Our weekly NBA Power Rankings, where Mavs fans are going climb on me for dropping them down to five, and I get that. I just think the four teams above them are better.
1. Celtics (22-4). They’ve won 13 in a row. Remember how we have said that Doc Rivers is willing to sacrifice regular season games to keep players healthy. Well, not a lot of sacrifice.
2. Spurs (23-3). Manu Ginobili is bucking for the “best closer in the game” title with his play last week. The Spurs have Orlando, Washington and the Suns on the schedule this week — nearly every team in the weekend’s big trades.
3. Heat (21-8). A dozen wins in a row but if they lose Monday to the Mavericks and Saturday in Los Angeles the whole “they can’t beat a good team” meme will continue. Even though it isn’t true. It was that soft schedule which helped turn things around far more than that team meeting in Dallas, however.
4. Lakers (21-7). Either their defense has looked better since Andrew Bynum returned or they played some bad teams. Actually, a little bit of both.
5. Mavericks (21-5). Would have said the two games in Florida this week are a good test, but not sure what to make of Orlando yet (and they need some time to figure it out). So it’s the Heat. This Miami team is playing with more confidence then when the Mavericks beat them last time.
6. Thunder (19-9). They are 7-3 in their last 10, but they keep winning close games (12 by seven points or less) and that concerns me. Those kinds of things tend to balance out.
7. Jazz (19-9). Look for a run out of the Jazz. The return of Mehmet Okur (who may come off the bench for a while) will give them some scoring and options up front. Plus, pretty soft schedule for a few weeks.
8. Bulls (16-9). That loss to the Clippers shows how much they will miss Noah — if you can score inside you can beat the Bulls for the next couple months.
9. Hawks (17-12). Joe Johnson is back and shot 9-of-30 in two games. So, not much of a boost there. They really miss Jamal Crawford.
10. Nuggets (16-10). You could say that when Kenyon Martin gets back soon they can step up into that second tier in the West with Dallas and San Antonio. Except for that whole “going to trade Melo” thing.
11. Magic (16-10). Do you have any idea where this team will be ranked in two weeks? I don’t. Tough time to integrate new guys with the next four games being the Hawks, Mavericks, Spurs and Celtics.
12. Hornets (16-11). Moral victory against the Heat? Maybe if it wasn’t for falling to the Pistons on Sunday when they were without Rodney Stuckey and Rip Hamilton. New Orleans continues to slip and we’d blame the owner if there were one.
13. Knicks (16-12). Three straight losses as teams are just collapsing down on Stoudemire. The role players need to step up more consistently, and the Knicks need to get better backups for Stoudemire and Felton.
14. Blazers (14-14). There are going to be some trades to shake up this roster in the next two months. But is Andre Miller really a guy they are going to send out?
15. Suns (13-13). Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez make a nice tandem at center and they can protect the paint. On the other side, at this point in their careers Vince Carter is no Jason Richardson in this system. Carter needs the ball in his hands, and that means it’s not in Nash’s.
16. Sixers (11-16). They are No. 16 with a bullet — they are 7-3 in their last 10 and would be are the eighth seed in the East if the playoffs started today. I think they’re going to make the playoffs, which is not something I would have said mid-November.
17. Rockets (12-15). They went 3-1 last week. Now they can forget about trying to integrate Yao and just go out and run. This is a fun team to watch when they just let it go.
18. Pacers (12-14). Danny Granger is averaging 18 points a game in the last 10 shooting 37.1 percent. Not efficient. But that sums up the Pacers right now (that and poor rebounding).
19. Grizzlies (12-16). Zach Randolph is averaging 2014 in his last 10. Why did I not draft him on to my fantasy team again?
20. Bucks (10-15). If you go 1-2 on the week against the Jazz, Mavericks and Spurs is that good? It could have been worse, I guess. Now they need to get by without Brandon Jennings for at least a month with a foot injury.
21. Bobcats (9-17). That gentle breeze you feel caressing your cheek? It’s trade winds coming to Charlotte and they are going to get stronger
22. Raptors (10-18). Well, at least Leandro Barbosa can hit half courters.
23. Pistons (9-19). They beat the Hawks and Hornets, then fall to the Clippers, so you tell me what is up with this team?
24. Warriors (9-17). David Lee averaging 15 points a game but on just 43.5 shooting in his last 10. There are nine boards a game too, from him.
25. Clippers (7-21). Two wins in a row on the road. You can’t stop the Clippers…
26. Nets (8-20). Sasha Vujacic may provide them some offensive spark — which shows you how bad their offense is.
27. Cavaliers (8-19). They are 1-9 in their last 10 but fought hard against the Heat and beat the Knicks. Maybe they are turning it back around.
28. Wizards (6-19). They needed to ship out Gilbert Arenas and make this John Wall’s team. Now they just need to get Wall back.
29. Timberwolves (6-22). They are 0-5 on a road trip but can salvage one win against the Clippers Monday. Love vs. Griffin.
30. Kings (5-20). In their last 10 games the Kings are shooting 43.9 percent, while their opponents are shooting 47.7 percent. You don’t win a lot of games with that kind of gap.