Heat remain No. 1 in Eastern Conference rankings
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 23:02
15. Orlando (15-41)—Orlando had a forced hand at the trade deadline to get some value for JJ Redick because his contract was expiring at season’s end. So the Magic essentially had no choice but to deal Redick to Milwaukee alongside Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith in exchange for some guys named Beno, Tobias and Doron.
14. Charlotte (13-43)—Kemba Alert: Storrs’ favorite point guard is shooting 53 percent and averaging nearly 25 points per contest since the All-Star Game. Kemba is still turnover prone, but is starting to blossom into a solid piece for the Bobcats for the future.
13. Detroit (22-37)—Nine of Detroit’s next 12 games are on the road, where the Pistons sport a dreadful 7-19 record. In fact, Detroit’s 33 home games so far this season is the most in the NBA, meaning that the “easy” part of the schedule is effectively over for the Pistons.
12-Cleveland (18-38) – I have no idea what Dan Gilbert is going to do to make Cleveland into a playoff team next season, but he better do something because the general public (aka me) will be outraged if Kyrie Irving isn’t playing in the postseason by his third year in the league. Irving is a miracle worker, by the way, because he somehow tricked America into loving him even though he went to Duke.
11-Washington (18-37)—D.C.’s leading scorer is John Wall, who is averaging a fair 14 points per game. Wall’s average is the lowest among players that lead their team in scoring, which is just shy of Phoenix point guard Goran Dragic’s 14.2 ppg.
10-Philadelphia (22-32)—Although the 76ers are “only” four games back of Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the East, it seems more like 10 games the way Philly has looked over the last two weeks. The Sixers have dropped five in a row and are under .500 against conference foes this season. Evan Turner is going to have to reach into his Ohio State bag of tricks in order to save this sinking ship.
9-Toronto (23-34)—The Rudy Gay-DeMar, DeRozan-Kyle and Lowry triumvirate is guaranteed entertaining basketball whenever the trio is on the ball together. Unfortunately for the Canadians, however, highlight reels don’t always translate into regular season success. Once these three begin to mesh alongside promising center Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors could make some noise in the next couple years or so.
8. Milwaukee (26-28)—Redick came off the bench in his first game in Milwaukee, but ended up playing over 35 minutes anyway. The Bucks fell short to the Hawks, 103-102, in Redick’s debut, which was an interesting small sample of what may be to come. Bucks coach Jim Boylan played Redick, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis together late in the fourth quarter, along with Ersan Ilyasova and shot blockin’ Larry Sanders. Redick is 6-foot-5 on a good day, so this left the Bucks somewhat undersized; however, the Hawks countered with a small lineup of their own so size wasn’t too important in the end. In the long run, however, replacing Ellis with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (or former Duke player, Mike Dunleavy) will be friendlier to the win column (partially because Ellis is shooting a disgusting 40 percent from the floor and an impressively horrid 22 percent from deep). The Bucks are among the worst offensive teams in the league, so Redick’s shooting efficiency should be helpful in for the Deer; moreover, Redick is quite competent defensively and, more importantly, not a sieve like Ellis. It’s simple: Ellis is good as a microwave man off the bench when he’s shooting well, but that’s about it. Andrew Bogut is still hobbled, yet I still believe that the Warriors won the trade with the Bucks last year.
7. Boston (30-27)—When Paul Pierce inevitably gets inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in about seven or eight years, I don’t even want him to say anything during his speech. He simply needs to prepare a 20-minute video documenting all of his step-back jumpers that dropped with less than two minutes left in games. I’d shed a tear if he did this. Or 1,000.
6. Atlanta (32-23)—The Hawks are the first team in the East to reach double-digits in wins in its own division. Related: the Hawks have played more divisional games than any other team in the East.
5. Brooklyn (33-24)—Brooklyn has a friendly schedule over the next two weeks or so, with easy home games against Dallas, Washington and New Orleans, and winnable road games against Charlotte, Philadelphia and Detroit. If the Nets want to be viewed as a legitimate contender and desire home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs, right now would be a good time to pile up some victories and gain a little separation from the logjam in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
4. Chicago (32-24)—The secret to the Bulls’ success may come down to a simple formula. The Bulls are 13-1 when scoring 100 points or more; when they fail to eclipse the century mark, they are 19-23. If a certain point guard is able to come back and play this season I’m guessing that 100-point games might come around more often at the United Center.
3. New York (33-20)—Despite New York’s average play since its torrid start, the Knickerbockers still possess the third best offensive rating in the NBA. New York fans have to find Carmelo Anthony’s shooting percentage unsettling as of late; the Knick all-star shot 42 percent in January and is currently only making two of every five shots in February. If the Knicks have any chance to do something big in the playoffs, they’re going to need their superstar to find more efficient ways to score.
2. Indiana (35-21)—Danny Granger’s knee isn’t 100 percent quite yet, but Indiana fans shouldn’t fret. The Pacers are lambasting teams by an average of 28 points since the break. I heard that Miami is playing Trinidad James on repeat before games now, because they certainly have to be sweatin’ the Pacers. Woo.
1. Miami¬ (40-14)—I enjoy advanced statistics as much as the next guy, but there a few cautionary tales to be aware of when using them. For example, I was curious who had the best net efficiency in the NBA while I was writing this column. Net efficiency is calculated by taking offensive efficiency (the number of points per 100 possessions a player’s team scores while he’s on the floor) and subtracting it by defensive efficiency (the number of points per 100 possessions the opposing team scores while the same player is on the floor). The NBA leader in net efficiency isn’t LeBron James, nor is it Kevin Durant. It is Mario Chalmers, whose net efficiency is +14.8. If you put Chalmers on any non-contender I think it’s safe to say that his net efficiency doesn’t come close to half of that number. Rounding out the top five are Nick Collison, Dwyane Wade, Thabo Sefolosha and Udonis Haslem. Just remember, kids: net efficiency is a statistic that helps show a player’s impact, but only if his number is drastically different from the rest of his teammates.