Monday, April 2, 2012

NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 14

No other player has done it more than once this season and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo did it for a fifth time Sunday.

In their 19-point beatdown of the Miami Heat, Rondo finished with a triple-double: 16 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds.

In addition, he had double-digit assists for the 13th straight game. That's the longest streak since Steve Nash had 14 straight games with double-digit assists back in 2005.

And who knows? Maybe Nash will be the Heat point guard in 2012.

Nash said on the Dan Patrick Show (via the L.A. Times) that he would be interested in, um, taking his talents to South Beach: "I would listen. He's phenomenal. I love what they're doing there. A lot of people don't like them because they put all that talent there. But they're professional, they play hard, they play together."

Both Nash and Rondo are the only two players to average double-digit assists this season.

Winners of five straight games, the Celtics are now in first place in the Atlantic Division and are the biggest mover up our Power Rankings board this week.

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

- Biggest jump from last week: Boston Celtics (+4.92)
- Biggest drop from last week: Utah Jazz (-2.67)
- Team with widest difference between high and low ranker: Indiana Pacers (6) [See our full NBA Consensus Power Rankings.]

Each week, we respond to one roundtable question and here's this week's question: Excluding the top four seeds in each conference, which team will be the toughest out in the postseason?

John (follow on Twitter): Memphis Grizzlies

This one is easy for me, as I think that the Memphis Grizzlies are going to be a tougher out than some of the top four seeds in each conference. Because they are in the same division as San Antonio, who at this point has a pretty firm grip on the division, Memphis is unlikely to crack the top four by season's end, and will likely finish with either the 5 or 6 seed. The Grizzlies went on a run in last year's playoffs, and I was initially reluctant to assume that they had another run like that in them. I felt comparable about the Mavericks, who clearly have a team capable of being in contention, but are certainly not the favorite. Last year, Dallas surprised virtually everyone, getting extremely hot at the right time, and riding out one of the best playoff performances of all time by Dirk Nowitzki (a performance that for a short time, vaulted him into the conversation as a top 10 player of all time.) I feel a secondary run is extremely unlikely, even though they have the bulk of last year's championship roster. I felt similar about Memphis, but after watching them play the last few weeks, they are really built for the playoffs. They have a great mix of youth and experience, and have a team that is athletic enough to hang with the Oklahoma City's of the world. I think behind OKC and San Antonio, Memphis is the next team most likely to make a deep run, and it wouldn't shock me at all to see them in the Conference Finals.

Kevin (follow on Twitter): Philadelphia 76ers

My initial thought was to go with the Grizzlies, and while I think they will make some noise in the West, I'm going to go with the "homer" pick (Sixers). They are currently only one game out of first in the Atlantic so it's very possible that they end up with a top-four seed. Although they have been a mediocre .500 (9-9) since the break, they have plenty of attributes that make them dangerous in the East. The Sixers rank first in the NBA in team defense (87.8 points allowed per game) and first in the league in fewest turnovers (10.5 per game). They are unselfish and deep (Lou Williams leads the team in scoring off the bench) and they have elite perimeter defenders in Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday.

Dan (follow on Twitter): Memphis Grizzlies

I am going to go with the Memphis Grizzlies as the toughest non-top-four seed out in this year's postseason (much like last year). They have an awesome rotation of bigs with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Rudy Gay, and solid scoring from both Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo. Memphis is also 17-7 at home, and have the pedigree from last year as a lower seed to spring an upset in this year's playoffs.

Sean (follow on Twitter): Memphis Grizzlies

The defending champ Mavs currently hold the No. 5 seed in the West, and would be the logical choice, but after watching them play over the past two weeks, I just don't think they can make a run. I'm going with the No. 6 seed in the West and that is the Memphis Grizzlies. Zach Randolph is back in the lineup, and they are going to be a very dangerous team in the playoffs. I think they would beat the Lakers right now in a series.

To see where all 30 teams fall in our power rankings going through Week 14, click here.

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