2011 Final NBA Power Rankings and Playoff Preview

FINALLY – the regular season is over and the two month drama that is the playoffs begins in earnest! Been a while since we did this, but here are the final rankings for the entire body of work … the methodology is here:

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Bulls 62 20 100.514 (13) 92.761 (1) 1.75 1.28 (30) 10.783
2 Heat 58 24 104.084 (3) 96.459 (5) 1.75 1.398 (28) 10.774
3 Spurs 61 21 104.212 (2) 97.852 (11) 1.75 2.091 (6) 10.201
4 Lakers 57 25 102.802 (7) 96.519 (6) 1.75 1.802 (14) 9.836
5 Magic 52 30 100.731 (10) 94.928 (3) 1.75 1.602 (22) 9.155
6 Celtics 56 26 99.085 (18) 93.404 (2) 1.75 1.502 (27) 8.932
7 Mavericks 57 25 102.527 (8) 97.778 (10) 1.75 2.063 (8) 8.562
8 Nuggets 50 32 104.311 (1) 100.039 (17) 1.75 1.93 (13) 7.952
9 Thunder 55 27 103.441 (4) 99.608 (16) 1.75 1.794 (15) 7.376
10 Rockets 43 39 102.925 (6) 100.773 (18) 1.75 1.942 (12) 5.844
11 Grizzlies 46 36 99.493 (16) 97.682 (9) 1.75 2.055 (9) 5.616
12 Hornets 46 36 98.94 (19) 97.453 (7) 1.75 2.142 (2) 5.38
13 Blazers 48 34 100.555 (11) 99.167 (13) 1.75 2.078 (7) 5.216
14 Sixers 41 41 99.128 (17) 97.461 (8) 1.75 1.342 (29) 4.759
15 Knicks 42 40 103.265 (5) 101.908 (22) 1.75 1.513 (25) 4.62
16 Suns 40 42 101.939 (9) 102.539 (26) 1.75 2.158 (1) 3.308
17 Bucks 35 47 94.254 (30) 95.07 (4) 1.75 1.678 (18) 2.611
18 Hawks 44 38 98.391 (20) 99.444 (14) 1.75 1.52 (24) 2.217
19 Warriors 36 46 100.532 (12) 102.168 (23) 1.75 1.943 (11) 2.057
20 Jazz 39 43 99.935 (14) 101.842 (21) 1.75 2.018 (10) 1.861
21 Pacers 37 45 97.074 (22) 98.991 (12) 1.75 1.512 (26) 1.345
22 Bobcats 34 48 96.16 (25) 99.487 (15) 1.75 1.617 (20) 0.04
23 Clippers 32 50 97.011 (23) 101.041 (19) 1.75 2.1 (4) -0.179
24 Pistons 30 52 99.692 (15) 103.828 (28) 1.75 1.573 (23) -0.812
25 Kings 24 58 95.832 (26) 101.32 (20) 1.75 2.094 (5) -1.644
26 Timberwolves 17 65 96.311 (24) 102.844 (27) 1.75 2.112 (3) -2.671
27 Raptors 22 60 98.37 (21) 104.661 (30) 1.75 1.637 (19) -2.904
28 Nets 24 58 95.441 (27) 102.288 (25) 1.75 1.611 (21) -3.487
29 Wizards 23 59 94.853 (28) 102.206 (24) 1.75 1.74 (16) -3.864
30 Cavaliers 19 63 94.791 (29) 104.033 (29) 1.75 1.715 (17) -5.777

Of course, this is the entire season. But how did the teams do since the trade deadline? Note that at this point the SoS numbers were removed because the relative differentials are so small. Using both the total body of work along with the March and April stats (ostensibly, the team that will go into the playoffs) it might inform some playoff notes. The post deadline results are:

Rank Team W L Off Def Rating
1 Bulls 21 3 103.676 (7) 92.684 (1) 10.992
2 Nuggets 15 6 104.554 (5) 95.075 (6) 9.479
3 Thunder 19 5 105.402 (2) 96.956 (8) 8.446
4 Heat 15 7 106.127 (1) 99.09 (14) 7.037
5 Rockets 13 8 104.21 (6) 97.388 (9) 6.822
6 Mavericks 14 9 102.592 (11) 96.759 (7) 5.833
7 Lakers 15 6 100.394 (14) 94.921 (5) 5.473
8 Magic 14 8 99.362 (17) 93.996 (2) 5.366
9 Grizzlies 13 8 102.778 (10) 97.945 (10) 4.833
10 Blazers 15 8 103.184 (9) 99.017 (13) 4.167
11 Spurs 12 11 105.216 (4) 102.355 (21) 2.861
12 Celtics 13 11 97.091 (21) 94.246 (3) 2.845
13 Knicks 12 13 105.395 (3) 103.814 (24) 1.581
14 Warriors 10 14 101.009 (12) 100.213 (15) 0.796
15 Bucks 13 11 95.426 (28) 94.742 (4) 0.684
16 Sixers 11 12 98.37 (19) 98.528 (11) -0.157
17 Clippers 11 10 96.521 (25) 98.976 (12) -2.455
18 Hornets 11 10 99.797 (15) 102.695 (22) -2.899
19 Pistons 8 13 103.194 (8) 106.373 (30) -3.179
20 Suns 9 15 100.4 (13) 103.93 (25) -3.53
21 Pacers 11 13 96.763 (23) 101.473 (16) -4.71
22 Kings 9 15 96.867 (22) 102.343 (20) -5.476
23 Jazz 7 14 98.898 (18) 104.591 (28) -5.693
24 Wizards 8 15 95.65 (27) 101.62 (17) -5.97
25 Cavaliers 8 15 95.851 (26) 101.941 (18) -6.089
26 Hawks 8 14 96.674 (24) 103.064 (23) -6.39
27 Raptors 6 16 99.381 (16) 105.899 (29) -6.518
28 Bobcats 8 15 95.103 (30) 102.288 (19) -7.184
29 Nets 7 15 97.152 (20) 104.4 (26) -7.248
30 Timberwolves 3 19 95.419 (29) 104.523 (27) -9.104

So with all of this, the playoffs!  We have eight series, probably three plausible upsets maybe?  Granted, by the time this is published, one of the Game 1s will be in the can – so you can see me be wrong in real time.

Bulls (#1 overall, #1 since March 1) vs Pacers (#21 overall, #21 since March 1) … The Bulls have been the best team in the league since the deadline, and finished first in a virtual dead heat with Miami (what a pun!).  The Bulls have the league’s best defense, while the Pacers frankly aren’t good at anything, and really lucky the Bucks were hurt all season (I mean the Bucks are at least an elite defensive team).  That said, in terms of a specific matchup, the Pacers perimeter, Euro type of offense is the sort of thing that tends to give Tom Thibodeau defenses issues (stuff where the weakside is used a lot).  As such the Pacers could win a game.  BULLS in 5

Magic (#5 overall, #8 since March 1) vs Hawks (#18 overall, #26 since March 1) … there is no earthly on reason in this matchup for the Hawks to compete.  Indeed, they were crushed in this series a year ago.  However, this season Jason Collins has given Dwight Howard trouble, and as we know – if you guard Dwight one on one, they have trouble scoring.  So if the Hawks can do that, the series might get aesthetically displeasing enough to hang in there.  Seriously, the Hawks have been terrible since the deadline, and were statistically worse than four teams with inferior records.  The Magic will not crush them this time, but I cannot believe.  MAGIC in 5.

Heat (#2 overall, #4 since March 1) vs Sixers (#14 overall, #16 since March 1) … The Sixers will try.  God we know that.  Under Doug Collins they have become good at fundamentals – they are young, they are athletic, they are deep.  Elton Brand is no longer a great player, but he has had a mini-renaissance this year to be a good one.  The Heat, what can you say?  They have a lot of pressure on them.  But they have seemed to improve over the season, and their carcinogenic bench will be less of an issue now.  The Sixers will not fold, and it helps that they have more skill at the positions Miami sucks at (point guard and center/power forward).  In fact, this series could be a lot more interesting than it seems.  But I have to pick.  HEAT in 5

Celtics (#6 overall, #12 since March 1) vs Knicks (#15 overall, #13 since March 1) … this will be a fun series, but I think people want to see a close match that isn’t there.  The Celtics have struggled since the deadline, but their defense is still stout.  Their offense has went in the tank, and that is almost entirely due to a drop in form for Rajon Rondo.  However, the Knicks are not the team to be able to exploit this.  Their defense was poor in general, but particularly atrocious since the deadline.  They might be just what the doctor ordered for the beleaguered Celtics attack.  CELTICS in 5.

Spurs (#3 overall, #11 since March 1) vs Grizzlies (#11 overal, #9 since March 1) … The Grizzlies tanked the last two games of the year to earn this matchup.  This makes sense as they had some success in the season series and have played better than the Spurs down the stretch.  What is interesting is that the Grizzlies are actually the better defensive team in this series, which is shocking considering the Spurs brand.  However, the Spurs have home court, and if Ginobli is healthy, the better playmakers.  I am surprised the Grizzlies did not gun for the #6 position … but yes they can win this.  The Spurs have struggled down the stretch, and there is some upset potential.  SPURS in 7.

Thunder (#9 overall, #3 since March 1) vs Nuggets (#8 overall, #2 since March 1)  This is the best series of Round 1.  Both teams finished in the Top 10, both teams were brilliant coming down the stretch.  Both teams were elite offensive sides all season while perking up defensively later in the year.  The Thunder though have the best players in the series, while the Nuggets have more good players than the Thunder.  What this means is that the Nuggets might be more regular season geared than postseason geared since benches get shorter later in the year.  Add injury issues to Denver, and the need to find an alpha dog.  It could be a terrific series though – Denver has done enough to overcome this stuff so far.  THUNDER in 7.

Lakers (#4 overall, #7 since March 1) vs Hornets (#12 overall, #18 since March 1) … The Lakers until the last two weeks had been dominant down the stretch.  The Hornets lost their leading scorer.  The Hornets have a huge edge at point guard while the Lakers have huge edges everywhere else.  The Lakers swept the season series so there is not empirical evidence here for New Orleans.  This would be a massive upset if New Orleans even got this to 6.  LAKERS in 4.

Mavericks (#7 overall, #6 since March 1) vs Blazers (#13 overall, #10 since March 1) … Has any contender received less love than Dallas?  57 wins, solid all season, even more solid down the stretch.  The Blazers present a tough matchup, also playing well down the stretch.  This seems to be the series everybody is labeling as the upset.  I don’t know.  I feel like an ass not picking anything outside of chalk.  However, Dallas should win this series.  MAVERICKS in 7.

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