Congratulations to everyone who took Marquette in their NCAA pool. The Warriors are going to win it all.
Your big movers this week are the Mavericks and Bucks. I am still being somewhat hard on the Cavs, which I’m sure I’ll hear about from Cleveland tweeps.
I am not sold on Woodsonity, but the Knicks have certainly looked re-energized these past three games.
The season is two-thirds over. I like Denver and Houston as sleeper threats. I have fallen out of love with Minnesota. I want to see if Phoenix can keep this up.
Mostly, though, I anxiously await Marquette’ first championship since 1976. Seashells and balloons, baby.
To those whose brackets have been busted, I recommend you open an account at DraftStreet and start playing fantasy hoops each night. They also have nightly fantasy contests when the NCAAs are being played, they have fantasy golf, fantasy hockey, and of course, fantasy baseball.
Click here to sign up. Makes every night a little more interesting. (And for those of you whose fantasy teams will finish out of the money (like mine), it’s a second chance to make it a profitable season.)
Next week, I am hoping these Power Rankings are sponsored by Kia. The person at Kia who knows what I am talking about is encouraged to get in contact.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: MON vs. ORL
Still have not lost consecutive games, and they were ripe to be picked off Saturday night by the Sixers as Derrick Rose sat out again. Didn’t happen. Whether it is C.J. Watson, John Lucas or Mike James, someone always steps up big. They have lost 75 man-games due to injuries (43 from Hamilton, Rose). They are 29-3 when outrebounding opponents, 20-0 when holding teams below 90 points.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: SUN vs ORL
Temptation is to drop them a spot or two based on their 1-2 week against three good East teams – Orlando, Chicago and Philly. And that would have been the case if Spurs hadn’t lost to Mavs on Saturday night. Monday will be a better day to judge them after we see what they do against the Magic. If they lose, Orlando will have won the season series 3-1. Circle your calenders: April 12 and 19, consecutive Thursday night TNT games vs. Bulls.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: FRI vs DAL
All in all, a helluva week despite that loss at Dallas. Rung up 122 points on Orlando, 114 on Oklahoma City, dumped Richard Jefferson (2-for-14 in Warriors debut) on Golden State. Tim Duncan (12,372) passed Paul Silas and Dikembe Mutombo on career rebounding list. He is now 18th, with Sir Charles (12,546) next on his list. Only team in NBA shooting above 40 percent on 3s.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED vs. LAC
Lost the season series against the Spurs, and that could be a crucial tiebreaker when it comes to playoff seedings (although the Spurs learned last year that a No. 1 seed means little if you lose a key player in the final regular season game). Thunder are only 6-4 since All-Star break, with three loses at home. In 2nd quarter of loss vs. Spurs, SA scored on 14 of first 16 possessions. Wanted: Lockdown perimeter defender.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: MON vs. CHI
Now that they can exhale (temporarily), we’ll see what they can get accomplished in their back-to-back against Miami and Chicago. If they beat the Heat, they will have gone 3-1 against their likely second-round playoff opponent. Perennial pessimist Stan Van Gundy sees Dwight’s decision (opting in) as a temporary repreieve. More on that here in Bernucca’s Sunday column.
|LAST WEEK: 4-0 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED at DAL
Came out of the deadline minus a lot of dead weight and with a speedy point guard. That’s about the best Lakers fans could ask for — especially since they didn’t let go of Pau Gasol, whose supposed demise has been vastly overstated. Friday was first time since 2007 that Derek Fisher didn’t start for them. That is a long, long time. They best hope he does not sign with an eventual playoff opponent. 19-2 home record is NBA’s best.
|LAST WEEK: 3-0 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI at SA
Yes, this is a generous bump I am giving them after their victory over the Spurs. But Jason Kidd is coming on, Dirk Nowitzki is playing with passion and aplomb (and consistency: 27-27-27 in last 3 games), and this is the time of year when I start to value veteran teams over their younger brethren who aren’t seasoned enough to save their enthusiasm for the stretch run and the postseason. Schedule will test them: Next 9 vs. playoff teams, including back-to-back at Miami and Orlando.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT at LAC
Zach Randolph had 25 and 9 in his return Friday night, but repeated episodes of cranial flatulence in OT vs. Raptors was stunning. They really stunk. And they missed 20 free throws in the game. And they didn’t add a shooter at the deadline. Maybe Zach’s return clears some space on perimeter for Rudy Gay (37 percent on 3s, but only 35 made all season.) Personally, this is where I want to see Derek Fisher sign.
|LAST WEEK: 2-3 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: SAT vs MEM
And since we ended the above item with a comment on where Derek Fisher might sign, what better place than down the hallway from his old locker stall? After all the lamenting about what the loss of Chauncey Billups would mean in terms of veteran leadership, if they add Fish they’ll regain it. He can play off the ball, too, and you know he has a big shot or two left in his arsenal. I’d trust him more than Nick Young.
|LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT at CHI
So what do they do after posting impressive wins over the Celtics, Jazz and Knicks? Lose to the Pacers, Heat and Bulls. They are the embodiment of a second-tier team, and they’d better hope the learning curve for Evan Turner isn’t too difficult. He should have been moved into the starting lineup two months ago, Doug. Will be haunted by the Speights trade and the Nocioni cut, IMHO. “Chapu” is one of few players who gets into LBJ’s head.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED vs DET
Will be an interesting team to watch over next 5 weeks. McGee for Nene was a curious deal, but when you max a guy out and his FG percentage drops 10 points, sometimes you have to acknowledge the error of your ways. Kenneth “Manimal” Faried and McGee are both playing for contracts. They are not fat and happy. Wilson Chandler is coming back, too, which makes these guys scary deep. Gotta play 7 straight on road beginning Fri.
|LAST WEEK: 2-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT at MIL
Not quite so sure Leandro Barbosa can be a difference-maker. He was worth a flyer, and he came super cheap, and he can score and dish — two things the Pacers need. They are 16th in scoring and 30th in assists. I see them falling out of the legitimate contender picture faster than you can say Newt Gingrich. I was tempted to rank them lower after watching them for 48 minutes 2 straight nights.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: TUE vs LAL
These guys remind me a lot of the Nuggets. They are better team their record would indicate, and their depth could be a problem for somebody in the playoffs who is not similarly stocked. If they had Kyle Lowry defending Chris Paul (12 points in final 2:42) instead of a winded Goran Dragic (45 mins of PT) on Saturday night, they would have won. Martin, Camby and Parsons also sat out.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: MON vs BOS
About to play 6 games in 8 nights. Joe Johnson’s 12-for-19 shooting night vs. Wizards snapped his streak of 15 consecutive games in which he never once shot over 50 percent. Have three games left vs. Celtics. Eight of remaining 21 are against horrible teams. One left vs. Orlando, who they are 2-0 against.
|LAST WEEK: 2-3 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: FRI at PHI
They are 2-3 thus far on eight-game trip. They are playing with the lack of enthusiasm that should be expected of a group that has been together so long and has endured more that its share of NBA dog days. They’ll be ready when it counts — although I include an asterisk next to Ray Allen’s name when I say that. His slump now includes 0-for-6 on 3s with 7 points in 42 minutes vs. Denver.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: TUE at MIA
How’s this for March Madness: These guys are 8-2 since Sadie Hawkins Day came and went. Have two games left vs. Rockets and two vs. Nuggets, who will be catchable if the Suns can carry their recent success through their upcoming four-game Eastern trip. Starting with Sunday night home game vs. Hou., this might be their make-or-break week.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: FRI vs. DEN
Three games left vs. Portland, two games left vs. Suns. If they can go 5-0 in those games, they have a shot at playoffs. Of final 22 games, 12 are on road — where they are 5-16. Favors’ 23 and 17 in OT win vs. GSW, starting for Al Jefferson, were huge.
|LAST WEEK: 4-0 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: THU vs BOS
Quite a week, eh? Stole Monta Ellis from the Warriors. Not that I don’t like Andrew Bogut, cuz I like him a lot. But to get a guy who can go off for 30 any night for a perpetually injured center? Stuff like that rarely happens. They begin the new week with NBA’s longest winning streak — 5 games. Have two games left vs. Knicks, and if they win one they have the tiebreaker.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: MON at GS
Have lost four of five, and there is no solace in the fact that all the losses were close. Eight of their next 10 are on the road. If their hopes are to remain alive, absolutely must win both ends of back-to-back beginning tonight vs. Sacramento and Golden State.
|LAST WEEK: 3-1 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: WED at PHI
When you saw the word “resignation” in the press release announcing Mike D’Antoni’s departure, you came to the sad realization that the Knicks are going to keep him muzzled through June 30 when his contract ends. Never seen a guy make such a complete turn from gleeful to glum in 3 1/2 years.
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SUN at LAC
They are 12-8 since 4-20 start. Hard to rationalize how/why they stood pat at the trade deadline. Need to finish 17-5 to be a .500 team. Have two games left vs both Heat and Bulls. So they need to go 17-1 in the others. T’Ain’t happening.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: TUE vs MIL
Kaleb Canales beats the Bulls in Chicago in his NBA head coaching debut as the Blazers hold them to 10 fourth-quarter points. “This was the most fun I’ve ever had in an NBA game,” LaMarcus Aldridge said. Too bad things deteriorated so thoroughly in the days leading up to that most improbable of wins.
|LAST WEEK: 2-2 THIS WEEK: 5 games KEY GAME: WED vs BOS
Whoever had Nate Robinson and Klay Thompson one week ago as the Dubs’ likely starting backcourt should drop whatever it is they are doing and head to Vegas immediately. Richard Jefferson debuted 2-for-14. “Shooting” guard Brandon Rush played 22 minutes and did not shoot a single shot. Will David Lee ever experience a playoff game? Ever?
|LAST WEEK: 1-2 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SUN vs. ATL
Have lost 8 of 11, with the three victories coming against playoff contenders Denver, OKC and Houston. Hard to believe Chris Grant couldn’t do better in the Sessions trade.
|LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: SAT vs CHA
What to make of trading a lottery pick for Gerald Wallace? They had to do something to convince Deron Williams they are going to make the team better for the move to Brooklyn. Wallace is not a bad piece, but that was a steep price.
|LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: NONE
The bottom five teams have no key games remaining. That is my rule for Sunday rankings for the rest of the season.
|LAST WEEK: 2-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: NONE
Wins at Cleveland and Memphis made for a decent start to the five-game road trip. If they can end Woodsonity in New York, they’ll have accomplished something. Rave report on Valanciunas.
|LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: NONE
Nice comeback in 4th quarter vs. Nets. I was watching when Kaman knocked down a 3 that was changed to a 2 because his toe was on the line. This is how I spent a Saturday night. I just got really depressed writing that.
|LAST WEEK: 1-3 THIS WEEK: 4 games KEY GAME: NONE
They may not have JaVale McGee anymore, but we’ll always have this to remember him by.
|LAST WEEK: 1-4 THIS WEEK: 3 games KEY GAME: NONE
My Saturday night also included watching the final minute of their win over Raptors one. Someone send Xanax.