2011 NBA Power Rankings – Week 20

With the Heat’s trials and tribulations, and a couple of enormous wins, where does this take us rankings-wise?  As always, you can find the methodology here:

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Heat 46 21 103.613 (3) 96.115 (5) 1.724 1.641 (25) 10.862
2 Lakers 48 20 103.558 (4) 96.655 (7) 1.904 1.716 (22) 10.524
3 Spurs 54 13 103.869 (2) 96.996 (8) 1.724 1.889 (12) 10.485
4 Bulls 47 18 99.536 (15) 92.671 (1) 1.723 1.671 (24) 10.258
5 Celtics 47 18 99.847 (13) 93.218 (2) 1.669 1.387 (28) 9.685
6 Magic 42 26 101.266 (10) 95.762 (4) 1.699 1.725 (21) 8.928
7 Mavericks 47 19 103.012 (6) 98.573 (12) 1.697 2.002 (5) 8.139
8 Nuggets 40 27 104.784 (1) 101.025 (17) 1.724 1.867 (13) 7.351
9 Thunder 43 23 103.289 (5) 100.238 (16) 1.803 1.922 (9) 6.776
10 Hornets 39 30 98.688 (19) 96.179 (6) 1.826 1.909 (11) 6.245
11 Rockets 34 34 102.743 (8) 101.625 (21) 1.853 1.92 (10) 4.89
12 Sixers 34 33 99.225 (16) 97.413 (9) 1.776 1.26 (29) 4.849
13 Grizzlies 37 31 99.065 (17) 98.203 (10) 1.801 2.056 (3) 4.719
14 Knicks 34 31 102.962 (7) 101.74 (24) 1.777 1.588 (26) 4.586
15 Blazers 37 29 99.599 (14) 99.14 (15) 1.856 1.845 (14) 4.161
16 Suns 33 32 101.989 (9) 102.224 (25) 1.723 1.971 (6) 3.459
17 Hawks 38 28 98.429 (21) 98.371 (11) 1.856 1.231 (30) 3.145
18 Bucks 26 39 93.773 (30) 94.618 (3) 1.723 1.749 (17) 2.628
19 Jazz 35 33 100.383 (12) 101.711 (23) 1.75 1.74 (18) 2.162
20 Warriors 30 37 100.431 (11) 102.419 (26) 1.724 1.758 (15) 1.494
21 Pacers 28 38 96.761 (23) 98.598 (13) 1.803 1.429 (27) 1.394
22 Bobcats 28 38 95.84 (26) 98.816 (14) 1.75 1.685 (23) 0.458
23 Clippers 26 42 97.43 (22) 101.372 (19) 1.801 2.126 (2) -0.014
24 Pistons 23 44 98.86 (18) 103.864 (28) 1.776 1.94 (8) -1.288
25 Timberwolves 17 51 96.633 (24) 101.688 (22) 1.699 1.731 (20) -1.625
26 Kings 16 49 95.975 (25) 101.556 (20) 1.669 1.955 (7) -1.957
27 Nets 22 43 95.543 (27) 101.197 (18) 1.669 1.752 (16) -2.232
28 Raptors 18 48 98.487 (20) 104.24 (29) 1.644 1.733 (19) -2.376
29 Wizards 16 49 94.231 (29) 102.591 (27) 1.615 2.054 (4) -4.692
30 Cavaliers 12 53 94.257 (28) 104.919 (30) 1.723 2.264 (1) -6.675

With the trade deadline done and the playoffs coming up, starting last week, we have been tracking the pre and post deadline splits to see where the player movement has taken teams. Granted, in Oklahoma City’s case the new guys have largely not played. In any case, here are the Top 10 teams by real point differential since the deadline:

  • 10. Bucks (4.06)
  • 9.  Heat (4.44)
  • 8. Celtics (4.93)
  • 7. Mavericks (5.48)
  • 6. Rockets (6.16)
  • 5. Nets (6.30)
  • 4. Lakers (9.96)
  • 3. Bulls (10.41)
  • 2. Thunder (11.09)
  • 1. Nuggets (16.58)

The bottom 5 since the deadline:

  • 26. Pacers (-9.45)
  • 27. Pistons (-10.29)
  • 28. Bobcats (-12.59)
  • 29. Wizards (-12.6)
  • 30. Cavaliers (-12.72)

One of the funny things is that the Pacers and Bobcats are battling, such as it is – for the East’s 8th spot.  Both teams feel like a virtual bye for the East top seed, compared to the very stern Sixers (#12) in the 7th position.  The Bucks somehow, are only 1.5 games out of the 8th spot, and they might end up being the most challenging of the three to an East top seed.

In the West, Denver’s amazing two weeks has suddenly not only kept them from sliding out of the playoffs, but have given them a pretty darn good chance to hold the 5th position and be an annoying opponent for somebody.  What has changed with Melo’s departure?  As we said last week – defense.  Since the deadline, the Nuggets defense, which was a very shaky 21st (101.8 real ppg) has been playing at a much much higher rate – 4th overall in fact (92.8 real ppg allowed).  Combine that with their offense, which has improved from their #1 entering and suddenly they look like a fascinating opponent.  How has this defensive turnaround taken place?  Obviously improving defensive fundamentals has been important – their true shooting defense has gone from 54.8% to 52.8% (18th to 10th … mostly from cutting down fouls and allowing fewer 3s ) – but the real story has been Denver’s stunning improvement in shot allowance.  Pre-trade, the Nuggets were one of the league’s worst teams at allowing shots (26th).  However since the deadline they have been the third BEST team in the league at preventing looks.  This is due to serious increases in BOTH shot quantity components.  The Nuggets, for a George Karl team, were an uncharacteristic 29th in the league in forcing turnovers – since the deal they have moved up to 6th with an over 20% increase.  The Nuggets have also tightened up the defensive boards, going from a solid 9th to the best defensive rebounding side since the trade, grabbing over 81% of misses.  I am not sure who “the guy” is in their lineup – but don’t sleep on them because Melo is gone.

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