The NBA is about survival of the fittest. Win or lose. Dunk or be dunked on. Posterize or die trying. That’s why the best teams make the best highlights. This week’s Fanalyst Rankings analyze how the best teams in the Eastern Conference attack and protect the rim.
There are two sides to every NBA Power Ranking: the Fanalytical and the Fanatical. As a Miami HEAT blogger living on the east coast, MHI plays the fanalyst for the Eastern Conference. As a Denver Nuggets fan living west of the Mississippi River, Mrs. NBA plays the fan and provides the slander. The roles are reversed for the Western Conference.
1. Miami HEAT (28-13, prev. rank: 1)
MHI: The HEAT rank 12th in shots made at the rim with a slightly above average 16.5 per game thanks to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade ranking in the top 20 for dunks. The defense ranks 10th in baskets allowed at the rim and this week faces 3 of the worst teams in the NBA at scoring at the rim: @Nets (24th), @Pacers (25th) and @Raptors (28th). There should be plenty of LeBron and Wade highlights as the HEAT go 2-1 this week.
Mrs. NBA: Nuggets and Miami have the same amount of wins. Hold on. HAHAHAHAHAHA *BREATHES* HAHAHAHAHAHA
2. New York Knicks (27-15, prev. rank: 2)
MHI: The Knicks rank 27th in scoring at the rim and would be dead last if Tyson Chandler didn’t rank 3rd in dunks. Defensively, the Knicks are average protecting the rim and rank 15th in buckets allowed at the cup. Chandler should get plenty of dunks in Madison Square Garden this week against 3 defenses that are below average protecting the rim: Magic (22nd), Bucks (28th) and Kings (16th) on the 2nd night of a back-to-back. Follow the alley-oops as the Knicks go 3-0 this week.
Mrs. NBA: New York has been sub-par over the past 10 games and their defense is below average.
3. Chicago Bulls (26-17, prev. rank: 4)
MHI: The Bulls rank 8th in scoring at the rim but the story with the Bulls is always defense and they rank 3rd in protecting the rim. Noah and Gibson will really only be tested at the rim once this week with just 1 of 4 opponents above average scoring at the rim: Bobcats (13th), Bucks (10th), @Nets (24th) and @Hawks (15th). It will be another 3-1 week for the Bulls.
Mrs. NBA: Chicago is playing incredibly well and when Rose is fully back....could be deadly.
4. Indiana Pacers (26-18, prev. rank: 3)
MHI: The jumpshooting Pacers only rank 25th in scoring at the rim, but they make sure their opponents don’t make any highlights either with a defense that ranks 1st in scoring allowed at the rim. Roy Hibbert will be tested this week against 3 above average teams in scoring at the rim: @Nuggets (1st), Pistons (3rd) and HEAT (12th).
Mrs. NBA: Pacers are on a losing streak losing three in a row and seem to be drifting away from their tenacious defense and playing opponents' game.
5. Brooklyn Nets (26-18, prev. rank: 5)
MHI: The Nets are one of those teams that may give up more highlights above the rim than they allow. They only rank 24th in scoring at the rim and the defense ranks 16th in scoring allowed at the rim. They’ll be showed up in front of their fans by three teams better than them at getting to the rim this week: Magic (17th), HEAT (12th) and Bulls (8th). Looks like 1-2 for the Nets.
Mrs. NBA: Nets have been on a streak as of late and could potentially give the Knicks a run for the Atlantic division.
6. Milwaukee Bucks (23-19, prev. rank: 6)
MHI: The Bucks rank 10th in the NBA at scoring at the rim but 28th in scoring allowed at the rim. Their highlights will be an interesting mix of Larry Sanders’ dunks, blocks and getting dunked on this week with 4 games against 2 above average and below average teams at the rim: @Pistons (3rd), Bulls (8th), @Knicks (27th) and Magic (17th). Perfect highlight package for a 2-2 week.
Mrs. NBA: Bucks bore me...
7. Atlanta Hawks (25-19, prev. rank: 8)
MHI: The team that calls the Highlight Factory home only ranks 15th in scoring at the rim even though Josh Smith and Al Horford rank in the top 20 for dunks this season. The defense is also fairly average in scoring allowed at the rim with a rank of 12th. Atlanta fans will get the best & worst of highlights this week against the Raptors (28th in scoring at the rim) and Bulls (8th). They’ll have to settle for 2 wins this week.
Mrs. NBA: They beat the CeLOLtics who had a 27-point lead, but then against the Knicks Josh Smith single-handedly gave the game away down the stretch.
8. Philadelphia 76ers (18-25, prev. rank: N/A)
MHI: The Sixers only rank 23rd in scoring at the rim but that number will change once Andrew Bynum joins Thaddeus Young (19th in dunks) in the lineup to create some dunks off Jrue Holiday lobs. Bynum should also improve the Sixers defense from 18th in scoring allowed at the rim. The Sixers should make enough highlights at home this week with only 1 above average team in scoring at the rim coming to Philly: Grizzlies (19th), Wizards (30th) and Kings (6th). The Sixers begin their march to the 8th seed in the East with a 3-0 record this week.
Mrs. NBA: Bynum is reportedly coming back to Philly and, combined with Turner and Holiday's play-making, should improve this team.