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NBA Power Rank Week 20 : The Races Heat Up

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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NBA Power Rank Week 20: The Races Heat Up

The National Lists:

NBA.com John Schuhmann: For the second consecutive week Schuhmann drops the Rockets on his list. Last week he had them fifth, this week they fall to seventh.

USA Today: The panel penalized the Rockets for their two losses this past week and drop them two positions to sixth.

ESPN Stein: Marc Stein drops the Rockets a spot this week and like I did last week highlights the absence of Dwight Howard taking it’s toll.

ESPN Hollinger: Despite the two losses last week Hollinger’s daily power rank moved the rockets up a spot to 8th. Given how highly he rates the Clippers I’d say that had something to do with it.
CBS Matt Moore: seems to see saw the promise of the Rockets surge since the break and moved them up to third and full four spots from their previous rank of  7

Yahoo.com: Finally Marc J. Spears held fast keeping the Rockets in third for the second consecutive week.

Tamberlyn’s Top 10:

 1. Golden State Warriors: What can I say they haven’t missed a beat. (remain first)

2. Portland Trail Blazers: They looked even stronger this past week going 3-0 and the coming week offers 3 East coast teams it should make for easy wins. Then again the top teams this year have had a tendency to beat the good teams and then drop the easy ones. Also at play is the fact many of the lower seeded teams are playing with a desperateness missing earlier in the season. (remain second)

3. Atlanta Hawks: Sure it was an easy week for the Hawks, however with Memphis, Houston and San Antonio all having so-so weeks I have to give the Hawks the edge.  (last week fifth)

4. Cleveland Cavaliers/San Antonio Spurs: Cleveland had a 3-0 week beating two good teams including an outrageous performance by Kyrie Irving that allowed them to beat the Spurs. The thing is if not for his 56 points and Kawhi Leonard missing free throws this would have been a loss. Moral of that story is if Cleveland do get to the finals versus San Antonio expect the same result as last season except this time it will be LeBron James new team getting easily swept, in my opinion. (last week eighth) As for San Antonio they look solid and appear to be building at exactly the right time heading to the playoffs (last week sixth)

5. Houston Rockets: A little worrisome that they aren’t rebounding better and now every team facing them will be driving the paint and hitting the boards hard core. Case in point both Portland and Utah man handled the Rockets on the boards. While the loss to Utah was bad the one to the Blazers was more disturbing given it gave them the season series tie breaker. With the Blazers, Grizzlies, Mavericks and Spurs all tightly bunched together looking to gain home court these teams and games against them are the most important. Howard can’t return soon enough. Let’s just hope James Harden doesn’t get hurt or tire out prior to that point. (last week third)

6. Memphis Grizzlies: Their luck seemingly ran out this week when they lost to Boston and Washington  (last week fourth)

7. Oklahoma City Thunder: As impressive as the Pelicans have been without their top 3 players in the line-up it’s hard not to be completely impressed with Russell Westbrooks’ will to succeed. Now Serge Ibaka has joined Kevin Durant on the injury list and we learned he will miss between 4 to 6 weeks following a procedure to his knee. Therefore Westbrook’s job just got more difficult. Thing is I wouldn’t bet against him, would you?  (remain seventh)

8. New Orleans Pelicans: They continue to win (this week 2-0) without Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson in the line-up. Whether they can continue to whether the storm is questionable, however if they can get the eighth seed just as those unhealthy players return they could present more of a challenge than most people suspect. Over the period of the team being undermanned Tyreke Evans has been producing at a level everyone expected from him following his Rookie Of The Year win.   (last week ninth)

9. Los Angeles Clippers: Okay so everyone knows I’m NOT a Clippers fan. In fact I still don’t believe they’ll get far in the post season. However it has to be said Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan have kept this team afloat while Blake Griffin was out. Now that their leading sixth man (Jamal Crawford) is also out the other player who is really rising to the occasion is J.J. Redick. DON’T expect them to remain on my list (or high on my list), however CP3 and Jordan deserve this weeks ranking for what they’ve done.  (last week: unranked)

10. Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers:  Utah won’t make the playoffs but what they’ve done since trading Enes Kanter either speaks to how great Rudy Gobert is or how bad Kanter is on defense. As for Boston they went 4-0 this week and beat some quality teams! It’s likely Indy and Boston won’t both make the playoffs, but kudos for upping their games at exactly the right time. (Indiana remain tenth and Utah/Boston were not ranked)

Next: Are the Rockets Soft?

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