Nov 26, 2012, 2:25 PM EDT
If you ask me who was the best team in the NBA was last week, well, it was Denver. But they are fully capable of a winless week now, so we leave Memphis in the top spot this week. And Washington is still trying to find a win and a way out of the cellar (it will take more than one win).
1. Grizzlies (9-2, last week ranked No. 1). Their loss came to a red-hot Nuggets team and they bounced back with a win showing the Lakers — and co-owner Justin Timberlake who was courtside — where the best team in the West is playing right now. You can pick apart things like their defensive rebounding, but they are still playing better than anyone.
2. Spurs (11-3, LW 4). Tough loss to start last week but rebounded to start a six-game road trip 3-0 with wins over Boston, Indiana and Toronto — and those three wins are without Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson. Should be fun game against the Heat Thursday.
3. Heat (10-3, LW 5). The schedule maker gave the Heat some early-season rest — just two games last week then four-days off until they play again Thursday (against San Antonio). They have time to get their Christmas shopping done early, but you know Mario Chalmers is going to wait to the last minute then try to be the hero.
4. Thunder (10-4, LW 6). We’ve been waiting for the Thunder to look like the Thunder, and we saw it last week against the Clippers. But they are doing that despite playing some pretty weak defense the past week or so. That’s a trend that can’t continue.
5. Clippers (8-5, LW 3). Their schedule was a test last week — Spurs, Thunder, Nets and Hawks — and they came out 1-3. They lost because their offense took a night off one night and then their defense did the same another. Jamal Crawford has hit a cold streak and the Clippers offense can’t really afford that. But have played the toughest schedule in the NBA so far, so we cut them some slack.
6. Knicks (9-3, LW 2). The Knicks defense, particularly on pick-and-rolls and in up-tempo situations, was exposed last week when they gave up 114 points to the Mavericks and 131 to Jeremy Lin and the Rockets. The big battle of New York against the Nets is Monday, and Deron Williams can run the pick-and-roll, too.
7. Hawks (8-4, LW 15). They are on a five-game winning streak having taken advantage of a soft spot in the schedule (Kings, Magic, only good win was over the Clippers who were on the second night of a back-to-back). That continues this week with only Charlotte and Cleveland on the schedule.
8. Nets (8-4, LW 8). They played defense against the Clippers like they need to come the playoffs if they want to be a real threat. And doing it more in the regular season would be nice, too. Monday night showdown with Knicks should be fun, the rescheduled season opener wiped out by hurricane Sandy.
9. 76ers (8-6, LW 9). With Andrew Bynum out until lord knows when, Doug Collins is just turning the offense over to Jrue Holiday, and that has been enough. For now. Defense and athleticism are getting them by but you feel like the bottom could fall out of this any time.
10. Lakers (7-7, LW 10). Has there been a more up-and-down NBA team in the Association this season? Three wins by more than 20, but also some ugly losses. Lakers fans, and maybe their coach, seem to think the return of Steve Nash will solve these problems but he’s no cure all, especially to the erratic defense.
11. Celtics (7-6, LW 11). They got a quality win last week against the Thunder and more importantly they had a couple games where they got good bench play — if they are going to climb the Eastern standings it will be on the back of the bench. Big tests against the Spurs and Thunder this week.
12. Nuggets (8-6, LW 19). The NBA’s streakiest team is hot again with a four-game winning streak that includes a victory over the Grizzlies. But until they play more consistent defense they will continue to be up and down. And you know that drives George Karl nuts.
13. Bucks (6-5, LW 7). An 0-3 week (including a loss to the Bulls) and suddenly they look like a team that could find a way to let Chicago and Indiana hang close until those sides get healthy then steal the division away. They need to be better now. This is their window.
14. Mavericks (7-7, LW 13). If you told Dallas they could be 7-7 without Dirk Nowtizki to start the season they would have taken it. But they have a lot of road games the next few weeks and unless Darren Collison starts to play more consistently they could start to fall down the boards.
15. Bulls (6-6, LW 14). They went into Milwaukee, played some of their best defense of the season and got Carlos Boozer to show up for a night. They are right there in the Central division now and if they win it with Rose back it means a top-four playoff seed.
16. Jazz (7-7, LW 16). I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a 1-3 week next week for the Jazz. Why? They are home for one game (where they are 5-0) and on the road for three more (where they are 2-7).
17. Warriors (8-6, LW 18). Still not sold on them, but quality wins over the Nets and Mavericks last week and now they may get Andrew Bogut back come Saturday. By the way, I love watching Harrison Barnes play.
18. Bobcats (7-5, LW 22). This record is a bit of a mirage — six of the seven Bobcats wins have come by four points or less and those bounces will eventually go the other way and even out. Still, they have as many wins this season as they did last season, so good on them.
19. Timberwolves (5-7, LW 12). They got Kevin Love back early but that hasn’t ended a five-game losing streak. They need to get back to defending better and hold on for Ricky Rubio’s return without giving up much more ground.
20. Trail Blazers (6-7, LW 20). They started a seven-game road trip on Sunday in Brooklyn (a loss) and making that swing without LaMarcus Aldridge will be the biggest test for this team.
21. Rockets (6-7, LW 21). They got a headline win in New York, but really that feels hollow right now and all we can say is we wish the best to Kevin McHale and his family on the loss of his daughter.
22. Pacers (6-8, LW 17). How do you fall in the rankings despite getting a couple wins? When those wins come against the Hornets and Wizards. Go ahead and argue the Pacers are a team built for the playoffs (big, physical, grinding with a good defense), you still have to get there.
24. Magic (5-7, LW 25). Magic fans are happy to say they dodged the Andrew Bynum bullet, looking at his current knee injury. Okay, that’s short term (for now). But if you’re thinking that way, you rejected Brook Lopez and he is having a career year.
25. Kings (4-9, LW 29). Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but the starting lineup of Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, John Salmons, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins is playing well. Problem is, no other Kings lineup really is.
26. Pistons (3-11, LW 27). This is not a good basketball team, but if you want a silver lining maybe Andre Drummond is starting to find his way in the league. Think big picture with that one.
27. Raptors (3-11, LW 26). Four straight losses — including a heart-breaker to the Spurs in double overtime — and now five of the next six games are on the road. Not a recipe for success. Especially if Andrea Bargnani has another 2-of-19 shooting night.
28. Hornets (3-9, LW 23). You can blame injuries (Anthony Davis has played in half the team’s games due to a concussion and an ankle issue), and you can blame growing pains (see any part of Austin Rivers’ game). But still seven straight losses. That is not good for your ranking.
29. Cavaliers (3-10, LW 28). Credit where credit is due — Jeremy Pargo has been better than we expected leading the Cavs offense with Kyrie Irving out. Still, they steam has one win in their last 9 games. Because while their offense isn’t good their defense is horrific.
30. Wizards (0-11, LW 30). If it’s any consolation, they came a lot closer to a win last week… no, that’s not any consolation. But the good news is Nene has been a +31 through two games — when he is on the court good things are starting to happen for Washington. Just not enough of them yet.
Jun 18, 2013, 2:19 AM EDT
The Clippers and Celtics keep inching toward a deal. A much-discussed one that would send Kevin Garnett and the rights to sign coach Doc Rivers to Los Angeles. The Celtics would get DeAndre Jordan and a pick or two. The sides are close but there is no deal yet so they will talk again Tuesday,…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT
The next time the Bulls play a game Derrick Rose will be suited up and playing. Hopefully by a couple games into next season we can all move past the “why didn’t he play last season?” crap. But for now the issue keeps coming up in Chicago. It came up again recently when Bulls legend Scottie…
Jun 17, 2013, 8:54 PM EDT
Metta World Peace was in rare form today. He was on Sportsradio 610 in Houston — and let me say as a guy who has done a fair amount of radio spots with some quality hosts there, the buzz is all about Dwight Howard coming to the Rockets. If they are talking hoops, they are…
Jun 17, 2013, 7:02 PM EDT
The Celtics and Clippers are still discussing the trade that would send Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers to Los Angeles, but the whole deal is predicated on Rivers wanting to coach the Clippers. So, even if the Celtics and Clippers agree how to handle Eric Bledsoe, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, Rivers still must give…
Jun 17, 2013, 5:51 PM EDT
Victor Oladipo has worked out for the Phoenix Suns. In Phoenix, he said he already worked out for the Orlando Magic and planned to work out for the Cleveland Cavaliers, though it’s not clear where those sessions occurred. Oladipo is preparing for the NBA Draft in Bowie, Md., which is about 20 minutes outside Washington,…
Jun 17, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT
Phil Jackson is unquestionably one of the greatest coaches of all time, but he didn’t get there by placating people or considering the feelings of others — especially those with seniority or who were holding down a higher-level position within the organization. Speaking at an event last week where Jackson was plugging his latest book,…
Jun 17, 2013, 5:12 PM EDT
Allen Iverson’s post-NBA life has been – sad to say, predictably – rough. He’s reportedly losing a lot of money and suffering from alcoholism, and those closest to him are especially worried. Unfortunately, it can get worse, and it might have already. TMZ: Tawanna Iverson just filed legal docs, claiming Allen recently asked for permission…
Jun 17, 2013, 4:36 PM EDT
The Mavericks enter the off-season as one of the major players in free agency. Not only do they have money to spend, but they also have a history of championship level contention, a still very good Dirk Nowitzki, and Mark Cuban to close the deal when it’s time to make the pitch on why the…
Jun 17, 2013, 4:34 PM EDT
This is the time of year when teams and agents create smokescreens so thick, firefighters can’t get through them. So, approach any report like this with a healthy dose of skepticism. But also consider that a beat writer for a major newspaper was confident enough to report it. There’s a fine line, and from the…
Jun 17, 2013, 4:20 PM EDT
The Utah Jazz are updating their scoreboard that will sit high above center court at EnergySolutions Arena, and as you might imagine, the team is pretty excited about it. From the official release: “Miller Sports Properties today announced plans for a new center court high definition video display system that is seven times larger than its predecessor,…
Jun 17, 2013, 3:22 PM EDT
The subject of players selling contact to officials, or even downright faking it in hopes of duping a referee into blowing a favorable whistle has become a hotter topic than ever this season, thanks to a new anti-flopping policy enacted which was designed to clean this mess up. It hasn’t had the desired effect, however,…
Jun 17, 2013, 1:58 PM EDT
When I went to San Antonio to write this piece on Gregg Popovich (and, later, this piece on Tim Duncan) I was told, time and again, that the most popular San Antonio Spur in town, by far, is Manu Ginobili. At first, I found it a bit curious. I mean, Ginobili has been a terrific…
Jun 17, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT
There is once again momentum to the idea that Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett (then later likely Paul Pierce) are headed to the Clippers. It may or may not happen, but a smart GM like Danny Ainge has to start planning for any eventuality. So, if Doc Rivers is gone from the bench in Boston,…
Jun 17, 2013, 1:22 PM EDT
This was expected to happen, but now it’s become official. Monta Ellis is going to opt out of the $11 million he is owed next season to become an unrestricted free agent, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN and other sources. Ellis is seeking 19.2 points and 6 assists for the Bucks last year. He is…
Heat must accomplish something they haven’t been able to in a month if they want to repeat as champions
Jun 17, 2013, 12:45 PM EDT
SAN ANTONIO — After falling to the Spurs in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, the Miami Heat find themselves in a most uncomfortable position. In order to win the championship that they were heavily favored to at the outset of the postseason, they’ll need to accomplish something that they haven’t been able…
Jun 17, 2013, 12:08 PM EDT
UPDATE 5:45 pm : This is getting close. The Celtics have agreed no Eric Bledsoe but they want the Clippers to take on one of their bad contracts, either Jason Terry or Courtney Lee. How that shakes out is really all that’s left, according to multiple reports. 12:08 pm: If you’re a Clippers fan who…
Jun 17, 2013, 12:07 PM EDT
SAN ANTONIO — Danny Green has been on a record-breaking tear with his three-point shooting through the first five games of the Finals, and he’s been a key reason the Spurs are taking a three games to two series lead back to Miami with two chances to close the Heat out. It isn’t just the…
Jun 17, 2013, 11:42 AM EDT
Tim Connelly has been a rising star in the front office world. He was with the Wizards and was hired away by the then Hornets (now Pelicans) to be an assistant general manager there behind Del Demps. Now he’s made the leap to the big chair. Connelly is going to be the new GM of…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:56 AM EDT
SAN ANTONIO — The MVPs for the Spurs Game 5 win you know — Manu Ginobili came back like the prodigal son to have a huge game, Danny Green knocked down any shot given inside the San Antonio city limits, and Tony Parker continues to be the guy who should get the Finals MVP award…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:21 AM EDT
While the talks to bring Doc Rivers in as coach of the Clippers — along with players Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in a massive trade — are not dead, they are stalled out and on life support. So the Clippers are moving forward — they are going to bring in Brian Shaw for a…
- Metta World Peace says Howard isn’t going anywhere because he has a hold on his… um… those 15
- In praise of the brilliant, baffling Manu Ginobili 19
- If Doc is out, who is in for Celtics? Maybe Del Negro, Frank 15
- Where does Celtics’ Rivers, Garnett trade to Clippers stand? They’re talking. 28
- Boris Diaw’s defense slowed LeBron down. I know, right? 26
- Lakers unlikely to sign and trade Dwight Howard to the Clippers, Rockets, or anyone else (81)
- LeBron James: “I just have to play better” (77)
- Heat’s Big Three dominate Game 4 to even the Finals at two games apiece (74)
- Report: Clippers, Celtics talks to send Garnett, Rivers to L.A. stalled (72)
- Reports: Jason Kidd finalizes deal, will be Nets new coach (62)
- Bruins stymie Blackhawks, take Game 3
- Survival and heartbreak at US Open
- Protesters back in streets of Brazilian cities
- Radio hosts fired for mocking ex-NFL player with ALS
- Posnanski: More Open heartbreak for Mickelson
- PHT: Bruins go 'above and beyond' in Gm. 3
- PHT: Hossa day to day with upper-body injury