NBA power rankings

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lebron_allstar_game.jpgRanking all the NBA teams, whether they want it or not. The Cavaliers and Lakers are 1-2 now, which is who everybody thinks makes the finals if the playoffs start today. Sorry Dallas.

1. Cavaliers (43-11) Win streak is up to 13, home court throughout if the playoffs started today. And they want to make a major trade and shake up things because?

2. Lakers (41-13) Wins over Utah and San Antonio without Kobe or Andrew Bynum get them moved up the ladder. But will they keep playing defense like this when everybody is back?

3. Magic (36-18) They had a loss this week to Cleveland, but can you hold that against them? They are the other contender right now.

4. Jazz (32-19) It was nice of Deron Williams to get all his bonehead plays out of the way during the All-Star game as not to drag down Utah in real games.

5. Nuggets (35-18) The most obvious thing from the All-Star game — Carmelo Anthony wanted to be MVP. Nobody puts up 11 first quarter shots otherwise, but you got to hit the late ones to get it.

6. Thunder (30-21) Winners of six in a row, that will get you moved to number six.

7. Hawks (33-18) A West Coast road trip this week should be a good test. Watching Atlanta’s athletes run with Golden State should be one of the more entertaining games of the week.

8. Suns (31-22) Trade rumors swirling about off the court could distract them on the court, where good Dallas and Memphis teams await.

9. Raptors (29-23) They are 8-1 in their last nine, and Chris Bosh has fans in Chicago and Miami drooling with his recent play. Oh yea, Toronto fans, too.

10. Spurs (30-21) Lose to the Lakers without Kobe or Bynum, then turn around and beat Denver in Denver. The Spurs remain a roller coaster.

11. Celtics (32-18) Rumors are the Celtics want to trade Ray Allen for a young star shooter. Well, duh. I want to drive a Maserati, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

12. Bucks (24-27) Why is Brandon Jennings hair so fascinating? I should not spend this much time thinking about a man’s hair.

13. Mavericks (32-20) All the talk is about Butler, and he is an upgrade, but Haywood is the real steal of this trade.

14. Blazers (31-24) Turns out it’s hard to make a trade if you’re not willing to give anything good up in return.

15. Heat (26-27) Quality win against the Hawks on the road last week. Oh, and D-Wade guy looked pretty good Sunday. They should try to keep him, he may turn into something.

16. Bobcats (26-25) The Bobcats turn it around with a couple wins. Up this week, the opposite ends of the spectrum: New Jersey (Tuesday) then Cleveland (Friday).

17. Hornets (28-25) Darren Collison continues to impress, filling in for CP3. It’s tough to judge how good offensively a player is coming out of Ben Howland’s system at UCLA.

18. Sixers (20-32) Four wins in a row without Allen Iverson, with the Green/Holiday backcourt looking good. Yea, it’s going to be fun when AI returns.

19. Rockets (27-24) Lots of trade rumors, but what this team really needs is to get Yao Ming back, and looks like that won’t be until next season.

20. Bulls (25-26) Tyrus Thomas for sale! Get your Tyrus Thomas here!

21. Grizzlies (26-25) Everybody starts raving about what a nice roster Memphis has and how the team plays together, then the Griz go and drop four in a row. Great timing, guys.

22. Kings (18-24) Tyreke Evans is starting to really pull away as rookie of the year. Will Kevin Martin be there to see the rest of his season?

23. Knicks (19-32) Charles Barkley was right — there were a lot of Knicks represented All-Star weekend, despite the team’s record.

24. Warriors (14-37) They get an easy win because the Clippers come out and try to run with them. Foolish, foolish Clippers.

25. Timberwolves (13-30) Was it warmer in Minny than it was in Dallas All-Star Weekend?

26. Clippers (21-31) Every once in a while you hear from people how LeBron James should come to the Clippers. Those are the people you should drug test.

27. Pacers (18-34) How can a team that plays at such a fast pace be so boring to watch.

28. Wizards (17-33) On paper this team should get worse, but sometimes teams and players rise up after their stars are traded.

29. Pistons (18-33) Looking around for good news for the Detroit fans… still looking hold on…

30. Nets (4-48) If ever there was a team that should get extra ping-pong balls in the lottery…

Heat players past, present throw support behind David Fizdale heading to Memphis

David Fizdale
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The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.

It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.

Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.

Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.

Watch Kevin Love drop 25 points on Toronto

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Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.

Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.

Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?

Cavaliers’ defense foundation for blowout win

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures in the second half against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Cleveland blitzed Toronto from the opening tip.

Literally.

Cleveland cranked up their defensive pressure by getting back to aggressively blitzing Raptors’ guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan every time they came off a pick. Or they would chase DeRozan over the top of the pick and trail him, never letting him get comfortable to pull up from the midrange. Whatever the defensive scheme, the Cavaliers were physical with Lowry and DeRozan — the pair was 4-of-14 shooting in the first half.

From the start, the Cavaliers defense dictated the flow of the game and set the tone for a 38-point blowout win.

It is that defense they will need to close out this series on the road Friday night.

“We understood that coming back from Game 3 and Game 4 we just didn’t play our defense the right way,” LeBron James said after the game. “We didn’t play how we should have played, and they took advantage of every moment. We had to get back to our staple; we had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That’s the most satisfying thing, the way we defended, holding these guys to 39 percent shooting.”

Defense triggered the offensive runs by the Cavaliers in the first half — Cleveland had eight steals and scored 20 points off turnovers before halftime. Playing with a renewed energy, the Cavs did a fantastic job fighting over screens and disrupting plays, and they closed out on shooters at the arc. It was their best defensive game of the series. It was the polar opposite of how they played in Toronto.

“I think our intensity picked up, our aggressiveness picked up, we were very physical to start the game and it just kind of led to us getting out in transition, us getting steals and getting easy baskets,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

“They were locked in, from the start to the finish,” according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey.”The force that they play with is different here and we didn’t meet it.”

Back home and with their backs against the wall, you can expect a very different, very desperate Raptors team. Lowry and DeRozan will shoot better.

But if the Cavaliers pack their defense and take it north of the border this time, they should close out the series.

LeBron James was dunking all over the Raptors (VIDEO)

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With their defense creating turnovers to get breaks — and the Raptors’ defense just breaking down — the Cavaliers put on a dunking exhibition against Toronto Wednesday.

LeBron James led the way, with 23 points and plenty of dunks. Here is another.

To change things up, here is an and-1.