Sheridan’s Sunday Power Rankings

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Not a lot of big movement at the top of this week’s rankings.

Down below, you’ll see I’ve taken a liking to the Pistons.

OK, maybe it’s the long work days, the coffee/stromboli/y nada mas diet. Maybe it’s that I just like Lawrence Frank. But those guys could catch the Knicks, for whom rock bottom will never be quite like this bottom made famous on Twitter by the newest Knick.

Gonna be a busy week with the trade deadline approaching.

We’ll try to steer you clear of rumors that are patently false, and we’ll give credit where it’s due to those reporting responsibly and accurately.

The over/under on trades before Thursday is 6 1/2. Wager amongst yourselves.

RANK TEAM THE RUNDOWN LAST
1 BULLS
(34-9)
LAST WEEK: 4-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED vs MIA
Round II comes Wednesday night against Heat. Bulls have lost five in a row to Miami, including playoffs, after winning five in a row against them last season. So as anticipated as this matchup is, keep it in perspective. It is March, not June. On a broader note, they still haven’t lost two in a row all season despite a myriad of injuries. That gets them the nod for No. 1 this week.
1
2 HEAT
(31-9)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED at CHI
Kudos to all of them for their gritty victory over Pacers in OT on Saturday night. Yes, Dwyane Wade was the guy hitting the game-winner. But he wouldn’t have had a chance if LeBron James hadn’t knocked down a huge 3 from the corner to force overtime. Not an easy week for them coming up — the Bulls game is the second of a back-to-back after playing at Orlando on Tuesday. They’re in Philly on Friday, where they usually crush the Sixers.
2
3 THUNDER
(32-9)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: FRI vs SA
They have more than filled their quota of letdown losses, Friday night’s vs. Cleveland at home being the latest (Wizards and Kings also have beaten them). This Friday? They play the Spurs — the cherry on the sundae on what should be a riveting week in the NBA. It’ll be the second night of a back-to-back for OKC after a road game vs. Nuggets, while Spurs will be playing away from home for first time since Feb. 23.
3
4 SPURS
(26-13)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI at OKC
Haven’t won two in a row since they ran their road winning streak to seven games back on Feb. 20. Pop sat Tony Parker in Saturday night’s loss to Clippers (Spurs allowed 120 for 3rd time) because he is a haunted man. “Last year was a huge disappointment to us. To win 60 games and then basically lose Manu (Ginobili to a sprained elbow) on the last game of the year, when should I have sat him? I don’t know. I’ll ask myself that forever probably,” Popovich said.
4
5 MAGIC
(26-15)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: TUE at MIA
Decision day on Dwight arrives Thursday. And you can safely bet that how he performs against the Heat on Tuesday will impact owner Rich DeVos’ decision on whether to roll the dice and keep him or get the most he can for him while he is still tradeable. They still run hot and cold more than any team in the NBA (evidence: loss to Bobcats followed by win over Bulls). Also, nobody is even close to matching their 10.3 3-pointers per game.
6
6 LAKERS
(24-16)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI vs. MIN
Strong signs that Kobe Bryant is not quite as enamored of Mike Brown as he was of Phil Jackson (like we couldn’t have seen that coming). Two numbers earn them their loftiest Power Rankings perch of the season — they are 17-2 at home going into Sunday’s game against Boston, and they are 17-7 against teams from the Western Conference (and won’t play another East team until April 3).
8
7 GRIZZLIES
(23-16)
LAST WEEK: 1-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: TUE vs. LAL
Zach should be back within a week and can get his timing back in easy three-game stretch against Raptors, Wizards and Kings. If they make a deal (O.J. Mayo once again is leading trade candidate), they need to bring in a shooter. Averaging only 3.8 3s per game, 29th in the NBA ahead of only Utah. Mike Conley leads NBA in steals (92) and won’t be fending off Ricky Rubio (91) anymore.
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8 CLIPPERS
(23-15)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: MON vs BOS
Can’t emphasize enough how important that win at San Antonio to close a six-game trip was to their collective psyches — especially coming off one-point losses to Wolves and Nets. About to play six games in eight days, but all will be at the Staples Center. After stretch in which he scored 20 or more just twice in 9 games, Chris Paul has done it in 8 of last 10.
9
9 SIXERS
(24-17)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT at CHI
So what turned them from a sputtering engine back into a team that routinely puts up double-digit victories the way they did in the first six weeks of the season? Gotta give some of the credit to Evan Turner, who supplanted Jodie Meeks as the starting 2-guard and went for 26 points in shellacking of Boston and 16-12-6 in win over Jazz. Opponents’ average of 87.2 points against is NBA’s lowest.
12
10 PACERS
(23-15)
LAST WEEK: 0-3 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: MON at CHI
Lose five, win six, lose three — they don’t run quite as hot and cold from night to night as the Magic do, but over longer stretches? Yup. Larry Bird revealed to ESPN’s Jackie McMullen that the Celtics asked for Tyler Hansbrough and a No. 1 pick for Ray Allen. Head-scratcher: 15th in NBA in scoring, dead last in assists (17.9 per game).
5
11 NUGGETS
(23-18)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU at OKC
If not for Kyrie Irving, they’d be on a six-game winning streak as they make their way through a nine-game homestand. With Trail Blazers in panic mode, is this the week when Masai Ujiri finally gets his hands on Nicolas Batum? He has been trying for three years. Here’s an idea.
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12 HAWKS
(23-17)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED at LAC
Josh Smith wants out and has wanted out for a year. You have to figure Kirk Hinrich is on his way out to get them out of luxury tax territory. Of all the teams willing to get Dwight Howard as a rental, you have to take them most seriously. Dwight is from Atlanta (he attended the 1996 Olympics, as a spectator, when he was 10 years old, and developed a crush on gymnast Dominique Dawes).
10
13 ROCKETS
(22-19)
LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT at LAC
The explanation was that Kyle Lowry missed Saturday night’s game in Newark because of a high fever. The Lazenby in me suspects otherwise. Let’s face it: Goran Dragic can be a starter in the NBA for a long time. The Rockets want Pau Gasol. Check out this idea.
13
14 CELTICS
(21-18)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: MON at LAC
They all got to dance the Gino with plenty of time left in their stomping of the Blazers. But what about what happened the previous night in Philly (lost by 32). Now beginning an eight-game road trip. And if you are the Heat or Bulls, you are hoping Danny Ainge breaks up their chemistry again at the deadline (like last year with Perkins deal) to make them a less scary first-round opponent.
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15 MAVERICKS
(23-20)
LAST WEEK: 1-4 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: SAT vs SA
Losers of eight of 10, showed they are waaaay too old to handle a back-to-back-to-back, and have a dust-up to deal with after Jason Terry was on the bench instead of the floor as a last-shot option at Phoenix. If they move Shawn Marion this week for an expiring contract, they officially enter the Dwight Howard/Deron Williams sweepstakes.
15
16 WOLVES
(21-21)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME:  FRI at LAL
Suerte to Ricky Rubio in his recovery from a torn ACL. His injury will impact the Olympics, but not as much as many would believe. Spain will simply use Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro as the playmakers, with the Gasols, Serge Ibaka and Rudy Fernandez comprising what will still be a formidable lineup. And the Wolves? Luke Ridnour was a starter when the season began, and if Martell Webster can become this week’s Evan Turner, the 8 seed is still within reach.
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17 SUNS
(19-21)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI vs DET
One of this week’s big risers. Why is the Pistons game on Friday night the key? Because it will be their third in three nights. They’ve won seven of nine, and a strong week this week will have them believing they can stay in the race for the No. 8 seed. They are 2 1/2 games back as the week begins.
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18 JAZZ
(19-21)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU vs MIN
Predictably went 2-3 on their five-game trip, given who they were playing. But they are only 5-15 on the road, and you have to wonder what Kevin O’Connor’s agenda is this week. Remember, nobody saw him lurking in the weeds last year waiting for the loser in the Melodrama to take Deron Williams.
19
19 KNICKS
(18-22)
LAST WEEK: 0-4 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: WED vs POR
The city is ready to turn on Carmelo Anthony, as Brooklyn native Chris Bernucca did in his column from this morning. If you missed Moke Hamilton’s Knicks column, read it. And if you see ‘Melo blowing kisses to Nate McMillan on Wednesday, you will know why.
16
20 PISTONS
(15-26)
LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: TUE vs LAL
They are 11-6 since 4-20 start. As I mentioned two weeks ago in these rankings, they could be this year’s Sixers and come from waaaay back in the pack to make postseason. They get mad props and big northward move in rankings for 3-0 week. Nine of next 10 on road (but only one back-to-back), so we’ll see if climb continues. Their 3-15 road record is NBA’s third-worst.
28
21 BLAZERS
(20-21)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED at NY
Will be interesting to see what they bring Tuesday and Wednesday in back-to-back road games as they get read for the dynamite to go off. Taking over dysfunction junction title from Wizards. Jamal Crawford is Kaman-like in terms of trade likelihood, and Crawford makes $9 million less.
18
22 BUCKS
(16-24)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED vs CLE
With all they’ve been through with Andrew Bogut injury-wise, would they let him go for another big in return? If they try to include Stephen Jackson, they would be sending out $21.25 million in salary. If Utah threw in a pick (better of Golden State’s or own), would this idea fly?
22
23 WARRIORS
(16-21)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: WED vs BOS
Why is that the key game? Because both teams will be half-expecting to be blown up the next day, and one of them will handle it better than the other. If you are the Warriors, there may come a time when you simply have had enough of living minute-to-minute with Stephen Curry’s ankle woes.
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24 CAVALIERS
(15-23)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: WED at MIL
Congratulations to Kyrie Irving for winning the Rookie of the Year award. He was the slight leader over Ricky Rubio in my book already, and Rubio’s injury ends the contest. Two nice wins over Nuggets and Thunder on road. Too bad six Ls preceded those two Ws.
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25 KINGS
(14-26)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI vs BOS
Just won two in a row to open nine-game homestand. Yes, nine. If they go 7-0 over the remainder, it’s a 13-team race in the West.
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26 NETS
(14-28)
LAST WEEK: 3-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI at ORL
If they acquire Dwight Howard on Thursday, their first game with him will be Friday night in Orlando. If Dwight gets traded to someplace where he will sign long-term, they will ditch Deron Williams instantly.
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27 RAPTORS
(13-27)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: SAT at CHA
Bad week for Spanish point guards. In case you missed it, Jose Calderon went down with sprained ankle Saturday night.
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28 HORNETS
(10-31)
LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: MON vs CHA
Chris Kaman has scored in double figures in 14 consecutive games. Worthy of a first-round pick. Can Dell/Stu find one?
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29 WIZARDS
(9-30)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU at NO
They beat the Lakers. And Trevor Booker looks good. Can they move Andray Blatche for anything of value?
29
30 BOBCATS
(5-34)
LAST WEEK: 1-4 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: WED at HOU
When it is well known that Boris Diaw is likely to get a buyout, you can’t get bupkis for him in a trade.
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  1. how the hell do the cavs go down after beating denver and OKLAHOMA CITY back to back…ON THE ROAD!

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