Irrational? Subjective? Biased? Oh yes my bloggers and my blogettes, its that time again. Welcome, to the Week 7 Power Rankings Breakdown. We're coming at you live with
in-depth, well thought out, impulsive knee-jerk analysis of what people who never played in the NBA think about the league. Their weapon of choice? Power.
What is this Power, you might ask. Is it based on wins and losses? Is is based on something tangible? Of course not!
Power Rankings is basically like a weekly high school student body president election. People factor in records, past success, geographical bias, childhood memories, perceived (and by perceived I mean a complete shot in the dark) teammate chemistry, rap album success, how "loose" the guys look, and how much national TV coverage teams get. The "experts" mix that all up come up with a completely useless pyramid of popularity. And this week, baby..the Celtics were popular like Nada Surf. Click the jump to see the Breakdown!
This week, the Celtics were the cool kids. We sat in the corner of the lunchroom, we turned our chairs around backwards, and when the teachers weren't watching, we put on our fitted hats with the brims tilted to the side.
Let's start with the people who liked us a lot, but not quite as much as everyone else. This week, we start with...the "Three's". This is kind of a big deal, because going back 2 weeks to our week 5 power breakdown, we were sitting on the outside at #6. Now, even the guys who don't like the Celtics much, like us more than 90% of the NBA. Now, I will leave the back handed and only half-way trying complementing to Austin Burton of Dime Magazine, or "The D-Mag", as the hipsters call it.
Ray Allen is never going to get old. He’s been allegedly "slowing down" for about three years, yet is still averaging 16.6 points on a balanced offensive team and sticking 43% beyond the arc, his highest percentage since 2002.
Does anyone else think that Dime Magazine is secretly locked in 2001, and are only capable of doing feature stories on Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton, and Kobe Bryant? Maybe its just me, but I get a little weirded out when they keep on referring to "NBA Up and Comers" Chris Paul, Dywane Wade, or Amar'e Stoudemire. But yeah, don't mention the 10 game winning streak or anything Austin Burton. Not mad at the ranking though, putting us behind Dallas and San Antonio is a judgment call Solid as always, D-Mag.
Next up, we have the 'tenacious two's'. Marc Stein of ESPN (he's the human equivalent of John Hollinger) and Patrick Harrel from The Bleacher Report both rank the Celtics as the second best team in the league, and both guys pick a different number 1. Let's hear the explanations!
Boston still has to guard against another post-Christmas tumble, but if you'll permit a brief follow-up to last week's stuff in this space: No team in history before these Celts had ever started 16-4 in four seasons running.
While the Celtics' off-season strategy of signing many injury-riddled big men with the hope that at least one would be healthy at all times has certainly backfired, the Celtics still find themselves atop the Eastern Conference and in control....
The Celtics' success can largely be traced to one man, the oft-criticized Rajon Rondo. While he can't shoot, Rondo's leadership and incredible passing ability has helped this Celtics squad win despite its injury problems. He leads the league with an incredible 14 assists, and doesn't appear to be slowing down....
Well, once again Marc Stein has a moderate and compelling if not excited view of the Celtics that while I don't wholeheartedly support it, I can't refute it either.
The Bleacher Report guy however brings up a tactic that lots of NBA writers use when writing these blurbs that I absolutely detest. One, he's blatantly over-simplifying the Shaq/JO acquisitions. Two, Rajon Rondo, while he's been playing well, is hardly the primary reason the Celtics are winning. Rondo has been playing hurt, and it is has gotten to the point where it is undeniable if you're actually watching games. Other guys have picked it up, but because Rondo's stat line looks the coolest, he must be the reason why they're winning. Solid, spectacular analysis there, Bleacher Report guy. Who thought I'd wistfully wish Kenny Smith did power rankings?
The one notable thing here is that both Bleacher Report guy and Marc Stein rank the C's 2nd, but both rank them behind different #1's. Marc Stein says Dallas (who was on a 12 game win streak when he posted his rankings), and Bleacher Report Guy says San Antonio, who had the best record in the league when he posted his Power Rankings. This is important because it highlights an interesting situation currently in the NBA: With the defending champion LA Lakers currently being less than spectacular, there is no clear cut number 1 team. Three teams are playing like contenders right now (Boston, San An, Dallas), a few teams are playing like they're going to be contenders in April (Miami, Lakers), and a few teams are playing like they're not quite there yet, but they're close (Jazz, Thunder, Bulls, Magic). Picking a Number 1 is a lot harder than one may think.
But, speaking of Number Ones, a lot of people did manage to pick the correct team this week. The Celtics were the top dogs in 2/3's of the Power Rankings sampled this week, and by my count, ought to be the consensus #1 team in the league. Don't let me tell you about it though, get it straight from the source. I'm going to post them from "least favorite" to "mostest favoritest".
Boston has won 10 straight, and while only two of those wins were against what anyone would consider to be quality teams, the Celtics have largely crushed everyone else in its path. Rajon Rondo is doing a masterful job leading the Celtics from the point guard position, leading the league in assists with average of 13.7 per game -- a full 3.5 more than the player in second place in that category, Steve Nash.
The Celtics have done a great job of integrating Shaquille O'Neal, but they're still 6-1 without him. They're also 3-1 without Rajon Rondo. Jermaine O'Neal, Delonte West and Kendrick Perkins have played a combined 12 games. As Paul Pierce said last week, "It's going to be scary when we get healthy."
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!
The win streak continues despite injuries -- on Saturday, C Semih Erden started and played 40 minutes because he was the only available guy besides Kevin Garnett taller than 6-9.
Ho hum. Another perfect week (4-0) and a 10-game winning streak means the C's get top spot again in the eyes of our panel of experts. The scary thing? The club's one glaring weakness, rebounding, (25th in the league in rebounds per game) is an area that will inevitably be addressed once Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal heal and Kendrick Perkins returns.
Oh, so we meet again, eh Brett Pollakoff? I cannot say I am as mad as I was at Mr. Pollakoff last week, but the backhand complement is pretty clear here too. Only pointing to two of the teams the Celtics beat last week as 'anything anyone would call quality'? So, that bears mentioning? What murderer's row schedule is the rest of the league facing, mi amigo?
I like what everyone else had to say (especially John Hollinger..always looking out for poor Will Robinson...), and I think there is an important line in the sand to draw here. Rajon Rondo, KG, Pierce, Ray Allen, Glen Davis..they're all playing like champions right now. Add to that Semih Erden playing WELL above his pay-grade and Doc Rivers keeping a tight ship despite having some sails down, and that adds up the the Celtics assists. These guys get that.
But, none of them understand it quite as well as the first recipient of our to be weekly "Sports Writer Who Says The Nicest Things About The Celtics So He's Our Favorite" award....presenting to you, Jesse Ventura stunt double, two time Ben Kingsley look-alike winner, and Vin Diesel's uncle (HE'S BALD! GET IT?), SI.com author Britt Robson!
So little space, so much to praise. How about 33-year-old Paul Pierce, who set the tone in the first quarter of the tail end of a back-to-back against Charlotte on Saturday by running down D.J. Augustin for a LeBron-style block on a layup, then disrupting a three-on-one fast break by deflecting a Stephen Jackson pass out of bounds? Or let's marvel at the various speeds, from dawdling nonchalance to a quicksilver blur, in which Rajon Rondo drives to the basket, complete with different release times and angles. Then there's Kevin Garnett's return to voracious defensive form, as chronicled by my colleague Zach Lowe. And what about Turkish rookie Semih Erden, the fourth-string center who has stepped in ready to play as the starter the past two games because of injuries to Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal?
Well look-ey here! It looks like we got a feller who actually watches Celtics games doing some Power Rankings! For the second week in a ROW, Britt Robson comes through with a dandy of a blurb. 140 words of sound analysis, constituting what is a pretty good summation of the week that was one of the Celtics most dominant this season. Kudos, Britt Robson. You got the juice now, man.
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
This week's average position: 1.11
Last Week's Average Position: 2.00
The Stupid Teams That Ranks Ahead Of Us (number of Polls, times voted #1)
Spurs (2,2), Mavs (2,1)
Once again, I'm pretty fine with the way this all turned out. The Celtics were decidedly the best team in the league this week, and I'm cool with that. The only two teams that ranked ahead of us either had better overall records (Spurs), or same records with longer winning streaks (Mavs). That, I can handle. I think that with all the injuries the Celtics have proved to be the most resilient team in the league though, so until ESPN irrationally crowns the Miami Heat the "Champion of the Multiverse" sometime in February, I'm going to bask in this meaningless victory. Til' next weekend, peoples!