Meadow Muffins of the Mind

The droppings of some guy's imagination.

Tag: Lakers

2010 NBA Finals Game 3: Lakers 91, Celtics 84

It’s funny how the game works sometimes.  In a lot of ways, I could write the same set of random thoughts as I did for Game 2, and just switch the team names and some of the players around.  The Lakers got off to a bad start, but then caught fire.  The Celtics offense looked suddenly very very constipated, and the Lakers blew the game open.  I guess one can take pride in the Celtics character – especially in the key 4th quarter early when Tony Allen was single handedly turning Bryant into a nonfactor.

In a lot of ways, that was most vexing.  Kobe was 10-29, made a key jumper but otherwise accomplished precious little in the 4th, despite Mark Jackson’s bleatings of his greatness.  The Celtics defense was good, and until the middle of the 4th was positively outstanding.  But at the end, there needed to be stops, and there needed to be execution, and ultimately there was neither.  Part of me takes heart that this game was in the balance while they shot so poorly, including Ray Allen putting up a ghastly counterpoint to his amazing Game 2.   But, the Celtics got so much done on defense, with especially inspiring work by Tony Allen (whoulda thunk that he was the Allen to play down the stretch, and I wished he was the Allen that was out there late) and Big Baby – and an inspired effort from Garnett.

Ultimately this series cannot be won unless Pierce starts contributing more heavily – and he struggled again with the Artest defense.  Also, when Derek Fisher is allowed to be hero, while their best weapons were kept under wraps – that reflects on Rondo.  Indeed today he was back to his useful but innocuous Game 1 form, and not the transformational Game 2 kind.  Perhaps the short turnaround and the resulting lack of legs to run had something to do with it.  I just don’t know.

Hard not to be left talking to oneself.

2010 NBA Finals Game 2: Celtics 103, Lakers 94

Now there is something to build on.  After the collective egg laid in Game 1, the Celtics had a lot of ‘splainin to do.  The lack of defensive energy – and energy generally – was something that should have been easy to fix.  Obviously, just like in Game 1, perspective is in order.  For two teams who have continually shown they can win in the other guys’ house, the idea of losing home court advantage in and of itself is somewhat meaningless.  That said, the odds of either team winning 3 in a row is low – and so this is a huge help as a matter of sheer probability.  But what a laundry list of positives from the effort.

Ray Allen’s Magic - the 7 three pointers nailed in a positively scorching first half were key as the Celtics had to overcome Garnett’s foul troubles and Pierce’s scoring ones.  As the Celtics defended with much more zeal than Game 1, they still needed a source of offense, and Allen delivered.  The Lakers defense was astonishingly bad at times, but you still gotta make the shots – you try hitting 8 of 11 three balls without anybody guarding you.

Paul Pierce’s Spirit – is it possible to have a great 2 for 11 game?  The 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists do not indicate anything here.  Pierce’s offense was positively bereft, but the captain brought a legitimate defensive intensity that was noticeable.  His man to man defense on Ron Artest was terrific and his role as part of the team forcing Kobe to work for his 21 points on 20 shots was invaluable.

The Bench – the Lakers depth was supposed to be an edge in this series, but the Celtics bench outclassed the Lakers in a game where the serious foul trouble struck again.  In particular the 6 minute stretch in the fourth where Nate Robinson, Glen Davis and Tony Allen provided an absolutely critical rest period for the thoroughly exhausted Rondo and Ray Allen.  When the varsity checked back in, nothing changed negatively on the scoreboard.  Add the production of Rasheed Wallace, and the work of Shelden Williams when he was exhumed, and everybody had a hand in this.  The bull in a china shop that is Glen Davis is a force of nature.

Rondo’s Excellence – after a deceptively impact free 13 point 8 assist game in Game 1, Rondo got his second triple double of the postseason (18, 12 and 10).  His rebounding was crucial as part of a teamwide 16 rebound turnaround from the Game 1 disaster.  And then in the fourth, he took over as the scoring option and closed the show.  His steel-nerved 18 footer and his poke steal of Kobe Bryant late were the most symbolic plays, but really from pushing tempo, getting Ray Allen all those looks, the rebounding, the scoring at the end – he was everything, like he had to be.

Resourcefulness – as always this team rises when they look their worst.  It happened again tonight, in a game where so much went wrong.  Serious foul trouble, Kevin Garnett laying another egg, Paul Pierce struggling offensively, their own sloppiness at the end of the first half letting a 13 point lead drip to 6, and then expiring altogether in the second half, the Lakers 14 blocked shots and Andrew Bynum’s best playoff performance.  There were a lot of reasons to lose this game, and the Celtics somehow – when it looked like the Lakers were going to take this to the finish line – made the plays at the end.

How satisfying is this?  So satisfying that another horridly officiated game did not ruin my mood – the 112 fouls called in 2 games almost made this like a whistle blowing competition interrupted by some basketball here and there – the Celtics are alive.

2010 NBA Finals Game 1: Lakers 102 Celtics 89

As always Adam has some good thoughts about the game.  When watching a game like that, the mind wanders as to who is to blame – was it the Lakers efficacy or the Celtics lack of the same?  What was most striking was the Lakers defense and sheer effort – an intensity level the Celtics just did not bring.  Really, the game is sometimes that simple.  The Celtics, as it showed in the rebounding stats (Gasol out offensive rebounding the entire Celtics team??!!), the fast break points (12-5) and the points in the paint (48-30).  It was a physical mauling.  The good news is it is just one game but there are some systemic concerns.

Garnett’s Docileness – Garnett was held to 7-16, which is not good but not awful.  But only 4 rebounds and getting eaten alive by Pau Gasol.  Combine this with a very poor offensive showing in the previous round against Rashard Lewis and one worries about whether he has just been fried or not.

Rondo’s Health - Rondo also put a decent line up (13-6-8) but was not explosive or transformative.  Having Kobe guard him may have seemed like a factor but it wasn’t.  As Rivers pointed out, Rondo has seen this sort of defense before.  But Rondo seemed to lack jump.  Is this his various ailments coming together?

Kobe’s Amazingness – Adam observes that Kobe has taken the conch from LeBron for now.  A lot of experts have made this assertion too – but LeBron’s performance the last two years belie this.  Since LeBron does not have a Top 10 player like Gasol as a post teammate, it is hard to make a fair comparison.  But suffice to say Kobe has had a marvelous playoff.  The Celtics let him get to the bucket pretty easily, far easier than they did at any point of the 2008 series.

Ultimately, it is but one game – and so perspective is in order.  The problems mostly were in the energy and effort categories – which is easily fixable as disturbing as it was.  One expects a much better performance in Game 2.  One does not expect any less “Kobe is a transformational epic movie hero” hooey from Van Gundy and Jackson – unless you are talking Lawrence of Arabia.

The 2010 NBA Finals: Celtics v Lakers

After all of those games, here we are.  The Celtics play the Lakers for the 12th time for the NBA Championship, and the second time in the last three years – in what might be one of the more covertly improbably recent NBA Finals pairings.  Improbable?  Consider: The Celtics finished the season ranked 10th, while the Lakers were 7th.  The Lakers survived a scare from a very underrated Oklahoma City team in the first round while the Celtics stunned the two best teams in the league this season.  Both teams deserve to be here – but both teams needed postseason revivals (the two teams were a combined 61-47 in the year 2010) to do so.

It is tempting to look at their 2008 meeting for guidance.  If one recalls (and boy do I), the Celtics won in 6 over Los Angeles in a series where they conceivably could have won all six games.  The Celtics physicality and defensive mindset utterly emasculated the Lakers, and thus dozens of ESPN experts were proven wrong.  The 131-92 drubbing in Game 6 is a favorite memory:

And the Celtics epic Game 4 comeback is for the ages:

That said, it is two years later.  The Celtics then were Pierce-Garnett-Allen with Rondo being a wild card.  Now Rondo is clearly their best player and Garnett is a wild card.  The Lakers were soft in that year without Andrew Bynum healthy.  With him (and who knows at this point if he will be healthy) they are a very good defensive team and capable of dominating with sheer numbers of size.  The Lakers have home court this time.  Ultimately, I look at these as the keys:

  1. Rondoooooooo – speedy point guards have given Derek Fisher fits the last few years. They do not come any speedier than Rondo.  The Lakers might put Kobe on him and roam off of him, but Rondo has learned how to work with that.  If he is healthy, he will be a handful – and with the Celtics fragility, he HAS to be.  It seems that defending Rondo AND Ray Allen will give the Lakers issues, if the Celts bring it.
  2. The Lakers muscle – Gasol, Odom ans Bynum give a size trio the Celtics cannot match.  Perkins and Davis bring physicality and Garnett brings great defensive instinct, and Wallace brings some manboobs, but the Celtics could get crushed on the boards here.  They need to neutralize to give themselves a chance.
  3. Pierce vs Artest – Artest blanketed Pierce in the two regular season meetings.  Pierce was outstanding in 2008, and is coming off of a revival of sorts against Orlando.  Pierce needs to be a true 1A performer here.
  4. Kobe – he has been otherworldly the last two series.  However, the Celtics are not an indifferent defensive team – especially not in the postseason where they are winning the defensive efficiency stats.  Can the Celtics manage him like they did in 2008.
  5. The 2-3-2 format.  With the change in format, it basically forces Boston to win twice in LA.  Otherwise the chore could depend on winning 3 in a row – which is hard for either to team to do under any condition.

Really, this shapes to be a potentially classic Final – two teams trying to squeeze out a title in a year with a ton of adversity.  Maybe some of my reverse jinx comes out here, but Lakers in 6.

NBA Conference Finals Preview and Picks

Well, the Bostonian in me would be remiss not to touch base about the Bruins historic collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers – the scribes have written, what more is there to say?  Let’s move on.

The Celtics, coming off of their shocking upset of the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Orlando Magic, who have sliced through the playoffs with ferocious intent so far in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Meanwhile, in the West, the Suns and Lakers come off of a week rest after each swept through the Spurs and Jazz respectively.  If one remember’s Steve Nash’s face after the win over the Spurs, clearly the Suns needed the rest:

Ewwwww

So, how will the series go?  Given my knowledge of the Cavs-Celtics series, take these at your own peril.

Suns v Lakers … power rankings wise this is #3 vs #7.  The Suns have been outstanding this postseason with their sweep and their more one sided than it looked win over the Blazers.  The Lakers had to work harder, but are coming off of a high level sweep of the Jazz.  If we just look at the 5 man lineups, the Lakers size is a real problem for the Suns.  Normally, when we think Suns, we expect the team to be soft on the inside and not really care.  With these guys, that is different.  They won the Spurs series basically on the glass with their earnestness – outrebounding the Spurs in Game 2 severely on the offensive side.  The Suns with their #19 defense, will never be considered a juggernaut – but they try harder this year – and have a mean streak with Jared Dudley and Louis Amundsen, that previous vintages don’t have.  However, all of this still leaves the Lakers at an advantage down low, even with the Suns offering more length than the Jazz could.

However, the Suns are a brilliant offensive team, #1 in the league again.  Amare Stoudemire could and should still give the Lakers problems, and the Nash is as good as ever.  While the Lakers can match up small using Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher or Jordan Farmar most likely will have to guard somebody, whether it be Nash, Jason Richardson or Barbosa.  There is an edge there.  Also the Suns’ bench has been outstanding – they must flog the Lakers generally woeful second unit to optimize their probability of winning.  But the probability is significant.  This shapes up as a classic: Lakers in 7

Magic v Celtics: The Magic finished the season #1 in the Power Rankings, while the Celtics finished #10.  That said the Celtics have gotten healthier and played a brilliant series to beat Cleveland.  But this is another kettle of fish.  The Magic are coming off of an epic 27-3 stretch with a high scoring margin over those 30 games than the Celtics had ALL SEASON.  They might not win it all, but they have clearly been the best team in the league since 2010 started.  The Magic have the league’s best defense anchored by Dwight Howard, offer matchup issues with Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter, and Jameer Nelson playing a PG so well that the Magic’s “if only he were healthy last year” misgiving is legitimate.  Rondo should not be able to flog this matchup like he did against Cleveland.  Also the Celtics beat Cleveland because Kevin Garnett emerged as the team’s second best player again, and dominated Antawn Jamison.  Rashard Lewis is a tougher test – lacking the wussiness and the inability to dribble fashioned by Antawn.  The Magic also offer unmatched depth with Ryan Anderson, Jason Williams, JJ Redick and Marcin Gortat – the Celtics bench, a weakness all season, will be tested again.  The Celtics can win this, but it is on Rondo and Pierce to rise up in the toughest scenario to date.  Magic in 5

NBA Playoffs Round 2 Picks

Well, this is hardly revelation. Indeed, two of the series are already underway with the Lakers and the Cavaliers each taking 1-0 leads. Fortunately I was not picking the Celtics or the Jazz to sweep, so no biggie. So the series (rankings based on final rankings):

Cavaliers (2) vs Celtics (10):  To their credit, the Celtics will not be scared.  Of course this is a rematch of a 2nd round series from 2007-2008 when the Celtics beat the Cavs in a series where nobody won on the road.  This time, the Celtics NEED to win in Cleveland.  Alas, they have blown leads all season and their defense, 6th in the league, has wavered at times when they’ve needed big results.  Cavs athleticism is a real problem.  Celts must stop the Cavs 3 – and Rondo has to dominate.  Cavs in 5

Magic (1) vs Hawks (8): In Round 1, Magic played the Bobcats – 2 stout defenses with only one good offensive team – hence a Magic sweep.  Now, two of the league’s best offenses but this time the Magic have the far superior defense.  The Hawks have struggled in head to head matchups, and the Magic depth and quality is hard to top.  Both teams are very efficient on offense without being great assist teams – Magic take high level shots, Hawks offensively rebound.  Really I don’t see how the Hawks win.  Magic in 5

Lakers (7) vs Jazz (5):  Kirilenko has to play.  The Jazz showed to be a lousy defense in round 1 against Denver.  However, Denver was lousier and the Jazz scored at will.  The Lakers size and length are a tough matchup for the Jazz’ bigs.  Without Kirilenko the Jazz must win this on offense, which they are solid at.  However, the Lakers defense, with Bynum is outstanding.  There is a reason the Jazz have had trouble winning.  However, the Lakers did not look great against the Thunder.  They really are vulnerable.  The offense has been pedestrian, or streaky at the very least.  This could be a good series.  Lakers in 7

Suns (3) vs Spurs (4):  What a history these teams have.  Granted, the Spurs have had the better of it, but such a style matchup.  The Spurs are much more offensive minded now than back in the day.  I mean then the offense was efficient, but now their offense is more important, as their defense is not “great” anymore at a mere 9th.  The Suns are wonderful offensively, and they did very well in head to head this season.  They came off of a good series against a feisty Portland team, giving them 3 of their 4 worst losses of the season.  If Suns can manage the size, they should finally break through this time.  Suns in 6

The Final Power Rankings and First Round Picks

Process here. Rankings there:

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Magic 59 23 104.631 (2) 96.214 (1) 1.75 3.166 (30) 13.333
2 Cavaliers 61 21 104.39 (3) 97.272 (8) 1.75 3.173 (29) 12.041
3 Suns 54 28 107.908 (1) 102.168 (19) 1.75 3.276 (25) 10.766
4 Spurs 50 32 102.717 (9) 97.59 (9) 1.75 3.532 (17) 10.41
5 Jazz 53 29 103.122 (8) 98.527 (10) 1.75 3.586 (13) 9.93
6 Thunder 50 32 101.459 (11) 97.188 (7) 1.75 3.584 (14) 9.604
7 Lakers 57 25 101.152 (13) 97.091 (5) 1.75 3.658 (10) 9.47
8 Hawks 53 29 104.132 (4) 100.085 (15) 1.75 3.381 (23) 9.178
9 Nuggets 53 29 103.777 (6) 100.105 (16) 1.75 3.63 (12) 9.051
10 Celtics 50 32 101.165 (12) 97.178 (6) 1.75 3.258 (27) 8.995
11 Blazers 50 32 103.569 (7) 99.894 (13) 1.75 3.415 (21) 8.84
12 Mavericks 55 27 102.457 (10) 98.973 (12) 1.75 3.472 (20) 8.706
13 Heat 47 35 100.305 (18) 96.849 (4) 1.75 3.219 (28) 8.426
14 Bobcats 44 38 97.408 (24) 96.389 (2) 1.75 3.411 (22) 6.18
15 Bucks 46 36 97.553 (23) 96.462 (3) 1.75 3.258 (26) 6.098
16 Rockets 42 40 100.13 (19) 100.907 (17) 1.75 3.928 (2) 4.901
17 Raptors 40 42 103.869 (5) 104.906 (30) 1.75 3.499 (18) 4.211
18 Bulls 41 41 96.563 (28) 98.573 (11) 1.75 3.568 (15) 3.308
19 Hornets 37 45 100.59 (16) 102.895 (22) 1.75 3.741 (7) 3.187
20 Grizzlies 40 42 100.398 (17) 102.932 (23) 1.75 3.739 (8) 2.955
21 Pacers 32 50 97.062 (26) 99.996 (14) 1.75 3.473 (19) 2.288
22 Warriors 26 56 100.65 (14) 104.321 (28) 1.75 3.897 (3) 1.977
23 Kings 25 57 98.103 (22) 102.032 (18) 1.75 3.868 (4) 1.689
24 Knicks 29 53 100.646 (15) 104.386 (29) 1.75 3.346 (24) 1.355
25 Sixers 27 55 99.066 (20) 103.097 (24) 1.75 3.546 (16) 1.265
26 Wizards 26 56 97.101 (25) 102.302 (20) 1.75 3.633 (11) 0.183
27 Clippers 29 53 96.693 (27) 102.357 (21) 1.75 3.866 (5) -0.048
28 Pistons 27 55 98.198 (21) 104.067 (26) 1.75 3.68 (9) -0.439
29 Timberwolves 15 67 94.652 (29) 104.233 (27) 1.75 4.111 (1) -3.719
30 Nets 12 70 94.115 (30) 103.745 (25) 1.75 3.786 (6) -4.094

A key caveat: With the last month being tanking/amateur hour and good teams being judicious with managing players – I suspect the Lakers and Cavaliers are undervalued. That said, still revealing as we get to the end:

  • The Magic have been the best team the second half of the year.  Took the season for Vince Carter to get integrated, and their defense was lazy earlier in the season.  However, back at #1, just like last year.  Their #2 offense is hard to say has dropped off at all.
  • The Cavaliers got off slow too, but rolled down the stretch save for preserving LeBron a bit.
  • Lakers really staggered to the finish.  They seemed to be shoo-ins for the best record for a while.  They can still right the ship, but with a scant 9 games separating the #1 and $#8 seed in the West who knows?

Now for some quick picks for the first round (power ranking in parens) …

EAST:

Cavaliers (2) vs Bulls (18): Bulls played hard down the stretch, Rose is a terrific PG.  But Cavs defend the position well, and there is LeBron.  Cavs in 5

Celtics (10) vs Heat (13): Celtics after a 27-5 start, are a 23-27 team.  This is not a good team right now, though they have played in stretches.  Wade the best player on the floor.  Heat playing better D than Boston, but it’s a toss up.  Celtics in 7

Magic (1) vs Bobcats (14): Top 2 defenses in the league.  Alas the Magic have offensive skill.  Magic in 5.

Hawks (8) vs Bucks (15):  Hawks have been metsa metsa since a fast start.  However, their efficient size-based offense has been there all year.  Bucks are scrappy, tough defensively, but without Bogut the size match is too problematic.  Hawks in 6

WEST:

Lakers (7) vs Thunder (6): You read that right.  Thunder have the better body of work in terms of indicators even with 9 less wins.  Durant is a prime time scorer.  They are a good defensive club (7th).  The Lakers were the top defensive team when healthy though, and the wins and home court count for something.  If Kobe is ready and effective, they should advance.  But the Thunder will not be pushovers.  Lakers in 6

Nuggets (9) vs Jazz (5): Another upside down series.  Jazz hurt themselves badly slipping out of the home court position by getting whomped by Phoenix.  They have played better basketball than Denver all season, but Denver is still better against good teams (5th, Utah 11th).  And with home court, and Utah with an iffy Boozer, they get the edge despite their own myriad of issues.  Nuggets in 7

Mavericks (12) vs Spurs (4): Mavericks have been close game kings all season.  The Spurs have outpaced them in fundamentals most of the season.  Does this mean they will win?  Not sure.  Dallas won in 5 last year and the matchups favor them in a lot of places.  That said Manu is healthy, and we have not had that for a while.  Spurs in 6

Suns (3) vs Blazers (11):  Love this series.  Lots of matchups up front (Amare vs Aldridge), at the point (Nash vs Miller), subplots (Suns vs the slowest paced team in the game … will Roy be effective).  Suns have been the big overachievers in the league this season – their last two wins have been special.  They are as good offensively as ever.  Can they defend the paint though.  This could go any direction, but I just don’t think the Blazers have the offense without Roy at 90%.  Suns in 7

Week 15 NBA Power Rankings: All Star Break, Here We Come

Fifteen weeks in the books.  We started with a dominant Celtics team which has been fading ever since, and a Cleveland Cavalier team of disparate parts which has jelled into something potentially very very special.  As always, the methodology is here:

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Cavaliers 41 11 104.229 (3) 95.839 (2) 1.817 2.983 (27) 13.19
2 Lakers 40 13 101.999 (11) 96.132 (4) 1.585 3.546 (16) 10.999
3 Magic 35 17 102.04 (10) 96.185 (5) 1.817 3.176 (24) 10.848
4 Celtics 32 17 101.334 (12) 95.465 (1) 1.786 2.912 (29) 10.567
5 Jazz 31 18 102.502 (7) 98.505 (10) 1.5 4.077 (4) 9.573
6 Nuggets 34 17 103.885 (4) 99.291 (14) 1.716 3.173 (25) 9.483
7 Spurs 29 21 102.409 (9) 97.915 (9) 1.47 3.445 (20) 9.409
8 Hawks 32 17 103.765 (5) 99.792 (16) 1.643 3.771 (11) 9.387
9 Thunder 29 21 99.49 (18) 95.916 (3) 1.75 3.795 (9) 9.119
10 Suns 31 21 106.833 (1) 103.476 (28) 1.885 3.576 (15) 8.818
11 Mavericks 32 19 102.411 (8) 99.123 (12) 1.853 3.64 (14) 8.781
12 Blazers 30 23 103.467 (6) 101.042 (18) 1.651 3.781 (10) 7.856
13 Heat 24 27 100.033 (15) 99.002 (11) 1.784 4.081 (3) 6.896
14 Rockets 27 23 99.776 (17) 99.222 (13) 1.75 4.304 (1) 6.608
15 Bobcats 24 25 96.962 (23) 96.354 (6) 1.786 3.94 (5) 6.334
16 Raptors 28 23 104.353 (2) 104.459 (30) 1.784 3.496 (18) 5.175
17 Bucks 23 26 96.934 (24) 97.461 (7) 1.857 3.299 (22) 4.629
18 Hornets 27 25 100.704 (14) 101.93 (21) 1.885 3.194 (23) 3.853
19 Grizzlies 26 24 101.218 (13) 103.3 (27) 1.75 3.858 (7) 3.526
20 Knicks 19 31 99.916 (16) 101.712 (20) 1.61 2.91 (30) 2.724
21 Clippers 21 29 96.889 (25) 99.452 (15) 1.82 3.378 (21) 2.635
22 Bulls 24 25 94.549 (29) 97.774 (8) 1.857 3.871 (6) 2.504
23 Sixers 19 31 99.081 (19) 101.545 (19) 1.82 2.967 (28) 2.323
24 Kings 16 34 99.069 (20) 102.859 (24) 1.75 4.116 (2) 2.077
25 Warriors 13 37 98.797 (21) 103.07 (26) 1.82 3.81 (8) 1.357
26 Wizards 17 32 97.601 (22) 102.301 (23) 1.714 3.532 (17) 0.547
27 Pacers 18 33 95.288 (27) 100.318 (17) 1.784 3.076 (26) -0.17
28 Pistons 17 32 95.924 (26) 102.056 (22) 1.643 3.482 (19) -1.007
29 Timberwolves 13 38 94.656 (28) 102.906 (25) 1.716 3.73 (12) -2.805
30 Nets 4 46 91.7 (30) 103.696 (29) 1.89 3.686 (13) -6.42

Impressions:

  • Only two 40 win teams at this juncture, the two teams we probably expected.  The Lakers were very impressive the last two nights out with Kobe-less wins over the Blazers and Spurs.  I am not sure they have quite rounded into form.  Their #4 defense had that ghastly oopsie against Denver on Friday, although 15-22 from 3 point land might be just incredible bad luck.  One thing worth noting is the raw score.  Despite the record being close to Cleveland, they are honestly closer in rating to 10th place than 1st.
  • Not sure if Cleveland will keep this up and live to its promise of greatness, but it’s getting closer.
  • Spurs are 7th and have the fundamentals of a very good team numerically.  However, their 1.47 Home/Away number is the  lowest in the league, thus the most home-tilted schedule to date.  This portends to possibly slippage – their fortune in close games might hurt their seed, chances to cash in that they whiffed on.
  • Jazz have been the best team in the league since the new year, and the rise to 5th shows.  Really the success has lay in the defense, which is a vast improvement on a year ago, and good enough for an estimable 10th this year.  Add in the tough schedule, albeit a bit home kinked, and presto.

Week 7 NBA Power Rankings

Without further ado (methodology here):

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Celtics 20 4 103.741 (5) 93.314 (2) 1.896 2.112 (29) 14.435
2 Hawks 16 5 109.036 (1) 99.356 (15) 1.667 2.624 (27) 13.97
3 Lakers 18 4 100.97 (13) 92.795 (1) 0.795 3.253 (19) 12.224
4 Cavaliers 17 7 102.201 (9) 95.732 (4) 1.896 2.75 (24) 11.114
5 Mavericks 18 7 101.66 (10) 95.761 (5) 1.82 2.749 (25) 10.467
6 Spurs 12 9 103.45 (6) 97.993 (10) 1.167 3.804 (14) 10.428
7 Nuggets 18 7 104.487 (3) 98.253 (13) 1.82 1.605 (30) 9.659
8 Magic 18 7 102.595 (8) 98.202 (11) 1.96 3.018 (21) 9.372
9 Suns 16 8 106.655 (2) 103.462 (26) 2.333 3.284 (18) 8.81
10 Thunder 12 11 98.124 (21) 96.004 (6) 1.674 4.818 (2) 8.612
11 Blazers 14 11 101.449 (12) 97.502 (8) 1.82 2.625 (26) 8.393
12 Rockets 13 10 99.661 (17) 98.364 (14) 2.13 4.75 (3) 8.177
13 Jazz 15 10 101.625 (11) 100.487 (19) 1.4 4.441 (5) 6.979
14 Heat 11 11 100.553 (15) 100.396 (18) 1.432 4.102 (10) 5.691
15 Kings 10 12 102.739 (7) 102.692 (23) 1.591 3.024 (20) 4.661
16 Bobcats 9 13 92.878 (27) 94.014 (3) 1.75 3.979 (12) 4.593
17 Pistons 11 12 98.797 (19) 100.26 (17) 1.674 4.04 (11) 4.251
18 Bucks 11 11 97.128 (24) 97.238 (7) 1.591 2.587 (28) 4.068
19 Raptors 11 15 103.942 (4) 107.348 (30) 1.885 4.336 (6) 2.814
20 Knicks 8 15 100.12 (16) 102.912 (24) 1.674 3.93 (13) 2.812
21 Clippers 10 13 96.232 (25) 97.709 (9) 1.217 2.955 (23) 2.695
22 Wizards 7 15 97.181 (23) 100.754 (20) 1.75 4.115 (9) 2.292
23 Grizzlies 10 14 100.842 (14) 104.377 (29) 1.896 3.645 (16) 2.006
24 Pacers 8 14 95.032 (26) 98.23 (12) 1.75 2.974 (22) 1.527
25 Hornets 10 13 98.542 (20) 103.601 (27) 1.826 4.641 (4) 1.409
26 Sixers 6 18 99.144 (18) 103.749 (28) 1.75 4.153 (7) 1.298
27 Warriors 7 17 97.817 (22) 103.043 (25) 2.188 3.683 (15) 0.644
28 Bulls 8 14 91.701 (28) 100.252 (16) 1.909 4.927 (1) -1.714
29 Timberwolves 4 21 91.416 (29) 102.219 (22) 1.82 4.126 (8) -4.857
30 Nets 2 22 89.323 (30) 101.588 (21) 2.188 3.561 (17) -6.517

Some observatiions:

  • Celtics still at #1.  Yes, the recent schedule is soft, and their overall schedule is not impressive, especially playing in the ghastly Atlantic Division.  However, they are winning road games with a slightly road heavy schedule and only 1 road loss.  Compare this to the Lakers, with their extremely home tilted schedule.  Even with a better schedule, the road parameter offsets things.
  • Timberwolves are playing better lately.  Since their first two wins, the Nets are now firmly in the toilet.
  • The surprise Top 10 team now is no longer the Rockets, but the OKC Thunder, behind the rise of Kevin Durant.  Only 12-11, but against the #2 schedule in the league and a strong defense (#6 overall).

Week 6 NBA Power Rankings

How it is calculated.  Now, onto this week’s results:

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Celtics 16 4 103.121 (5) 93.246 (2) 1.75 2.562 (24) 14.188
2 Hawks 13 5 107.278 (1) 100.277 (17) 1.75 3.639 (17) 12.39
3 Lakers 16 3 100.877 (14) 92.99 (1) 0.737 3.756 (15) 12.379
4 Cavaliers 15 5 102.834 (6) 95.475 (5) 1.75 2.227 (28) 11.336
5 Nuggets 16 5 105.531 (3) 97.986 (12) 1.833 1.081 (30) 10.46
6 Magic 16 5 102.242 (8) 96.81 (8) 1.833 2.926 (21) 10.191
7 Mavericks 14 7 101.595 (11) 96.119 (6) 2 2.433 (26) 9.91
8 Thunder 11 9 98.7 (19) 95.407 (4) 1.575 4.826 (4) 9.694
9 Spurs 9 9 101.922 (9) 98.434 (13) 1.167 4.244 (7) 8.899
10 Suns 15 6 107.268 (2) 103.623 (26) 2.333 2.78 (23) 8.758
11 Blazers 13 9 101.77 (10) 97.154 (11) 1.591 2.327 (27) 8.534
12 Rockets 11 9 100.425 (15) 98.858 (14) 2.1 4.855 (3) 8.522
13 Heat 11 9 101.161 (13) 99.088 (15) 1.575 4.209 (8) 7.857
14 Jazz 13 8 101.547 (12) 99.674 (16) 1.5 4.05 (13) 7.423
15 Kings 9 10 102.374 (7) 102.256 (23) 1.474 3.408 (18) 4.999
16 Clippers 9 11 96.946 (23) 96.709 (7) 1.4 2.477 (25) 4.114
17 Bobcats 8 11 92.515 (28) 93.525 (3) 1.658 3.193 (20) 3.841
18 Raptors 9 13 104.957 (4) 108.419 (30) 2.068 4.531 (6) 3.138
19 Pistons 8 12 97.812 (22) 100.712 (21) 1.75 4.165 (9) 3.014
20 Bucks 9 10 96.166 (25) 97.009 (9) 1.658 1.897 (29) 2.712
21 Hornets 8 11 98.73 (18) 103.317 (25) 1.842 5.148 (1) 2.403
22 Wizards 7 12 96.527 (24) 100.486 (20) 1.842 4.101 (12) 1.984
23 Pacers 6 12 93.748 (26) 97.065 (10) 1.75 3.407 (19) 1.841
24 Knicks 7 15 99.299 (17) 103.214 (24) 1.591 4.138 (11) 1.814
25 Warriors 6 14 98.389 (21) 104.47 (28) 1.925 4.741 (5) 0.586
26 Sixers 5 16 98.548 (20) 104.198 (27) 2 4.017 (14) 0.367
27 Bulls 7 11 93.217 (27) 100.485 (19) 2.139 5.062 (2) -0.068
28 Grizzlies 8 12 99.749 (16) 104.768 (29) 2.1 2.827 (22) -0.092
29 Timberwolves 3 17 90.708 (29) 102.048 (22) 1.575 4.155 (10) -5.61
30 Nets 1 19 88.219 (30) 100.367 (18) 2.1 3.724 (16) -6.323

Amazing how it is starting to round into last year, isn’t it? In particular:

  • The top 7 teams in the rankings this week were all second round teams a year ago.  The only missing one, Houston, is 12th.
  • The Celtics create a little bit of breathing room with a very strong 4-0 trip, including solid wins in Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, the latter the second half of a back to back
  • With the naked eye, the Lakers still look like the best team in the league.  That said, the low road modifier shows they have had the most home friendly schedule in the league.  That will swing a little most likely.
  • After some early hand wringing, the Cavaliers have cracked the Top 5.  Defense is up to where it usually is, and the three point shooting has been outstanding, giving LeBron the support he needs.  The frontcourt still needs settling, but what they have now is good enough to win a lot of games.
  • Suns defense is slipping.  Their offense is still 2nd, but the 26th ranked defense won’t cut it.  The latter D’Antoni teams still had Top 10/Top half defenses – predicated by not fouling and funneling long two-pointers.  Right now the Suns lack of resistance could cause them a problem – on the other hand the home games have yet to start piling up.
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