Blog Entry

NBA Power Rankings: Breakdown, Takedown Vol. 5

Posted on: January 17, 2012 5:31 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 7:17 pm
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Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver

dwight-howard-orl

The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the fifth weekly installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.

What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.

1. Too High: Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3. I'm excited about the 76ers start. A 10-3 start qne a +14.9 win differential. However, before we get all worked up and start declaring the 76ers a true contender, realize they have one of the worst strength of schedule in the league. Only one win has come against a .500 team and that was over the Pacers. Their three losses are to Portland, Utah and New York. The Sixers are a good team and are playing really well. But third? They need to beat somebody first. -- RY

2. Too Low: Miami Heat at No. 10. The loss of guard Dwyane Wade to an ankle injury is huge, the late-game meltdowns were ugly, and the three-game losing streak is tough. It was a horrible week, but not so bad that Miami deserved to be dropped behind virtually a third of the NBA. That said, the next week's schedule doesn't do the Heat any favors -- with games against the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, plus a back-to-back -- but at least they will be doing it from the comfort of a 5-game homestand. -- BG

3. Most Overrated: Portland Trail Blazers at No. 5. For a time, the Blazers were wiggling their way to being a true contender in the West and a challenger to Oklahoma City. But Portland has dropped three of four, Raymond Felton is playing completely terrible basketball and the Blazers are finding it a bit difficult to find points lately. The Blazers are a good team, but I think a lot of people got a bit to overeager to crown them a challenger in the West. They very well could be because LaMarcus Aldridge is real star material, but before Portland is a true top five team, Felton and Jamal Crawford are going to have play better. -- RY

4. Most Overlooked: Orlando Magic at No. 7. The ranking of the Magic at No. 7 is absolutely justified, given their strong road trip, 4-game winning streak and presence on top of the Southeast Division, and they might even lay claim to a placement one or two notches higher. Their early-season credit is getting lost in the Dwight Howard trade hysteria but this is a deadly efficient team when they are clicking, perhaps the best in the league. Ryan Anderson's emergence has been pleasant, although not wholly surprising, and the Magic's hot outside shooting has more than compensated for a slow individual start from Jameer Nelson. -- BG

5. Sure Thing: Boston Celtics at No. 18. Make it five straight losses for the Celtics and even though they were competitive one of the league's top three teams, they still lost at home. Boston is 4-8 and on the outside looking in for the playoffs. It's hard to imagine they'll stay there much longer, but let's be honest here: Explain how they're going to get better? What's going to change? Kevin Garnett can't jump, Paul Pierce isn't getting his own shot easily anymore and while Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo have been fine, the team's defense is getting carved up. The Celtics are a bottom half team right now. No way around it. -- RY

6. Wild Card: Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 16. I like this ranking a lot, even if it's almost incomprehensible to think that the Cavaliers are better than a good half of the NBA. This isn't a gimmick or charity placement; rookie point guard Kyrie Irving has simply been amazing -- 17.7 points and 5.3 assists per game as a teenager (!) -- but Cleveland's lack of depth and questionable supporting pieces makes this a team that is seemingly vulnerable to a late-season slowdown, especially if Irving hits the rookie wall. In the meantime, enjoy the feeling of .500, Cleveland! -- BG
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