Mike Rice

Jan 31

Rice's Power Rankings: January 31st

By Mike Rice
Current standings:

Above is how the standings look without taking into account who has played the most difficult part of their schedule.

Oklahoma City and Denver have earned the right to be #1 and #2 in the Rice Power Rankings.

The Power Rankings take into account who might be coming back from injuries and which teams won’t survive because of late-season chemistry problems or late-season scheduling problems.

As mentioned before, Oklahoma City has shown when Harden shows up as the third scorer for the Thunder that they are difficult to beat home or away, and they have the best record in all of basketball to prove it.

The Trail Blazers play the Thunder on Monday, Feb. 6 – both teams will have Sunday off before the game. It will be a major test for the Trail Blazers and their ability to win at home.

Denver is #2 in my power rankings. The Trail Blazers play Denver on Saturday, Feb. 4 in Portland. If the Trail Blazers can beat both Denver on Saturday and the Thunder on Monday they won’t have to worry as much about winning on the road to make the playoffs.

I am going with Dallas as my #3 in the power rankings. They have the confidence to win on the road and they rested Dirk Nowitzki when they needed to.

I will put the Clippers at #4, but they have only played six games on the road as of this writing and have only won twice away from Staples Center.

Next at #5 will be San Antonio. They get Manu Ginobili back in two weeks, and that will be before the nine-game rodeo road trip. They have developed a bench and have already played 11 games on the road.

Then next at #6 will be the Trail Blazers. They are 3-8 on the road, but their strong home court advantage is better than the teams below them. You would think the road woes will get a little better but not that much if you look at the schedule.

#7 might be a surprise pick. I am going to put the Timberwolves at #7. They are 5-4 on the road and have Michael Beasley back. So their home record that is below .500 will get better with a full lineup.

The Lakers come in at #8. With Steve Blake out and Derek Fisher not getting any younger as the season goes along, they need to find another point guard. Kobe is scoring at a high rate, but they seem to be slow at getting balanced scoring, especially inside scoring.

The #9 pick will be Memphis. Even without Zach Randolph, their defense should carry them to being close to making the playoffs.  Without any injury to Randolph they would be a solid #6 pick – without him they might not make the playoffs.

My #10 pick is Utah. Their record is fool’s gold. They are very good at home, but they have only played six road games, and I think when they get to playing Western Conference teams on the road things will crumble.

#11 will be the Rockets. If they were in the East they would make the playoffs, but they’re not and they won’t be in the playoffs this year.
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  1. Interesting power rankings Rice. I just have one question. Is this how these teams will end up in the playoffs? So Blazers are 6th seed, and it's a complete re-match against the Mavs? I'd be fine with that, since I think the Blazers have improved and the Mavs have gotten weaker.

    I agree with you completely about Utah and Houston. Yes, both beat us (or we beat ourselves in my opinion), but they are playing their easiest parts of their schedule, and have players that likely are playing the best basketball they'll play all season. I also don't see Portland having these road woes all season long, but I think they won't be .500 on the road either, so the Rose Garden will help them.

    I also don't have too much faith in the Clippers. They've won some impressive games, and are only going to get better, but I don't think they're a team that can play lock-down defense to get far in the playoffs, but maybe in the regular season.

    I think we also go 2-0 against the Nuggets and the Thunder in the coming week. As good as both teams are, they're also two teams we tend to play well against. Blazers, as sloppy as they play sometimes, know that they can't drop these games, especially at home. I think we'll see why they're still close to elite status after these two games.

    by Herr on 1/31/2012 4:10 PM
  2. time out issue number one shouldnt lakers be 9th and blazers 8th we beat the lakers so shoudlnt we ahev the tie breaker until they face us twice

    by jamie (guy) on 1/31/2012 4:27 PM
  3. Good point Jamie... NBA.com has us at 8 before the Rockets.

    by Herr on 1/31/2012 4:32 PM
  4. Hey, the Knicks won tonight, that's all that matters. Seriously. That, and Griffin pushed off on his superdunk last night. They'd have called an O-foul on LaMarcus if he tried the same dunk.

    by Tobyus Sanchezo on 1/31/2012 10:43 PM
  5. AGREED TOBYUS. Not on the importance of the Knicks thing, but the FACT that Griffin pushed off on his dunk that everyone is going nuts about, and if LaMarcus had tried the same thing, there's no way they would've let it go. Hooooray for a biased system! Though after last year's allstar/dunk games, should we expect them to treat Griffin like they treat other players? Of course not, he's Stern's White Knight!

    by Blazer247 on 2/1/2012 2:26 AM
  6. i pretty much agree with the rankings; no major issues there as i see it. the blazers at number 6 is just about right. we can beat anyone on any given night. unfortunately, we can also lose to anyone on any given night. if our consistency is tied to our continuity, then it seems a matter of getting all the guys on the same page.

    i agree with denver at number 2, though it surprises me given that i thought they would be nothing with three guys stuck playing in china. they're number 2 -- at the momemnt. you can't really judge them adversely for a gut feeling, but mine tells me they're going to drop a few spots.

    the lakers at number 8? of course i'll buy into that. other than Bryant and Bynum, who has really stepped up for them this season? it's for those reasons i see them fading and quite possibly even missing the playoffs. here's hoping, huh?!

    as for Griffin's dunk. i watched the video, good dunk, but certainly not the best ever. the irony of all the following hoopla is that you'd think the dunk was actually good for 10-12 points. alas, poor Blake, for all that effort, you just get the same measly two points as you do for any other shot within 22 feet of the basket. now, if he were to actually hit a three ... then i might actually almost kind of maybe somewhat think about being skeptically impressed.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 2/2/2012 3:29 PM
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