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The Hoop Doctors

NBA Power Rankings: Week 18

The Hoop Doctors NBA Power Rankings

March 4, 2010 – Chip Patterson

NBA Power Rankings

1

Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers

Comeback win against the Nuggets on Sunday kept the Lakers from dropping their third straight and giving up the season series.  It was a big game for the Lakers to win after dropping two straight, but most importantly it reminded the entire Western Conference who’s boss.

2

Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks’ last three wins have come against teams out of the current playoff picture and have been by eight ponts or less.  But they are still victories, and Dallas still hasn’t lost in nine games.  Until that streak is broken, they will continue to sit just a notch below LA.

3

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers

It was a common theme across Twitter last night, but LeBron James is playing Nerf Ball with kids out there at this point.  If LeBron has another gear that he is saving for April/May (which I think he does). then it’s going to be awfully scary to see what he is capable of when he’s really needed.

4

Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic

With how well the Magic have been playing recently winning 5 of their last 6, I am looking forward to seeing how they will stack up against the Lakers in a Finals rematch on Sunday.  Dwight, who has been incredible as of late, does not face many opponents that can body him up the way the Lakers can.  Amway Arena should be rocking, and I suggest you tune in as well.

5

Raptors

Utah Jazz

Some bad losses recently have pundits beginning to doubt the Jazz’s dominance, but I figure that if you are going to stink it up for a week you might as well do it now.  After Phoenix tonight, the Jazz will have Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee to fine tune any problems they have and get ready for the final stretch.

6

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns

The Suns are hot, healthy-ish, and going on a tear through the Western Conference right now.  Big wins over Denver and Oklahoma City make Sunday’s loss to the Spurs forgettable.  Would not surprise me to see a show with the confused Jazz coming to town tonight.

7

Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets

What will separate the Nuggets from the Mavericks come tournament time will the backcourt depth.  Carter, Lawson, Afflalo, and Smith all are capable of backing up Billups at point as well as have experience running alongside him.

8

Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder

I’m not the first person to say it, but it’s worth mentioning: Where is the Thunder’s ceiling?  This team, loaded with young talent and anchored by one of the smoothest scorers in the NBA, has broken through expectations just after new ones are set.  If this nucleus stays together for another year, they might be catching the “contender” tag quicker than we expected.

9

Phoenix Suns

Atlanta Hawks

It’s a good thing the Hawks are pulling further and further away from the 5-9 seeds in the playoffs and closer to first round home court.  The Birds are 24-7 at home and anything they can do to avoid a second round matchup with the Cavs would be in their best interest.

10

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

As stated above, the Celtics are in a “not-it” war with Atlanta to try and get the 3 seed by playoff time.  It can likely be assumed that Cleveland will retain the top spot, and anything you can do to delay playing the Cavs, you should.

11

Portland Trailblazers

San Antonio Spurs

With murmurs of Tony Parker considering taking his somewhat-hobbled game abroad, I fear that the Spurs window is closing even faster than I had previously believed.  Jefferson looks tired and there really isn’t a ton of depth right now at the guard position.  So long San Antonio dynasty, it was a nice decade.

12

Houston Rockets

Portland Trailblazers

One of the great upsides to having Camby underneath has been some of the pressure it takes off LaMarcus Aldridge in the post.  His rebounding numbers have dipped a little in the last five games, but he has been scoring above his average.  The Blazers still confuse me, and I am not ready to tag them as a dark horse yet.

13

Pistons

Milwaukee Bucks

Scott Skiles has the Bucks playing some inspired basketball recently and brought them closer to the safe side of the playoff race.  Whether or not there is the right combination of experience (Stackhouse) and talent (Jennings, Bogut, Salmons) to do any damage is yet to be discovered..

14

Hornets

Chicago Bulls

Damn that plantar fasciitis, it gets the best of them.  I still don’t quite understand what it is other than it hurts like hell, and it is going to keep Joakim Noah out of the Bulls lineup for the next three weeks.  Brad Miller, time to take this team on your back.  I know you have been waiting.

15

Sacramento Kings

Toronto Raptors

Just when everyone gets high on the Raptors they begin to sputter again.  The current losing streak has included some dreadful defense (not that the Raps can play “good” defense) and miserable shooting.

16

Heat

Miami Heat

The Miami Heat are making far too many headlines regarding the Summer 2010 and not enough headlines regarding Playoffs 2010.  Let the media speculate all we want, and you guys focus on getting your act together and making the postseason.

17

Jazz

New Orleans Hornets

What can we say about the New Orleans Hornets that hasn’t already been said about Shutter Island? (Lots of hype, thrilling at times, in the end not really something to write home about)

18

Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies

Ronnie Brewer believes he will be back from his hamstring injury March 12.  I am interested to see how Mr. Does Everything fits into the Grizzlies high octane offense.  If my hunch serves me correctly, it could work out very well for Memphis.

19

Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets

Daryl Morey was considered a genius for bringing in talent.  Now if he can only make his frontline taller and stronger they will stop getting bullied inside game in and game out.

20

Los Angeles Clippers

Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats received so much praise for their 12-4 record in January we almost forgot that it included a 7 game homestand.  The Bobcats are, and always have, been miserable on the road.  Unfortunately the chemistry seems to be gone, and Larry Brown needs to help them find it ASAP to avoid another disappointing 9th place finish..

21

Wizards

Washington Wizards

JaVale McGee’s minutes have tripled since the trade deadline.  He has been my favorite Wizard all season and it’s been good to see him earn some time on the hardwood.  This rag-tag group will be on a serious spoiler mission come April and all of the teams fighting for playoff spots in the East should be afraid.

22

Knicks

Los Angeles Clippers

A brutal road trip starts on Sunday that could drop the Clippers back near the bottom of the West.  In related news, a burtal road trip starts Sunday that could push the Clippers up in the lottery.

23

Wolves

Philadelphia 76ers

Difficult news to hear Iverson being forced to leave the Sixers, but hopefully it will end the media inquiries regarding his status until the end of the season.  Philadelphia needs to focus on continuing to develop it’s young guards and figure out a way to dump Elton Brand.  These are requests, please get to work.

24

Bucks

Sacramento Kings

Carl Landry has been fitting in nicely with this Sacramento squad. Still at the age of 26, Landry has a chance to carve out a nice little spot for him to showcase his skill set as a starter and move into a second chapter of his career.

25

Warriors

Indiana Pacers

Jim O’Brien is taking a firm stand on not mailing in this season.  Unfortunately for O’Brien, most of his team — and especially the fans — already have.

26

Philadelphia 76ers

Detroit Pistons

The five game losing streak has any hope for a late playoff push buried six feet under in Detroit.  The problem is that with Gordon and Villanueva’s contracts there really are not any moves that can be made.  Which is equally depressing.

27

Bulls

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors, although never really successful, have been fun to watch in the last couple weeks.  If you can, tune in, their local commentary team is phenomenal as well.  I’ve never heard a duo get so excited about Warriors basketball since Baron left.

28

Bobcats

New York Knicks

Nate Robinson is actually making a difference on the Celtics.  Eddie House is actually making different faces at his son sitting courtside.  The Knicks could be scaring off talent with their poor play, but cash can overrule many emotions.

29

Pacers

Minnesota Timberwolves

If the nucleus stays together and Rubio does join the Wolves as David Kahn claims, this will be a dangerous team in 2011, if we have basketball. (sigh)

30

New Jersey Nets

New Jersey Nets

Dunno if you heard, but if you go to the IZOD Center on a game night, you can get coupons for tax preparation services.  You don’t have to stick around to watch, that’s terrible, but with their half-price tickets it’s almost worth it.

Chip Patterson, graduate of University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, writes for TheHoopDoctors.com and serves as Basketball Editor for BusterSports.com.

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