|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Day Weekend!||2014-2015 NBA Expert Picks Results||2015 NHL Expert Playoff Picks: First Round||Aaron Hernandez Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder in Death of Odin Lloyd|
Ok, guys. I promise I won’t rank Sacramento #14 again. My mistake. Can you really blame me though? It was so early!
Every team has played at least 5 games now. That means much better opinions and analysis. Enjoy!
1) Miami Heat (7-1) – The Heat stay at #1 this week despite suffering their first loss of the season to the Atlanta Hawks. LeBron James is playing out of his mind, averaging 29.9 PPG while having only attempted one three-pointer all season. Think about that.
2) Chicago Bulls (6-1) – The Bulls are a close, close number 2 this week as they ride a 5 game winning streak that includes wins over Memphis, Atlanta, and Detroit.
3) Oklahoma City Thunder (5-2) – The Thunder have lost two games in back-to-back nights against the Mavericks and Blazers, but there is A LOT to like in Oklahoma City. They should get back on track in no time.
4) Portland Trailblazers (5-1) – I still love Portland. They suffered their first lost of the season to the Clippers on Sunday but followed it up with a great 10-point win against Oklahoma City. This team is dangerous.
5) Los Angeles Lakers (4-4) – In three games, Andrew Bynum is averaging 22 points and 17 rebounds. Twenty-two and 17. Yea … the Lakers are back on track.
6) Denver Nuggets (5-2) – Man, Denver is a hard team to play. They just run relentlessly, and if you don’t get back on defense you’re not going to win. I don’t know if this style can win in the playoffs, but it’s killing other teams during the regular season.
7) Los Angeles Clippers (3-2) – After a somewhat rocky start (or maybe just not living up to unrealistic expectations), it seems like the Clippers could be finding their groove after consecutive wins over Portland and Houston.
8) Atlanta Hawks (4-3) – Maybe the Hawks are better than I thought. Jeff Teague is actually becoming a solid guard, and Tracy McGrady is giving them something. They match up well with the Heat, so there’s also that.
9) Orlando Magic (5-2) – I don’t know what to make of this Magic team. They have five wins, but I’m still not totally comfortable with how they are playing. Ryan Anderson is channeling his inner Dirk though, averaging 17 PPG while shooting a fantastic .445 from 3. Can he keep that up? If he can, Dwight Howard might just stay in Orlando.
10) Indiana Pacers (4-2) – Indiana is 4-2, which is good, but they really haven’t beaten anyone. Their four wins come over Detroit, Toronto, Cleveland, and New Jersey. Then they lost to Miami by 30. I’d like to see them get a quality win here soon. I still like that roster though.
11) Boston Celtics (4-3) – Much like the Lakers when they added Bynum to the lineup, right when the Celtics got Paul Pierce back they immediately started playing better. While that comes as a surprise to no one, I can’t say things are ‘great’ now. Yes, the Celtics have won 4 straight games, but I would be much more excited if those wins weren’t against Detroit, Washington x2, and New Jersey. Those are literally the worst 3 teams in the Eastern Conference. Progress is Progress, but let’s see how they match up against Indiana, Dallas, and Chicago this week. I’d also fire myself if I didn’t mention Greg Stiemsma, who is taking Celtics Nation by storm. STIEMSMA!!!!!!!
12) San Antonio Spurs (5-2) – I’d probably have the Spurs a bit higher here if Manu Ginobili wasn’t hurt and out of the lineup for the next few months. Ginobili is so important to every part of that team, and he is also their leading scorer. Lets see how they play from here without him.
13) Philadelphia 76ers (3-2) – I have to vent here for a minute. As someone who has watched Spencer Hawes WAY more than I should have over the past few years, I am shocked at how he is playing right now. He is averaging 13 PPG/11 REB/3 AST/ 2 BLK. I can’t get over that. Good for him though, and good for the 76ers.
14) Dallas Mavericks (3-5) – After a pretty lackluster start it looks like the Mavs are starting to put something together here. They followed up a huge win over OKC with another W over the Suns.
15) Memphis Grizzlies (3-3) – A torn MCL will sideline Zach Randolph for a while, but this team still has a ton of talent. If they can hold down the fort until Z-Bo gets healthy, they should be a dangerous playoff team again this season.
16) New York Knicks (2-4) – The Knicks come in at #16, I guess. They are obviously playing pretty bad basketball right now, but what other team listed isn’t? Knicks get #16 by default this week. I also have to mention the fact that they were missing Amare Stoudemire until last night’s loss to the Bobcats. That doesn’t help with the slow start.
17) Minnesota Timberwolves (2-4) – I will not back down on my claim that Minnesota is pretty good for a bad team. Their wins have come against solid teams and ALL of their losses have been by four points or fewer. And in case you were wondering, Kevin Love is still great.
18) Utah Jazz (3-3) – I guess I should rank the current 8-seed in the Western Conference in the top 20, right? I kind of called it in last week’s power rankings: This team still has enough talent to be average, and that’s exactly how they are playing right now.
19) Toronto Raptors (3-3) – I don’t know, guys. They are 3-3, and if the playoffs started today they’d be in them. Andrea Bargnani is scoring 25 PPG and still playing no defense, in case you were wondering.
20) Houston Rockets (2-4) – I feel like Houston should be better than they are. I do see a trend developing here though … 2-0 at home, 0-4 away.
21) Cleveland Cavaliers (3-3) – I like to give teams that are truly rebuilding a bit of a pass. We’ve been there with the Boston Celtics. Young teams made up of young players have lower expectations than veteran teams. Cleveland is playing well with what they have. Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson look like NBA players. Good for them.
22) Milwaukee Bucks (2-3) – I think this team is better than some of the teams ranked above them right now – they just aren’t playing like it. I’d be mildly surprised if they didn’t’t finish above Utah, Toronto, and Cleveland when it’s all said and done. They should probably start winning more games though, maybe.
23) Golden State Warriors (2-4) – I feel like we have officially given enough credit to the teams that are decent at best, so that leaves the Warriors as the best of the worst. They have the potential to crawl out of this spot if Stephen Curry can stay healthy.
24) Phoenix Suns (2-4) – Trade Steve Nash.
25) New Orleans Hornets (2-4) – I understand that I am grasping for straws here, but the Hornets should be a little bit better now that Eric Gordon is back. I also like the trade they just made for Xavier Henry.
26) Charlotte Bobcats (2-4) – Hmmm. Ok. So they beat the Knicks Wednesday night, and they lost to Miami by 40 earlier in the week. They are bad, but how bad? I’d like to see rookie Bismack Biyombo get some more minutes. Why not? Right?
27) Sacramento Kings (3-5) – While I was writing this Thursday morning, the Kings announced the firing of head coach Paul Westphal. When was the last time a coach got fired after seven games? The thing is, he totally deserved it. Keith Smart will take over as interim head coach for the time being. This comes after DeMarcus Cousins was ‘suspended’ for his second trade demand since Christmas Eve. Of course, his agent denied that this ever happened. What a beautiful mess. The best part is, they still have some of the best young talent in the NBA. THE SACRAMENTO KINGS, EVERYBODY!
28) Detroit Piston (2-4) – Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeetroit Basketballlllllllllllllllll
29) New Jersey Nets (1-6) – So the Nets won a game. It was against Washington.
30) Washington Wizards (0-6) – They haven’t won yet. They are #30. That’s enough, right?