Having lived in Pittsburgh for a while, I’m a little busy on this particular Super Bowl Sunday. Therefore, please excuse and understand any rushed or abbreviated commentary.
1. San Antonio Spurs (42-8): Lost the first game of their 9-game road trip to the Blazers, but we all know they’re still clearly the top of the heap.
2. Dallas Mavericks (35-15): Dirk out = 2-7. Dirk barely back = 1-3. Dirk actually back = 8-0.
3. Miami Heat (37-14): Finally seem to have everyone playing well together again with recent W’s in Orlando and in OKC. Must-watch match-up in Boston on Sunday.
4. Boston Celtics (38-12): Got the easy win over the Magic right on the heels of their fourth-quarter loss to the Mavericks. Take on the Lakers on Thursday and Heat on Sunday.
5. Chicago Bulls (34-15): Even while doing as well as they have without Noah, their defensive liabilities without him do pop up from time-to-time like they did in an 11-point loss to the Warriors.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (33-17): Avenged their late-January loss to the Hornets with a 43-point Durant explosion on Wednesday. Their offense has been rolling (topped 110 points in 4 of last 6 games).
7. Orlando Magic (32-20): Have been displaying their inconsistency of late, but they host the Lakers next Sunday, a perfect opportunity for the Magic to show they’re still serious about a title.
8. Los Angeles Lakers (35-16): LA’s only non-OT win in the last two weeks was a 4th-quarter comeback over the Hornets on Saturday while mysteriously shooting 27 free throws to NO’s 4. This type of charity disparity has happened only one other time in recorded NBA history.
9. New Orleans Hornets (32-20): Up and down, up and down. Watched Durant kill them in the 3rd quarter on Wednesday and then spent Saturday out-everything-ing the Lakers, except LA had four players shoot as many or more free throws as the Hornets’ 4 on the way to a tight loss for NO. Expect more up and down this week with two easy ones (Minny, NJ) followed up by two tough ones (Orlando, Chi).
10. Atlanta Hawks (33-18): This week was cake (Tor, LAC, Was), as will be the upcoming few weeks (Phil, Char, Det, NYK, Phx, GSW are 6 of next 7).
11. Houston Rockets (24-28): Their last 4 losses were to the Lakers (in OT), Spurs, Mavericks, and Magic – and only one of those was bad. Are ready to go back to playing a regular schedule, thank you very much.
12. Denver Nuggets (30-21): Lost to NJ by 16 (I guess they don’t need Carmelo) to kick off yet another inconsistent, unfocussed 2-2 week.
13. Memphis Grizzlies (27-25): Beat Orlando to take a big step toward making the playoffs, but their upcoming week starts off with the Lakers and Thunder in a back-to-back.
14. Portland Trail Blazers (27-24): Had an easier time beating the best (topped SA by 13 on Tuesday) than the worst (topped Cleveland by 6 on Saturday), plus they got killed by the Nuggets and Pacers in between. ???
15. New York Knicks (26-24): Lost to Philly on the road then beat them at home.
16. Philadelphia 76ers (23-27): Beat NY at home then lost to them on the road.
17. Los Angeles Clippers (19-31): Blake’s basket-saving flagrant with 0.6 seconds left against Atlanta resulted in two Horford free throws and the loss, continuing their winless stretch against teams with winning (or near winning) records while Eric Gordon sits with the a sprained wrist. Should still win at least 4 of their next 6 (Orlando and NYK, but then Clv, Tor, Mil, and Min).
18. Phoenix Suns (23-25): Are 3-1 in the last 10 days, with wins over Boston and NO, and the loss was by 4 to OKC – pretty good overall. Despite being horrendous for most of the past month-plus, they’re not too far from pushing their way into the Western playoffs and have a relatively easy rest of February to help with that goal.
19. Indiana Pacers (21-27): Nothing spectacular in their 4 consecutive wins (Tor, Clv, Por, NJ), but it is 4 wins. Heat check on Tuesday.
20. Golden State Warriors (22-27): Held both Milwaukee and Chicago under 95 points in the wins. Look for some shootouts with Phoenix (twice) and Denver over the next few days.
21. Utah Jazz (30-22): Went 2-2 this past week, but really need to get something going against Sacramento, Phoenix (twice) and Golden State over the next two weeks to show they’re serious about staying in the playoffs.
22. Charlotte Bobcats (21-29): Are knocking on the door for a spot in the playoffs, but Boston, Atlanta, LAL, and Chicago loom over the next 10 days. Have a great chance to move up with a game in Indy (current #8 seed in East) on Wednesday.
23. Detroit Pistons (19-32): At least they beat NJ and Milwaukee in a back-to-back this week after losing to Charlotte.
24. New Jersey Nets (15-37): NJ is 5-6 since officially giving up on Carmelo, including the big win over his Nuggets on Monday. That and no one’s talking about how bad they were last year anymore (don’t forget to send a gift basket to Cleveland).
25. Milwaukee Bucks (19-30): Now here’s a bad week for you: losses to the Clippers, Suns, Warriors, and Pistons. Hopefully they’ll end this nonsense against the Raptors and Wizards on Tuesday and Wednesday.
26. Sacramento Kings (12-35): Giant Killer mini-status is over with their L’s to Boston and SanAn this week. Face Dallas twice, OKC twice, Miami, and Orlando over the coming weeks.
27. Toronto Raptors (14-37): Redeemed themselves against Minnesota.
28. Washington Wizards (13-37): Tough week for any team, let alone one this bad (Dal, NO, Orl, Atl – lost all 4 in fairly convincing fashion). Hoping to avoid being the Cavs’ comeback win on Sunday.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-39): Kevin Love found out he was an All-Star right before the Toronto game, but it may have been a distraction to the team as their O and D were both out-of-synch in the L.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-43): They just lost 29% of a season’s worth of games in a row. Are Ohio’s second-best team.