The Razz and Jazz Sports Blog Final NBA Power Rankings April 15, 2011 by Derrel “Jazz” Johnson

1. San Antonio Spurs, 61-21.  The Spurs lost their last two games of the season to finish with the second-best record in the National Basketball Association(NBA) after pacing the league the entire season.  It gets worse.  Shooting guard Manu Ginobili is doubtful for Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies after an MRI revealed a sprain in his right elbow, an injury suffered in the final game of the regular season when he hyper extended his right elbow.  Ginobili averaged 17.4 points this season and, along with Tim Duncan, has led the team all year.  Spurs fans should be worried about the team limping into the playoffs.  A faster-paced offense that uses a deep rotation is the biggest factor in their success.  Their championship pedigree makes them a serious threat to win it all.  Health of this older team will be a major key in their success.  The Spurs face the 46-36 Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

2. Los Angeles Lakers 57-25.  The Lakers, led by All Stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, are striving toward their third-straight NBA championship.  The Lakers are sometimes unfocused, as Bryant said earlier this season when I asked if it was difficult for the veteran team designed to win a championship to get motivated for regular season games  The Lakers regained their focus in the second half, where they went 17-1 in the first 18 games, only to lose five in a row after, before winning the last two of the season.  This inconsistency is a reason for alarm for Lakers fans, but I would expect the highest level of focus going into the playoffs.  The Lakers face the 46-36 New Orleans Hornets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

3. Boston Celtics, 56-26.  Led by All Stars Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo, the Celtics are poised to make another championship run after losing in the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in 7 games in 2010.  The trade of Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic has many Celtics fans worried about size in the playoffs, but Shaquille O’Neal may be able to fill in the gap.  Jermaine O’Neal appears hurt, or either incapable of giving the Celtics what they need.  The Celtics face the 42-40 New York Knicks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. 
4. Miami Heat, 58-24.  Led by All Stars Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat had an up and down season, highlighted by a streak in which they won 21 of 22 from November 29, 2010 to January 9, 2011.  The season’s lowest point was a five-game losing streak from February 27, 2011, to March 8, 2011, which included the infamous CryGate scandal.  They have lost three to the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls, and two to the Dallas Mavericks, so there is still doubt about the ability of the Heat to beat the best.  The acquisition of Mike Bibby may put them over the top.  Chris Bosh appears to be the key for the Heat, as they rarely lose when he plays well.  The thought of Bosh, James and Wade all playing well together is what makes this team so dangerous in the playoffs.  The Miami Heat face the 41-41 Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
5. Chicago Bulls, 62-20.  The Chicago Bulls head into the NBA Post Season having won nine in a row, led by All Star guard and NBA MVP candidate Derrick Rose.  So why are the Chicago Bulls ranked so low?  The first two teams have combined for nine championships in recent years, and the Boston Celtics have won a championship as well.  Dwyane Wade has also led the Miami Heat to championship in 2006.  The Chicago Bulls had a great regular season, but I’m uncertain of their ability in the playoffs.  They will face the 37-45 Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. 
6. Orlando Magic 52-30.  All Star Dwight Howard leads a team of talented players that haven’t seemed to gel as of yet since the big trades that took place in mid-December but with the likes of Hedo Turkoglu back, along with guard Jason Richardson, and Gilbert Arenas, the Magic definitely have the talent to match up with any team in the league.  The Magic, very inconsistent this season themselves, will face an even more inconsistent team, the 44-28 Atlanta Hawks, in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.  Will Orlando be able to make a championship run?
7. Dallas Mavericks, 57-25  All Star forward Dirk Nowitzki leads the Mavericks, but it is the addition of center Tyson Chandler that appears to have given them a defensive edge, one that has Mavericks fans thinking about a championship run.  The season-ending injury to Caron Butler really hurts the Mavericks, but they are still poised to make a championship run.  The Mavericks will face a danger Portland Trailblazers team that went 48-34 this season in the first round of the NBA payoffs.  A first-round collapse would have many Mavericks fans talking “Same ‘ol Mavericks.”

8. Oklahoma City Thunder, 55-27.  All Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook lead a Thunder team that is poised to take their next step in the playoffs, after intensely battling the Lakers in the first round last season.  The February acquisition of Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for Jeff Greene and Nenad Kristic shows that the Thunder are prepared with size to battle the best in the Western Conference.  The Thunder will face the 50-32 Denver Nuggets, who are 18-7 since the Carmelo Anthony trade.  Should be one of the more entertaining match ups of the first round.

9. Denver Nuggets 50-32.  The Denver Nuggets are 18-7 since trading Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, and have had nine different players lead them in scoring, including new additions Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, and Danilo Gallinari.  The team concept of having starters and players off the bench who are all capable of going for 20+ points on any given night make the Nuggets tough to guard.  The Nuggets will play the talented 55-27 Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs, which should be one of the more entertaining series.

10. New York Knicks.  The Knicks have had an up and down half season after acquiring Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups in February, following up a six-game losing streak from March 18, 2011, to March 26, 2011, with a seven-game winning streak from March 28, 2011, to April 10, 2011.  With Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks have two of the six top scorers in the NBA and are a dangerous playoff foe for any team in the league.  They will face the 56-26 Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, a series that includes six players from February’s All-Star game.

About RazzandJazzSports

The Razz and Jazz Sports Blog was created by Marc "Razz" Rasbury and Derrel "Jazz" Johnson to create fresh opinions on New York Sports and beyond from two credentialed members of the media.
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