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The Hoop Doctors

NBA Power Rankings: Week 21

The Hoop Doctors NBA Power Rankings

March 25, 2010 – Chip Patterson

NBA Power Rankings

1

Los Angeles Lakers

Cleveland Cavaliers

Big Z finally returns to the Cavaliers and makes them appear (on paper) to have the kind of juggernaut status they have been looking for to win that ever-elusive NBA Championship.  However, much of the supporting cast is inexperienced with each other and the time is ticking down to get in rhythm.

2

Dallas Mavericks

Los Angeles Lakers

Their dismantling of the Spurs in the second half on Wednesday night was a perfect example of how dangerous the Lakers can be.  Even with Kobe cold in the first half, they were able to turn to Shannon Brown for offense and Artest stepped up with some ferocious defense and all of the sudden a Lakers deficit is a double digit Lakers lead.  Most teams just don’t have that kind of depth.

3

Cleveland Cavaliers

Orlando Magic

Vince Carter, for the first time in his career, is playing on a 50-win team.  So that’s the magic to keeping his knees functional?  Injections of liquified victories?  This is making incredibly good sense right now.

4

Orlando Magic

Phoenix Suns

The Suns have picked a great time to go on a nice run right before the playoffs.  Winners of five straight, Phoenix has become relevant in the 2-5 seed playoff jumble in the West.  With only two games separating the four teams, it should make for an awesome last ten games.

5

Raptors

Utah Jazz

Clinging to home court advantage with every achy bone they have in their body, this bumped and bruised Jazz team is playing with some serious heart right now.  Winning five of their last six, they will get a few cupcakes before facing the Lakers in LA next Friday.

6

Phoenix Suns

Dallas Mavericks

Dampier is healthy, pushing Haywood to the bench, and the Mavs cool off a little.  Personally I prefer to have Haywood in the lineup, I think that he does a better job of help defense than Dampier and can clog the lane more effectively.  Regardless, the Mavericks are still making a case as the second best team in the West.

7

Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets

Terrible news finding out that George Karl will miss the rest of the season.  The Nuggets are really missing Martin down low as well, and this Nuggets team just doesn’t seem to have the swagger from earlier in the season.

8

Oklahoma City Thunder

Boston Celtics

After winning two of three on a difficult Western Conference swing, the Celt’s get a lengthy homestand to continue to focus in on the playoffs.  Every win is crucial as they are in a heated battle with Hawks for that 3-seed.

9

Phoenix Suns

Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta’s win over Orlando and Josh Smith’s unbelievable putback dunk made me remember every reason why I love this high flying Hawks squad.  They are locked in a battle to avoid the Cavs in the first round, and it will come down to the last week to see who can get the coveted third seed.

10

Boston Celtics

Milwaukee Bucks

Embarrassing loss to the Sixers was a wake up call for the Bucks.  Stackhouse has stepped up as the spokesperson for the team and Scott Skiles is making a case for Coach of the Year.  I feel like I am a decade younger.

11

Portland Trailblazers

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder need to refocus after a quick little sputter that included losses to Charlotte and Indiana.  If they drop to the 7 or 8 seed in the playoffs, they may be over their head.  If they can hang on to 5 or 6, we may get to see more than one series out of Durantula.

12

Houston Rockets

Portland Trailblazers

Brandon Roy cooled off as soon as he heated up, but the Blazers hopefully have benefited from some much needed rest.  They have only played 3 games in 11 days, but now they’ll pay for it: playing Dallas, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City in the same weekend.

13

Pistons

Charlotte Bobcats

This is a great time to have an easier leg of the schedule for the Bobcats.  But near-losses to teams like the Wizards is not how you cling to the 6 seed.  The Bobcats match up terribly with the Magic, and need to do anything possible to avoid them in the first round.

14

Hornets

Miami Heat

With the Bulls’ slide, it looks like the Heat are going to make the playoffs.  They have helped themselves out as well though, winning seven of their last ten games.  After Milwaukee and Toronto, they’ll have some winnable games next week as they try to jump the Bobcats.

15

Sacramento Kings

San Antonio Spurs

Duncan and Ginobli look healthy, but breakdowns like the one against the Lakers Wednesday night make you realize how necessary it is to have Tony Parker in the mix as well to break down defensive pressure.

16

Heat

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are not playing with the urgency they need to at this point in the season.  They act like they have the playoff birth locked up, don’t they know Noah is healthy again?  If this ends up being a complete meltdown, don’t be surprised to see Bosh’s house for sale April 17.

17

Jazz

Houston Rockets

Missing Battier for the next week will severely hurt (likely end) any hope of a playoff push in Houston.  Which is too bad, because I was really starting to enjoy watching this rag-tag group play together.

18

Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies

Working Thabeet back into the lineup is good for the program in the long run, even if he doesn’t get a ton of minutes.  I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but if they are able to keep everyone together, this team is a playoff team next year.  One that could be a TON of fun to watch as well.

19

Houston Rockets

New Orleans Hornets

Chris Paul came back a little earlier than expected, but he is struggling to ache his way back into the offense.  Even with the “coach” role he played for Collison, they aren’t clicking on the court.  Yet.

20

Los Angeles Clippers

Chicago Bulls

Two games back with twelve games left is absolutely an achievable goal.  But it would take some serious trend reversing after going 2-8 in their last ten games.  Having Noah back helps some kind of playoff push but they will need to continue to have sharp shooting from Rose and Co. outside.

21

Wizards

New York Knicks

David Lee’s stat lines continue to look like football scores, and it sounds like he is planning on parking in New York to see how this whole free agency thing goes.  He could be a great complement to any of the stars on the wish list.  Toney Douglas…not so much.

22

Knicks

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have won five of their last six including wins over two playoff teams (Thunder, Bobcats).  It’s too late for any big changes now, but think how this team could have shaken things up if Granger had been healthy all season in the weakened East.

23

Wolves

Philadelphia 76ers

Jrue Holiday is really flying under the radar right now with his improvement over the season.  With an offseason to continue to get comfortable, I expect scary-good things from him next season.

24

Bucks

Sacramento Kings

I believe it has been leaked that the Kings get to write off their loss to the Nets as a charitable donation.  Make sure you get that notarized before April 15 boys.

25

Warriors

Detroit Pistons

After reloading their team this past offseason to try and make another playoff run, the Pistons find themselves missing the playoffs entirely for the first time in eight seasons.  With so much money invested in Gordon and Villanueva, they can’t really do anything about it either.

26

Philadelphia 76ers

Washington Wizards

Haven’t we heard about enough with locker room troubles in Washington?  It’s not even noteworthy anymore to mention that the team has mailed in the season.  They do, however, have two first round picks in the draft.  So yeah, that’s good.

27

Bulls

Los Angeles Clippers

For a team that showed decent signs of promise at one point this season, the last couple of weeks have been particularly frustrating to watch.  They are putting a lot on the shoulders of Blake Griffin, I just hope he can stay healthy long enough to deliver.

28

Bobcats

Golden State Warriors

I spit my coffee on my desk when I heard that Nelson was volunteering to coach the Summer League team.  Not because I was surprised that he would do it, but because it’s not news.  He basically is coaching a Summer League team right now.

29

Pacers

Minnesota Timberwolves

The good news for the Timberwolves is if the playoffs started tomorrow, Minny would be in control of five draft picks.  Considering the incoming draft class, that will provide them the opportunity not only to get some serious talent, but some bargaining chips to bring in a vet or two.

30

New Jersey Nets

New Jersey Nets

Wednesday night’s win puts them just two victories away from avoiding the NBA Record books for all the wrong reasons.  With Devin Harris playing inspired basketball and some winnable games left on the schedule, I’m betting they do 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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