|Posted by teapester725 on February 5, 2013 at 2:05 PM|
For the second consecutive week the San Antonio Spurs sit atop the rankings as the immediate teams behind them in the Thunder, Heat and Clippers all suffered slip-ups. This week teams that were already sitting pretty are moving up the rankings and others that will see changes over the coming weeks with the landscape of the NBA potentially shifting with the trade deadline looming February 21st.
1.) San Antonio Spurs (38-11) – The Spurs annual rodeo road trip will be getting underway this week without Tim Duncan, who suffered a knee injury against the Wizards Saturday night. Thankfully for the Spurs, the MRI revealed no structural damage as the injury looked much worse than it actually turned out to be. The road trip will get underway this week with stops at Detroit, Minnesota and Brooklyn.
2.) Miami Heat (30-14) – The Heat bounced back from a loss against the Celtics by trouncing the Nets in Brooklyn but aloss to the Pacers puts in perspective some things if they end up matching up together in the playoffs. The Pacers hold the Heat to eight points per game in transition in their two victories over them this season; compared to the over 17 points per game the Heat average nightly. The Pacers may very well be the toughest team for the Heat to matchup with.
3.) Oklahoma City Thunder (35-12) – Russell Westbrook was in a bad shooting slump but looks to be breaking out of it with his last two performances in which he went for 21 in a win over the Grizzlies and 28 in a loss to the Cavaliers. Westbrook will have to get things together on a more consistent basis for the Thunder to be successful, as his childish blowups will have to come to a stop as well.
4.) Denver Nuggets (30-18) – The Nuggets are currently riding a six-game winning streak, taking some of the sting out of not having a single representative in the All-Star game this season. No team in NBA history has ever won a title without at least one All-Star, but at the same time there are not many teams as talented as the Nuggets; All-Star berths or not this is not a team anyone should take lightly, especially at the Pepsi Center.
5.) New York Knicks (30-15) – The Knicks are currently riding a four game win streak as they look to close out a five game home stand undefeated against the Pistons Monday. The big game to look forward to for the Knicks this week is Sunday afternoon’s matchup against the Clippers. Both teams are currently trending in different directions, as the Knicks are finally getting players healthy and getting the rotations they had envisioned to use when the season started.
6.) Golden State Warriors (30-17) – For the first time in a while 49ers fans that are upset the football season ended can take some solace in watching the Warriors, who are one of the hottest teams in the NBA currently. The Warriors are currently riding a four game winning streak and got a huge boost this week with the return of center Andrew Bogut. Bogut was thought to be a big piece to the puzzle in Golden State so getting him back is huge for a team playing way above expectations anyone set for them to start the season.
7.) Los Angeles Clippers (34-15) – Things are starting to get a little skittish in Clipper-land as the product on the court is starting to slip. A big reason for that is a rash of injuries to guards Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford. Trade rumors off the court are starting to heat up as well, as things will only continue to be difficult for the Clippers without their best player in Paul. How the Clippers end this eight game road trip, which they are 1-2 on thus far, will play a big role in who makes it on the Clippers roster to the end of the season.
8.) Chicago Bulls (29-18 ) – The Bulls are currently playing through a ton of injuries, as starting big men Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah both have missed games this past week and will most likely miss games heading into this week as well. Kirk Hinrich also missed time, clearing a path for Nate Robinson to play extended minutes. Robinson made the most of his opportunity by winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
9.) Indiana Pacers (28-19) – Indiana continues to chug along like a well-oiled machine as they reeled off 13 straight wins at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That streak will be put to the test right off the bat this week, with a back-to-back with the Bulls Monday and Hawks Tuesday night. The Pacers have to be confident with how they have played and will be big players come the trade deadline as they will have to decide what to do with the return of Danny Granger to the lineup.
10.) Memphis Grizzlies (30-16) – The Grizzlies did what many think will hurt them in trading Rudy Gay this past week, getting back Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis. It will take some time to see if this trade is worthwhile for the Grizzlies, as the initial results are mixed with a blowout loss in Oklahoma City and a victory at home against the Wizards.
11.) Brooklyn Nets (28-19) – Brook Lopez got his spot on the All-Star team, with David Stern putting on the roster in place of the injured Rajon Rondo. The Nets have a big week coming up, as they welcome the Lakers into town and have a chance to beef up their win totals with games against the Pistons, Wizards and Spurs on their rodeo trip.
12.) Milwaukee Bucks (25-21) – The Bucks fell short against superior opponents in the Bulls and Knicks this past week, but the play has improved under interim coach Jim Boylan, led by the resurgence of Ersan Ilyasova. Another player that is coming into his own for the Bucks is center Larry Sanders, who is leading the NBA in blocked shots at 3.11 per game.
13.) Houston Rockets (26-24) – Some big matchups lie ahead for the Rockets this week as it is tough sledding heading into the All-Star break. This week the Rockets will play against the Warriors, at Miami, against the Trail Blazers and at Sacramento. They will finish up the first half of the season with games at Golden State and Los Angeles against the Clippers.
14.) Atlanta Hawks (26-20) – The Hawks are an interesting team, as in no one can figureout how they keep winning. They traded away Joe Johnson this offseason, leaving them without a go-to scorer but have turned into a defensive minded team to grind out wins. Al Horford continues to put up stellar numbers for them, averaging 20.8 points and 10.2 rebounds in his last five games played.
15.) Utah Jazz (26-22) – The week started off with a shellacking at the hands of the Rockets, losing by 45 points in Salt Lake City. Those are games the Jazz cannot afford to lose, as they will be fighting for one of the last Western Conference playoff spots with the Rockets in addition to the Blazers and Lakers. They have a chance to pick up some much needed wins this week as they play three games at home before a road game in Sacramento.
16.) Portland Trail Blazers (24-23) – Things will not get much easier as they don’t have another game at the Rose Garden until after the All-Star Break; the good thing is during that road trip they will face off against only two teams with winning records in the Heat and Rockets. The most eye-catching matchup of the road trip will be when they visit the New Orleans Hornets, as Damian Lillard and number one overall pick Anthony Davis will square off.
17.) Boston Celtics (24-23) – Can anyone say they saw this coming with Rajon Rondo going down with injury? The Celtics have gone 4-0 since Rondo was lost for the season with victories over the Heat, Kings, Magic and Clippers. Trade rumors are now swirling that there is a chance they will move both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett with the Clippers being the destination. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Celtics leading up to the trade deadline as it is unlikely they will accomplish anything without Rondo.
18.) Los Angeles Lakers (22-26) – The Lakers might want to try giving Kobe Bryant the ball and hope he does what he is capable of doing it. As much as Kobe helps the team in the scoring department, they are much more successful when he passes the ball. When he has six or more assists in a game, the Lakers go 14-7 compared to 7-19 when he doesn’t. Steve Nash now can become what he seems more destined to be like Jason Kidd at this stage of his career as a spot-up shooter.
19.) Philadelphia 76ers (20-26) – The 76ers may be the team that benefits the most from the Rondo injury as they currently sit in ninth place behind Boston for eighth in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers know a thing or two about playing without a star player as they have yet to be graced by Andrew Bynum’s presence yet on the court. The Sixers have fared well thus far on their home stand and will look to continue their momentum into the All-Star break.
20.) Dallas Mavericks (20-27) – Nothing seems to be going their way this season, as the one-time great closers are now slipping at the end of games, losing a league high eight games this season while leading in the last 90 seconds. Couple that with what seems like the deterioration of Dirk Nowitzki, who suffered a thigh strain, it just does not seem like the Mavericks were meant to succeed this season.
21.) Toronto Raptors (17-31) – The Raptors made a big move in taking on Rudy Gay this past week, moving longtime point guard Jose Calderon and up-start power forward Ed Davis. Gay will give the Raptors a go-to scorer they have not had since Chris Bosh left town and should make them into a respectable team. It will be interesting to see if Gay develops anymore than he did with the Grizzlies and will look more like a franchise player now that he is the guy.
22.) Detroit Pistons (18-30) – It was a tough move to make, saying good bye to the last link to their championship days in Tayshaun Prince, but it was a move that makes sense for the future of the franchise. They were going nowhere this season so moving Prince to a contender was a classy move as well. Looking forward a little for the Pistons, they will have $20 million in cap space to build around their two bigs of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
23.) Cleveland Cavaliers (14-34) – Kyrie Irving does something every week to show how great of a player he is becoming; this week he went for 35 in a big weekend win versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. It would be amazing to see Irving lineup next to the likes of Lebron James in an All-Star game starting lineup, but that is not a foregone conclusion as Heat head coach is expected to lean towards starting his own center Chris Bosh.
24.) Phoenix Suns (16-32) – The Suns had a big comeback event with Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni coming back to Phoenix last week; to make it even better they actually pulled the victory out over the Suns. Things got back to regularity sadly for Suns fans as they lost the remaining games of their week to the Mavericks and Warriors.
25.) Minnesota Timberwolves (18-26) – What is there to root for in Minnesota? Their only player worth watching currently in Ricky Rubio will not even be taking part in the Rookie/Sophomore game during All-Star weekend. They don’t even have good weather right now like other bad teams in Orlando or Sacramento as it was three degrees this past weekend during game time; it is going to be a long winter in Minnesota for Timberwolves fans.
26.) New Orleans Hornets (15-33) – The luster of the Eric Gordon return is starting to wear off as the Hornets currently are riding a four game losing streak as they were unable to continue their strong start to their road trip. Anthony Davis is starting to come into his own, yet might not even crack the top two in the Rookie of the Year race with Damian Lillard and Andre Drummond playing great basketball as well.
27.) Washington Wizards (11-35) – If you are a Wizards fan you have to wonder what could have been. With John Wall in the lineup, they already have more wins than without him; keep in mind he has played in 14 games and the Wizards have played 33 games without him. They are also right behind the Mavericks in futility down the stretch of games, tied with the Raptors with seven losses with the lead in the last 90 seconds in regulation or overtime.
28.) Sacramento Kings (17-32) – The one saving grace they had in DeMarcus Cousins play has stalled, as his production has been in a tail slide recently. They also got decimated on their road trip, beating only the Wizards and losing their other four games. They have a chance to finish on a high note Monday night in Utah before returning home for games against the Jazz and Rockets.
29.) Charlotte Bobcats (11-35) – Charlotte’s road trip has gone like most of its season thus far: poorly. The Bobcats are 0-4 on their road trip and will look to salvage it against the Cavaliers Wednesday. Worse for the Bobcats is the loss of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was looking to turn around his poor January but will not have a chance after suffering a concussion in his first February game.
30.) Orlando Magic (14-33) – There is nothing going right in Orlando, who have lost nine straight games and lost Glen “Big Baby” Davis to another long term injury, this time a broken foot. It is only a matter of time until the Magic take what many people thought was theirs at the start of the season, as the cellar dweller of the NBA.