The NBA season has reached that point where teams start tanking games for the draft lottery or the playoffs. This week’s Fanalyst Rankings analyzes how the best teams in the East would rank if the NBA implemented a new playoff system that placed more emphasis on division and conference records.
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 (60-16, prev. rank: 1)
MHI: The HEAT have the best division record in the Southeast at 13-1 and the best conference record in the East at 35-11 to establish themselves as the #1 seed. With just a 2-game lead in the conference over the streaking Knicks with 6 games left, it’s a good thing LeBron James will play this week with Bucks, @Wizards (back-to-back), Celtics and Bulls on the schedule. HEAT should go 2-2 if LeBron plays 3 games this week.
Mrs. NBA: Yeah, Yeah. Miami is the best. BLAH BLAH BLAH.
2. Brooklyn Nets (44-32, prev. rank: 5)
MHI: The Nets have the best division record in the Atlantic at 9-4 (one-half game better than the Knicks). The Nets play 3 games in the division this week and need to go 2-1 with Sixers, @Celtics (back-to-back) and @Raptors on the schedule. Shouldn’t be a problem.
Mrs. NBA: How is Reggie Evans' missing tooth not a top story here? I could see why you would miss it as it's hard to tell he was even missing a tooth with all of those gaps.
3. Indiana Pacers (48-29, prev. rank: 2)
MHI: The Pacers have the best division record in the Central at 12-3 (3-game lead on the Bulls) but the worst conference record among division leaders at 30-17. The Pacers smashmouth style will be tested by Nets and @Knicks this week. If they can split those games, then they’ll go 2-1.
Mrs. NBA: Pacers really don't matter in terms of coming out of the East.
4. New York Knicks (50-26, prev. rank: 3)
MHI: The Knicks have the 2nd-best conference record in the East at 33-13 but only the 2nd-best division record in the Atlantic at 10-6 thanks to 2 losses to the Raptors. The Knicks’ 12-game winning streak will be tested this week with Wizards, @Bulls, @Cavs (back-to-back) and Pacers on the schedule. A 2-2 record wouldn’t be surprising but 3-1 is more likely. Either way, the streak ends this week.
Mrs. NBA: Are you still bitter about the Knicks beating the Heat? Are ya, Mosi? Still bitter? Are you? I think you are.
5. Chicago Bulls (42-34, prev. rank: 4)
MHI: The Bulls have the 2nd-best division record in the Central at 9-6 and the 4th-best conference record in the East at 31-15. If they could get their players on the floor, the Bulls could sweep this week with Raptors, Knicks, @Raptors (back-to-back) and @HEAT on the schedule. The more likely scenario is they end the league’s longest current winning streak for the 2nd time this season and finish the week 3-1.
Mrs. NBA: Bulls suck. That is all.
6. Atlanta Hawks (42-36, prev. rank: 6)
MHI: The Hawks have the 2nd-best division record in the Southeast at 11-5 and the 6th-best conference record in the East at 27-21. After ending last week with a D-League lineup losing by 2 in San Antonio, the Hawks should go 2-0 this week with just @Sixers and Bucks on the schedule.
Mrs. NBA: Does anyone care about the Hawks? Anyone?
7. Boston Celtics (40-37, prev. rank: 7)
MHI: The Celtics have the 3rd-best division record in the Atlantic at 7-7 and the 7th-best conference record in the East at 26-21. Their season is going nowhere fast but expect plenty of shit-talking from Jason Terry this week with Nets, @HEAT and @Magic on the schedule. The noise won’t drown out the reality of the Celtics going 1-2 this week.
Mrs. NBA: Hey, Celtics fans, claiming the NBA is rigged isn't going to make your squad suck any less.
8. Milwaukee Bucks (37-39, prev. rank: 8)
MHI: The Bucks have the 3rd-best division record in the Central at 7-9 and the 8th-best conference record in the East at 24-24. The only thing the Bucks are playing for at this point is to prove they can compete with the HEAT in the playoffs and get Larry Sanders voted as the Most Improved Player of Defensive Player of the Year. A 1-3 record this week with @HEAT, @Magic (back-to-back), @Hawks, @Bobcats (back-to-back) on the schedule won’t do much to convince people.
Mrs. NBA: Fear the De....nevermind.
Conference and division records can be found here.