May 2, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) drives to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap (24) defends during the first half of game two in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the AT
1. San Antonio Spurs
Good week for the Spurs: They avoided a matchup with the Grizzlies and their opponent toiled through a draining seven game series as well. Even better news? Blake Griffin will not be 100% and without him the Clippers have little chance in pulling off the upset.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden is averaging 18 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 3-pointers per game this postseason. His +15.05 one-year-adjusted plus/minus this postseason, according to Basketball Value, is fourth behind Eric Bledsoe, Jameer Nelson and Chris Paul.
3. Miami Heat
Now that Chris Bosh is out indefinitely with a strained abdominal, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade will dominate the ball on every conceivable possession offensively. I guess it’s no surprise that they combined for 61 points including 24 free throw attempts in Game 1, alone.
4. Los Angeles Clippers
Absolutely incredibly timely performance from a normally nonexistent bench in Game 7. I never thought a bench consisting of Bledsoe, Reggie Evans Kenyon Martin and Nick Young would propel their team to victory in a game they had no business winning.
5. Los Angeles Lakers
Javale McGee dominated them down low to the tune of 10.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and three blocks per game after his poor Game 1 and 2 performances. They were pushed to the brink by an exciting, yet flawed, Denver squad. I don’t think they will be so fortunate against a Thunder team running on all cylinders.
6. Memphis Grizzlies
For basketball fans, a rematch between the seamless Spurs and the rugged, physical Grizzlies would have made for a very compelling series. Instead, Memphis will be on their couches watching. But, that comes with the territory when you convert on 28.9 percent of your 3-pointers for the entire series, including a detrimental 0-for-13 performance behind the arc in Game 7.
7. Indiana Pacers
Roy Hibbert is the key to their success against the Heat and unless they can alleviate the damage from James and Wade as well as incorporate Hibbert into the offense more often, this series will be over relatively soon.
8. Boston Celtics
They were one moving screen away from possibly holding a 2-0 series lead
9. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers aren’t an aesthetically pleasing team — they lack that one defintive star that tend to dominate the narratives and they don’t score a lot of points, averaging 86.1 points per game this postseason. But, with last night’s win, they are in a good position to possibly advance to the Conference Finals, albeit with some luck along the way.
10. Denver Nuggets
Do they re-sign McGee whose athleticism is tantalizing? Denver will also have a difficult decision in a couple years when their speedy, diminuitive point guard Ty Lawson comes off the books in two years.
11. Atlanta Hawks
They seem to be stuck in mediocrity, again. They aren’t quite good enough to advance deep into the postseason yet not flawed enough to garner a higher draft pick. When will they finally shake it up?
12. Chicago Bulls
I’m a little afraid of the entire league when Derrick Rose returns from his ACL injury. It could get ugly.
13. New York Knicks
Paging Steve Nash …
14. Dallas Mavericks
Paging Deron Williams …
15. Orlando Magic
The Magic were 33-21 (61.1 winning percentage) this season with Dwight Howard and they are 5-12 (29.4 WP%) without Dwight. Yeah, he’s pretty important.
16. Utah Jazz
An absolutely insane draft scenario: The Jazz’ 2012 protected top seven pick nets them Anthony Davis. It’s highly improbable but, regardless, that amount of length and athleticism would dominate the NBA for a long time.