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…

Warriors’ Andre Iguodala out for Game 6

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Steve Kerr has been searching for a couple of games now for his fifth guy.

With Andre Iguodala out there is no Death/Hamptons 5 lineup and Kerr is looking for a fifth guy to partner with his four All-Stars. Kevon Looney is starting, Jordan Bell is showing potential but also makes some rookie plays, Nick Young has been bad enough that Kerr trusted Quin Cook more at the end of the last game (and Cook missed his looks).

Kerr is going to have to keep searching for a guy in Game 6 because Iguodala is out again.

The Warriors are not the team heading into Game 6 with the most significant injury woes, the Rockets are without Chris Paul. That and the fact the Warriors’ backs are against the wall is the reason they are heavy favorites in Game 6.

However, the Warriors have not been the same without Iguodala. He is a playmaker who can control the ball and settle things down, makes the right decision, get the player and ball movement the Warriors have strayed too much from back, plus is one of their best defenders on James Harden. Nobody else on the roster can do that.

And if Game 6 gets tight late, the Warriors are going to miss those skills. As they have in the last two games.

Marcus Smart on Game 7: ‘It’s not going to be pretty’

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Game 7s are not pretty basketball. Everyone is tight, shots clank off the front of the rim, and players tend to think rather than just react, sucking the flow out of the game. It’s a game for grinders.

Marcus Smart is good with that, and he told Chris Forsberg of ESPN the team is preparing for this style.

“It’s not going to be pretty. You got to be able to get down and get dirty. You can’t go out and try to look pretty. You have to be ready for a dogfight. We got to be ready to come up with our nose bloodied. We got to be ready to come out with our mouth bloodied. We have to come out ready to fight.”

If Boston is going to win this game, they will do so with the physical, smart, and unrelenting defense that carried them all season. That’s their grit. Without Kevin Love (out with a concussion) the Celtics have one less scorer to worry about, but things do not necessarily get dramatically easier — LeBron James is going to get his buckets, but can the Celtics keep George Hill, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and the rest of the role players from helping out with big nights of their own.

Which one of these teams is better positioned to win a grinding, sloppy game? Who is willing to dive on the floor and give that little extra effort? A case can be made either way, but Sunday night will decide it.

Report: Warriors’ Patrick McCaw cleared, will be available for Game 6

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We haven’t seen Golden State’s Patrick McCaw on an NBA court since March 31, when he was undercut by Sacramento’s Vince Carter and took an ugly, nasty spill.

McCaw is finally cleared by the team doctors and will be active on Saturday night for Game 6 against Houston, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Golden State Warriors are planning to activate swingman Patrick McCaw for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

McCaw, on paper, would help the Warriors — he’s a 6’5″ switchable defender who can provide some offense in transition. That’s especially true if Andre Iguodala is out for Game 6 (his status is a game-time decision). McCaw played about 17 minutes a night for the Warriors during the regular season.

However, the idea of taking a second-year player who has not been on a court in six weeks and throwing him into Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals — a win-or-go-fishing game for Golden State — is risky, at best. Don’t expect him to get on the court unless this is a blowout.

Kevin Love in concussion protocol, listed as out for Game 7

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As if winning a Game 7 on the road against a younger, more athletic team that has not lost on its home court all playoffs was not difficult enough, things just got harder for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kevin Love has a concussion and is not expected to play in Game 7 on Sunday.

While it is technically possible for Love to clear out of the concussion protocol in 24 hours, it is highly unlikely. He would have to pass a rigorous physical test and have no concussion-related symptoms, something cleared by both the team doctor and a league-approved neurologist. This is something that tends to take days if not weeks to get over.

Love was injured just five minutes into Game 6. Love had set up position in the midpost and was setting a screen for George Hill, who was curling out to the arc. Jayson Tatum was trailing Hill and he banged heads with Love. It wasn’t pretty.

Love spent a few minutes on the ground, went straight to the locker room, and did not return to the game.

LeBron James is going to have to carry even more load in Game 7, and now more pressure falls on George Hill (the bellwether for this Cavs team), J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and others to step up without Love there to space the floor and get buckets.