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The Hoop Doctors

NBA Power Rankings: Week 11

The Hoop Doctors NBA Power Rankings

March 8, 2012 – Chip Patterson (Twitter – @cnpatterson3)

**For a week by week list of all our NBA Power Rankings this season, please visit this page.

NBA Power Rankings

1

Cleveland Cavaliers

Chicago Bulls (32-8)

Chicago did not do anything particularly special on the way to reclaiming the best record in the NBA.   The Bulls have been nothing but solid on their seven game winning streak, taking care of lesser opponents in a business-like fashion.  Even with Rip Hamilton scaring fans with a shoulder injury, Chicago is getting inspired play from Ronnie Brewer in his stead.

2

Cleveland Cavaliers

Miami Heat (29-9)

Miami was exposed as human against the Lakers on Sunday, but their body of work over the last couple weeks speaks for itself.  The Heat and Bulls are the two best teams in the conference, and it is nearly impossible to imagine anyone else making it out of the East.  Chris Bosh’s return led to a fast bounce-back on Tuesday, just in time for six straight games against potential playoff teams.

3

Phoenix Suns

Oklahoma City Thunder (30-8)

Even with the Thunder’s seemingly potent offense is stymied, Oklahoma City is figuring out ways to grind out victories.  Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka are the anchors of this improved defensive effort recently, and their commitment is contagious to the entire roster.  Still the favorites to win the West, even with more legitimate contenders announcing their arrivals recently.

4

Phoenix Suns

San Antonio Spurs (25-12)

A pair of losses after the break don’t negate the surge the Spurs have ridden to the second spot in the Western Conference.  A white-hot Tony Parker has rejuvenated the entire roster, and now Manu returns to the floor to complete the Spurs’ lineup.  All the minutes by bench contributors to this point in the season will help San Antonio down the stretch as they fight for playoff seeding.  Just the way Gregg Popovich planned it.

5

Orlando Magic

Los Angeles Lakers (23-15)

An embarrassing overtime loss in Detroit may put the black leather mask back on the shelf, but the Masked Mamba has led the Lakers back into first place in the division.  With 28 games remaining, the Staples Center roommates will battle it out for playoff seeding and control of the Pacific Division.  Even Metta World Peace has been inspired by Kobe’s costume and raised his offensive production as of late.

6

Jazz

Orlando Magic (25-15)

While things are on the up for Orlando, they can not avoid criticism for blowing a double-digit lead to the Bobcats on Tuesday.  The 16-point loss is the worst since Jan. 29 and Magic fans can only hope the game was an outlier as we move into the heart of March basketball.  With the days counting down until the trade deadline, all eyes will focus on GM Otis Smith and Orlando’s front office.  Somehow the team will try to keep their focus on the court, as they fight for playoff seeding in the East.

7

Jazz

Los Angeles Clippers (22-14)

The Clippers play seemed uninspired at times since losing Chauncey Billups to a season-ending injury, and long road trips have not helped the new teammates gel back together.  Two more road games left on the trip, then Los Angeles returns to the Staples Center to get back on track.  They are still a top four team in the West, but the battle for seeding will be tight down the stretch.

8

Orlando Magic

Dallas Mavericks (23-17)

The streaky Mavericks have hit another bumpy spot in the 2011-2012 season, and hope a tough win over the Knicks on Tuesday will help pull them from the funk.  Dirk’s scoring has been prolific in the last week, but the rest of the offense has been looking a bit sluggish over the last two weeks.  When firing on all cylinders, you know the defending champs can hang with the Thunder, Spurs, and Lakers.  But they’ll need more contribution from the role players to stay in that position.

9

Orlando Magic

Memphis Grizzlies (22-15)

Memphis has gotten hot at the right time, and may be able to work their way into a favorable Western Conference playoff seed if their current run continues.  The Grizzlies have won nine of their last 10 games, and should be getting Zach Randolph back into the lineup soon.  You know things are going their way when the Grizzlies – 21st in three-point percentage – are hitting over 50 percent from behind the arc like they did against the Pistons on Saturday.

10

Orlando Magic

Indiana Pacers (23-14)

A cushy section of Indiana’s schedule allowed them to jump up into the standings with a six-game winning streak, but Frank Vogel’s squad will need to start collecting more victories against teams with over .500 records to ensure a favorable position in the Eastern Conference playoffs.  The next week should present plenty of opportunities for the Pacers to pick up big wins, facing Miami, Orlando, and Philadelphia in the next week.

11

Sacramento Kings

Atlanta Hawks (23-15)

Al Horford is officially out for the remainder of the regular season, leaving many Atlanta fans with thoughts of what could have been with this year’s squad.  Even without the All Star center, the Hawks are in contention for a middle seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and should have a shot to get out of the first round.  Horford’s health will play a big part in that, but the rest of the roster needs to make sure they get there.

12

Warriors

Boston Celtics (20-17)

With five wins in a row, the Celtics boast the second-longest streak in the Eastern Conference behind the league-leading Bulls.  Rajon Rondo is looking much more like a piece to build around than a piece to move, and Paul Pierce is on a role delivering the big offensive performances and clutch shots when Boston needs it most.  This aging roster will be tested by a road-heavy schedule in the last 29 games, but will be a tough out if they can secure a 5 or 6 seed in the playoffs.

13

Sacramento Kings

Philadelphia 76ers (22-17)

On Friday, the Sixers scored 100 points in regulation for the first time since Jan. 23.  The offensive struggles have caught up to Philadelphia, and despite their top-ranked defensive rating (96.8 points per 100 possessions) the team has begun to slide down in the standings.  After losing 8 of 10, Philly could use a break in the schedule.  Unfortunately Boston, New York,, Miami, and Chicago await the Sixers in the next two weeks.

14

Jazz

Denver Nuggets (22-17)

The Nuggets nearly played themselves out of playoff contention with their recent slide, but have gotten hot again as they are getting healthy.  The injury bug took a big bite out of George Karl’s roster, but now Rudy Fernandez, Nene, and Danilo Gallinari are coming back as Denver rides a four game winning streak.  Eight straight games at the Pepsi Center lie in the Nuggets’ immediate future, and this talented group should be able to keep rising in the Western Conference standings

15

Heat

Minnesota Timberwolves (20-19)

You can’t deny it any more, this is Kevin Love’s time.  He declared it in a post game interview after 39 points and 17 rebounds helped but the Timberwolves past the Clippers on Monday night.  Minnesota is above .500, and now less than two games out of eighth place in the West.  With 27 games left, there is no consolation for this squad.  Expect Love, Rubio, and the rest of the Wolves to be putting it all on the line down the stretch for the first playoff berth since the KG era in Minnesota.

16

Heat

New York Knicks (18-20)

Schedule has played a big part, but the Knicks have lost five of their last seven games and fallen back below .500.  Jeremy Lin now has Baron Davis to back him up and hopefully provide a burst off the bench, but New York needs to figure out how to get all these talented pieces to play their best together.  When it all falls together the Knicks will be a dangerous out in the playoffs, they just need to make sure they make it there.

17

Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets (21-18)

The Rockets kicked off their road-heavy March with four straight losses, and will need to pull together to avoid slipping down in the Western Conference standings.  Toronto, New Jersey, and Cleveland will be a nice break for Houston after a pair of overtime losses, but the road has not been friendly to them this year.

18

Heat

Portland Trailblazers (19-19)

The Trailblazers’ long slide has been well-documented, but the season could easily be decided in their ability to win away from the Rose Garden in the coming weeks.  Eight of Portland’s next 10 games will be on the road – where they are 5-12 this year – and the Blazers cannot afford to be sitting at or below .500 when April arrives.  By then it might be too late.

19

Heat

Phoenix Suns (17-20)

Phoenix has won five of six, and has crept just three games away from the .500 mark.  Unfortunately the best streak of the season was also in coordination with six straight home games mostly against favorable opponents.  The Thunder, Mavericks, and Grizzlies await them on the back half of the week.  If Phoenix is still creeping by Sunday, we might have a turnaround on our hands. (But don’t count on it)

20

New Jersey Nets

Utah Jazz (18-19)

Just as Devin Harris began to play some of his most complete ball of the season, the former All-Star went down with a knee injury on Monday and is listed day-to-day.  Hopefully the setback won’t also erase what little momentum the Jazz picked up from three wins in four games, including the one point victory against the Heat.  Utah has the talent to chase down an 8 seed in the West, but will need to get it done on the road this month.

21

Pacers

Milwaukee Bucks (15-23)

The Bucks have lost seven of their last ten games, yet still are in 9th place in the Eastern Conference.  Brandon Jennings is averaging 31.3 points in his last three games, and has been complimenting that high scoring with season-high assist numbers as well.  Unfortunately for Milwaukee, the team will rise and fall with Jennings as long as Andrew Bogut is sidelined and Stephen Jackson nurses minor injures.

22

Heat

Detroit Pistons (13-23)

The Pistons were unintimidated by the masked Kobe Bryant, and like the Bobcats pulled off a stunner on Tuesday night.  Detroit is actually 9-7 since the start of February, and seem to be clicking on the court.  Currently at the No. 11 spot in the Eastern Conference standings, it will take several more upsets to make their way into serious playoff contention.

23

Philadelphia 76ers

Golden State Warriors (15-20)

The Warriors were able to get a 3-3 split on their recent road trip, which should be a positive for Golden State fans.  Even more encouraging is the fact that Stephen Curry has returned to the lineup.  It may take a few games for Curry to get back in rhythm and conditioned, but the best chance Golden State has for a miracle playoff run requires him on the floor.

24

Pacers

Cleveland Cavaliers (13-23)

With six straight losses, the infusion of excitement in the Cavs 2011-2012 campaign has calmed some over the last week.  Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson continue to be labeled as the future, but they still have yet to spend significant time together on the court.  The schedule doesn’t get any easier, with Denver, Oklahoma City, and Houston up next for Cleveland.

25

Philadelphia 76ers

Toronto Raptors (12-26)

The Raptors are at the top of the Eastern Conference group with little-to-no hope of making the playoffs.  Those six games between Toronto and New York are a huge gap for an inconsistent team like the Raptors to overcome.  Time for the scouts to focus in on March Madness to pick another prospect to join Demar Derozan and Ed Davis in the Air Canada Center.

26

Grizzlies

New Jersey Nets (12-27)

It took a 57-point performance from Deron Williams for the Nets to beat the lowly Bobcats by three, not exactly a glowing promotion of New Jersey’s consistency after knocking off Dallas on the road last week.  The Nets are always a threat to make a move around the trade deadline, so keep a close eye to see if they make a panic move in these last days before March 15.

27

Boston Celtics

New Orleans Hornets (9-29)

The Hornets may have caught the Mavericks sleeping with a 97-92 win coming out of the All Star break, but offensive struggles kicked right back into gear in losses to Indiana and Portland.  With the trade deadline approaching, fans can only look at New Orleans current roster and hope for some kind of shake up to change the direction of this sliding franchise.

28

Philadelphia 76ers

Sacramento Kings (12-26)

The Kings have battled in March against four tough foes, but fallen in each contest by less than 10 points.  Even when Sacramento was able to push the Nuggets to overtime on the road, the Kings are just not quite to the point of being able to finish against better teams.  A new arena deal should help the future of the franchise, and the future of their talented young core.

29

Los Angeles Clippers

Washington Wizards (8-29)

The talented Wizards have shown their ability to score in bunches, but have been unable to match that with anything close to consistent defensive effort.  With seven losses in their last eight contests, Washington is just happy to not be identified as the worst team in their division, conference, or league.  All thanks to the team at No. 30.

30

Los Angeles Clippers

Charlotte Bobcats (5-31)

A win!  For only the second time since mid-January, the Bobcats added a notch to the win column with their 16-point victory over the Magic.  Not only did Charlotte end a seven-game run by the Magic in the series, but overcame a 20-point deficit to do so.  Still the worst team in the NBA, but they were able to give the home crowd something to cheer about on Tuesday.

Chip Patterson writes for CBSSports.com’s Eye on College Football and contributes at TheHoopDoctors.com.

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