Heisler’s Wednesday Power Rankings

At this point of every season, even 66-game ones, I like to offer a little prayer of thanksgiving:

Thank heavens that’s over!

If you want to know who I ranked first, instead of copping out again with a 12-way tie, the answer is San Antonio.

If you want to know who proved themselves to be best, that would be no one.

Not that the regular season was going to tell much about the elite teams, unless one went 60-6.

For all the opinions spouted from Nov. 1—er, Christmas to April 29 about The Team(s) No One Wants to Meet in the Playoffs, what happens from now on is what counts.

A year ago, the long-past-their-prime Mavericks staggered down the stretch on their walkers, earning the nod as the high seed likeliest to be upset in their No. 2-7 matchup with Portland.

As expected, it was 2-2 after the Mavs’ Game 4 loss in Portland, where they blew a 23-point lead.

Not as expected, the Mavs won Games 5-6 … and in a real surprise, especially to the twice-defending champions who strolled to a 16-point lead in Game 1 in Staples, rallied to stun the Lakers.

The Mavs then outscored the Lakers 120-30 on 3 the rest of that series—all three games of it—shooting 40-of-86 to the Lakes’ 10-of-57.

Get it? Mavs, hot, Lakes not.

The Mavs then dispatched the young Thunder in a 4-1 rout, advancing to the Finals as a solid underdog to Miami, and a bigger one after falling behind, 2-1.

The Mavs then outscored Miami, 84-51, on 3 in the next three games, making 44% to Miami’s 30%, proving who gets hot last laughs best.

Little has changed with the long lockout keeping teams that needed re-tooling… like the Heat and Lakers… from doing more of it.

Dominant teams?

Not lately.

It’s not like the ‘80s when the Lakers and Celtics were head-and-shoulders above everyone (OK, 1980-1987).

It’s not like the ‘90s when the Bulls were way, way the best. (OK, except when someone was striking out in the White Sox minor-league system).

It’s not even like the last decade when the Lakers won screwed around so much late in the season, they managed to win five (5!) titles while posting the league’s best record once.

At the moment, there’s little to choose between the top five (Spurs, Bulls, Lakers, Heat, Thunder), who aren’t day-and-night better than the second tier (Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies).

Nor is anyone in the second tier that much better than the fast-closing Knicks.

No, really. That’s what it has come to, at long last.

RANKTEAMTHE RUNDOWNLAST
1SPURS
(48-16)
LAST WEEK: 4-0
With Manu as sixth man and Timmy at 36 today, starting lineup might not be in top 10–but they have another team almost as good on bench, putting their depth in a class by itself.
1
2BULLS
(48-16)
LAST WEEK: 2-1
Best thing going with a healthy Rose, but they haven’t had one all season. This one, coming off injured ankle, doesn’t have his old explosion. Now to see if he gets better, or worse, or hurts anything else.
1
3LAKERS
(41-24)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 
Despite their age, aborted CP3 trade, 10-8 start and struggle after leaving Phil’s triangle in bumpy transition to Mike Brown, they kept getting better, as opposed to kicking back as they had for years.
1
4THUNDER
(47-18)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 
Still not ready for prime time? They were 40-12 on April 1 with Westbrook, shooting career-high 47% until then, at 38% since.
1
5HEAT
(46-19)
LAST WEEK: 3-2 
No worse than they were last season but no better either, looking at showdown with Bulls, who are on last season’s 62-win pace with Rose missing almost half their games.
1
6PACERS
(42-23)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 
Last time they got past first round was 2005 with Reggie, Jermaine, Ron-Ron, Stephen Jax, Jamaal. This team is closing on 15-4, looking at what amounts to first-round bye vs. Orlando.
6
7GRIZZLIES
(36-25)
LAST WEEK: 3-2 
Marc Gasol stays in with bruised knee as they win 14th of 17 to tie Clips for No. 4 seed, hosting Magic tonight while LAC is in NY. In a cautionary note, Gasol has averaged 9.0 points, 3.6 rebounds since.
8
8HAWKS
(39-26)
LAST WEEK: 3-1 
One for all and all for one: With Big Al Horford cleared—well, to lift weights—trying to return for playoffs, five Hawks are averaging in double figures this month, including backup four Ivan Johnson.
9
9CLIPPERS
(40-25)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 
Tough crowd: Despite winning 14 of 18 down the stretch, Lakers pulled away from them and Grizzlies caught them. If Griz gets No. 4 seed, Clips get ticket to Memphis for Games 1-2.
7
10CELTICS
(38-27)
LAST WEEK: 2-1
Last Hurrah: With KG, Ray on expiring deals, Celtics heading into another of their first-round go-arounds with dangerously athletic Hawks.
10
11KNICKS
(34-30)
LAST WEEK: 2-1
Wow. Awful with Melo, Amare… great with Lin and stars out… awful with stars back… great with Lin, D’Antoni gone and Woodson on sideline. Bottom line: Team that started 18-24 and finished 16-6 will be no walkover for Heat.
11
12NUGGETS
(36-28)
LAST WEEK: 2-1 
Nuggets still don’t have a closer but that’s better than 18 months ago when they didn’t have a future, looking at have to trade Melo for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and a pick.
12
13JAZZ
(35-30)
LAST WEEK: 3-0 
How badly did they need shooting guard who shot? Team that had lost 15 of 23 goes on 15-8 closing run to make playoffs with Hayward, who averaged 9.4 before All-Star break, kicking it up to 16.
16
14MAVERICKS
(34-28)
LAST WEEK: 2-1
Old and exhausted as they look, this was pretty good for a team that stripped down, preparing to make run at DWill and/or Dwight, letting Chandler, Barea, Butler walk.
14
15SUNS
(32-29)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 
One for Alvin Gentry: 21-13 closing run after 12-19 start was great… as fig leaf covering owner Sarver’s rear-guard action against the future. What will it matter if free agent Nash leaves?
15
16SIXERS
(31-30)
LAST WEEK: 1-3 
Happily, the team that overachieved by so much for two seasons doesn’t fall completely apart at the end. Changes already under way with rookie Vucevic starting over Hawes.
19
17ROCKETS
(32-32)
LAST WEEK: 0-3
Unfortunately, this is what GM Daryl Morey thought they were after almost landing Pau Gasol with Nene ready to sign with them if it had gone through, and why Morey will be out there again, looking for big men.
17
18MAGIC
(36-28)
LAST WEEK: 0-3
Just be glad you’re not them: Just lost 10 of 14 as Howard, fuming at organization again, schedules back surgery—so even if they realize they have to trade him, they may not be able to.
13
19BUCKS
(31-33)
LAST WEEK: 2-2
Monta-Jennings backcourt was as explosive as expected and Ilyasova averaged 16-9, shot 51% after break. Now they need a center like Bogut although they didn’t often have one when he was there.
18
20HORNETS
(21-44)
LAST WEEK: 2-2 
Farewell to owner Shinn (hooray!) and CP3 (oops). As for those who were left-er, stayed behind, there should be a special commendation for coaches whose teams start 9-31, then turn around and finish 12-13, like Monty Williams.
23
21WOLVES
(26-39)
LAST WEEK: 1-1 
Embattled GM Kahn, whose controversial draft of Rubio turned out to be genius move, has option picked up for next season—meaning they’d better come closer to their 18-13 record with Ricky starting than their 5-19 finish without him.
20
22BLAZERS
(28-37)
LAST WEEK: 0-3 
Buzzards come home to roost after owner Allen’s frustration at injuries to Oden, Roy led to revolving-door GMs and finally offed McMillan as they melted down what’s left.
21
23PISTONS
(24-41)
LAST WEEK: 1-3 
Years of freefall over. If they get the (big) part they need, they have enough promising players—Monroe, Stuckey, Knight, Jerebko—to put around him.
22
24CAVALIERS
(21-43)
LAST WEEK: 1-3 
Not much of a finish, unless you’re tanking—but they were. Hey, two years ago, all they had to hope for was bad things to happen to LeBron until the end of time.
24
25WIZARDS
(15-46)
LAST WEEK: 1-2 
Gone: Knuckleheads JaVale, Nick Young, but not before taking down Coach Flip Saunders. On the rise: Jordan Crawford, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker as Wizards close on uptick, winning five of seven.
28
26WARRIORS
(23-42)
LAST WEEK: 1-4 
No longer content to be high-scoring little circus act with aggressive new ownership and relentless Jerry West in the loop. If all they are now medium-sized, not-as-high-scoring nobodies, they had to start somewhere.
25
27RAPTORS
(22-43)
LAST WEEK: 0-3 
Remember their glory days when they anguished about losing Vince or Bosh as free agents? These days, they don’t even have anyone worth anguishing about.
27
28NETS
(22-43)
LAST WEEK: 1-3
Appropriate farewell after 35 mostly awful years there. Like anyone cares if they go to Brooklyn or Hell with all the thriving emblems of local culture like “Jersey Shore” and “Desperate Housewives of New Jersey.”
26
29KINGS
(21-44)
LAST WEEK: 1-3 
Look at the bright side: The NBA version of the cast of “Lord of the Flies” gets another season to grow up in relative anonymity as Maloofs sentencing them to another season there while re-considering their options.
29
30BOBCATS
(7-57)
LAST WEEK: 0-4 
Lost last 21. Two more and they post worst percentage ever at .106….. Sheridan Hoops (Wednesday edition) signing off. Thanks for sticking with us to No. 30 of final list, assuming anyone did. Badeeya, badeeya, badeeya, that’s all folks!
30
Share the Love
Breaking News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>