NBA Power Rankings: Where Super Contenders Drop Back Into The Pack

As we reach the halfway point of the NBA season, Mike Prada writes that there's clearly more parity than anyone expected, in this week's edition of the SB Nation NBA Power Rankings.

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SB Nation's NBA Power Rankings: Where Super Contenders Drop Back Into The Pack

The 2009-10 NBA season was supposed to be the year of the superpowers. The arms race between Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, the Lakers and San Antonio was the dominant theme all offseason, and we were all prepared for there to be a clear distinction between the haves, the sort-of haves and the have nots.

Well, we're now nearly halfway through the season, and that distinction has yet to emerge. The superpowers are struggling, and the teams in the tier below are showing more spunk then expected. If I had told you that we would have nine teams with at least 23 wins at this point of the season, would you have believed me? Maybe. But what if I told you that there wasn't a single team with more than 30 wins? That, you probably wouldn't have believed.

The toughest part of this week's rankings was answering this question: are there more contenders, or are there just fewer super contenders? The long-term answer is that we're probably seeing a combination of both extremes. For this week, though, I ended up leaning towards there being fewer super contenders. Next week, I'm sure I'll think differently.

(To see last week's rankings, click here.  We'll use the same categories to separate the teams into tiers).

BACK INTO THEIR OWN CATEGORY

30.  New Jersey Nets: 3-34 overall, 0-4 last week

SBN Blog: Nets Daily

Last week: 30

Four losses, all by double digits. Welcome back to your own category, New Jersey Nets! We missed you here.

If there's a bright side to all of this, it's that Yi Jianlian is finally doing something. He averaged 16.3 points per game in the four games this week, and there's talk that he's moved onto the Nets' untouchable list, possibly bumping Devin Harris off it. To this, I say, Yi Jianlian? Really? If the Nets are in position to sign Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire this offseason, I hope they don't say to themselves, "Gee, we're really concerned about that guy blocking Yi Jianlian."

DREGS OF THE LEAGUE

29. Minnesota Timberwolves: 8-31 overall, 1-3 last week

SBN Blog: Canis Hoopus

Last week: 29.

Minnesota got a revenge win over Indiana last Friday, but lost the other three games they played, including a home game to Golden State, which isn't exactly a road juggernaut.

But the real news this week with the Timberwolves is the report that they offered Al Jefferson to Indiana for Danny Granger, which the Pacers rejected as if they were the lead cheerleader that was asked out by the nerdy kid with glasses and freckles. As much as the Timberwolves want to deny it, I'm sensing some real bad vibes coming out about the long-term future of the Jefferson/Kevin Love combo. They play the same position, do similar things and have the same agent, so as long as they're on the same team, they'll cramp each other's style and future earnings. Even Canis Hoopus, previously a defender of the Love/Jefferson combo, is conceding that it probably won't work long-term.

So, who do you choose? I was leaning Love anyway, because he does more things than Jefferson, but this video kind of sealed it for me. Anytime you can make a player mix with Haddaway as the background music and have it make sense, you have to keep that guy.


 

28.  Detroit Pistons11-25 overall, 0-4 last week

SBN Blog: Detroit Bad Boys.

Last week: 26.

Thirteen losses and counting for the Pistons, who can't even use the "we're not healthy" excuse anymore, since Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are back. In fact, that's probably the problem. When the Pistons had a simple three-guard rotation of Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Will Bynum, they played better. Once that got disrupted, they started to suck. You'd think that trading Prince and Hamilton would be on the horizon for Joe Dumars, but Prince isn't the same player he once was and Hamilton has three more years left on a massive (and pointless) contract extension signed by Dumars himself last year.

27.  Golden State Warriors11-25 overall, 2-2 last week

SBN Blog: Golden State of Mind

Last week: 27.

A pretty good week for the Warriors, who beat Minnesota and Sacramento while also putting up a good fight in a loss to Cleveland last night. It's too bad this team is just run-of-the-mill bad right now instead of being the dysfunctional mess of the league. Dysfunctional messes are more fun to follow, unless your team is the Wizards. Sigh.

With nothing to play for and no dysfunction to put down, Golden State is doing their best to get sharpshooter Anthony Morrow into the three-point contest. This is a cool start.


26.  Philadelphia 76ers12-25 overall, 2-2 last week.

SBN Blog: Liberty Ballers

Last week: 24.

Philly's two wins were against the woeful Pistons and at home to the Hornets when the Hornets were at the end of a five-game in seven-day stretch in five different cities. And they barely won that last one. One of their losses came at home to a Wizards team that was in the middle of dealing with all the Gilbert Arenas fallout. Smoke and mirrors, my friend. Smoke and mirrors.

MEDIOCRE CLUBS

25.  Indiana Pacers12-25 overall, 2-2 last week

SBN Blog: Indy Cornrows

Last week: 28.

I confess that this is sort of a preemptive ranking for Indiana, because Danny Granger is back and things should improve from there. But you have to be impressed by Indiana's week this week regardless. They beat powerhouse Orlando and a decent Toronto team while putting up a good fight in a loss in Oklahoma City. Not too shabby.

It would be nice, though, if Roy Hibbert could show some consistency. Young bigs, man, they're tough to deal with. 

24.  Washington Wizards: 10-21 overall, 0-2 last week.

SBN Blog: Bullets Forever

Last week: 25

To steal a line from Tom Ziller, we talkin' about finger guns man.

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We also are apparently talkin' about someone spraying themselves with someone else's cologne. Welcome back, Andray Blatche! We'll miss you, Seven Day Dray. 

23.  New York Knicks15-22 overall, 1-2 last week

SBN Blog: Posting and Toasting

Last week: 22.

I know I've talked about this before, but there's something weird about the Knicks scoring just 97, 96 and 88 points in their games this week. To be fair, they played three excellent defensive teams this week in Charlotte, Houston and Oklahoma City, but this is not the Knicks I expected to see this year. Hey, if it gets them into the playoffs, I can't really complain, but if not, then I feel deprived.

22.  Chicago Bulls16-20 overall, 2-2 last week

SBN Blog: Blog A Bull

Last week: 21.

Speaking of smoke and mirrors, the Bulls got their two wins in home games against the Pistons and Timberwolves. Their record may look better, but they are not a better team. Sorry. It's true that they were 14-20 last year, which they also were this year, but as this extensive Blog A Bull post shows, this year brings different circumstances that will probably prevent the Bulls from ever reaching .500.

And you know what that means. Angry, bitter Bulls fans bitching (correctly, I might add) about their dysfunctional organization, their braindead coach, their overpaid swingman, their chucking shooting guard and their cerebral backup point guard whom the organization treats like a son. Can't wait!

21.  Sacramento Kings: 15-21 overall, 1-2 last week

SBN Blog: Sactown Royalty

Last week: 18.

Sadly, it looks like the shine is wearing off on this team. Or, more accurately, they just weren't that great to begin with and benefited from an easy schedule and an under-the-radar mentality that won't be in play going forward. That's no big deal -- this Kings team wasn't supposed to win even this much right away -- but we might need to chill on the Paul Westphal for Coach of the Year talk. 

One thing we shouldn't chill on is Tyreke Evans. He's still awesome. Anytime you prompt the normally subdued Jerry Reynolds to go all "if you aren't impressed, you aren't watching the games" on us, you're special.


20.  Milwaukee Bucks: 15-20 overall, 2-1 this week

SBN Blog: Brew Hoop

Last week: 23

Milwaukee's now won three of their last four and deserve this jump in the rankings. However, the Bucks' week has been defined by two stories. One is Scott Skiles going to the hospital after last night's win over the Suns. Here's hoping everything is alright with him.

The other is Michael Redd. As in Michael "I'm so injury-prone that I've torn my ACL and MCL in the same knee twice in one calender year" Redd. With all the talk about Gilbert Arenas having the worst contract in NBA history (slight exaggeration), I'm wondering why there hasn't been more talk about the colossal mistake the Bucks made in 2005 to sign Redd to a max contract extension. Even at his best, Redd's a one-dimensional player who doesn't play good defense and isn't a great passer. You don't build teams around those guys. No disrespect to Redd, who seems like a wonderful guy that's squeezed every ounce of talent out of his body, but he's just not a franchise cornerstone. He belongs in a place like Cleveland, where he can get kickouts from LeBron James, not in Milwaukee, where he has to carry a crappy team.

For more on Redd, this Brew Hoop post covers all angles. It's a shame Milwaukee doesn't get more visibility, because their writers and bloggers are top notch. 

19.  Charlotte Bobcats16-19 overall, 2-1 last week

SBN Blog: Rufus on Fire

Last week: 19.

I confess that I haven't watched nearly as many Bobcat games as I should this year. Let's face it, there's only a certain amount of games that one can watch at once on a given night, and the Bobcats usually get passed over for more interesting teams. But I did watch the Grizzlies-Bobcats showdown on Saturday night, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I can't say this team is watchable yet, but there's some serious underground potential here. They may be on their way to 35 wins regardless, but if you're a hardcore fan, you'll probably find some things worth watching here.

One such thing? Gerald Wallace.  If anyone deserves a song made in their honor by a Bobcats blogger, it's Gerald Wallace. 

 

18.  Toronto Raptors19-20, 2-2 last week.

SBN Blog: Raptors HQ

Last week: 17.

If you look up "mediocre" in the dictionary, you'll see that "2009/10 Toronto Raptors" is a synonym. Don't believe me? Look yourself. 

Because, see, mediocre teams beat Orlando and then lose to Indiana in the same week (blowing a 23-point lead no less). Mediocre teams inspire their fans to write rants like this after they lose. Mediocre teams lose their frustrated superstars when they become free agents (the Chris Bosh alert is on). 

Because this is the East, they'll go 41-41, get the sixth seed and be blasted by one of the East's Big Four in the first round. Then, once Bosh leaves, they'll be stuck with a bloated payroll for several years, thanks to the long contracts for Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani. Toronto fans deserve better, but they won't get it. Sad.

(Okay, sorry, enough fatalism. I admit I went overboard there. Raptor fans, can I make it up to you by showing this ridiculous pass from Turkoglu to DeMar DeRozan? Please).

 

17.  Memphis Grizzlies18-18 overall, 2-2 last week.

SBN Blog: Straight Outta Vancouver

Last week: 13

Dear Memphis fans,

You haven't been punished. I just put you on too high a pedestal by ranking you 13th last week. Please don't take offense. You still have an interesting up-and-coming team that's on my League Pass must-watch list.

Sincerely,

Mike.

16.  Miami Heat18-18 overall, 1-3 last week.

SBN Blog: Peninsula is Mightier

Last week: 14.

Last night's disaster loss to the Jazz really made its mark on me. Save for Dwyane Wade, there's really nothing to like here, and if Wade suffers any residual effects from his injury last night, the Heat are toast. It's really quite simple. Rafer Alston isn't going to change much of anything. 

I do want to give two thumbs up to Peninsula is Mightier for making light of a disastrous loss last night.

It became obvious to me while watching this game that the Heat fell victim to the party town that is Salt Lake City.  As often happens to team when they come to Miami, the Heat must have gone straight to the happening night-life part of town (The Bearded Goat, The Butter Churn or whatever the hotspots are in Utah) and couldn't recover in time to play the Jazz on Monday night.  Damn you, Salt Lake City...why do you have to be such a happening party location and distraction to our amazing basketball team? 

15.  Los Angeles Clippers: 17-18 overall, 2-0 last week

SBN Blog: Clips Nation.

Last week: 20.

When I proclaimed the Clippers to be the next "it" team last week, I didn't expect it to happen right away. I figured that it would happen once Blake Griffin returned. But the Clippers have now won four straight games, the last three coming against Portland, the Lakers and Miami. Sure, all were home games, but all of those wins were by double digits. That's remarkably impressive.

My favorite part of this whole run was this line from a recent Clips Nation post. 

I also overheard a Times' senior NBA columnist, who I shan't name (rhymes with Park Chrysler) on the phone with his editor.  I wasn't eavesdropping by any means, and you shouldn't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure I heard him say something to the effect that he wanted to write a piece on the Clippers instead of that other team because "The Clippers are more interesting right now."    

See, that's music to my ears. As a Wizards fan, I naturally flock to the teams that get disrespected nationally. No fanbase in the league has been disrespected more over the years than Clippers fans. To a certain degree, you can't choose your team as a fan. It's kind of given to you, whether it's because of location, family background or any number of external factors. So when national guys constantly bash the Clippers, there's really nothing a Clipper fan can do except take the heat and hope for the best. They have to cherish the small victories, such as a four-game winning streak and a columnist saying they'd rather write one column about the Clippers that they'd normally write about the Lakers.

Maybe that's why, despite their stodgy play early, I've watched the Clippers on League Pass more than nearly any other team other than the Wizards. I want this team to succeed badly, and seeing them have even some short-term success is really great.

14.  New Orleans Hornets19-17 overall, 3-1 last week.

SBN Blog: At the Hive

Last week: 15.

New Orleans is playing well right now, no question. They had a six-game winning streak snapped in Philadelphia last night, and I can't really blame them for that loss because it was their fifth game in seven days in five different cities. But I still can't fully get behind them at this point, and I'm not sure I ever will. 

Why? Consider that the Hornets' six wins in a row came by the following margins: 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 5. I don't want to get into too much of a tug of war between the stat community and the general NBA watching community, but there's no question that winning several close games in a row is caused more by luck than skill. Sure, you have to execute down the stretch, but if you're putting yourself in that position in the first place, it means you're consistently about as good as the teams you're playing. Good teams win blowouts, not tight games, because too much can happen beyond a team's immediate control in close contests. 

I guess we'll see what happens with this team going forward, but in my eyes, their only accomplishment is rising up the tiers of mediocrity. 

13.  Utah Jazz21-17 overall, 3-1 last week

SBN Blog: SLC Dunk

Last week: 16.

They righted the ship significantly with three wins last week, including a very impressive win at Dallas. That's not the Jazz team we all know.

But even though they're 21-17, the dark cloud over this team still is present. Are they going to try to compete, or are they just trying to cut their luxury tax bill? It's looking like the latter is a higher priority, as indicated by the giving away of first-round draft pick Eric Maynor. Should it be the priority? That's a tough question that even Jazz fans struggle with.

What gets me is how unprepared the Jazz seemed for Carlos Boozer opting in last year and throwing their tax bill through the roof. As soon as Boozer got hurt last year, they should have realized he probably wasn't opting out. Instead, they acted as if they were crossing their fingers hoping for the best. Now, for the second straight year, contract issues and off-court stuff are seeping into Utah's locker room. You simply cannot be a contender for anything when you're playing under these circumstances.  

You can be decent. You can even be a playoff team. But unless you have a transcendent player who can keep everyone in line, you can't be a championship contender. I guess this is my way of saying Utah will always be in the mediocre category unless something drastically changes. 

SUCCESSFUL, NOT QUITE CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER

12.  Oklahoma City Thunder: 21-16 overall, 2-1 last week.

SBN Blog: Welcome To Loud City

Last week: 12.

We've already professed our love affair with Kevin Durant on SBNation.com enough this week, so instead of commenting further here, I'll just refer you to this post and this post.

If you're still here, allow me to allow you to enjoy Kevin Durant in high definition.


 

11.  Portland Traiblazers: 23-16 overall, 1-2 last week

SBN Blog: Blazers Edge

Last week: 10.

I'm sensing the beginning of a slow fall for Portland. How slow? We probably won't notice it until the season-ending record comes out a lot lower than we expected. We can't blame the Blazers, of course, since they're down so many key players, but that doesn't mean they should be any higher than 11th in this week's rankings. 

There's also the brewing discontent between Andre Miller and Nate McMillan. They had a shouting match in practice this week, and Blazers Edge covers all angles of it here. In a normal world, the Blazers would be doing everything they could to rid themselves of Miller so they can get some value back, but with so many players injured, the need for any healthy bodies becomes greater. I'm probably being a bit too fatalistic here -- athletes and coaches argue even when they're on the best of terms -- but it's clear the Andre Miller experiment has been a failure. 

10.  Houston Rockets21-16 overall, 1-2 last week

SBN Blog: The Dream Shake

Last week: 8

So Houston wants Chris Bosh, ey? And they're willing to take him without first negotiating a contract extension?

This shouldn't be a huge surprise. In case it wasn't clear from hearing their name in a zillion trade rumors, the Rockets have assembled a treasure chest of trade assets they could use to upgrade the team for now and for down the road. It's pretty scary, to be honest, if you're a fan of another Western Conference contender. The Lakers should be freaked out about all the possibilities Houston has in the trade market.

For example, if the Rockets are willing to take on a ton of long-term salary (not out of the question -- remember, Houston's been winning and getting home playoff games for years despite being under the luxury tax, so they have a financial windfall), they could conceivably do the following:

Trade 1: Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola, Brian Cook and David Andersen to Toronto for Bosh, Sonny Weems and Patrick O'Bryant. The Raptors turn a guy they were probably going to lose anyway (Bosh) into three solid rotation players in Ariza, Scola and Andersen, which is way better than getting nothing.

Trade 2: As rumored on ESPN, Tracy McGrady's massive expiring contract to Toronto for Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert. Philly cuts a ton of long-term money, which they need to do considering how much the organization is struggling financially, and finally gets rid of Dalembert. Meanwhile, the Rockets get a solid two-way player in Iguodala who is still very young. 

This ends up being Houston's roster in 2010/11

PG: Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry

SG: Shane Battier, Chase Budinger

SF: Andre Iguodala

PF: Chris Bosh, Carl Landry

C: Yao Ming, Samuel Dalembert, Chuck Hayes

Now THAT'S a scary team. Houston could then flip Dalembert for two other rotation players (by 2011, Dalembert has an expiring contract) and field an even better team. That sound you heard is the Lakers cowering in fear. 

9.  Phoenix Suns24-14 overall,  3-1 last week

SBN Blog: Bright Side of the Sun.

Last week: 9

Alright, so I think it's safe to say that Phoenix is not the 2006/07 Magic. They'll be very much a part of the picture all the way until the end of the season. I'm still not convinced they're a second-round team yet, but they're good. 

It's also nice to see coaches and players get upset even when they win. Say what you want about Phoenix, but they still have among the most professional locker room in the game. That helps them squeeze every drop of talent out of the inherently flawed roster they have. Well, that and Steve Nash.

8.  Denver Nuggets: 24-14 overall, 3-1 last week

SBN Blog: Denver Stiffs.

Last week: 11.

Every so often, we're reminded of how much top-to-bottom talent the Nuggets have on their roster. Last Friday's thrilling 99-97 win over the Cavaliers was one of those reminders. The Nuggets toppled the best team in the league as of right now despite missing Carmelo Anthony. That's mighty impressive.

Of course, we're also reminded every so often why this team is so frustrating. The loss to reeling Sacramento the next night is evidence of that. The Nuggets still lack the consistent focus and cohesiveness to win those routine road games against average teams. Just ask J.R. Smith.


 

But despite all of that, if I'm a Western Conference playoff team, I do not want to see these guys. They're finally healthy again, and they have a way of playing their best against the very best teams. They're also likely to add another big man, whether it's Brendan Haywood or Jeff Foster or someone else, and that would make them even more dangerous. This is a team built for the playoffs, and they're bored by the regular season. Is that a fatal flaw that will prevent them from winning the title? Absolutely. But it's still something that makes them very, very scary in the playoffs.

7.  San Antonio Spurs22-13 overall, 2-1 last week

SBN Blog: Pounding the Rock.

Last week: 5

They're still not quite there yet. A loss at home to Dallas proves that. But they're getting there, and they'll be there eventually. Remember, the annual rodeo trip, which has become the time when the Spurs decide they want to get serious, is only three weeks away. 

6.  Orlando Magic25-12 overall, 1-3 last week

SBN Blog: Orlando Pinstriped Post.

Last week: 4

Whoa boy. Whooooaaaa boy.

So there's clearly something wrong in Orlando right now that one blowout win to Atlanta, a tired team that just came off an emotional win over Boston, won't solve. I don't think I need to state what happened to the Magic this week, but I will anyway. Three straight losses to Indiana, Toronto (at home) and Washington in its first home game after Gilbert Arenas' suspension. 

It appears that Vince Carter has become the scapegoat. After all, Carter missed the Atlanta game, and with J.J. Redick starting, the Magic won in a blowout. There's talk of Redick replacing Carter in the starting lineup, a move Orlando Pinstriped Post endorses tepidly. I use the term "scapegoat" not to totally absolve Carter, but to illustrate that there might be bigger issues at play.

You want to know one, in my opinion? Here's a hint: he was an all-star last season, a season in which he had a PER of 20.6 and a true shooting percentage of 61.2%, all while serving as a member of the league's best defense. This season, those numbers are down to a 14.1 PER and a mediocre 50.3% true shooting percentage, all while playing terrible defense. Who am I talking about? Jameer Nelson, of course. Lost in the shuffle of all the Carter stuff is that Nelson isn't anywhere close to being the same player he was last season. I realize Nelson was hurt this season, that strikes me as a bigger issue than deciding whether Carter should be a starter or a sixth man.

Then again, I'm also not as close to Orlando as their fans. So guys, please let me know if I'm off base here. Is Nelson's declining production in part because of Carter? I'd say no, but I'm willing to listen. Help me out here.

(I will admit that I laughed when I first saw Carter's injury against the Wizards. I mean, any time an Andray Blatche screen causes you to wiggle on the floor for several minutes, it's proof that you're probably a little soft, to say the least).

5.  Dallas Mavericks25-12 overall, 2-1 last week.

SBN Blog: Mavs Moneyball

Last week: 5.

Dallas continues it's odd routine of losing games badly after they experience a sustained period of success, dropping a home game to Utah by 18 after winning a big road game over the Spurs. Dallas is the kind of team that practically defines "successful, not quite championship caliber," but as long as they keep performing this well record-wise, they have to be up here. 

Plus, if they can get Erick Dampier to continue hitting threes, they'll have yet another weapon to use.


 

4.  Atlanta Hawks: 24-13 overall, 3-1 last week.

SBN Blog: Peachtree Hoops.

Last week: 6.

I'm putting Atlanta up here even though they have a worse record than the Magic and got drilled by them this week. Why? Two wins over Boston in the same week. That's really impressive, even if it's becoming clear Atlanta and Joe Johnson kind of own the Celtics (Tommy Heinsohn's pleas for "fair" officiating aside).

 

 

You know, this brings up an interesting tic-tac-toe scenario in the East. Atlanta clearly is a matchup nightmare for the Celtics, as indicated by their 3-0 record against them this year. Orlando, by virtue of two blowout wins, clearly seems like a terrible matchup for Atlanta. Finally, though Magic fans may protest, I continue to strongly believe the Celtics are a terrible matchup for Orlando. The question is where Cleveland fits in to all of this. I'm honestly not sure.

CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS

3.  Los Angeles Lakers29-8 overall, 2-2 last week

SBN Blog: Silver Screen and Roll

Last week: 2 

I seriously debated whether to put the Lakers or Celtics second, finally settling on the Lakers because their losses this week were worse than Boston's losses. 

There's something off about the Lakers right now, and as a fan of the Triangle and the harmony that this team brings to the table when they are clicking, it bugs me. I'm severely doubting the credibility of this weekend's Chris Bosh for Andrew Bynum rumors, because they're coming from Peter Vescey, but it definitely feels like Bynum is struggling in the middle of the season for the umpteenth time in a row. Pau Gasol's injury hurts a ton, and the Lakers' lack of depth continues to show up. Right now, we're looking at Kobe Bryant and a bunch of guys not pulling their weight. 

The Lakers have a great opportunity to make a statement this week, with road games against San Antonio and Dallas tonight and tomorrow night. They could blow those teams out and it wouldn't surprise me. They could lose both and it wouldn't surprise me. Drama always seems to find Phil Jackson-coached teams, and they end up being okay in the end, but it's also possible this year is different. These next two games will give us a better idea which of those two extremes is closer to the truth.

2.  Boston Celtics: 26-10 overall, 2-2 last week.

SBN Blog: Celtics Blog.

Last week: 3

I still feel like this team is just biding it's time until it gets healthy again, so midseason struggles don't phase me. Reading this, though, does.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said on Monday night that forward Kevin Garnett has been resting quite a bit since he last played in a game.

Rivers has held Garnett out since Dec. 28, when he logged 31 minutes against the Warriors.

"He's been shooting and stuff," Rivers said prior to Boston's game against Atlanta. "But no running or anything like that."

I don't know about you, but that does not strike me as a normal rehab for what's merely being dubbed as a hyperextended knee. But that's just me.

For now, let's just relive last night's Celtics-Hawks game, easily the game of the week. This one had it all - ejections, flagrant fouls, huge shots, big momentum swings, etc. It's cliche to call a game a "playoff preview," but that designation definitely fits here.

 


 

1.  Cleveland Cavaliers: 30-10 overall, 3-1 last week

SBN Blog: Fear the Sword

Last week: 1

Still the number one team by default, because the other contenders are going through some rough times. 

On a different note, because it's January, we're once again going through the "Cleveland wants Antawn Jamison" dance. I figured a Jamison trade was bound to happen last season, but it didn't. Now, it seems even more bound to happen, with the Wizards struggling and all.

My favorite part of this whole process is how Cleveland writers clearly want it to happen. I can't really pin this down to one article, but there's a distinct tone of "Jamison deserves to go to Cleveland" that cracks me up. Does he deserve to get away from the Wizards? Absolutely. But does he deserve Cleveland over any other contender? I can't support that. Sorry. 

Then again, it's a trade that makes too much sense not to happen. Which means it probably won't happen, since we're talking about NBA GMs here.

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