Weeks Sixteen & Seventeen NBA Power Ratings
(Dated: February 16 - March 1, 2009)
*Records as of Sunday, February 16, 2009
1. Los Angeles Lakers (42-10) – The Lakers have taken over the top spot at # 1, from # 2 last week, despite a four-point loss to Utah on Friday. The Lakers control the Pacific Division of the Western Conference, leading Phoenix by 13.5 games. Despite losing big man Andrew Bynum, the Lakers were able to beat Boston and Cleveland in back to back road games. The Lakers are scoring 108.7 points per game this season, with their defense allowing just 100.3. Kobe Bryant and his 27.7 points per game, and Pau Gasol’s 9.4 rebounds per game lead Los Angeles. The Lakers will come out of the All Star break hosting Atlanta on Tuesday, followed by a road game at Golden State, then back at home with New Orleans, before taking the road once again at Minnesota and Oklahoma City.
2. Boston Celtics (44-11) – The Boston Celtics moved up from # 3 to # 2, sliding ahead of Cleveland, and just right behind the Lakers. The Celtics are 44-11 overall, and leading the Atlantic Division by 15 games over Philadelphia. The Celtics come into the All Star Break winners of three of their last four games, with their only loss coming at home to the Lakers. Boston’s leading scorer Paul Pierce is scoring 20.0 points per game, while big man Kevin Garnett is picking up close to 9 rebounds per game. The Celtics will continue their road trip after the All Star games, with road games at Utah, Phoenix, Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers. After four straight road games, the Celtics will finally come back home for the first time since February 8th to host Indiana on February 27th.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (40-11) – The Cavaliers dropped from the # 1 position, down two spots to # 3. Cleveland trails the Lakers and the Celtics, just ahead of Eastern Conference foe – Orlando. The Cavaliers come into the All Star Break with a win, following two straight losses to the Lakers and the Pacers. Cleveland is scoring 100.9 points per game, and allowing just 91.1 per game. LeBron James is scoring 28.5 points per game, and also grabbing 7.5 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists per game. Cleveland leads Detroit in the Central Division by 13 games. The Cavaliers will kick the post all-star break off with two straight road games, starting Wednesday at Toronto, and then Friday at Milwaukee. Cleveland will then host Detroit and Memphis in back to back games, before a February 26th affair at Houston.
4. Orlando Magic (38-13) – The Orlando Magic have had an excellent first half of the season. The Magic have put their names in with the Boston and Cleveland atop the entire Eastern Conference. The Magic leads the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference by 7.5 games over Atlanta. The Magic remain # 4 overall in the power rankings. Orlando is on average beating teams by 8.5 points per game, scoring just over 102 points per game, while allowing 94. Dwight Howard is putting his name up with the rest of the MVP candidates in the National Basketball Association picking up 20.5 points per game and 14.1 rebounds per game. The Magic will host Charlotte right out of the box on Tuesday, before traveling to New Orleans and Charlotte. Orlando will play inner state rival Miami on February 22nd, before traveling to Chicago on February 24th to play the Bulls.
5. San Antonio Spurs (35-16) – The Spurs remain in the top 5, at the # 5 position with their 35-16 overall record. With that record, the Spurs lead the ever-competitive Southwest Division by four games over Houston and 4.5 over New Orleans and Dallas. The Spurs are coming into the All Star Break with a loss on Wednesday at Toronto. San Antonio will continue their longest road trip of the season on Tuesday when they travel to the Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks. Two more road games at Detroit and Washington will conclude the trip. San Antonio will finally play at home again on Tuesday February 24th and Wednesday February 25 when Dallas and Portland come to town.
6. Denver Nuggets (36-17) – The Denver Nuggets at 36-17 put together one of their best starts in franchise history. With that record, and in command of the Northwest Division, the Nuggets are the # 6 team in the power rankings. Denver leads Portland by 3.5 games and Utah by 6. Denver is scoring 103.5 points per game, and allowing 99.9 per game. The Nuggets are led in scoring by newcomer Chauncey Billups with his 18.2 points per game. The Nuggets will continue their road trip after the All Star Break on Wednesday at Philadelphia, followed by road games at Chicago and Milwaukee, before coming back home to take on the Celtics and Hawks.
7. Portland Trailblazers (32-20) – Another team coming out of the Northwest Division – the Portland Trailblazers. Portland was able to move up one position from # 8 to # 7. The Trailblazers had their two game winning streak snapped right before the All Star break 105-98 by the Golden State Warriors. Brandon Roy is putting together a solid season scoring 22.7 points per game, and his 5.1 assists per game. The Trailblazers will play three straight home games following the break, with Memphis, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Clippers. After their home stand, Portland will play back to back nights at Houston and San Antonio, two Western Conference contenders.
8. Dallas Mavericks (31-20) – The fourth straight Western Conference team to come into the rankings – the Dallas Mavericks have made their way into the top ten. Coming in last week at # 10, Dallas has moved up two spots to # 8. Dallas is 31-20 overall, and seventh within the entire Western Conference. The Mavericks trail San Antonio by 4.5 games in the Southwest Division. Dallas is led in scoring by big Dirk Nowitzki and his 25.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The Mavericks are scoring 100.8 points per game, while allowing 99.7 per game. The Mavericks will host the New Jersey Nets straight out of the All Star Break, and then will travel to Houston, host Sacramento, travel to San Antonio, and then come back home to face the Bucks.
9. Houston Rockets (32-21) – The Houston Rockets remain # 9 in the power rankings. Houston at 32-21 are coming off a 12 point home win over the Kings before break. The Rockets have had a bevy of injuries this season, but have maintained a solid record, and towards the top of the Southwest Division. Yao Ming’s nearly 20 points per game, and nearly 10 rebounds per game lead the Rockets. The Rockets will look to get off to a hot start in the second half of the season, as they play their first five games at home, starting Tuesday with New Jersey, followed by Dallas, Charlotte, Portland and Cleveland all coming to the Target Center.
10. New Orleans Hornets (30-20) – The sixth straight team in the power rankings from the Western Conference is the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets dropped from last weeks # 7 rating to # 10 this week. The Hornets have won 30 out of their first 50 games, and currently sit as the six seed in the Western Conference playoff position. The Hornets are coming in losers of two straight games at Memphis and at home with Boston. The Hornets have dropped six of their last ten overall. The Hornets’ Chris Paul comes in with a scoring average of 21.3 points per game and 10.8 assists per game. New Orleans will play four of their first five games after the break on the road, starting on Tuesday at Oklahoma City. A brief home game on Wednesday with Orlando, will kick off a road trip to the Lakers, Jazz and Kings.
11. Atlanta Hawks (31-21) – The Atlanta Hawks continue to make their way to the top of the Eastern Conference. With still some work to do, the Hawks do have the fourth seed in the East under pretty good control. The Hawks with their 10 games over .500 record move up one spot from # 12 to # 11. The Hawks trail Orlando by 7.5 games in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. Atlanta’s Joe Johnson is scoring 21.5 points per game and 6.1 assists per game. Johnson’s numbers are closing in as a top ten candidate for MVP this season. The Hawks will start the post All Star Break with five straight road games; at the Lakers, Kings, Trailblazers, Jazz and Nuggets.
12. Utah Jazz (30-23) – The Jazz at 30-23 are another team that look to be moving their way up the ladder. This time; the Western Conference ladder. Utah moves up three spots from # 15 to # 12 overall. Utah is coming into the break winners of four of their last five games, including Wednesday’s four point win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Paul Millsap’s 14.7 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game continues to be the surprising story of not only the Jazz, but the Western Conference. With point guard DeRon Williams coming back healthy and Carlos Boozer on his way back, the Jazz could have a solid second half. Utah will play four straight home games to start the second half of the season, starting with Tuesday’s game with Memphis, followed by home games with Boston, New Orleans and Atlanta.
13. Miami Heat (28-24) – At 28-24, the Miami Heat have remained at # 13 overall. With the acquisition of Jermaine O’Neal, the Heat may have the big man they need to go with Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley to be a force inside the Eastern Conference. Miami’s Wade is scoring 28.5 points per game, and aided by Udonis Haslem’s 8.2 rebounds per game. The Heat will host Minnesota and Philadelphia to start the second half of the season, followed by a road game at Orlando, then a home game with the Pistons, and a road game at Atlanta.
14. Phoenix Suns (28-23) – As the Phoenix Suns get the opportunity to host the NBA All Star Game, they also make a splash in the news firing head coach Terry Porter. Porter was in his first season as the headman of the Suns. Phoenix is currently in the ninth position in the Western Conference playoff chase. The Suns drop three spots from # 11 to # 14 with their 28-23 overall record. Phoenix is coming into the break losers of two straight games at Philadelphia and at Cleveland. The Suns will start the post All Star Game with back-to-back home and away games with the Los Angeles Clippers. After that, the Suns will host Oklahoma City, Boston and Charlotte.
15. Detroit Pistons (27-24) – The Detroit Pistons are slowly falling south in the standings, not only in the Central Division, but the entire Eastern Conference. The Pistons are 27-24 overall, second place in the Central Division, but seventh overall in the East, just three games ahead of Milwaukee and four ahead of New Jersey. The Pistons lost their last three games before the break, losses to Phoenix, at Chicago and Atlanta. The Pistons will start the second half of the season at home on Tuesday when the Milwaukee Bucks come to town. On Thursday, San Antonio will visit the Palace, before the Pistons take the road to Cleveland, Miami and New Orleans. The Pistons fell one position from # 14 to # 15 in the power rankings.
16. Philadelphia 76ers (27-24) – The Philadelphia 76ers, after their slow start to the 2008-2009 have picked it up, and look to be a tough out come postseason time. Currently in second place in the Atlantic Division, Philadelphia sits as the sixth best team in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers climbed above .500, but remained at # 16 from last week. Philadelphia; before the break, won four straight games; all at home; over Indiana, Miami, Phoenix and Memphis. The 76ers will start the second half of the season on the road on Tuesday at Indiana, before coming back home Wednesday to host the Nuggets. After Denver leaves town, the 76ers will also leave town for a road trip, with stops in Miami, New Jersey and Washington.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (26-29) – The Milwaukee Bucks are trying to hold on for dear life to that final playoff position within the Eastern Conference. Currently the eight seed, the Bucks lead New Jersey by just one game, and Chicago by two games. The Bucks will be without the services of guard Michael Redd for the remainder of the season as he went down with a season ending torn ACL. The Bucks were able to move up one spot in the standings, bypassing the New Jersey Nets. Milwaukee on the season is scoring 99.4 points per game, while allowing just 99.1. The Bucks will play at Detroit on Tuesday, before hosting three straight opponents starting on Wednesday. Central Division opponents Chicago and Cleveland will come to town before Denver finishes the brief home stand February 22nd. The Denver Nuggets will then host Milwaukee on February 25th.
18. New Jersey Nets (24-29) – The New Jersey Nets moved up two spots from # 20 to # 18. The Nets sit one game behind Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey heads into the All Star break losers of two straight games, after winning three in a row. Orlando and San Antonio knocked off the Nets this past week to drop the Nets to five games under .500 overall. Point guard Devon Harris and his 21.8 points per game and 6.5 assists per game leads the Nets. The Nets will start the second half of the season in Texas as they play at Houston on Tuesday and at Dallas on Wednesday, before heading back home. Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago will all come to New Jersey in games the Nets hope to win, to climb into the final playoff spot.
19. Chicago Bulls (23-30) – The Chicago Bulls will most likely be looking for a new general manager very soon. Current GM John Paxson is expected to resign his position cited health and stress as reasons. The Bulls have underachieved not only this season, but in the last couple with Paxson at the helm. This season the Bulls are 23-30 overall, and in fourth place in the Central Division. Despite the poor record, the Bulls trail Milwaukee by just three games for the final playoff spot. The Bulls need help on the defensive side, allowing 102.1 points per game, while just scoring 100.3. Chicago, despite losing three of their last five remain at # 19 overall, just ahead of New York, Charlotte, Indiana and Toronto. The Bulls will look to get off to a better start in the second half on Wednesday as they play at Milwaukee. On Friday the Bulls will host Denver, and then play at Indiana on Sunday. The following week, Chicago will host Orlando on Tuesday and play at New Jersey on Wednesday.
20. New York Knicks (21-31) – The New York Knicks have lost six straight games, and fell from # 17 to # 20. Despite that record, the Knicks still have hopes of sliding into the postseason in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks are the 11th best overall in the Eastern Conference, but trail the final spot by just 3.5 games. New York will look to jump start the team on Tuesday when the San Antonio Spurs come into the Garden. Following the Spurs, the Knicks will play home and away with the Toronto Raptors, followed by home games with Indiana and Orlando.
21. Charlotte Bobcats (21-31) – The Bobcats remain # 21, but have caught the Knicks with their 21-31 records. The Bobcats snapped their losing streak right before the break knocking off the Clippers and Wizards in back to back games. Charlotte trails Miami by seven games for third place in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. Charlotte will start the second half of the season on Tuesday at Orlando. Wednesday and Friday the Bobcats will play home games, as the Pacers and Magic come to town. After the brief home stand, Charlotte will take to the road at Houston and at Phoenix.
22. Indiana Pacers (21-33) – The Indiana Pacers are at the bottom of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference. With their 21-33 record, the Pacers are at # 22, just behind New York and Charlotte. The Pacers are coming off a 12-point road loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks. Indiana comes into the break allowing 107.2 points per game, while scoring 104.8 per game. Danny Granger became a first time All Star-er with his 25.4 points per game. The Pacers will start the second half of the season at home on Tuesday when the Philadelphia 76ers come to town. Following the game with Philadelphia, the Pacers will play at Charlotte and Minnesota, before hosting the Bulls and playing at the Garden against the Knicks.
23. Toronto Raptors (21-34) – The Toronto Raptors come into the All Star Break with a dismal 21-34 overall record. The only positive thing the Raptors can take into the All Star break is their two game win streak, with wins over Minnesota and San Antonio. The Raptors made a trade over the All Streak break sending Jermaine O’Neal to Miami for veteran Shawn Marion. Marion and O’Neal are both earning huge contracts, and not living up to them. Toronto hopes Marion can pick up productivity north of the border. The Raptors remained at # 23 despite winning two straight games. Toronto is at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, and only ahead of Washington in the entire Eastern Conference. Toronto will kick off the second half of the season on Wednesday against LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. Following the home game, the Raptors will play Friday at New York, followed by a home game with the Knicks, and Timberwolves. On February 27th the Raptors will take their show to Phoenix and take on the Suns.
24. Golden State Warriors (19-35) – At 19-35, the Warriors are at the “top of the bottom”. Not being able to keep up with the top nine teams in the Western Conference, Golden State is able to stay ahead of the “rest”, in Memphis, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles and Sacramento. The Warriors are coming into the All Star Break winners of their last three games. The winning streak helped the Warriors move ahead of Minnesota and garner the 24 position. Golden State trails Phoenix by 10.5 games for ninth place in the Western Conference. The Warriors will host the Lakers on Wednesday and the Thunder on Saturday. Golden State will take to the road and play the Clippers on February 23rd, before coming back home to host Charlotte and Utah.
25. Minnesota Timber wolves (17-34) – The Minnesota Timber wolves will certainly have a difficult time holding onto the # 25 position without the services of leading scorer and rebounder Al Jefferson for the remainder of the season. Minnesota this last week dropped one spot from # 24 to # 25, being passed by the Golden State Warriors. Minnesota is in fourth place in the Northwest Division, trailing the Utah Jazz by 12 games for third place. Minnesota is 11th overall in the Western Conference, 2.5 games ahead of Memphis. The Timber wolves will now look to 20-year-old Kevin look in the new “experimental offense”. Love is a former UCLA star in his first season in the NBA. Minnesota will play two straight road games to kick off the second half of the season at Washington, and at Miami. Following the brief road trip, the Timber wolves will come home to host Indiana and the Lakers, before heading back out to the road on February 24th at Toronto.
26. Memphis Grizzles (15-37) – The Grizzles unfortunately reside in the best division in the NBA. Playing in the Southwest Division is never easy, playing a majority of games against the likes of San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans and Dallas. The Grizzles, and their 15-37 record remain at # 26 overall. Memphis is coming off a loss before the break 91-87 at Philadelphia. The Grizzles will look to start the second half on the right foot with two straight games on the road, at Utah and Portland Tuesday and Wednesday. The Grizzles will then host Sacramento on February 20th, followed by two more road games at Cleveland and Indiana.
27. Oklahoma City Thunder (13-40) – With the exact same record as the Los Angeles Clippers, the Thunder won the coin flip for the coveted # 27 position. Actually, the Thunder obtains that spot due to their position at 27 last week. The Thunder are just five games behind Minnesota for the fourth spot in the Northwest Division, trailing Denver by 23 games. Oklahoma City comes into the break losers of two straight games; at Lakers and Trailblazers. Kevin Durant is having himself a MVP type season scoring 25.5 points per game in his second year out of Texas. The Thunder will face New Orleans at home on Tuesday, followed by a Friday/Saturday trip at Phoenix and Golden State. On February 24th the Thunder will host the Lakers, followed by a February 27th game at Dallas.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (13-40) – The Clippers moved up from the bottom at # 30 to # 28 with their 13-40 overall record. The Clippers come into the All Star Break winners of three of their last four games, including a 128-124 win on Wednesday over the Knicks. The Clippers are 4.5 games behind third place Golden State, and 24 games behind the leader – Lakers. The Clippers leading scorer is Al Thornton with nearly 17 points per game. The Clippers will play back-to-back games with the Suns, on the road, followed by a home game the next night. Los Angeles will then travel to Portland, followed by two home games with Golden State and Boston.
29. Washington Wizards (11-42) – Washington’s 11-42 record barely slides them ahead of Sacramento for the 29th position in the power rankings. Big money is put on the Wizards to conclude the season at the # 30 position. Washington is trailing fourth place Charlotte by 10.5 games in the Southeast Division. Antwan Jamison’s 21.4 points per game, and also his 9 rebounds per game lead the Wizards. The Wizards defense will have to improve if they are to have a better second half of the season. On the year, the Wizards are allowing 102.5 points per game. Washington will host Minnesota right out of the break, followed by a road game at New Jersey, and then three straight home games with San Antonio, Philadelphia and Chicago.
30. Sacramento Kings (11-43) – The Sacramento Kings have hit rock bottom within the NBA Power Rankings. The Kings drop two spots from # 28 to # 30 with their 11-43 overall record. Sacramento comes into the break losers of five straight games, including a 12-point loss at Houston on Wednesday. The Kings are getting 18.5 points per game from John Salmons, but their problem is defensively, in which they are giving up nearly 109 points per game. The Kings will host Atlanta on Wednesday, before heading on the road to Memphis and Dallas, before coming back home to take on the Hornets and Bobcats.