Dare to Be Stupid – NBA Free Agency, LeBron Today

FINALLY, some news!

Orlando Magic sign Chris Duhon for 4 years, $15 million: Chris Duhon once had a 20 assist game.  He actually did a fairly good job running the Knicks D’Antoni attack until the sheer volume of minutes killed him.  He is not a starter for a good NBA team – but can he be a backup for a great one?  Absolutely.  He defends, he is not a penetrator – and while he is only a league average 3-point shooter, he can make it enough to space the floor the way the Magic want.  At the price, a totally reasonable signing – though the years are more than I would give a backup.

Boston Celtics re-sign Ray Allen for 2 years, $20 million: This deal puts Ray and KG on the same contract schedule.  When the Celtics re-signed Paul Pierce, they declared they would ride these guys out as long as is feasible.  While there is some risk there – honestly it was not a bad option.  They could have let Pierce and Allen walk and be under the cap and in the position to get a big name – but there was no guarantee it would work.  If Chicago – which offered a great scenario for the Big 3 free agents – end up with none of them, how can Boston?  I guess people are afraid of the cold.  As such, Ray Allen is paid well reasonably here – and the years are there.  The 2nd year is his option.

Chicago Bulls sign Carlos Boozer for 5 years, $80 million: Boozer has a history of missed games.  That is a problem.  If he is injured through the life of this contract – don’t say I didn’t warn you.  That said, in THIS insane market, the Bulls got a screaming bargain – if you just look at productivity and not durability.  The Bulls have needed a post scorer – they have one.  They needed someone who can work a pick and roll with a dynamic point guard – they have one.  Boozer looked bad against the Lakers because of his lack of length – but there are 28 other teams in the league where it is not such a latent problem.  The Bulls with a couple more smaller moves could set up to be a Top 4 team in the East.

Miami Heat sign Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for some amount of American dollars: I was surprised they did not ride in on a tandem bicycle for their interview.  What sort of analysis is necessary here?  This is a great move for the Heat.  That said, without some heft on the bench – this is not enough to break into the Orlando-Boston tier in the East.  Right now it is a 2.5 person team.  Now with these guys they could attract some people to join them in tax free Florida – but they haven’t yet.  However, if they add that LeBron dude – all bets are off.

Now, as for what LeBron should do?  There was word of him going to the Heat – at this point it’s all speculation.  Frankly, I think for the league and for the sport – and for whatever his legacy is – it is probably the stupidest option:

  1. Dwayne Wade has already won a title.  Does LeBron need to ride his coattails in Miami to win another?  Does LeBron need to be a final piece to some other team’s puzzle?  I know I am being unfair, but that is the perception he will have to deal with.
  2. Was there really this clamoring for a dream team?  I mean these guys won a gold medal.  We know they are good.  The Chicago Bulls 72 win team was awe inspiring – but it was the culmination (largely) of a 10 year run.  The essential pieces stayed true – and were Bulls the entire time.  This is much more of a mercenary soldiers-for-hire sort of thing.  Not exactly inspiring.
  3. The Really Big Three set themselves up to be regarded like the 2003 Real Madrid side or any Chelsea football team of yore.  The pressure will be incalculable and perhaps the joy will be minimal.  Granted, the 2009 Yankees seemed to enjoy it – and the 2008 Boston Celtics were composed in a somewhat similar manner, but the Celtics were not sure if their moves would win a title.  This just does not seem like something a true competitor would do.  Indeed, Kobe’s legacy will be secure.

The special is being aired from the Greenwich, Connecticut Boys and Girls Club – near where the Knicks practice.  Is that a better indicator?  Maybe.  The Knicks make much more sense on a different level.  With Stoudemire as a #2, that is good enough to win a title with some smart filling in on the edges.  The Nets have enough young talent that LeBron could be the straw that stirs the drink.  Chicago has always been a great bet to turn it around quickly too.  Dallas would have been the most fun choice for him – but I am surprised neither side looked at each other harder.

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 22 NBA Power Rankings

Running out of weeks to play.  The playoff picture getting a bit more focused.  The NBA took a night off to let the college kids have their time, and boy did they.  So, now — rankings.

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Magic 54 23 103.713 (6) 95.914 (1) 1.773 3.267 (27) 12.839
2 Cavaliers 60 17 104.665 (2) 96.718 (7) 1.773 3.029 (30) 12.749
3 Spurs 47 29 102.671 (9) 97.506 (9) 1.704 3.584 (11) 10.453
4 Jazz 50 27 103.26 (8) 98.284 (10) 1.727 3.56 (14) 10.264
5 Suns 49 27 107.861 (1) 102.637 (23) 1.75 3.114 (29) 10.088
6 Lakers 55 22 101.294 (11) 96.823 (8) 1.727 3.77 (8) 9.969
7 Thunder 48 28 101.226 (12) 96.555 (5) 1.75 3.436 (19) 9.857
8 Nuggets 50 27 104.094 (3) 99.941 (15) 1.773 3.432 (20) 9.357
9 Celtics 48 28 100.901 (13) 96.616 (6) 1.704 3.345 (25) 9.334
10 Blazers 47 30 103.906 (5) 99.893 (14) 1.773 3.376 (24) 9.163
11 Hawks 49 27 104.001 (4) 100.115 (16) 1.704 3.409 (23) 8.999
12 Heat 43 34 99.965 (18) 96.422 (4) 1.773 3.508 (16) 8.824
13 Mavericks 50 27 102.106 (10) 99.447 (12) 1.727 3.552 (15) 7.938
14 Bobcats 40 36 97.01 (24) 96.108 (2) 1.75 3.615 (10) 6.267
15 Bucks 42 34 97.347 (22) 96.286 (3) 1.75 3.277 (26) 6.088
16 Rockets 38 38 99.689 (19) 100.882 (17) 1.75 3.952 (3) 4.51
17 Raptors 38 38 103.664 (7) 104.662 (30) 1.75 3.448 (18) 4.2
18 Grizzlies 39 37 100.66 (14) 102.277 (20) 1.704 3.577 (12) 3.664
19 Hornets 35 43 100.22 (16) 102.924 (24) 1.795 3.816 (7) 2.907
20 Bulls 38 39 96.552 (28) 98.94 (11) 1.773 3.427 (22) 2.812
21 Pacers 29 48 96.59 (27) 99.78 (13) 1.773 3.502 (17) 2.084
22 Warriors 23 53 100.499 (15) 104.281 (29) 1.704 4.02 (2) 1.942
23 Kings 24 53 97.795 (21) 101.817 (18) 1.818 3.82 (5) 1.615
24 Knicks 27 49 100.052 (17) 103.41 (25) 1.75 3.216 (28) 1.607
25 Sixers 26 50 98.484 (20) 102.482 (22) 1.75 3.432 (21) 1.184
26 Clippers 27 50 96.596 (26) 102.303 (21) 1.818 3.863 (4) -0.026
27 Wizards 23 53 96.693 (25) 102.046 (19) 1.75 3.564 (13) -0.039
28 Pistons 23 53 97.345 (23) 103.923 (28) 1.704 3.766 (9) -1.108
29 Timberwolves 15 62 94.647 (29) 103.848 (27) 1.773 4.172 (1) -3.256
30 Nets 11 66 94.028 (30) 103.845 (26) 1.727 3.818 (6) -4.272

Versus the best 10:

Rank Team W L Off Def Margin
1 Cavaliers 14 7 103.991 (1) 98.726 (3) 5.265
2 Nuggets 17 9 102.733 (3) 100.658 (9) 2.074
3 Lakers 15 12 97.273 (19) 97.215 (1) 0.058
4 Jazz 15 13 101.734 (4) 101.844 (11) -0.11
5 Magic 11 10 99.773 (6) 99.999 (6) -0.226
6 Thunder 10 15 97.072 (20) 98.387 (2) -1.316
7 Spurs 10 16 99.068 (10) 100.452 (8) -1.383
8 Celtics 10 12 98.047 (16) 99.583 (4) -1.536
9 Suns 10 13 103.402 (2) 105.325 (22) -1.924
10 Mavericks 14 15 99.404 (9) 101.711 (10) -2.307
11 Bobcats 10 15 96.764 (22) 99.832 (5) -3.068
12 Hawks 13 12 98.829 (11) 102.366 (14) -3.537
13 Rockets 12 19 98.659 (13) 102.21 (13) -3.551
14 Blazers 10 15 99.564 (8) 103.272 (17) -3.707
15 Grizzlies 12 16 99.751 (7) 104.802 (20) -5.051
16 Heat 7 17 97.331 (18) 102.615 (15) -5.284
17 Bucks 8 15 94.515 (28) 100.352 (7) -5.837
18 Pacers 5 18 96.068 (24) 102.173 (12) -6.106
19 Kings 5 25 97.582 (17) 103.842 (18) -6.26
20 Hornets 8 22 98.157 (15) 105.079 (21) -6.922
21 Knicks 3 19 98.326 (14) 106.958 (26) -8.631
22 Raptors 4 20 100.937 (5) 109.635 (30) -8.698
23 Bulls 8 14 93.965 (29) 103.155 (16) -9.189
24 Wizards 5 18 95.417 (25) 104.714 (19) -9.297
25 Sixers 4 20 98.703 (12) 108.308 (28) -9.605
26 Pistons 4 21 96.28 (23) 106.615 (23) -10.335
27 Warriors 3 26 96.876 (21) 108.376 (29) -11.5
28 Clippers 6 24 94.902 (27) 106.716 (24) -11.814
29 Timberwolves 3 27 95.037 (26) 107.029 (27) -11.992
30 Nets 2 23 92.045 (30) 106.89 (25) -14.844

Versus Middle 10:

Rank Team W L Off Def Margin
1 Magic 21 9 104.326 (4) 95.037 (2) 9.288
2 Jazz 16 8 103.995 (7) 95.464 (4) 8.531
3 Cavaliers 19 9 101.382 (14) 95.619 (5) 5.763
4 Thunder 15 10 101.391 (13) 95.824 (6) 5.567
5 Celtics 16 10 102.03 (11) 96.765 (7) 5.265
6 Hawks 15 9 104.282 (6) 99.208 (12) 5.074
7 Blazers 16 10 105.598 (1) 100.782 (15) 4.816
8 Spurs 16 10 102.608 (9) 98.288 (9) 4.32
9 Mavericks 16 7 104.786 (3) 100.954 (17) 3.832
10 Nuggets 15 10 104.303 (5) 100.763 (14) 3.54
11 Lakers 17 9 101.551 (12) 98.561 (10) 2.99
12 Suns 14 11 105.404 (2) 102.725 (25) 2.679
13 Heat 14 14 97.833 (20) 95.37 (3) 2.463
14 Bobcats 11 12 96.394 (23) 94.496 (1) 1.898
15 Bucks 13 11 98.589 (17) 96.886 (8) 1.703
16 Grizzlies 8 14 96.796 (22) 98.629 (11) -1.833
17 Rockets 9 12 98.865 (16) 100.937 (16) -2.072
18 Warriors 8 19 102.735 (8) 105.252 (30) -2.517
19 Hornets 10 12 99.107 (15) 101.673 (21) -2.566
20 Raptors 12 11 102.396 (10) 104.966 (29) -2.57
21 Knicks 9 19 98.554 (18) 102.553 (23) -4
22 Kings 7 17 98.215 (19) 103.043 (26) -4.828
23 Sixers 10 17 96.127 (26) 101.04 (18) -4.913
24 Bulls 10 16 95.63 (27) 100.658 (13) -5.028
25 Wizards 7 22 96.225 (25) 101.263 (19) -5.038
26 Clippers 8 17 97.372 (21) 102.558 (24) -5.185
27 Pistons 7 19 96.271 (24) 103.158 (27) -6.886
28 Pacers 7 23 95.236 (28) 102.265 (22) -7.029
29 Timberwolves 3 23 92.569 (30) 101.548 (20) -8.979
30 Nets 4 22 94.548 (29) 104.478 (28) -9.929

Versus the Bottom 10:

Rank Team W L Off Def Margin
1 Heat 22 3 104.914 (11) 91.584 (1) 13.33
2 Suns 25 3 113.59 (1) 100.426 (24) 13.164
3 Spurs 21 3 106.58 (5) 93.585 (3) 12.995
4 Magic 22 4 106.155 (7) 93.658 (4) 12.497
5 Cavaliers 27 1 108.459 (3) 96.303 (14) 12.156
6 Lakers 23 1 105.371 (8) 94.56 (9) 10.811
7 Blazers 21 5 106.413 (6) 95.749 (12) 10.664
8 Hawks 21 6 108.52 (2) 98.875 (20) 9.645
9 Thunder 23 3 105.01 (10) 95.515 (10) 9.495
10 Celtics 22 6 102.073 (18) 94.211 (6) 7.862
11 Jazz 19 6 104.255 (13) 96.97 (15) 7.285
12 Mavericks 20 5 102.712 (17) 95.552 (11) 7.16
13 Nuggets 18 8 105.228 (9) 98.479 (18) 6.749
14 Raptors 22 7 106.904 (4) 100.379 (23) 6.525
15 Bucks 21 8 98.589 (24) 92.536 (2) 6.053
16 Warriors 12 8 102.829 (16) 97.023 (16) 5.806
17 Bulls 20 9 99.236 (22) 94.333 (7) 4.902
18 Pacers 17 7 98.781 (23) 94.39 (8) 4.391
19 Bobcats 19 9 97.721 (27) 94.18 (5) 3.541
20 Rockets 17 7 101.713 (19) 99.138 (21) 2.576
21 Sixers 12 13 100.831 (20) 98.641 (19) 2.19
22 Grizzlies 19 7 104.893 (12) 102.717 (30) 2.176
23 Hornets 17 9 103.485 (14) 101.577 (27) 1.908
24 Clippers 13 9 98.01 (26) 96.13 (13) 1.88
25 Knicks 15 11 103.11 (15) 101.341 (26) 1.769
26 Kings 12 11 97.632 (28) 98.041 (17) -0.409
27 Wizards 11 13 98.442 (25) 100.479 (25) -2.037
28 Pistons 12 13 99.5 (21) 101.992 (28) -2.492
29 Nets 5 21 95.385 (30) 100.368 (22) -4.984
30 Timberwolves 9 12 96.612 (29) 102.208 (29) -5.596
  • As the Heat have surged lately – up to 43-34 and in good position for the #5 spot in the East, especially with Andrew Bogut’s horrific injury for the Bucks – one appreciates the Heat being the best team against the worst.  They have cleaned up against the dreck – and that has kept them going.
  • The Nets, barely 1 point behind Minnesota – have surged … 11-66 is terrible but Minnesota might actually be as bad.
  • A new number one.  Orlando and Cleveland have taken turns pulling away from the rest of the league – right now with Cleveland having some blah victories and a loss in Boston, Orlando has surged to the top.  The Lakers slippage, including beatdowns by Atlanta and San Antonio have given them a lot of work to do.

Week 12 NBA Power Rankings

The day after the NBA’s salute to Martin Luther King (as Charles Barkley pointed out, for all he meant to American, how many people realized he did not even see his 40th birthday), the rankings.  Here is the formula.  Here are the results:

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Cavaliers 31 11 104.054 (4) 96.332 (5) 2.083 3.014 (27) 12.819
2 Celtics 27 12 102.533 (9) 95.392 (3) 1.885 2.632 (29) 11.658
3 Spurs 25 15 103.495 (7) 97.242 (7) 1.488 3.076 (25) 10.816
4 Lakers 32 9 101.118 (12) 94.929 (1) 1.28 3.33 (22) 10.8
5 Magic 26 15 102.233 (10) 97.141 (6) 1.963 3.235 (24) 10.291
6 Hawks 26 14 104.345 (2) 99.929 (17) 1.663 3.557 (16) 9.636
7 Mavericks 27 14 101.462 (11) 98.126 (9) 1.793 4.107 (4) 9.236
8 Nuggets 26 14 104.225 (3) 99.46 (14) 1.663 2.61 (30) 9.038
9 Thunder 23 18 99.401 (19) 96.199 (4) 1.707 4.057 (5) 8.966
10 Suns 24 18 106.478 (1) 103.523 (28) 1.917 3.955 (7) 8.826
11 Blazers 25 17 103.792 (6) 100.308 (18) 1.583 3.387 (20) 8.455
12 Jazz 23 18 100.604 (13) 99.045 (11) 1.622 4.109 (3) 7.29
13 Heat 20 19 100.204 (14) 99.185 (12) 1.615 4.405 (1) 7.038
14 Rockets 23 18 99.611 (18) 99.396 (13) 1.963 4.332 (2) 6.51
15 Bobcats 20 19 96.07 (25) 94.975 (2) 1.615 3.639 (14) 6.348
16 Raptors 21 20 104.014 (5) 104.84 (30) 1.878 3.939 (8) 4.991
17 Grizzlies 22 18 102.641 (8) 103.381 (27) 1.75 3.694 (13) 4.704
18 Clippers 18 22 98.69 (22) 99.83 (16) 1.575 3.513 (18) 3.948
19 Knicks 17 24 99.366 (20) 100.466 (19) 1.707 2.964 (28) 3.572
20 Hornets 21 19 99.642 (17) 101.588 (20) 1.838 3.288 (23) 3.179
21 Bucks 16 23 95.271 (27) 97.657 (8) 1.885 3.443 (19) 2.942
22 Kings 15 25 99.984 (15) 102.686 (23) 1.663 3.575 (15) 2.535
23 Sixers 13 27 99.7 (16) 103.038 (25) 1.838 3.348 (21) 1.848
24 Wizards 14 26 98.42 (23) 101.969 (21) 1.838 3.547 (17) 1.836
25 Warriors 12 27 99.046 (21) 103.211 (26) 1.885 3.749 (11) 1.468
26 Bulls 18 21 94.28 (28) 98.28 (10) 1.615 3.723 (12) 1.338
27 Pacers 14 26 95.284 (26) 99.826 (15) 1.75 3.053 (26) 0.262
28 Pistons 14 26 96.304 (24) 102.286 (22) 1.838 3.908 (9) -0.236
29 Timberwolves 9 33 93.536 (29) 102.973 (24) 1.75 3.752 (10) -3.935
30 Nets 3 37 91.536 (30) 103.842 (29) 1.838 4.001 (6) -6.467

Some insights as the Nets continue their 6 WIN pace:

  • Obviously the Magic’s latest struggled were highlighted with their national TV loss to the Lakers last night.  However, just like last season, the analysis of the Magic was more or less wrong.  Last year, writers talked about Turkoglu and three pointers – but the story was really the top ranked defense in the league on a possession basis.  This year, 6th is still good, but it is a distinct step down – and it has shown.
  • After last years decrepit bottom of the Western Conference, it is kind of amazing that only the Timberwolves and Nets are shaping up as restaurant quality bad.  Yeah the Warriors and Sixers show stinkage, but it feels like 30 win stink, and certainly not the rancid smell coming off the Nets. (BTW: the Nets are not nearly untalented enough to be a 6 win team – that is why the Sixers 9-73 season is so amazing, it is hard to be that unlucky)
  • Thunder’s huge win at Atlanta last night get them to not just 23-18, but one with a good defense, which seems to portend better for postseason success.  Kevin Durant’s crazy natural scoring ability might be just enough offense to be a dangerous 1st round floater if they get in.  Both conferences bottoms are hypercompetitive this year – everyone (including me) thought the West’s Top 9 were an iron lock, but a LOT of teams had a right to dream.

Game 13: Magic 83, Celtics 78

Well, it is hard to get inspired to write a hell of a lot about this exercise in frustration, but some thoughts:

  • The Magic had the best defense in the league a year ago, so this effort is not a surprise on the face.  78 points in 93 possessions is certainly good work.  But really when a team shoots 34.5%, it is hard to compliment the defense fully.  Celtics missed a ton of open shots.  Rasheed Wallace went 0-7 from 3 point land, but they were all good shots, they just didn’t go in.
  • Rondo did not have a significant impact on the proceedings which was a disappointment.  In some cases, when the defense plays way off of him (as they do often since he cannot shoot), he has to find a better contingency plan … and he has to figure out the shoot vs not shoot thing a little better.
  • Magic are a good team.  Carter came up big in the 4th, but was 10-29 overall.  It is hard to get too enthused about their wall to wall effort.  Overall though, it’s clear they are a threat.
  • Garnett getting better each game, or at least less ginger.  They are doing a good job pacing him.  He will never be MVP level again – but he is still a stalwart.