Week 8 Review– Week 1 NBA Power Rankings

Posted: 11/05/2013 by levcohen in Basketball, Football

I’ll keep my review short this week and then go on to the power rankings.

Chiefs against Bills: I got a 3/3 in this game, with the final score of 23-13 narrowly missing my prediction of 26-13. The Chiefs didn’t score an offensive touchdown, yet won by double digits. So annoying.

Cowboys against Vikings: I got the spread wrong but the other two right, as the Cowboys were almost upset by a terrible Vikings team. I wish it had happened, but Tony Romo and the Vikings defense both bailed Dallas out in the end.

Titans against Rams: This was an 0/3. The Titans won, and it went over.

Jets against Saints: Another 0/3. I can’t believe the Jets won, but their defensive line was dominant and instrumental.

Redskins against Chargers: Just the over/under right on this one in a thriller of a game. It looked like I had a 3/3 before a Danny Woodhead touchdown was ruled back after a replay and the Chargers had to settle with a field goal, sending the game into overtime, where the Redskins won.

Panthers against Falcons: 3/3 here, as the Panthers totally blew out the Falcons. The Panthers are solid against bad teams, but will they compete against other good ones?

Eagles against Raiders: Wow, what a performance for Nick Foles! Foles threw for a record-tying seven touchdowns (against just six incompletions) and would have had more if this game wasn’t such a blowout (Foles sat out for most of the fourth quarter). I got just the over/under right, and the Eagles continue to be hugely unpredictable.

Seahawks against Buccaneers: It’s a bummer, but the Seahawks came back from way down to preserve their lengthy home winning streak against the still-winless Buccaneers. This was my lock of the week, but I was rooting to the Bucs here. Just the pick right here.

Browns against Ravens: Another 0/3, as the Ravens looked terrible. Could the Browns make the playoffs? It seems premature (they are 4-5) but if they beat the Bengals again they could have a shot to win the AFC North.

Patriots against Steelers: Spread wrong. The 55-31 final score is a bit misleading, as the score was 27-24 going into the fourth quarter. Then the Pats scored 28 points in the fourth quarter.

Colts against Texans: Just the over/under wrong. I hope coach Gary Kubiak gets well soon, and the Texans almost assuredly would have won the game if Kubiak hadn’t had to leave at halftime (it was 21-3 at halftime, and the final score was 27-24 Colts). What a bummer.

Packers against Bears: Just the pick wrong, as Aaron Rodgers went down, which is a huge deal, and Seneca Wallace was terrible in relief. Rodgers is out for three weeks, and assuming he is back soon after that, the Packers should be fine.

I went 1-2 on upset picks (including the Dolphins on Thursday) and am now 15-20 on the year.
I barely improve to 8-1 on Lock of the Week picks.
7-6 straight up, going to 82-50-1 on the year
5-8 against the spread, now a disappointing 54-76-3
8-5 over/under, now 68-64-1 on the year

NBA Power Rankings:

Tier One– Title Favorites:

1. Indiana Pacers (3-0): As the only team without a loss and one of only two teams with double digit point differentials, the Indiana Pacers take their rightful spot on top of the week one power rankings. They’ve played mediocre teams so far, but the team they have out there on a game to game basis is a terrific one with a lot of chemistry. The starting lineup of George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert was the same one that started in the playoffs, and there are great signs, particularly when it comes to Stephenson and George. Stephenson looks like a breakout candidate, posting 19-7-4 with a 22.4 PER (league average is 15) in three games. George has transitioned from a top-30 player to a true superstar, with 77 points in three games with eight rebounds and four assists per game with his usual sprinkling of 3’s (3+ per game), steals (1+), and blocks (1+). The Pacers look like the clear second best team in the East.

2. Miami Heat (2-2): Yes, the Heat are just 2-2, but I can’t drop them below number two. They are still the best team in the NBA, have the best player, and are the two time reigning NBA champions. They will rest their stars at times (as they have with Dwyane Wade already), but they will coast to a top-3 seed.

Tier Two– Elite Regular Season teams and title contenders:

3. Los Angeles Clippers (3-1): The Clippers stumbled out of the gate with a loss to their LA rivals, but have rebounded by beating the Warriors, Kings, and Rockets by a combined 38 points. They also handed Golden State and Houston their only losses of the season. Chris Paul has been the best player in the NBA to this point, averaging 26.5 points and dishing out more than 13 assists per game to go along with his 10 steals in the first three games. Blake Griffin is averaging a double double (could he have taken the next step?) and this looks like the team we were expecting.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1): The Thunder’s 2-1 start has been less than impressive (they have a negative point differential) but the big thing is that they have Russell Westbrook back months before the star point guard was supposed to return. All looks well in OKC.

5. Chicago Bulls (1-2): They have losses to the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers (which team doesn’t belong?). Derrick Rose is rusty. Joakim Noah is still playing at no more than 50%. Relax, people. The Bulls will be fine.

6. Golden State Warriors (3-1): The Warriors have that loss in Los Angeles, but outside of that they have been utterly dominant, with an NBA leading +12.8 point differential thanks to an 11 point win, a 20 point win, and a 31 point win. The “Splash Kids” (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) might just be the best backcourt in the NBA (they are definitely the best shooting and scoring one). David Lee is averaging 20 and 8, Andrew Bogut is still healthy, and Andre Iguodala has had a huge impact on the previously shaky Warriors defense. The Warriors season will be judged based on their playoff success this year, rather than just getting to the playoffs, which was good enough last year.

7. Houston Rockets (3-1): Here is what we know from the Rockets four game start: Their offense is going to be good, Dwight Howard is reinvigorated, the Howard-Harden relationship is going to be just fine. On the negative side of things, the Howard-Omer Asik front court relationship is less than ideal (Asik will grab a lot of rebounds, but won’t help offensively at all, which may keep Howard’s point totals down as well), and the Rockets flunked their first test of the season, against the Clippers. In summation, we don’t really know much.

8. San Antonio Spurs (2-1): Basically business as usual for the San Antonio Spurs, who had a brief scare when Tim Duncan got hurt in the first game. Luckily, Duncan is back, and the Spurs will likely be in the top 10 for most of the year.

Tier Three:

9. Brooklyn Nets (1-2): I have the same thing to say about the Nets as I do about the Heat and Bulls. They will be fine.

10. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-1): How about the Timberwolves? If not for a one point loss in Cleveland last night, they would be in a class with just the Pacers as undefeated teams. They have wins against the Thunder (without Westbrook, but still) and the Knicks (who knows how impressive that will turn out to be, but it was a road win). The core of Kevin Love (27-14-4), Kevin Martin (21-3-3), Ricky Rubio (10-3-9-4 steals), Nikola Pekovic (11-10) are performing terrifically together, but all have had injury problems in the past. Time will tell if this T-Wolves team is legit.

11. Detroit Pistons (2-1): The Pistons also look legit, especially their big frontcourt of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond. There were questions about whether the three could play together, but all are playing at least 38 minutes per game, and they are averaging a cumulative 49 points and 30 rebounds per game. It’ll be interesting to see the team’s chemistry with Brandon Jennings returning.

Tier Four:

12. Memphis Grizzlies (2-2): I don’t really know what to make of the Grizzlies four game start to the season. It has been pretty much as I expected, and the Grizz will be a 5-8 seed in the playoffs in all likelihood.

13. Dallas Mavericks (2-1): Positive start from the Mavericks, especially from Dirk Nowitzki, who could have an MVP-caliber season. Dirk is averaging 23 points per game in just 31 minutes, and is getting help from a 46% shooting Monta Ellis (!) and a still solid Shawn Marion.

Tier Five:

14. Portland Trailblazers (2-2): They will be on the playoff bubble in the West (aka a six seed if they were in the East. It really is crazy).

15. New York Knicks (1-2): I think they could turn it around, but I predicted them to miss the playoffs, and that’s looking okay (through three games).

16. Cleveland Cavaliers (2-2): I’m still not a big fan of the Cavaliers, but they do have solid home wins against two teams higher then them on these rankings, Brooklyn and Minnesota.

17. Atlanta Hawks (1-2): They should be 2-1, but lost a nail biter to the Lakers. That one game difference would vault them up to 14th, which shows how much one game matters this early in the season. Jeff Teague, Al Horford, and Paul Millsap looks like a good core (although Millsap and Horford might be traded).

Tier Six– well, they have winning records:

18. Toronto Raptors (2-1): I’m not convinced, but it’s a good start.

19. Philadelphia 76ers (3-1): This is probably the highest I’ll have the 76ers all season, as they have shocking wins over both the Bulls and the Heat (they are the only team with wins over two top five teams in my power rankings) as well as a win against the Wizards. This is a four man team, though, and this start is unsustainable, so expect them to fall.

20. Phoenix Suns (2-1): Surprising 2-1 start for Phoenix, as they and the 76ers were supposed to be the two leaders in the Winless for Wiggins campaign. They’ll fall back to where they belong.

Tier Seven– they are still trying, but for how long?

21. Los Angeles Lakers (2-2): They had a shocking win against the Clippers to start the season, but have since fallen back to earth, and will continue to fall. The news that Steve Nash still has nerve damage on an injury he suffered two years ago is a really ominous sign, and one that might be a sign of things to come.

22. New Orleans Hornets (1-2): I think the Hornets still have a chance to make the playoffs, thanks to an incredible Anthony Davis (go check his stats). But this start is very uninspiring, with a 20 point loss to Orlando as an exclamation mark.

23. Denver Nuggets (0-2): The Nuggets looks like they are in trouble, as through only two games they already look five steps behind the other supposed playoff contenders in the West. As I noted before the season, this doesn’t look like a playoff team, if you just ignore the name and the fact that they have a huge homefield advantage.

24. Charlotte Bobcats (1-2): Well, we know Michael Jordan doesn’t believe in tanking, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still finish with a top 5 pick.

25. Washington Wizards (0-3): Terrible, terrible start for a team I was enthusiastic about in the preseason. Maybe they can turn it around, but now I’m one of their skeptics.

Tier Eight- tank mode:

26. Orlando Magic (2-2): The Magic have been surprisingly good, at 2-2 and with a +6.5 point differential, but when they trade their remaining valuable veterans (mainly Jameer Nelson, Glen Davis, Arron Afflalo), their record will plummet.

27. Milwaukee Bucks (1-2): Zaza Pachulia leads the team in points and rebounds. Enough said.

28. Sacramento Kings (1-2): The Kings are not going anywhere. Even with new ownership.

29. Utah Jazz (0-3): Coming into the season we knew they were tanking. We also knew (or thought we knew) that the Sixers, Magic, Suns, and Lakers were tanking. The Jazz have to be happy with their early lead in the race.

30. Boston Celtics (0-4): When is Rondo coming back? The Celtics are now in pole position for the #1 pick, although they will start to win some of these close games that they are losing.

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