Apr 29, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) talks with head coach Gregg Popovich against the Utah Jazz during the first half of game one in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the AT
1. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) with MVP candidate Tony Parker on the court is 108.1, which, extrapolated over the entire season, would be good for fifth in the NBA. That level of efficiency is actually 2.9 points lower than their usual mark (110.9) and almost 10 points lower than the Spurs’ efficiency with Manu Ginobili on the court. Remarkable.
2. Miami Heat
LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are averaging 47.5 points, 9.5 assists, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 58.7 percent shooting in two games against the Knicks fifth-ranked defense.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC escaped with a 2-0 series lead. Their average margin of victory was two points and Dirk Nowitzki (28.0 points, 5.5 rebounds) is playing at an elite level. They only have to take two of the next five games but it probably won’t be easy.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
Andrew Bynum was brilliant on Sunday, recording a triple-double (10 points, 13 rebounds, 10 blocks). Jordan Hill played well but bad decisions may limit his effectiveness. Hill was charged with assaulting his girlfriend. His trial is set for today in Houston.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
Lost in the Clippers incredible comeback was Zach Randolph’s inefficiency. Randolph converted on 3-of-13 shots.
6. Los Angeles Clippers
I’m still not completely sold on this Clippers team. Other than DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers 18th-ranked defense is terrible. They allow a lot of 3-pointers to fall for a high clip (36.7 percent), they foul frequently and they’re undisciplined. They increased their chances at winning a first round series but their flaws, obvious talent aside, might be irreparable.
7. Dallas Mavericks
I will not discount the defending NBA Champions in any playoff series even though I desperately want to.
8. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks caught a break. Their first-round opponent is depleted and aged. Their potential second-round opponent will be without their superstar. If there was any year where the Hawks should expect a Conference Finals berth, it would be this year.
9. Chicago Bulls
The Derrick Rose injury (torn ACL) left a big blow to my aspirations for an entertaining Spurs-Bulls Finals.
10. Indiana Pacers
While they probably will get by Orlando by sheer attrition — although Magic fans beg to differ — defeating Miami will be a tall order. Luckily, though, the Pacers will have at least 25 million in cap space to work with in a solid free agency pool. Pacers under contract are, but not limited to, Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West.
11. Boston Celtics
Without Ray Allen (ankle) for Game 1, the Celtics were unable to convert on 11 3-point attempts.
12. Denver Nuggets
Unfortunately, the Lakers’ frontcourt is just too imposing for an exciting Nuggets team devoid of much frontcourt girth.
13. Philadelphia 76ers
After beginning the season with a 20-9 record, the 76ers finished 15-22.
14. New York Knicks
More Knicks drama. Amare Stoudemire, reportedly, suffered a laceration on his hand after punching a fire extinguisher. Yes, a fire extinguisher. One more time, for emphasis. A fire extinguisher.
15. Orlando Magic
Orlando has chucked up 49 3-pointers in two games against the Pacers. In those same two games, Indiana scored 86 points in the paint compared to 54 for the Magic.
16. Utah Jazz
I pity Utah … wait, no I don’t. Maybe next year fellas.