Weeks Eighteen & Ninteen NBA Power Ratings
(Dated: March 17 - March 29, 2009)
*Records as of Sunday, March 17, 2009
1. Los Angeles Lakers (52-13) – The Lakers are tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top record in the NBA. The Lakers remain at the #1 position after their 7 point win over the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers this past week wrapped up a playoff spot, and also the Pacific Division title, as they lead the Phoenix Suns by 18 games. The Suns have lost six straight games. In the win over the Spurs, Pau Gasol went 10 of 15 from the field and scored 23 points, also grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists. The Lakers picked up back-to-back wins in Texas over the Rockets and Spurs after losing on the road at Portland. Andrew Bynum continues to sit out with a torn right MCL. Bynum hopes to be back in time for the postseason. Kobe Bryant leads the team in scoring with 28 points per game, and also leads the team with 5 assists per game. The Lakers will host Dallas, Philadelphia and Golden State this week, before taking the road at Chicago and Oklahoma City.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (52-13) – The Cavaliers move up one position from #3 to #2, with their four straight wins. The Cavs jump over Boston in the power rankings, as they lead them by 2.5 games for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Orlando Magic continues to creep up, just four games back. Cleveland’s four straight wins came at home to Miami, followed by three straight on the road at the Clippers, Suns and Kings. LeBron James’ 51 points aided the Friday win over the Kings, and the win also clinched the Central Division title. Cleveland will host four straight games this week, starting Sunday with the Knicks, followed by the Magic, Trailblazers and then Hawks. Next Sunday, March 22, the Cavs will play at New Jersey. LeBron James’ numbers continue to rise, as he is now scoring 28.6 points per game, averaging 7.5 rebounds per game, and also 7.2 assists. Cleveland is without guards DeLonte West and Eric Snow, and also big man Ben Wallace, who fractured his right fibula.
3. Boston Celtics (50-17) – The Boston Celtics snapped their two game losing streak on Friday with a win over the Memphis Grizzles. Despite that win, the Celtics dropped a position in the rankings, from #2 to #3. The Celtics lead the Philadelphia 76ers by 16.5 games, on the verge of clinching their second straight division title. Boston has clinched a playoff spot with their 50-16 record, just behind Cleveland, and just ahead of Orlando. The Celtics saw their point guard Rajon Rondo return to action on Friday after missing two games with an injury. Glen Davis continues to sit out due to an ankle injury, and of course Kevin Garnett continues to sit out due to his right knee strain. The Celtics will play at Milwaukee and Chicago this week, before hosting Miami, before two straight road games at San Antonio and Memphis.
4. Orlando Magic (48-17) – The Orlando Magic are one of four teams in the NBA that have clinched their berth in the postseason. Along with Cleveland, Boston and the LA Lakers, the Magic can play their last 20 games with little to no pressure. Orlando trails Boston by just 1.5 for the second best record in the Eastern Conference, while they sit four games behind Cleveland. The Magic are close to wrapping up the Southeast Division as well, as they lead Atlanta by 10.5 games and the Miami Heat by 12.5. Orlando remains #4 within the power rankings. Orlando will host the Utah Jazz on Sunday, before heading to Cleveland and Milwaukee on back-to-back nights. On March 21st and 23rd the Magic will play home and away with the New York Knicks.
5. San Antonio Spurs (44-21) – The Spurs remain at #6 after their three point win over the Rockets on Saturday. San Antonio expanded their lead in the Southwest Division by 2.5 games. In the win for the Spurs Tony Parker scored 28 points and dished out 8 assists. The Spurs are without Manu Ginobili, who has a stress fracture in his right ankle that will sideline him through much of the month of March. The Spurs are scoring 97.4 points per game and allowing 93.4. San Antonio will play at Oklahoma City on Monday, then play four straight home games; against Minnesota, Boston, Houston and Golden State.
6. Houston Rockets (43-25) – The Rockets remain at #7 with their 18 games over .500 mark. Houston sits 2.5 games behind the Spurs, and just ½ game ahead of New Orleans for second place in the Southwest Division. The Rockets have won three of their last five games, with losses to the Lakers and Spurs. Houston is getting just short of 20 points and 10 rebounds per game from big man Yao Ming. The Rockets will play divisional foe New Orleans on the road on Monday, then come home and host both the Pistons and the Timberwolves. Following those two home games, the Rockets will take the road to both San Antonio and Utah, continuing a very tough stretch of games.
7. Utah Jazz (41-24) – The Jazz made the three team jump from #10 to #7. The Jazz at 41-25 are just ½ game behind Denver and tied with Portland for the second position within the Northwest Division of the Western Conference. Utah’s last game on Saturday resulted in a 11 point loss at Atlanta. The Jazz will play at Orlando on Sunday evening, followed by a home game with Washington, followed by a road game at Oklahoma City, home game with the Rockets and a road game at Phoenix. Mehmet Okur is the top scorer for Utah, scoring 18.0 points per game.
8. New Orleans Hornets (41-24) – The Hornets move up one position from #9 to #8 with their 41-24 overall record. The Hornets fell on the road in Chicago on Saturday night despite 29 points from point guard Chris Paul. Paul continues to lead the Hornets in scoring, assists and steals. Paul is scoring 21.8 points per game, dishing out 11 assists per game, and picking up just under 3 steals per game. The Hornets are in a four-team race decided by five games within the Southwest Division. New Orleans will play five straight home games, starting on Monday when the Houston Rockets come to town. The Rockets will be followed by Minnesota, Memphis, Golden State and Denver all coming to town.
9. Denver Nuggets (42-25) – The Nuggets make the four team slide from #5 to #9, but found their way back to the top of the Northwest Division. Denver leads Utah and Portland by just ½ game. The Nuggets picked up a13 points win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, with Renaldo Balkman scoring 22 points. The Nuggets are led in scoring by Chauncey Billups, who is scoring just under 19 points per game. The Nuggets will host the New Jersey Nets on Monday, followed by a road game at Memphis, home game with Washington, followed by road games at Phoenix and New Orleans.
10. Portland Trailblazers (41-25) – Portland continues to make the Northwest Division of the Western Conference extremely entertaining. The Trailblazers are tied with Utah, just ½ game behind the Denver Nuggets. Portland, despite playing solid basketball has dropped two positions from #8 to #10. Portland is scoring just under 100 points per game (99.1), and are giving up 95.2. Brandon Roy leads the Trailblazers in scoring with 23.1 points per game. Portland will head to the road for four straight games, starting on Monday at Memphis, followed by trips to Indiana, Cleveland and Milwaukee.
11. Dallas Mavericks (40-26) – The Mavericks remain at #11 with their 40-26 mark. The record for the Mavericks sits them as the eighth and final team to make the Western Conference playoffs. Dallas sits five games ahead of ninth place Phoenix. The Mavericks latest winning streak was ceased by Golden State on Friday night, as the Warriors downed them 119-110. Dallas is led in scoring by Dirk Nowitzki with 25.6 points per game, and also 8.4 rebounds per game. Dallas will host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, and then head on the road for two straight games at Atlanta and Indiana, before coming back home to face Golden State and Denver.
12. Atlanta Hawks (39-28) – The Atlanta Hawks are doing whatever they can to keep their #4 position in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta, with their 39-28 record, move up one position from #13 to #12 winning five straight games. Joe Johnson leads Atlanta in scoring with 21.6 points per game, and also 6.1 assists per game. The Hawks continue to lead the Miami Heat by 2.5 games for that fourth position, in which would give them home court advantage in the first round. The Hawks will host the Kings and the Mavericks, before heading on the road to Cleveland, and then coming back home to host both the Timberwolves and the Spurs.
13. Miami Heat (36-30) – At 36-30 the Heat sit 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the fourth position in the Eastern Conference. With their recent streak of wins, the Heat moves up one spot from #14 to #13. Miami’s most recent decision was a loss at Philadelphia 85-77. This game came one night following a 140-point outburst put up by Miami against the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Dwyane Wade and his 30 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game lead Miami. The Heat will continue their road trip on Wednesday at Boston, followed by trips to New Jersey and Detroit, before hosting the Grizzles, and then a trip to Indiana.
14. Phoenix Suns (35-31) – The Phoenix Suns have fallen two positions from #12 to #14, winning just three of their last seven games. The Suns are falling out of the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting 4.5 games behind the Dallas Mavericks for the final position. The Suns leading score Amare Stoudemire remains out for the season with an injury to his retina. Stoudemire led Phoenix in scoring with 21.4 points per game. Phoenix will play Sunday at Golden State, before hosting Philadelphia, Washington, Denver and Utah.
15. Philadelphia 76ers (33-31) – Philadelphia continues to stay at #15 overall, sitting just ½ game ahead of the Pistons for the sixth position in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia is coming off three straight wins; all at home over Toronto, Chicago and Miami. Philadelphia will now start a road trip that will include games at the Lakers, Suns, Warriors, Kings and Trailblazers starting on Tuesday.
16. Detroit Pistons (33-32) – The Detroit Pistons continue to hover around the .500 mark, winning six of their last ten games. Detroit remains at #16 overall. The Pistons remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, leading Milwaukee and Chicago by four games. The Pistons are coming off a four-point win on the road at Toronto on Friday night. Detroit is led in scoring by Richard Hamilton and his 18.1 points per game. The Pistons will play on the road in their next two games, Tuesday at Dallas and Wednesday at Houston. Detroit will then come home and host the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat in back to back games, before heading back on the road at Chicago.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (31-38) – Milwaukee continues to remain at #17 with their 31-38 overall record. The Bucks are currently tied with the Chicago Bulls for the eighth and final playoff position. The Bucks lead by percentage points; with one more win, but also one more loss. Milwaukee is coming off back to back losses at home to both the Knicks and the Bobcats. The Bucks will host the Boston Celtics on Sunday, the Orlando Magic on Wednesday and the Portland Trailblazers on Saturday, before taking the road to Toronto, Orlando and Miami. Milwaukee is led in scoring by Richard Jefferson, who is averaging right under 19 points per game. Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut continue to miss action, both with injuries.
18. New Jersey Nets (28-37) – The Nets, despite their poor play as of late, and really all season are just one game back for the final playoff spot. The Nets remain at #18 with their 28-37 record. New Jersey has lost two straight games and six of their last ten overall. The Nets are in the middle of a current five game road trip, losing the first two at Golden State and Portland. The road trip will continue on Sunday at the Clippers and continue to Denver and New York before coming home. Once home, New Jersey will host Miami and Cleveland, in a stretch of games that could make or break the Nets postseason chances.
19. Chicago Bulls (30-37) – At 30-37, the Chicago Bulls are tied for the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. With 15 games remaining the Bulls look to get hot and garner a playoff spot, in their rookie point guard Derrick Rose’s first season. Rose leads the team in assists with 6.2 and field goal percent with 46.2%. The Bulls are coming off a win over the New Orleans Hornets with Ben Gordon scoring 27 points on 11 of 27 shooting. The Bulls will host the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, followed by a road game at Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Chicago and the Lakers will hook up for a Saturday affair, and then play at Washington, and host the Pistons.
20. New York Knicks (28-37) – The Knicks remain at #20, despite their current three game-winning streak. Knicks have picked up wins over Milwaukee, Detroit and Minnesota; all on the road. The Knicks will continue their road trip on Sunday, heading to Cleveland. After the road trip, the Knicks will host New Jersey and Sacramento, and then play back-to-back games, home and away with the Orlando Magic. The Knicks have found themselves just one game back of Chicago and Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot.
21. Charlotte Bobcats (28-38) – The Bobcats have lost three straight games, after climbing to less than a game out of the final playoff position. With the poor play, the Bobcats remain at #19, just ahead of the Pacers, trailing the Bulls and the Knicks. The Bobcats most recent loss was an eight point loss on the road, at Minnesota. Charlotte now sits 1.5 games behind the Bulls and Bucks for the eighth spot. Charlotte is led in scoring by Emeka Okafor, with his 14 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. The Bobcats will host the Raptors and Kings in an effort to snap their current losing streak. The Bobcats will then play at Toronto, before a home game with Indiana and a game on the road at Washington.
22. Indiana Pacers (28-40) – The Pacers have lost three straight games, including a loss to the Toronto Raptors; which was Toronto’s first one in eight tries. With their recent poor play, Indiana remains #22 overall, just ahead of the Raptors, and behind Chicago and New York. The Pacers are 2.5 games behind the Bulls and Bucks for the eighth and final playoff position. The Pacers are without their leading scorer Danny Granger, who is out the rest of the season with a torn tendon in his right foot. Granger was averaging 25 points per game for Indiana.
23. Toronto Raptors (24-43) – The Raptors remain #23, just ahead of Golden State with their 24-43 record. Despite that dismal record, Toronto is just six games behind the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The problem for Toronto is five teams remain in front of them. The Raptors snapped a seven game losing streak on Sunday with a 23 point win over the Indiana Pacers. Chris Bosh is leading the team in scoring and in rebounds with just under 23 points per game and 10 rebounds per game. Toronto will play a road game at Charlotte on Monday, then play four straight games, starting with the Bobcats, then seeing the Clippers, Bucks and Thunder come to town.
24. Golden State Warriors (23-42) – The Warriors have put distance between themselves and the rest of the non-playoff contenders in the Western Conference. The Warriors have won two straight games over New Jersey and Dallas. Those wins keep the Warriors at #24 overall. Golden State has been without Corey Maggette the last couple of games, and he will miss the next couple with a sinus infection. Stephen Jackson leads the team in scoring with 21.5 points per game, and also 6.6 assists per game. Golden State will look to continue their winning streak with games at home against the Suns and the Clippers, before playing the Lakers at the Staples Center, followed by a home game with Philadelphia and a game on the road at New Orleans.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (20-46) – The Timberwolves finally found a way to get in the win column, snapping their ten game losing streak against Memphis. Despite the streak, the Timberwolves continue to remain at #25 overall. Minnesota was not able to keep the streak going on Friday night, as they fell to the Knicks 102-94. Al Jefferson leads the team in scoring, but has missed the last 20 games with a season ending injury. The Timberwolves will host the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday, and then head on the road for three straight games. The trip will include stops in San Antonio, New Orleans and Houston, before coming home to host the Thunder.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder (18-48) – The Thunder made a three team jump this week, moving up from #29 to #26. Part of the jump was due in part to wins in three of their last five games. For a team that has won just 18 games on the season, three of five is a hot streak. The Thunder beat Philadelphia and Sacramento in back to back games, but then fell most recently at Denver by 13 points. The Thunder are led by Kevin Durant, and his 26 points per game. Oklahoma City has moved to within one game of the Timberwolves for fourth place in the Northwest Division. The Thunder will play at Phoenix, before three straight home games with the Spurs, Bulls and Jazz. Oklahoma City will then play at Minnesota next Sunday.
27. Memphis Grizzles (17-48) – At 17-48, the Grizzles dropped one position from #26 last week to #27 this week. The Grizzles have lost four straight games and nine out of their last ten games. The most recent loss was a 10-point decision at the Celtics. O.J. Mayo leads the team in scoring with just under 19 points per game. The Grizzles will play at the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, then come home and host both the Portland Trailblazers and the Denver Nuggets. A road game at New Orleans will kick off the weekend, before coming back home and hosting the defending champion Boston Celtics.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (15-50) – The Clippers, at 15-50 have dropped one spot from last weeks #27 position to #28 this week. The Oklahoma City Thunder jumped them winning five of their last ten. The Clippers are 8-26 when playing at home and 7-23 when playing on the road. When playing against fellow Pacific Divisional opponents the Clippers are a dismal 1-12. Los Angeles has currently lost six straight games, including five straight at home. The Clippers will play at Denver on Saturday March 14th, before hosting the New Jersey Nets on Sunday .Games at Golden State, home with Washington and at Detroit wrapping up the week.
29. Washington Wizards (15-51) – The Wizards continue to find ways to lose basketball games. Their 15-51 record sits them just ½ game ahead of the Kings for the worst record in basketball. The Wizards fall from #28 to #29. Washington has a chance to separate themselves a bit from Sacramento on Sunday as they host the Kings. After that game, the Wizards will play four straight road games, at Utah, LA Clippers, Denver and the Phoenix Suns. The Wizards have been without Gilbert Arenas the entire season, and are now without Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Etan Thomas. Antawan Jamison leads the Wizards in scoring and rebounds with 22 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game.
30. Sacramento Kings (14-51) – The Kings are just ½ game behind the Washington Wizards to get themselves out of the basement for the worst record in the National Basketball Association. The Kings remain #30 with their two straight losses, and losers of 7 out of their last 10. The Kings are just a dismal 4-28 when playing on the road, and winning just 10 of 33 at home. Sacramento allowed LeBron James to score 51 points on Friday night in a 7-point loss. The win for the Cavs clinched the Central Division title. Sacramento made history as well with the loss, as they lost their 25th game in a row during the 2008-2009 season against the Eastern Conference. No team in NBA history as ever went an entire season without beating a team from the opposite conference. Sacramento will get a chance to break that streak this week, as they will play at Washington, at Atlanta, at Charlotte and at New York. The Kings will come back home on March 22 to host the Philadelphia 76ers.