Kamenetzky Bros. Power Rankings: Where is Miami’s Motivation?

A telling stretch is around the corner, starting Thursday against the (warm-ish) Knicks. Then the Pacers host the Clips before traveling to Golden State and Phoenix. Currently 7-5 vs. teams above .500.1
Because this is what they do, Marco Bellinelli is now the greatest player in basketball history. Five January games: 18.3 points, 4.0 assists, 62.2 percent shooting, 64.7 percent from downtown.4
3THUNDER(28-9)Reggie Jackson is shooting 41.6 percent (29.4 from 3-point range) as a starter vs. 46.6/33.3 percent off the bench. KD averaging 34 PPG this month.2
The Heat rest until Wednesday after back-to-back losses to the NY squads. Miami won’t a team with a winning record until San Antonio on the 26th. 8 of 10 losses to sub-.500 teams.3
The Blazers need the return of C.J. McCollum to add some punch to one of the league’s least productive benches, or there could be a slow drip to the middle of the W.C. playoff ladder. More on that in Rookie Rankings.5
Had their 10-game win streak broken in Brooklyn, but started another Sunday in Boston. Still see Denver, OKC, Indy, Minny, Portland and the Clips before Feb. 1.7
Blake Griffin has played very well since Chris Paul went down. Getting J.J. Redick back will make carrying the Clippers in his absence a whole lot easier.8
Howard is 6th in total blocks, but via NBA.com, opponents are shooting 46.7 percent against him at the rim, behind Hibbert, Davis, Ibaka, Henson, Bogut, Robin Lopez, and more. Reflective of Houston’s defensive malaise.6
Lost four of six since Eric Bledsoe left the lineup. Ish Smith was a perfectly good option off the bench until he actually had to do some heavy lifting.9
Losses at Miami and Indiana show the red-hot Raps aren’t among the elite, but wins over Detroit and Brooklyn show they may be kings of the East’s leasts.11
19th in Def. Efficiency, in large part because they can’t keep teams off the line. No squad in the NBA has allowed more freebies than the Mavs’ 972.10
Don’t know exactly what Brian Shaw told players during the post-Miller meetings, but it worked. Nuggs have won 5 straight (4 by 20+) and are back in the playoff conversation.14
Just when things looked bleak without Al Horford, the Hawks rip off solid home wins against Indiana and Houston. This despite bleak shooting from Paul Millsap (33 percent or worse in four of eight since AH’s injury).12
The much talked-about 0-10 record in games decided by four points or less is fluky, and can’t logically continue. Their 4-14 mark against teams over .500? That’s something to worry about.13
15GRIZZLIES(17-19)Marc Gasol has resumed conditioning drills. The Grizz are hanging close enough an 8-seed to make the 2nd half relevant, but they’ll have at least three teams to leapfrog. Tall order.17
Five straight wins means they’re perfect in 2014. The NBA’s 2nd best defense and consistently elite effort will keep them in just about every game.18
Impressive five-game win streak included victories over OKC, Atlanta, Golden State, and Miami. Now back in the E.C.’s top 8, within spitting distance of home court in Round 1. Unbelievable.22
The Wizards have lost four straight and are two games under .500 at home, and Saturday the Verizon Center roof sprung multiple leaks. Signs the team should head to Seattle?16
Any shot they had of sneaking into an 8th seed basically goes out the window with Jrue Holiday’s injury, particularly with Ryan Anderson already on the shelf.15
Like the Nets, they’ve finally donned a rally cap, and are only a half-game out of the playoffs… only 2.5 from a 6-seed. Given who they’re chasing, even the Knicks ought to be able to make that up.26
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hopefully returns this week from a broken hand. How he performs going forward is a lot more important than whether they rally to an 8-seed.20
Survived for a big win Saturday against Phoenix. Brandon Jennings is shooting 26 percent in five January games.21
Continue winning about as often as they lose, but if Gordon Hayward’s hip flexor is worse than believed, that’ll change in a hurry.25
Maybe the Kings acquired Rudy Gay just to trade him and instantly become awesome? Seems to the fastest way to leap up in the standings.24
Kyrie is hobbled, Bynum is gone, Waiters is ticked. Meaning all there is to do is watch Anthony Bennett Pick-and-Stroll his way through the most disastrous rookie season in anything ever.28
The Holiday injury could have the Pelicans sliding in the draft, and since Philly owns their pick, the Sixers could end up serious players in the high lottery this summer.27
Eight straight losses mean Brad Stevens’ crew has finally come to Earth. Which is fine, because he’s already built up plenty of goodwill.23
Reports say the Magic are reluctant to trade Arron Afflalo heading into the deadline. Have the flexibility to pass, but should they?29
When the injured players (Kobe, Blake, Farmar, Nash, Henry) return, they’ll rise to semi-mediocre. Until then, the Lakers have arguably the worst roster in the NBA.19
Not much to do except trade off the Luke Ridnour types and watch John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo develop. That last part is actually kind of fun.30

OTHER RANKINGS: MVP | Rookies | Most Improved | Sixth Man

Brian Kamenetsky is a frequent contributor to SheridanHoops.com. Follow him and his brother, Andy, on Twitter.



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