Sheridan’s Sunday Power Rankings

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You aren’t getting a long intro from me this week.

I am on a long intro strike after Heisler said he was going to be the short-intro guy but instead has morphed into the long-intro guy in his Wednesday power rankings.

Perhaps I’ll readjust after seeing what Mark does this coming Wednesday.

So here they are:

RANK TEAM THE RUNDOWN LAST
1 HEAT
(24-7)
LAST WEEK: 4-0 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: SUN vs ORL
Lately, it has been like watching Mike Tyson back in the glory days of his early boxing career: How quickly will the knockout come? Won by 20, 18, 15 and 24 in last week’s four road games, including a back-to-back-to-back. LeBron James (shooting 55 percent) is running away with the MVP race, it would seem — although it is early and Tony Parker might apply some pressure. Today, they get to measure themselves again vs. Orlando, which handed them their previous loss.
3
2 SPURS
(22-9)
LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: THU at DEN
As mentioned above, Tony Parker is putting himself in the MVP race. Was a plus-15 vs. Clippers on Saturday while brainfarter Chris Paul was a minus-20. Bad news came with the good after that unlikeliest of victories as Manu Giniboli (strained oblique) and Tiago Splitter (strained calf) were injured. Need an undefeated week to finish Rodeo Road Trip 9-0. Watching them this past week, I am amazed by their poise and precision in tight games.I shouldn’t be, but I am.
4
3 BULLS
(25-8)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 2 games KEY GAME: MON vs. ATL
You spend a week without Derrick Rose, and you pay the price — this is the lowest I have ranked them all season. Some would argue they should be penalized all the way to 4th for losing to the Nets, falling behind 22-3 in the 1st quarter. But I’ll keep a level head and remind y’all that playing an extended stretch without your starting backcourt will lead to some speed bumps. Still two deep at every position, something the Miami Heat cannot say.
1
4 THUNDER
(23-7)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU vs LAL
A tweep has been e-mailing me about his gambling success, hitting 22 of 23. On Wednesday, he went 3-1 — the only miss coming when Kevin Durant missed three game-winning attempts in the final 16 seconds vs. Houston. Dude had Thunder on the money line. Durant has dumped agent Aaron Goodwin, just like Dwight Howard and LeBron James did beforehand. Thunder are 6-1 in bounce-back games (their first game after a loss). Only have one game left vs. Spurs on March 16. Teams split first two.
2
5 MAVERICKS
(20-11)
LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED vs LAL
The showcasing of Shawn Marion’s defensive prowess continues. As I have been telling you for weeks, the Mavs would move him for an expiring contract to clear the cap room to make max offers to Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Matrix, 33, has recently defended point guards Ricky Rubio, Chris Paul, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams. Advice to Mark Cuban: Trade him East.
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6 MAGIC
(20-11)
LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SUN at MIA
Latest Dwight Howard rumor has the Warriors willing to surrender David Lee and Monta Ellis, among others, to get him as a rental. If true, Otis Smith and Rich DeVos won’t do any better elsewhere. Will be interesting so see the dynamic in Orlando next weekend when the Magic host the All-Star game. Will Dwight add fuel to the “he’s leaving” fire? Doubtful, but not out of the question. Ryan Anderson (91) should reach 100 3s made by the break. Originally, Smith doubted himself for trading Courtney Lee to get him.
10
7 CLIPPERS
(19-10)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 2 games KEY GAME: WED vs. DEN
Episode of cranial flatulence vs. Spurs on Saturday explained thusly by Chris Paul: “Man, that was probably the worst play I’ve been a part of since I’ve been in the NBA.” Lost out on JR Smith, who was reportedly promised Chauncey Billups’ old job as the starting 2-guard by coach Vinny Del Negro. (Randy Foye was 0-for-7, 2-for-7 and 3-for-12 in three starts last week before 8-for-17 Saturday vs. Spurs.)
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8 SIXERS
(20-11)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED at HOU
Have dropped four of six, losing to every quality opponent they have faced. I said it last week and I’ll say it again: An Andres Nocioni-Shawn Marion deal helps both teams, Philly in the short term and Dallas for next summer. (Nocioni’s contract is non-guaranteed next season). Milk carton mention for Jodie Meeks, scoreless vs. Mavs and 1-of-8 in last two games from downtown.
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9 LAKERS
(18-12)
LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU vs OKC
Tough week ahead, including back-to-backs on road Wed. and Thu. vs Thunder and Mavericks. I will not fully judge them until they make their big trade. Mitch Kupchak still sitting on $8.9 million Lamar Odom exception. Metta World Peace vs. Mike Brown has the potential to blow up this week. Scored season high 111 vs. Phoenix, which had a 52-page scouting report on them. How could that not cause brain fatigue?
15
10 GRIZZLIES
(18-14)
LAST WEEK: 4-1 THIS WEEK: 2 games KEY GAME: TUE vs PHI
Am I being overly generous for their back-to-back tip-in victories at home? Yup. I still run very hot and cold on them, wavering and weaving like a guy walking up Beale Street at 2 a.m. But they have provided two straight evenings of riveting late-night entertainment, which I appreciated, and they are way above where folks thought they’d be after Zach Randolph’s injury, and are sneaky deep.
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11 BLAZERS
(17-15)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 2 games KEY GAME: TUE vs SA
That gambler I referenced above? I told him to take the Wizards against Portland at 17-1 on the money line. He said his bookie wouldn’t accept the bet. Dude could have retired for the season if he had put up $1,000 of his bankroll. Why am I so high on them after that bad of a loss? Because moving Nicolas Batum into the starting lineup is going to make them a beast. Just look what they did against the Hawks on the road Saturday night with Aldridge back. One negative: Jamal Crawford appears unhappy.
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12 HAWKS
(19-11)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED at NY
The verdict is in. Josh Smith is the biggest All-Star snub, ahead of Paul Millsap and Brandon Jennings. Now 14-1 against sub-.500 teams, thus giving them the distinction of having the NBA’s most misleading record. Only good team they play well against is Orlando, despite being down two centers. Go figure.
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13 KNICKS
(15-16)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU at MIA
When Linsanity wears off, J.R. Smith will be the next guy New Yorkers fall head-over-heels for. Now 2 1/2-deep at both backcourt spots, with front line that still must be considered among NBA’s top 3 when healthy. Home loss to the Hornets was an embarrassment, but all teams will have a handful of those in a compressed season.
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14 ROCKETS
(17-14)
LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: MON vs. MEM
Bad week overall mitigated by victory over Thunder. No player gets hated on for scoring lots of points for bad teams like Kevin Martin. But as long as he doesn’t have to face Tony Allen (who held him scoreless Tuesday), he produces consistently. Sam Dalembert is starting to do the same thing. I’ll say this: Final week of regular season is going to be epic in the West, which could have 11 above-.500 teams.
9
15 NUGGETS
(17-14)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU vs. SA
We shall see what they are made of this week: Back-to-backs against Thunder-Wolves, Clippers-Spurs. Soon, we’ll also see if they will get Wilson Chandler back (he is a restricted free agent when he returns from China.) No. 2 in the NBA in scoring, they’d be ranked higher if not for that last-second loss to Grizzlies. Unfair? Yes. But as I said, we’ll judge them off a larger sample size after this tough upcoming week.
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16 PACERS
(18-12)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: TUE vs. NO
Nice record, but they’ve lost five of six. Should have a 3-0 week with Bobcats twice and Hornets visiting, and there will be further buzz after Paul George wins the slam dunk contest. Yes, I am being unusually cruel for ranking them this low with the record they are sporting. But a 1-5 stretch will do that.
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17 JAZZ
(15-14)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: TUE vs SA
Will they be the team that stops San Antonio’s incredible road run? No team has a bigger disparity in winning percentage at home (12-5) vs. on the road (3-9). Made 17 3s last week, but still trail the Knicks by three one-thousandths of a percentage point for worst 3-point percentage in the NBA.
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18 CELTICS
(15-14)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: SUN at DET
Something seems just plain wrong with a Rajon Rondo career-high in points coming in a loss — at home against the Pistons, no less. To those peeved by my calling Rondo out for refusing to speak to media after triple-double vs. Bulls, consider this: Vets in C’s locker room have implored him in the past to fulfill all his leadership tasks, including media interaction.
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19 WOLVES
(15-16)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME:  MON at DEN
Actually, the key game is the Rookie-Sophomore thingee on All-Star Saturday night, with Ricky Rubio and Blake Griffin on the same team. Meantime, Pekovic fever is sweeping this nation and several former Yugoslav republics. Coming out of AS break, 6 of first 7 are against Clips, Lakers and Blazers.
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20 PISTONS
(10-22)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: SUN vs BOS
Welcome to the Top 20. Winners of six of eight, one of the Ls was to the Wizards by 21. Go figure. Tayshaun Prince stepping up his game noticeably, Stuckey has been solid. Are they this year’s Philadelphia (second-half surge team)?
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21 HORNETS
(7-23)
LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED at CLE
Who dat making the big climb way down here? Hey, props for the 3-0 week. Chris Kaman has re-established some trade value. He is most likely player in the NBA to be dealt by the deadline, hands down.
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22 BUCKS
(12-18)
LAST WEEK: 0-3 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: MON vs. ORL
If there was a gambling pool on who is the next NBA player to be traded, my money would be on Jack. Yes, even over Kaman. Seems that 18-point beatdown by Miami shook ‘em up.
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23 SUNS
(12-19)
LAST WEEK: 0-3 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: MON vs WAS
How will Kobe kill them tonight? Bryant had 36 points on 14-of-25 shooting in Friday’s 111-99 victory at Staples and is averaging 42.0 ppg in two meetings with Phoenix this season. Had a season-high 48 points in a 99-83 win on Jan. 10. In 55 career games against the Suns, Bryant is averaging 26.6.
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24 CAVALIERS
(11-17)
LAST WEEK: 1-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED vs NO
If they are going to stay in some semblance of contention for the postseason, they need a 3-0 week against three beatable teams. In Turkey, Semih Erden is regarded as a much better player that Omer Asik of the Bulls.
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25 WARRIORS
(11-17)
LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 2 games KEY GAME: MON vs LAC
If Joe Lacob really gives up David Lee, Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh in a Dwight Howard rental, Bernucca will have another Ted Stepien 2.0 column to write. Buzzer loss at Memphis is type of thing that happens to a horrible rebounding team.
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26 NETS
(9-23)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: MON at NY
Brook Lopez returns Sunday, they clobbered the Bulls on Saturday, and Deron Williams gets a quick revenge match against Jeremy Lin on Monday. Over/under on turnovers between them is 11.5.
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27 RAPTORS
(9-23)
LAST WEEK: 0-4 THIS WEEK: 1 games KEY GAME: FRI vs CHA
Competitive in all four of their losses last week, but when one of your losses in a winless week is to the Bobcats, you did not have a good week. Have 4 days off to prepare for Pistons.
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28 KINGS
(10-20)
LAST WEEK: 0-3 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED at WAS
Wheels coming off on this road trip. Small solace: averaging larger home crowds than Bucks, Rockets, Pacers, Pistons and Hornets.
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29 WIZARDS
(7-24)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 2 games KEY GAME: WED vs SAC
Should be prohibitive favorites at home vs. road-weary Kings in last game before break, with an over/under somewhere around 215. Congrats to John Wall for making another 3-pointer. Now 2-for-18
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30 BOBCATS
(4-26)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 2 games KEY GAME: WED vs IND
Gave Michael Jordan a birthday present with a win that ended their threat to Cleveland’s NBA-record losing streak from last year. Biyambo looked Mutombo-like with seven blocks vs. Toronto.
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