Unlocked … 2012 NBA Season Report #9

by Sriram

Ten or so games left, and things are starting to take shape with some amazing jumps since the trade deadline now that we have some games of data to work with.   How have the rankings changed since we last did this?

  1. (1) Thunder (42-15)
  2. (2) Bulls (43-14)
  3. (1) Heat (40-15)
  4. (5) Spurs (40-15)
  5. (4) Sixers (29-27)
  6. (16) Celtics (32-24)
  7. (12) Grizzlies (33-23)
  8. (6) Hawks (34-23)
  9. (7) Lakers (36-22)
  10. (9) Nuggets (31-26)
  11. (8) Magic (34-23)
  12. (14) Rockets (32-25)
  13. (10) Mavericks (31-26)
  14. (15) Knicks (29-27)
  15. (13) Clippers (34-23)
  16. (11) Pacers (35-22)
  17. (17) Blazers (27-31)
  18. (22) Suns (30-27) Timberwolves (22-24)
  19. (19) Bucks (28-29)
  20. (21) Jazz (30-28)
  21. (18) Timberwolves (25-33)
  22. (20) Warriors (22-34)
  23. (25) Raptors (20-38)
  24. (23) Hornets (15-42) Cavaliers (17-26)
  25. (26) Kings (19-38)
  26. (24) Cavaliers (18-36)
  27. (27) Pistons (21-36)
  28. (28) Nets (21-37)
  29. (29) Wizards (13-44)
  30. (30) Bobcats (7-48)

Some notes:

  • I can hear Jim Ross’ voice now.  (seriously – if you could have any announcer for any sporting event of any sort of meaning – JR takes a back seat to nobody) MY GAWD, IS THAT, IT’S THE BOSTON CELTICS!!!!  The Celtics surge into relevancy has been staggering, especially as their schedule has started to include playoff team after playoff team.  Since the trade deadline Boston is 6th in the league in point differential, and tops in defense allowing a staggering 86 points per average game.  How have they done it?  Well in terms of personnel, the move of Kevin Garnett to center and Avery Bradley to the starting lineup has created an athletic lineup and allowed Boston to play its best players more frequently.  The numbers since the deadline have been amazing, and they have surged into tops in the league for the season.  Without a good rebounding squad, Boston has had to defend the shot hard and they have done so leading the league in FG and 3PT percentage, by such a margin that pedestrian shot prevention (20th) has not been an issue.  I am not saying they will go anywhere – the offense is still putrid by good team standards- but the defensive surge has given them a chance.
  • Similarly the Memphis Grizzlies, after a brief hiccup, have started to get well with a very strong stretch and the adding of Zach Randolph to the mix.  Their 7th ranking seems a bit high, but really they are being buoyed by their league toughest schedule to date.  Also, they – like Boston – are no great shakes offensively.  However, the Grizzlies have put together a good defensive team built on volume.  The Grizzlies force turnovers and rebound misses.  They have the 5th widest gap between their FGs and Opponents on a possession basis.  The rugged physical style makes them a fascinating playoff team – though their unwillingness to shoot 3s is a worry.  Also, volume dependent teams have had a history of struggling as the teams in front of them go up in quality.
  • At the moment the Atlantic Division winner is guaranteed a Top 4 seed, while the runners up are no higher than 7th.  Put simply, the Sixers’ struggles – a combination of poor offense and some really bad close game luck, has then on the edge of having to play Chicago in Round 1.  Boston-Atlanta is a much more benign matchup to say the least.  Out west the surging Grizzlies are only 2 games behind the Lakers for 3rd in the conference.  The folks in Bristol might have a giant circle jerk if that happens as the Lakers-Clippers 1st round series would become a reality.
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