Monday, January 16, 2012

NBA Consensus Power Rankings Through Week 3

While the same three teams are in the top three spots of our NBA Consensus Power Rankings, they are in reverse order from last week: (1) Chicago Bulls, (2) Oklahoma City Thunder and (3) Miami Heat.

With an ankle injury sidelining Dwyane Wade indefinitely, things may continue to get worse for the Heat before they get better. Miami has lost three straight games and their next three games are against teams in the top seven in our rankings: Spurs (9-4), Lakers (9-5) and Sixers (9-3).

"I've got to step it up a little more offensively and defensively," James said (via Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel), "revert back to some of the ways when I was back in Cleveland, when I knew for the most part I had to be the No. 1 option offensively."

On the other hand, the bottom four teams in our rankings have remained exactly the same: (27) Charlotte Bobcats, (28) New Jersey Nets, (29) Detroit Pistons and (30) Washington Wizards.

Here are some stats about this week's NBA Consensus Power Rankings:

- Biggest jump from last week: Houston Rockets (+4.50)
- Biggest drop from last week: Portland Trail Blazers (-7.00)
- Team with widest difference between high and low ranker: Dallas Mavericks (9)

[See our full NBA Consensus Power Rankings.]

Over the past four seasons, the Celtics have finished first in the Atlantic Division and finished with at least 50 wins and a .610 winning percentage in each season. During that four-year span, the Celtics have a combined record of 234-94 (.713 winning percentage). This year has not gone nearly as well so far as the Celtics have lost seven of their first 11 games.

Each week, we respond to one roundtable question and here's this week's question: Will the Celtics finish above or below .500 this season?

John (follow on Twitter): The Celtics are off to a slow start, and I certainly found it amusing when Pacer fans started chanting "AARP" when they had the ball in a recent game in Indiana. The Celtics will get better, though. They don't look to be a real threat to win it this year, but they still have enough talent to be a playoff team. I won't put them much over .500, as they will likely only play hard enough to get into the playoffs. They are a team that will benefit more from resting than they would trying to move up a spot or two. Still, I have them finishing somewhere over the .500 mark, good enough for third in the division behind the Knicks and Sixers.

Sean (follow on Twitter): I believe Boston will finish above .500, but I am starting to think they will not finish as high as I thought they would originally. The Celtics are 4-7 this season, and the only four wins they have are versus the Wizards (twice), Nets and Pistons, who are the bottom three teams in my power rankings. The 4th-worst team in my rankings, the New Orleans Hornets, beat the Celtics this year. Jason Terry hit the nail right on the head during his halftime interview this week when he basically said Rondo is the only player playing with any energy. Later that game, Jeff Van Gundy was ripping the Celtics for the same thing. The Celtics have too much talent not to finish above .500 especially in the Eastern Conference where there are a lot of teams worse than them.

Dan (follow on Twitter): The Celtics will not finish this season above .500, as the compressed format goes against their age. The Celtics big three have all missed time this year, and they have no depth off of the bench to speak of. The Celtics starting rotation right now consists of (when healthy) Garnett, Allen, Pierce, Rondo, and Jermaine O'Neal, and they can only maybe go 7-8 deep with Bass, Wilcox, and Dooling. The Celtics are just too old to string back-to-back nights and three games in four nights trips into multiple wins. I do expect the Celtics to grab one of the final playoff spots, but they will need to add depth at the trade deadline.

Kevin (follow on Twitter): Through 11 games, all four of the Celtics wins have come against the bottom three teams in our Power Rankings. With the Thunder up next on their schedule (Monday), let's count that as a loss, which would drop the Celtics to 4-8. Their schedule in April is tough: only four of their 15 opponents have a losing record. In those four games against teams with a losing record, the Celtics are on the road in three of them. Let's say they go 6-9 in April (although you could argue that's optimistic). Assuming a loss to the Thunder on Monday and a 6-9 April record, that puts their record outside of January 17th to March 31st at 10-17. In other words, the Celtics need to win 24 of those 39 games to finish above .500. Long story short: Celtics will NOT finish above .500 this year.

To see where all 30 teams fall in our power rankings going through Week 3, click here.

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Related: Our End-of-season NFL Consensus Power Rankings

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