that's not unlike the #5 in the West Trailblazers. Yet here they are, 36-37 in the win-loss column, on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. 
Last Ranking: 17 

NBA Power Rankings #16

1. San Antonio Spurs 58-16
The Spurs, on a franchise-record 18-game winning-streak, have opened up their lead for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs over the Thunder to a seemingly safe 3.5 games seeing that there are only 8 games left for them and 9 for OKC.
Last Ranking: 2
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 54-19
[Likely] losing the #1 seed hurts Oklahoma City because the Memphis Grizzlies, who came into the year looking like legitimate title-conteneders but have been derailed by injuries, appear poised to snag the West's #7 seed and could potentially upset the Thunder in round 1 because of their stifling defense.
Last Ranking: 1
3. Miami Heat 51-22
This time last week, the sky was falling in Miami. They had just lost to the Indiana Pacers to fall back 3 games in the race for the East's highly-coveted #1 seed with just 12 to play, and worse yet, injury-prone semi-star Dwayne Wade injured his hamstring and had to sit out the games final minutes. It seemed like the Heat would settle for the #2 seed and worry about getting Wade healthy for the playoffs. But three horrid losses by the Pacers, and three easy wins for Miami later and the Heat have the sole lead in the East standings.
Last Ranking: 5
4. Los Angeles Clippers 53-22
With swingman J.J. Redick set to return to the ithe lineup this week, the Clippers could potentially pass the Thunder as the West's #2 seed. But who would you rather face in the first-round of the playoffs? Dark-horse title-contenders in the Memphis Grizzlies or a streaky up-and-down team in the Golden State Warriors? I'd say the latter.
Last Ranking: 4
5. Indiana Pacers 52-23
The Pacers have lost three games in a row since they seemingly locked-up the East's #1 seed. And the worst part: they don't seem to know what the problem is. Defensive-superstar Roy Hibbert is publicly calling players selfish, starters George Hill and Lance Stephenson got into a verbal confrontation and had to be separated by teammates, and Coach Frank Vogel is not taking enough responsibility. [Sigh…]
Last Ranking: 3
6. Houston Rockets 49-24
With star Dwight Howard and starter Patrick Beverley out due to injury, Houston has let their lead for the West's #4 seed, and thus home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs, drop down to 1.5 games. The Rockets better find a way to improve their porous defense over this homestretch if they want to maintain the #4 seed. Perhaps stars James Harden and Chandler Parsons could assert themselves a little more on the defensive end of the floor.
Last Ranking: 6
7. Portland Trailblazers 48-27
Damian Lillard looks like, I'm going to say it…a potential future MVP-candidate. The way he can drive in and get a sweet finger-roll finish, or if you're guarding the paint, pull up and effortlessly hit a quick three-pointer or mid-range shot. But despite Lillrard's infinite potential, the glaring fact still remains: the Blazers are just 6-9 in games decided by 3 points or less and are a mediocre 18-20 in games against teams with a winning-record.
Last Ranking: 7
8. Memphis Grizzlies 44-30
Would they be in contention for the West's #1 seed had Marc Gasol not sprained his knee and forced to miss two months of the season? Perhaps. But for now the Griz need to worry about making the playoffs. The Phoenix Suns are breathing down their necks with Memphis only currently sitting at the #8 spot in the conference because of records inside their own division.
Last Ranking: 8

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Although I normally publish my NBA Power Rankings each Monday, I have not had time to [because of my mourning over the Pacers throwing their season down the drain] yet this week and so they have been delayed until tomorrow.

Thank You For Understanding,

The Sports Kid