Feb 11, 2013, 9:30 PM EST
Finally, here are the delayed regular Monday PBT NBA power rankings.
We said this a lot during the NBA finals last year — if we see the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder face off in three of the next five NBA finals it shouldn’t be a shock. This season looks more and more like that rematch could be a reality, which makes their Thursday night showdown interesting.
1. Thunder (39-12, last week ranked No. 2). They have the best offense in the NBA this season and that has started to really kick into gear this week scoring 110 points or more in four straight games (before Sunday, when they took their foot off the gas against the hapless Suns). They have won four in a row and while the schedule wasn’t tough they beat up their opponents.
2. Heat (34-14, LW 3). Winners of five in a row and that includes beating Houston and both Los Angeles teams last week. LeBron James lately has started to make a real MVP push — 30.2 points a game on 68.4 percent shooting overall and 56.3 percent shooting in his last five games going into Sunday.
3. Spurs (40-12, LW No. 1). They have gone 12-1 recently but the impressive part is they have done it for stretches without Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili. People just take for granted how good Tony Parker is — he is injecting himself into the MVP conversation — but they over look Tiago Splitter who has been solid in the paint.
4. Nuggets (33-19, LW 6). They had won 9 in a row until a thrilling 3OT loss in Boston. While part of that run is because of the heavy home schedule part of it is that this is a good team that is a tough matchup because of their athleticism. Tougher stretch on the road started with a 3OT loss to Boston Sunday and the Raptors and Nets next on the road heading into the break.
5. Clippers (36-17 LW 4). They didn’t play that well during their Grammy road trip, going 3-4 (with one more game Monday night in Philly) but the return of Chris Paul and what he did to the Knicks reminds you how much they missed him.
6. Knicks (32-17, LW 5). After a five game win streak the Knicks dropped two of three including a loss to the Clippers. What helps the older legs of the Knicks bench is rest and they have one game this week, Wednesday (at home vs. Raptors) then they are off for a week.
7. Pacers (31-20, LW 11). They won all three games of the NBA’s lone back-to-back-to-back last week. More and more I think this is the team that could be the biggest threat to the Heat in the East. But that’s not going to happen if Roy Hibbert doesn’t start to play like his old self, he’s still off his game.
8. Bulls (30-20, LW 9). Here is the Derrick Rose update, courtesy Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com from our PBT Podcast: He is taking full contact in practice but has not participated in any 5-on-5 drills, which is more a matter of the Bulls not having practice time to run that lately. He’ll be back pretty soon after the All-Star game, but no date is set.
9. Grizzlies (31-18, LW 10). They are a .500 team of late, 3-3 after the Rudy Gay trade. They are still trying to find their way. They have a chance in the next four games against under .500 teams to put together a few wins and find that groove.
10. Celtics (27-23, LW 17). Count me among those impressed — Boston has gone 7-0 since Rajon Rondo went down. Their defense has been better, they are moving the ball and moving without the ball better, their bench guys are stepping up. Heck, they beat the Heat in this streak. But things get tough after the All-Star Game with a West Coast Road trip.
11. Nets (29-22, LW 8). This team got the coach change bump of energy — they played harder for P.J. Carlesimo. For a while. But lately that energy is gone and the result is half-run sets followed by isolations late in the shot clock on offense. That will doom them.
12. Rockets (28-24, LW 15). Nice wins last week over the Trail Blazers and the Warriors (although the Golden State will want some revenge for that one). James Harden is starting to look like an elite player you can build a franchise around.
13. Warriors (30-21, LW 7). The schedule got tough and the Warriors dropped four in a row — they are playing better this year but their defense is holding them back from being close to elite. Really looking forward to the rematch with Houston on Tuesday.
14. Jazz (28-24, LW 14). Two straight losses over the weekend and you have to wonder how much the trade rumors swirling around Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and this team will start to impact their play. They are not on solid playoff footing ground, with the Lakers 4 games back and Portland 2.5 back.
15. Hawks (27-22, LW 12). Everyone talks about them moving Josh Smith (and they may, but not for Kris Humphries, sorry Nets fans) but the Hawks have Seven other expiring deals on their roster look for them to move someone like Kyle Korver or Anthony Morrow.
16. Bucks (25-24, LW 13). Lost three in a row and just 4-6 in last 10. Suddenly we are seeing a lot of Samuel Dalembert on the court, which feels like a trade showcase (and he responded with a 35 point game).
17. Trail Blazers (25-26, LW 16). They have dropped three in a row (including one to the Magic who had lost a dozen in a row before that) and have two more road games before the break — at Miami then a back-to-back at New Orleans. They are only 2.5 games out of the playoffs but they need to start picking up wins. Fast.
18. Lakers (24-28, LW 18). They went 4-3 on their seven game Grammy road trip, which isn’t bad but isn’t great. They need wins. Just to have fun with math, the Rockets and Jazz are on pace for 44 wins, the Lakers need to go 20-10 the rest of the way to get to 44.
20. 76ers (22-27, LW 19). And the Andrew Bynum wait continues — they are shopping Evan Turner around (or at least gauging interest in him) but how do you evaluate this team without Bynum in the lineup?
22. Pistons (20-32, LW 21). No Andre Drummond for four to six weeks just makes me sad.
23. Wizards (14-35, LW 26). Washington beat three playoff teams last week (Clippers, Knicks, Nets), and are 10-7 in about the last month. If they had Wall from the start of the season they are a playoff team, but alas…
24. Raptors (18-32, LW 22). I think their playoff dreams are dead. Part of it is that Boston went on a win streak without Rondo rather than fall back to the pack, but the Raptors keep losing and remain 3 games below .500 and 7 out of the final playoff spot in the East. They are not making up that ground.
25. Hornets (17-33, LW 25). Eric Gordon is just bad about half the time for this team and his body language is that of a guy trapped in a place he hates. Does he just simply not like being in New Orleans that much?
26. Kings (19-33, LW 27). If you don’t think fans make a difference, you should have heard them during the Kings 10-point fourth quarter comeback on the Rockets Sunday. Problem is the other owners don’t care about that, they care about money going into their pockets. That’s where Seattle is not easy to beat.
28. Suns (17-34, LW 28). The Suns are really active on the trade market, clearly willing to take on some salary for the right quality player. When you look at their roster they need more quality players.
29. Magic (15-36, LW 30). The losing streak has reached 12 before the Trail Blazers obliged with a terrible defensive effort to end it. Wherever J.J. Redick lands after the trade deadline will be a better situation.
30. Bobcats (11-39, LW 29). They have dropped seven in a row and their roster is so bad that sending out Ben Gordon for the slumping Kris Humphries would be an upgrade.
Dec 20, 2013, 9:36 PM EST
One of the first lessons a rookie can learn in the NBA is which players not to try to take a charge against. LeBron James has to be near the top of that list, but Kings rookie Ben McLemore gave it a shot anyway on Friday night in Miami. He chose … poorly. LeBron elevated…
Dec 20, 2013, 8:29 PM EST
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Dec 20, 2013, 7:28 PM EST
Dion Waiters — the Cavaliers second-leading scorer and a guy on the trade block according to reports — will be out Friday night against the Bucks and maybe longer due to a sore wrist. He has wrist tendonitis that had bothered him for a while but he had played through it — he had 25…
Dec 20, 2013, 6:29 PM EST
We had Rob Dauster of NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk on the PBT Podcast recently and when the topic of Jabari Parker came up Dauster mentioned Carmelo Anthony — a polished scorer with the ability to play the four, score inside, or stretch the floor out to the arc. Dauster isn’t the only one to say that, it’s…
Dec 20, 2013, 5:05 PM EST
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Dec 20, 2013, 4:07 PM EST
The last time we saw French center Alexis Ajinca in an NBA game it was 2011 with the Raptors. He had been a bit player with Dallas and Charlotte before that. Now he’s back getting another shot with the New Orleans Pelicans, reports the Times Picayune. The New Orleans Pelicans have reached a two-year contract…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:55 PM EST
There is no bigger story at the start of this NBA season than the Portland Trail Blazers — they are 22-5, tied with the Thunder for the best record in the West, and the Blazers have by far the best offense in the NBA. Which makes them a whole lot of fun to watch. Portland’s…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:10 PM EST
You can own a shoe that has kicked Chris Paul in the face. And who doesn’t want that? Remember the play from Nov. 19 — Tony Allen went into the air, got burned by CP3 something fierce, and in an effort to make a play and kick the ball away he caught Paul across the…
Dec 20, 2013, 1:28 PM EST
Plenty of NBA players have wanted to knock down a referee. D.J. Augustin now of the Bulls (he just signed with them in the wake of the Derrick Rose injury) did so Thursday night, albeit unintentionally. Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson and Augustin were chasing down a loose ball and Jackson went for the soccer play…
Dec 20, 2013, 12:51 PM EST
This could be fun: Deron Williams vs. Michael Carter-Williams. Looks like we will get to see it because Michael Carter-Williams is set to return to the Sixers lineup Friday night after missing seven straight games with a knee infection. Officially he is a game time decision — because teams like to keep their options open…
Dec 20, 2013, 12:10 PM EST
Luol Deng isn’t going anywhere fast — and we don’t just mean because he’s in a walking boot right now trying to rest his Achilles (he hopes to be back Christmas Day). We mean on the trade market. Ever since Derrick Rose went down injured it has been the conventional wisdom that the Bulls would…
Dec 20, 2013, 11:45 AM EST
The 76ers have lost seven straight, 11 of 12 and 15 of 17. After a 3-0 start threatened Sam Hinkie’s plans – and kept Philadelphia in the heart of the playoff race far too long in the downtrodden Eastern Conference – the 76ers are right back on track. They’re losing and losing often, putting themselves…
Dec 20, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez do not look alike, at least not completely. Robin, the Trail Blazers’ center sports a wild afro. His twin brother, Brook, the Nets’ center, has a closer crop. But is that why they don’t look alike now? Did Robin grow out his hair to look distinct from Brook? Robin, via…
Dec 20, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
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Serge Ibaka blocks Joakim Noah twice on same possession, leads to a transition three from Durant (VIDEO)
Dec 20, 2013, 10:14 AM EST
These are the kinds of plays that are absolute back-breakers for teams playing on the road, because it gets the crowd involved and swings all of the momentum in the home team’s favor. Serge Ibaka comes up with two blocks on Joakim Noah on the same possession, which is highlight-worthy by itself. But the fact…
Jeff Van Gundy says it would be ‘ludicrous’ for Knicks to fire Mike Woodson after timeout failure vs. Wizards
Dec 20, 2013, 9:31 AM EST
After the Knicks lost to the Wizards earlier this week by coming undone on the game’s final two possessions, there were some observers that believed Mike Woodson should finally take the fall for his role in not only that particular loss, but also how his team had underachieved to this point in the season. New…
Dec 20, 2013, 8:44 AM EST
In the NBA, guys often have good friends on the opposing team — guys they played with in AAU or college, guys who share an agent, guys they work out with in the summer. There is a camaraderie. Kendrick Perkins is old school, weaned on the Kevin Garnett “I hate the guys on the other…
Dec 20, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
In the early days of mixed martial arts, there were quite a few athletes who would refuse to submit in the ring. Their arm could be on the verge of snapping, but it didn’t matter – they wouldn’t give up. They would rather break their arm. I remember holding these athletes in such high regard,…
Dec 20, 2013, 4:47 AM EST
Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while watching my Long Beach State 49ers beat USC (at least that’s what I did with part of my night)… Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. He led his team to an easy win and how about this for a line: 32 points on 13-of-20 shooting,…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:55 AM EST
When the Spurs rest Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili they still are pretty darn good. Ask the Heat — last year Gregg Popovich and the Spurs were fined $250,000 by the league for late notice resting the big three for a Thursday night showcase game in Miami. What people forget is the Spurs…
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- Report: Bulls not looking to trade Luol Deng. Why would you think that? 13
- Kendrick Perkins tells Joakim Noah to “get your a– up out’ of Thunder locker room 35
- The Extra Pass: Chicago’s never-ending story, plus Thursday’s recaps 2
- Kobe Bryant is out six weeks with fracture in the left knee (68)
- LeBron did foul Paul George on final shot but there was no call (VIDEO) (60)
- Chicago columnist hammers Derrick Rose as no longer humble star (56)
- Report: Heat have interest in Celtics’ Jordan Crawford (50)
- LeBron angrily goes after Mario Chalmers on the Heat bench (VIDEO) (50)