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NBA Power Rankings: Week 16

Chip February 9, 2011 Blogs, Power Rankings 1 Comment

The Hoop Doctors NBA Power Rankings

February 9, 2011 – Chip Patterson
Follow on Twitter – @cnpatterson3

NBA Power Rankings

1

Los Angeles Lakers

San Antonio Spurs

People continue to assume that at some point this season, Gregg Popovich will shut down Tim Duncan to rest him for the playoffs. But with the way Antonio McDyess and Tiago Splitter have played in the last week, it may not make much of a difference for the Spurs. Everyone is buying into the system, and the train continues to roll for the best team in the league.

2

Dallas Mavericks

Miami Heat

The scariest thing about the Heat when they get on a winning streak is their resiliency. The fourth quarter against Indiana was a perfect example of the “light-switch” effect that Miami can throw at any point during a game. The Heat can also credit their defense, which now ranks 5th in the NBA in points allowed. Most importantly, it lines up a thrilling end to the regular season as Boston and Miami will battle for home-court advantage in the playoffs.

3

Cleveland Cavaliers

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks extended their winning streak by pushing Cleveland’s losing streak to historic levels on Monday. Mavs fans have to be happy to see Dallas answer a six game losing streak by winning 10 of their next 11. Tyson Chandler continues to make his case as one of the league’s better centers, averaging 13 points, 14 rebounds, and a block in his last five outings.

4

Orlando Magic

Boston Celtics

The All Star Weekend may be in the Staples Center, but there will be plenty of Boston love on Saturday and Sunday. Not only will there be four Celtics in the actual game, but both Allen and Pierce were announced today as participants in the three-point competition. Allen will likely enter the weekend as the all-time leader in three point field goals. Unless Reggie starts running on the court and swatting attempts, which I’m not ruling out.

5

Raptors

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are in complete dysfunction off the court right now. Between Artest demanding a trade, management engaging in Bynum-Carmelo talks, and Kobe is shooting his mouth off again, it’s tough to really get behind Los Angeles right now. The immediate future is uncertain for the Lakers, but I still would never count these guys out in May. Regardless of the other pieces, Phil, Kobe, and Pau are a threat in May/June.

6

Phoenix Suns

Chicago Bulls

After a lengthy homestead to close out January, Chicago’s road trip ran into some speed bumps in recent days. The Bulls suffered back-to-back losses against Golden State and Portland, and still have to play Utah and New Orleans before returning to the Windy City. Chicago has not lost three in a row all season, and will need to improve defensively in order to continue that streak.

7

Denver Nuggets

Oklahoma City Thunder

Until their overtime loss to Memphis on Tuesday night (their first OT loss of the season) the Thunder was cruising. They’ve now won 5 of their last 7, including victories against New Orleans, Phoenix, and Utah on the road. Oklahoma City should be able to stack on their win total in the next week, facing Sacramento twice, Golden State, and the Clippers heading into All Star weekend.

8

Oklahoma City Thunder

Atlanta Hawks

I hope the Horford-less Hawks will not always perform like they did against Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Atlanta fell behind the Sixers by as many as 20 in the first quarter on the way to their 117-83 loss. The Hawks missed their All-Star center for the second straight game since suffering a back contusion against the Clippers. After Tuesday’s performance and a seven-point victory over Washington, Atlanta is hoping the downtime until Saturday will help expedite Horford’s return to the court.

9

Phoenix Suns

Orlando Magic

The Magic suffered a scare on Tuesday night, letting the Clippers hang around for far too long on the Amway Arena home floor. After the trade seemed to make everything better in Orlando, the Magic have slipped into a streak of inconsistency, losing five of their last nine games – all by 11 points or less. It’s not time to panic for the Magic, but they need to return to early January form before it gets too late in the season.

10

Boston Celtics

New Orleans Hornets

Whether it’s Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, or Chris Paul’s constantly nagging ankle; it’s clear the Hornets have some serious health concerns heading into the second half of the season. They could be one of the most difficult outs in the first round if they’re healthy. The key for New Orleans will be getting healthy at the right time.

11

Portland Trailblazers

Denver Nuggets

Yet again, Denver’s status in the league’s power rankings has everything to do with any potential Carmelo deals. Now with both Los Angeles and New York clamoring and only 16 days until the deadline, something is bound to happen to end this Melodrama once and for all. However, if the Nuggets get Bynum for Melo straight up (more or less), a new-look Nuggets team could be a tough out in the first round of the playoffs.

12

Houston Rockets

Portland Trail Blazers

The Trailblazers may have gotten a blessing in disguise with LaMarcus Aldridge’s recent All Star snub, at least if he continues to play like he did against Chicago. Aldridge exploded against the Bulls for career-high 42 points, and added 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks to lead Portland to a 109-103 win. Obviously he won’t do that every night, but it’s a good sign for a team that also is getting Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby back in practice this week.

13

Pistons

Utah Jazz

With every step the Jazz take forward, they seem to take two steps back. Regardless of their 31-22 record, Utah has not been playing their best basketball recently. They are 8-11 in 2011, and continue to keep themselves from breaking into the Western Conference elite. The defense has been bad, and they rank near the bottom of the NBA in rebounding. Not exactly typical Jazz characteristics.

14

Hornets

Memphis Grizzles

Memphis put together one of their best wins of the season on Tuesday, and they did it without Rudy Gay or OJ Mayo. Tony Allen played one of his best games all season, defending Kevin Durant and scoring 27 points of his own on the way to the 105-101 overtime victory. It was the first overtime loss of the season, and it moved Memphis just a game behind Portland for 8th place in the West. The Grizzlies have been streaky all season, so they will need to avoid the late-season collapses that have plagued them in years past.

15

Sacramento Kings

Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers looked awfully impressive against Atlanta on Tuesday, taking a 20-point lead in the first quarter on the way to a 117-83 victory in the Phillips Center. It was Philadelphia’s seventh win in their last nine games, and they’ve battled their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Sixers will be able to measure themselves against the best in the week ahead, hosting Orlando on Wednesday and San Antonio on Friday.

16

Heat

Phoenix Suns

The Suns are finally hot again, winning four of their last five. Nash is never stopped delivering the goods, but at least now he can have fun doing it. Phoenix is a Golden State win away from being .500 for the first time since December 19. More than anything, they are starting to really look aggressive on both ends of the floor. Might be one of the few times all season Phoenix appears to be clicking.

17

Jazz

New York Knicks

Obviously another team whose future is entirely dependent on possible moves before the trade deadline. New York still has tradable assets in house, and there is still a fading notion that Carmelo could still come to the Big Apple. But the Knicks’ current 26-24 record has then at the 6-seed if the playoffs started today. Will the Knicks improve their position with a move? It’s a valid question at this point.

18

Grizzlies

Houston Rockets

Aaron Brooks’ production has suffered since returning from injury, failing to find his place back in Rick Adelman’s rotation. However, Kyle Lowry continues to excel with the additional playing time. The Rockets are not out of the possibility to make the Playoffs in 2011, but they will need to string together at least one winning streak in the second half of the season in order to jump Memphis and Portland.

19

Houston Rockets

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers were on fire heading into Tuesday night’s matchup with the Heat. (get it?) But Miami cut Indiana’s streak at four wins with the 117-112 fourth quarter comeback victory. It was the first loss under interim coach Frank Vogel, who is now 4-1 since taking over for Jim O’Brien. Every game will matter immensely for the Pacers, who find themselves as one of four teams fighting for two spots in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

20

Los Angeles Clippers

Milwaukee Bucks

The much maligned Bucks are finally starting to get healthy again for the first time all season. Brandon Jennings and Carlos Delfino have been working their way back to full playing time, and John Salmons rejoined the lineup for the first time on Tuesday. It couldn’t have come at a better time, the Bucks have lost four of their last five and slipped a game and a half out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

21

Wizards

Charlotte Bobcats

Even with the extra pressure on the game because of Ray Allen’s record chasing, the Bobcats made a statement with their fourth quarter stand against the Celtics. Getting bonus contributions from Livingston and Henderson proved to be a well-timed surprise for Paul Silas’ squad. The Bobcats improved to 12-10 since Silas took the head coaching position December 22.

22

Knicks

Golden State Warriors

The streaky Warriors continue to hold to form a week away from the All Star break. They bounced back from their four game losing streak to roll off three in a row before losing against on Monday to Phoenix at home. The Warriors may be at their best with a more balanced scoring distribution. I like watching Monta go for 40, but their wins recently have included much more of the lineup in the score sheet.

23

Raptors

Detroit Pistons

14 of 15 DNP’s for Rip Hamilton, something needs to get done before the deadline. Hamilton has a lot of game left (as we saw when he did get in), and something should have been taken care of a while ago. But Detroit did pick up a couple of nice wins this weekend over New Jersey and Milwaukee before losing a hard fought game to San Antonio. Tracy McGrady has been giving some quality minutes, which is good to see for the vet. Other than that, not a ton of good news in Detroit until this Hamilton situation has worked itself out.

24

Bucks

Indiana Pacers

The Clippers will have a lot of representation on All Star Weekend thanks to Blake Griffin. That’s about all that has been going right during the Clippers current four game losing streak. When the Clippers put up a fight against better teams, they struggle to finish in the second half.

25

Bucks

New Jersey Nets

The Nets’ current three-game losing streak is especially disappointing considering the opponents. Indiana, Detroit, and Philadelphia are three games that Avery Johnson’s squad could use to build some confidence. The Nets are improving statistically, but they aren’t improving in the win column, yet.

26

Philadelphia 76ers

Minnesota Timberwolves

This is usually not a very positive section of the power rankings, but it has been nothing but good news for Minnesota this week. With back-to-back victories over New Orleans and Houston (on the road!), the Timberwolves won two in a row for the third time all season. Kevin Love gets to represent the team in the All Star Game next weekend, and Love also got his 38th straight double-double on Tuesday – passing Kevin Garnett for a new franchise record.

27

Warriors

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have lost 14 of their last 15, and 10 straight games road games. It has been a slow decline all season, but it is looking likely that the two teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference may be the teams that sent their All Stars to South Beach.

28

Bobcats

Sacramento Kings

Sacramento has played some of their best ball in their last three outings, unfortunately it was against Boston, San Antonio, and Utah. The Kings lost all three games by a combined 11 points, much to the disappointment of the ARCO crowd. DeMarcus Cousins has shown improvement recently, averaging 20.8 points and 10.4 rebounds in his last 5 contests.

29

Pacers

Washington Wizards

Zero and Twenty-Five. Still yet to win a game on the road. With Josh Howard nearing return to action and Nick Young’s recent breakout you would think the streak will end soon. Maybe.

30

New Jersey Nets

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs were so, so, SO CLOSE to ending the streak in Dallas. Now they have officially made history with the longest losing streak in NBA history. I feel for you Cleveland, this is hard for US to watch.

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

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  • Paul

    Ok, that’s more like it. I personally believe that Miami is the most dominant team in the league; but I can’t argue with putting San Antonio ahead of them at this juncture. I think the future will show who’s the better team, but right now SAs record is 43-8 and Miami’s is 38-14; that is a 5 1/2 game difference.
    You’ve also got Dallas #3? You’re a fast learner. Despite what other people say, they don’t really NEED Caron Butler, he’s replaceable. Dirk is not and it’s no coincidence that they’ve been on a winning streak since he’s returned.
    I think you still have Atlanta too high, I wouldn’t put them ahead of Orlando or new Orleans; and not just because Horford’s aching back from running into that brick wall.
    You have Philadelphia rather up there, is it just because of their current streak? Yeah, they’re trying to secure a playoff spot, so they could be eliminated in the 1st round. Elton brand’s been playing like I know he should be playing, but as long as he’s on that team, he’s never going to get a ring. I wouldn’t put the 6ers in front of any team with Stoudamire on it.
    This comment will be just too long if I comment on everything; but I wouldn’t sleep on Griffins ability to do it alone and destroy his opponents…but against elite teams, he can only do his part. Even MJ faltered against solid teams when he was alone…not saying Griffin is on MJs level.