Sheridan’s Sunday Power Rankings

The big movers in a positive direction this week are the Sixers, Jazz, Clippers, Hawks and Cavs.

Those going southbound include the Magic, Bucks, Warriors and Hornets.

As you may have noticed, we have doubled down on Power Rankings on the site. Mark Heisler is doing his own rankings every Wednesday, and he is going to have to learn to write in HTML. Well, on second thought, that’s probably not a good idea.

But he will write shorter comments than I will, because he does things his way and I do things my way. And around here, we let folks operate with a degree of freedom that the big corporate sites would never allow their writers to have unless they are named Bill Simmons.

This is a big week for the site, as we’ll be joining Big Lead Sports to put an end our status as the best kept secret in the basketball journalism universe.

It’s also a big week because I am going to Las Vegas on Wednesday for the annual Consumer Electronics Show and a big sports licensing convention. The goal: A site sponsor.

While in Vegas, I will gamble on NBA games and write about it.

I wanted to do that when I was at ESPN and the league held its All-Star game there, but the ex-mothership wouldn’t let me. Fun haters.

RANKTEAMTHE RUNDOWNLAST
1HEAT
(8-1)
LAST WEEK: 4-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED at LAC
LeBron James was 7-for-7 from the field and 8-of-9 from the line for 22 points Saturday night in New Jersey against the Nets. And that was in the first quarter alone! Miami’s point differential is 11.8, 2nd only to Philadelphia’s, and they made it through a week in which they had numerous injuries with a 4-1 record. They lead the NBA in scoring and assists. They will beat the Clippers by 25 on Wednesday night.
1
2BULLS
(7-2)
LAST WEEK: 4-1 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: FRI at BOS
I will give them the benefit of writing off Saturday night’s blowout loss at Atlanta as their annual toilet game. If they flush it away, it’ll be long forgotten when the games matter more. Would they be a better team is they traded for Dwight Howard? That debate was the subject of Chris Silva’s latest column. Check it out. He thinks no.
.
3
3THUNDER
(7-2)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SUN vs. SA
They drop one spot after a mediocre week, losing vs. Dallas and Portland and then going to the wire to beat Houston. Sunday vs. Spurs is key game because it is the 3rd of a back-to-back-to-back. Teams in similar situations have gone 5-0 in the 3rd game. Question: When does Kendrick Perkins turn it up a notch?
2
4BLAZERS
(5-2)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: TUE vs. LAC
Would have had them up a spot in 3rd if they hadn’t lost by 25 to the Suns. But like the Bulls, I will allow them one toilet game. Tuesday night brings a chance to avenge one of their two losses. Six players scoring in double figures. One of them is not Marcus Camby (3.3 ppg).
4
5SIXERS
(5-2)
LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: MON vs. IND
After finally playing their home opener Friday night on the 13th day of the season (!), they are now in a stretch in which they will play 18 of 22 at home. Lead league in point differential (15.3) and have No. 1 defense (85.6 pts allowed). Andre Iguodala says he is on the final 18 list for Team USA’s 2012 Olympic team.
9
6SPURS
(6-2)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI vs. POR
If Daniel Green keeps doing what he did Saturday night (24 points in a wild shootout win over Denver), they are not going to miss Manu Ginobili as much as they initially thought. Nice week from Richard Jefferson, who has gone from amnesty candidate to key cog. Props to Pop for coaxing big post-Manu injury wins over Dallas and Denver.
7
7HAWKS
(6-3)
LAST WEEK: 3-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED at IND
Reality Bites week didn’t really bite. They split against both the Heat and Bulls, and quality Ws like that earn considerable props in these here Power Rankings. Josh Smith just missed (by one steal) having the first 5X5 game in the NBA in six years (AK47 was the last to do it). Now, can he put 2-3 games like that together in a row
11
8LAKERS
(5-4)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: SAT at LAC
I probably have them higher than they deserve, given that they have defeated one quality team (Denver) all season. But we are seeing how much of a beast Andrew Bynum can be, and I expect Mitch Kupchak to be proactive in adding another piece from the Lamar Odom trade exception, mostly because Metta World Peace has been awful. If they can win at Memphis Sunday night, I expect a 5-0 week.
5
9NUGGETS
(6-3)
LAST WEEK: 4-1 THIS WEEK: 4games KEY GAME: FRI vs. MIA
Helluva a week they had, and they made a nice comeback Saturday vs. the Spurs before falling short on Doug Moe night (238 combined points — only the 8th time in Gregg Popovich’s 1,188 career games — excluding overtimes games — in which that many points were scored). This week brings a four-game homestand, and we’ll see what they’re made of Friday night on ESPN against Miami.
8
10PACERS
(6-2)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT vs. BOS
So far on their cupcake schedule, they are 1-1 against good teams (and I am being generous in including Boston as a good team). Let’s see what they do against Philly, Atlanta and Boston this week (prior to a West Coast trip) before pronouncing them the real thing or an early-season illusion. Held five of eight opponents below 40 pct shooting.
10
11CLIPPERS
(4-2)
LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: TUE at POR
An undefeated week makes them this week’s big risers. They have another three-game week coming up, and it is a bear with the Blazers (seeking revenge for one of their two losses), the Heat and the Lakers on the slate. Players now claim they hate the nickname “Lob City.” Too bad. That was a good nickname.
19
12MAGIC
(5-3)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED vs. POR
Stinging words from coach Stan Van Gundy following their blowout home loss to the Bulls: “Quite simply, we are not at that level. Not close.” D12 goes up against Cousins, Camby and Biedrins in their three-game week. Over/under on his total rebounds is 59 1/2. No one neds to step up more than Jameer Nelson (7.0 ppg).
6
13JAZZ
(5-3)
LAST WEEK: 4-0 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED vs. LAL
Another big-time mover in the rankings after a superb week. Undefeated at home, where they will play seven of their next eight. Props to Raja Bell for his defense against Monta Ellis on the last-second shot that would have won it for Warriors on Saturday night.
23
14MAVERICKS
(4-5)
LAST WEEK: 3-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED at BOS
Two more sets of back-to-backs this week, meaning 12 of their first 13 games will have been of that variety. We should expect no worse than a 3-1 week to finally get them above .500. Lamar Odom (.292) and Jason Kidd (.308) can’t both keep shooting so poorly.
13
15CAVALIERS
(4-3)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI at LAL
In the midst of playing seven straight on the road, it bears repeating that if Kyrie Irving’s buzzer-beating layup in Indiana didn’t roll out on Dec. 30, they’d be a 5-2 team entering this week. Prediction: This is as high as they’ll go in the rankings all season
27
16CELTICS
(4-4)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: FRI vs. CHI
Nice week they had going until that 13-point home loss to Indiana. This is a measurement week for them, playing Dallas, Chicago and Indiana after having four consecutive days off. Stat to be concerned about: 29th in NBA in rebounding.
16
17KNICKS
(4-4)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED vs. PHI
Carmelo Anthony may not be the ideal player for Mike D’Antoni’s system, but he probably saved D’Antoni’s job with 37 Friday night against winless Wizards. Iman Shumpert is the new starting PG, at least until Baron Davis is ready. Then, Shumpert can supplant Landry Fields at 2-guard.
15
18GRIZZLIES
(3-4)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU vs. NY
Gonna be a tough 8 weeks without Zach Randolph. The good news: March schedule, when Zach is back, is relatively easy. Worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA (2nd worst is Lakers)
12
19WOLVES
(2-5)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME:  TUE vs. CHI
First back-to-back-to-back is Sunday-Tuesday, ending against the Bulls in the only home game of the week. If Kevin Love is not on that 18-man Team USA roster, there could be no greater injustice. First player to have at least 20 pts and 12 rebs in first 7 games since Kareem in ’75.
21
20ROCKETS
(2-6)
LAST WEEK: 0-4 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME:  WED at SA
The record sucks, but the schedule has been brutal. The two wins were against Spurs and Hawks. Goran Dragic upped his trade value filling in for Kyle Lowry on Saturday. They need a SF, and Courtney Lee, Johnny Flynn and Terrence Williams are all dispensable.
17
21SUNS
(3-4)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: TUE at LAL
Steve Nash said the reason for his slow start was because it felt like the preseason, and he is a notoriously bad preseason player. Victory over Portland was stunning for its lopsidedness. Beat Lakers, and they could have a 4-0 week.
24
22KINGS
(3-5)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: SUN vs. ORL
Give ‘em credit for identifying the problem early and dealing with it. Tough schedule after Cousins vs. D12 at home Sunday, with next four all on road with two sets of back-to-backs.
25
23BUCKS
(2-5)
LAST WEEK: 0-4 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU vs. DET
The sink like a stone in this week’s rankings, but that’s to be expected when you go on a long trip and lose Andrew Bogut, who traveled to Australia for personal reasons. Home gave vs. Detroit most winnable of the week.
14
24RAPTORS
(3-5)
LAST WEEK: 2-3 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: TUE at. WAS
They have 3 wins, so that gets them the 24 spot. But they just lost to the Nets, and then scored 62 in a 35-point loss to the Sixers on Saturday night. Head-scratching stat: 2nd in NBA in opponents’ FG pct.
28
25WARRIORS
(2-6)
LAST WEEK: 0-4 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT at CHA
Play their next seven against Eastern Conference teams, and get to spend four days in Florida this week. Loss to Jazz was a mental killer.
18
26PISTONS
(2-6)
LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU at MIL
They beat the Magic last week, but Stan Van Gundy would be the first to tell you that’s no great feat. Lost their other three by a combined 62.
22
27NETS
(2-7)
LAST WEEK: 1-4 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: MON vs. ATL
All the way up to 27th after starting the year at No. 30. I like watching MarShon Brooks. Nothing else nice to say.
29
28BOBCATS
(2-6)
LAST WEEK: 1-4 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: MON at NY
Get to play for second time in 6 days at MSG on Monday. There is a lockout-induced scheduling quirk, eh?
26
29HORNETS
(2-6)
LAST WEEK: 0-5 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT at MEM
I have a $1 bet with a tweep that they’ll lose 16 in a row. He gave me 50-1 odds.
20
30WIZARDS
(0-7)
LAST WEEK: 0-4 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: TUE vs. TOR
On the bright side, four of their losses have been by single digits.
30
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Comments

  1. says

    Do you think it’s necessary for Camby to score more? His rebounds and assists, along with defensive stops, seem to anchor his teammates and gives them a grittiness that helps them significantly.

  2. Joel says

    Chris,

    I feel vindicated after seeing Stein’s Power Rankings this morning with Denver. I think he agreed with my assessment as well. Granted I am biased being a Denverite, but I am an avid basketball watcher and Denver is the real deal this year. Their three losses on the road were all winnable in the last two minutes. Head-to-Head in 7 games the Nuggets beat Atlanta and the 76er’s AND it is a toss-up with L.A. and Portland.

    Love the site but disagree on your assessment…

  3. Benji says

    I am a Jazz fan and I like to see the team win, but this week has more to do with luck than anything else. Look at who they played and what happened. They play NOH without Gordon, arguably their best player, then they play the Bucks without Bogut, arguably their best player, then they play Memphis without Randolph, arguably their best player then they finally play a road game for the week and they beat GSW without Curry who is arguably the best play maker for the Warriors. I am happy to see them win but I am moving forward with extremely cautious optimism.

  4. Roger L says

    I’m surprised you’ve ranked the Sixers so high. We’ll see how they do vs Indiana. Here in Negadelphia we are always waiting for our teams to fail.
    Hawes’ improvement this year has been remarkable. Assuming he stays healthy they’ll give a lot of strong teams trouble.

  5. Sam says

    It is insane how much better Miami’s supporting cast has looked so far, and that is WITHOUT a healthy Miller…they could be unstoppably good if they can just figure out the zone a little better

  6. Corey P says

    I think you’re wrong about the Knicks. It almost seems as though you’re just ranking these teams based on their record, rather than their true “power” in their respective conference. Have fun at the conference, I’ll be there as well.

    • Chris says

      John,

      That Jazz logo is directly from their downloadable logo page on NBA Media Central. It has the green that they recently added in the last year or two. There may have been another logo, but that one fit best in a 60×60 box. Thanks for reading. CB

      • Robert Chesley says

        Seeing how NJ and Utah are seemingly going in opposite directions. It seems unfair that the Jazz will have 4 guys (Favors, Haywood, Kanter, and Burks) that have great potential to lure a FA or two to Utah. They won’t be there this year, but after watching what they can do, the playoffs don’t seem that far fetched as it looked a few weeks ago.

  7. Ashley Bolton says

    I agree with where the Wolves are but I do think they are going to be an exciting to watch all season. You nailed it about Kevin Love also, he is top 10 best players in the league and would make the USA a better team this summer. About the Bulls and acquiring Howard, I think in the short run we might be better, but for what we will have to give up I don’t want the Bulls to do it. I like the pieces the Bulls have and if healthy they are going to be very good for a very long time.

    Also very shocked at how well the Spurs have played this season, me and a friend talked about them before season started and we said they would struggle all season. Glad they have proven me wrong I like the Spurs, but I think their window has closed on a Championship run!

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