Sunday, February 26, 2012

NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 9

With the NBA All-Star Weekend now behind us, the top three teams in the NBA going into the second half are separated by only one-half game in the standings.

Based on NBA futures (from, however, the Miami Heat are the clear favorites to win it all.

Here are the odds to win the NBA Championship: Heat 6/5, Thunder 4/1 and Bulls 5/1. Coincidentally, that is the order of our top three teams in our Consensus NBA Power Rankings.

The No. 4 team in this week's rankings, San Antonio, has 15/1 odds to win it all while the Clippers (8/1), Lakers (10/1), Knicks (10/1) and Mavs (12/1) all have better odds.

Interestingly enough, the Knicks have a losing record (17-18) through the first half, but the surprising emergence of Jeremy Lin has the enthusiasm of Knicks' fans at Linsane levels. It's hard to imagine tickets for a regular-season game involving a team with a losing record going for more than tickets for the NBA Finals in the previous year, but that is what happened with Thursday's matchup between the Heat and Knicks.

When it comes to the Atlantic Division, the Sixers were the feel-good story at the beginning of the year as a surprise team. With a five-game losing streak to end the first half, they are getting little respect from oddsmakers.

Sportsbook has the 76ers at 50/1 to win it all.

While nobody should expect them to win it all, they have much higher odds than division foes with losing records: the Knicks (as noted above) and the Celtics (25/1).

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

- Biggest jump from last week: Portland Trail Blazers (+2.50)
- Biggest drop from last week: Memphis Grizzlies (-2.50)
- Team with widest difference between high and low ranker: Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers (5)

[See our full NBA Consensus Power Rankings.]

Each week, we respond to one roundtable question and here's this week's question: Out of the Knicks' remaining 31 games, how many will they win? (Over-Under: 18.5 games)

John (follow on Twitter):

In looking at the Knicks final 31 games, I'm going to take the under on 18.5 wins. I actually think it's reasonable to think they might get close, even 18 wins, but I'm not taking them to win more than that down the stretch. Jeremy Lin is coming back down to earth a bit, but he's not going to be facing the freak athleticism that Miami has every game. I think Lin will settle in to being a good point guard, which will help the Knicks stay firmly in playoff contention. Depending on how they gel after getting back some key players from injury, most notably Carmelo Anthony, I think the Knicks have the potential to make some noise in the playoffs. I'd also give them a 60-percent chance or so of jumping Philadelphia and winning the division.

Sean (follow on Twitter):

I'm gonna go with under 18.5 games. I think the Knicks will finish 16-15. The Knicks definitely have the pieces to be a good team, but I am selling because of one thing ... Defense. Amar'e/Melo have yet to "buy in" defensively, and that will be costly down the stretch. Mike D'Antoni looks like a deer in headlights too often. The Knicks will need a major shake up to contend with either Chicago or Miami.

Kevin (follow on Twitter):

Their first game after the break may not be so tough: Cleveland at home on February 29th. That said, the first half of March will likely dictate whether they go over or under that total. Six of their first nine games in March are on the road. Only two of those nine games are against teams with losing records (but both are on the road): Boston and Milwaukee. If they go 5-5 to start the second half, they will have a realistic shot to finish 19-12 (or .613). However, they do have a challenging start to April (at Indiana, at Orlando, vs. Chicago and at Chicago) as well. I think the Knicks, who were 17-18 in the first half, finish the season above .500 but will win 18 games or less in the second half.

[Note: Dan will return from a cruise through Central America today and won't participate in our consensus rankings this week, but it will be business as usual next week.]

To see where all 30 teams fall in our power rankings going through Week 9, click here.

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