Since the Lakers are the biggest story and disappointment in the NBA going into the all-star break, this week’s Fanalyst Rankings analyze whether the best teams in the East withered under the heat of preseason expectations like A Raisin in the Sun or produced the fruits of success in the 1st half of the season.
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 (34-14, prev. rank: 1)
MHI: The HEAT were #1 in the season preview Fanalyst Rankings and the only question was whether Ray Allen could break out of his preseason slump and shoot the team to 60 wins. The old man is only shooting 9.1% from 3 in his last 4 games, but the HEAT have played like a 69-win team during that span. The HEAT could use Allen’s shooting when they play the Thunder this week since OKC has the most efficient defense in the West over the last 5 games. If he keeps shooting bricks, the HEAT will go into All-Star Weekend with a 1-1 record this week.
Mrs. NBA: Recognize the throne, LeBron playing in his efficient zone. Birdman has been freed, he's with a team with plenty of opportun-ity. D-Wade laughing at the old man narrative; busted Lakers ass like the imperative.
2. Indiana Pacers (31-20, prev. rank: 3)
MHI: The Pacers dropped from 2nd to 4th in the Season Preview Edition after poor performances by Paul George and D.J. Augustin in the preseason. Indiana is back in the #2 spot thanks to George playing like an all-star and Augustin bouncing back from a disappointing 2012 season to replace Darren Collison’s production. Now that they’re back on track, the Pacers should have no trouble going 2-0 this week.
Mrs. NBA: Paul George. That is all.
3. New York Knicks (32-17, prev. rank: 2)
MHI: The Knicks ranked 6th in the Season Preview but have exceeded those expectations as Tyson Chandler’s stayed healthy and played like an all-star center after knee troubles in the preseason. Chandler should have no trouble dominating the Raptors to send the Knicks into the All-Star break with a 1-0 record this week.
Mrs. NBA: Knicks gonna be Knicks. They failed against the Clippers and couldn't feed Melo.
4. Chicago Bulls (30-20, prev. rank: 4)
MHI: The Bulls ranked 2nd in the Season Preview but have dropped to 4th as the team crumbles with injuries while Derrick Rose gets healthier. Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer were all in the lineup last week, but they’ll go 1-1 vs. the Spurs and @Celtics this week before they get a chance to take it easy during All-Star Weekend in Houston.
Mrs. NBA: Bulls have the defense, but players dropping like flies will constitute a weaker offense.
5. Brooklyn Nets (29-22, prev. rank: 5)
MHI: The Nets ranked 7th in the Season Preview and drop closer to that prediction as the season goes along after peaking at 3rd earlier in the season. The Nets will continue to struggle as long as Deron Williams plays like an average point guard instead of a franchise player. Expect them to go 0-2 this week @Pacers and vs. Nuggets.
Mrs. NBA: Nets were so trendy, but D-Will plays like he belongs in YMCA.
6. Atlanta Hawks (27-22, prev. rank: 7)
MHI: The Hawks ranked 3rd in the Season Preview but have dropped in the rankings because Al Horford’s production has not returned to the all-star level he provided before tearing his pectoral muscle last season. Kyle Korver should be able to make up for Horford’s decline and shoot the Hawks to a 2-0 record this week @Mavericks and @Magic.
Mrs. NBA: The Hawks beat Memphis last week. Thanks for the help. Denver appreciated the rankings dough.
7. Milwaukee Bucks (25-24, prev. rank: 6)
MHI: The Bucks’ were ranked 7th going into training camp but were unranked in the Season Preview after a poor preseason. The Bucks are back at 7th thanks to Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova, but Brandon Jennings will need to step up against John Wall and Jrue Holiday this week. If not, the Bucks will go 1-1 this week.
Mrs. NBA: Jennings airball. Never change Brandon, keep making those wack calls.
8. Boston Celtics (27-23, prev. rank: N/A)
MHI: The Celtics ranked 5th in the Season Preview but have dropped to 8th due to the decline in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s production. They’ve played better since Rajon Rondo (the Kobe Bryant of point guards) went out with a torn ACL and that improvement should be enough for their winning streak to continue with a 2-0 week going into the all-star break.
Mrs. NBA: Only took them, with fresh legs, 3 OT's to defeat Denver. Celtics fans were hiding, covering their eyes, dealing quivers of a possible loss.