The Top Ten 3/26/12 Edition

The top ten lists are created by a combination of performance from the period of last Monday to this past Sunday, current standings, and if a team or player has a statement type game (Kevin Love’s 51-14, then slapping up a 31-20 the next day). So without further ado these are the first top ten lists for the NBA and NHL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBA

1.  San Antonio Spurs (2nd in Western Conference, 32-14 overall, 4-0 this past week); Beat DAL, MIN, and PHI at home; NO on the Road.

Ho hum, the undervalued, boring, but incredibly consistent Spurs are chugging along even with Tim Duncan having his worst statistical shooting season ever (46.5). They swept a back-to-back-to-back that culminated with a blowout victory against the Sixers and that was with Tim Duncan in a suit. The focus of the West is currently in OKC and LA, but the light should be shining down on San Antonio. Even though the Thunder are in first place and are the trendy pick to make the finals, the Spurs are out for vengeance after getting stunned by the Grizzlies last year.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (1st in Western Conference, 36-12 Overall, 3-1 this past week); Beat LAC, MIN, and MIA at home; lost to UTH on the road.

The Thunder survived a double overtime game against the Timberwolves that featured a 51-14 game from Kevin Love and a triple double from JJ Barea (25-10-14). That would have been enough on most nights, but Durant (40-17) and Westbrook (45-6) combined for 85 of the Thunder’s 149 points.

Looking ahead, a Durant & Westbrook vs. Lebron & Wade NBA finals would be a dream tag team match that could only be rivaled by The Mega Powers (Hogan & Savage) vs. Austin & The Rock.

3. Chicago Bulls (1st in Eastern Conference, 40-10 overall, 3-0 this past week); Beat TOR at home; ORL and TOR on the road.

A Derrick Rose-less Bulls team dominated the Orlando Magic on Monday, holding them to just 59 points. Chicago went a perfect 3-0 this week without the reigning MVP, but the scheduling gods giftwrapped a home-and-home in three days against the Raptors. Next week won’t be anywhere as easy: DEN, @ATL, DET, @OKC. Carlos Boozer is going to have to replicate his stat lines from this week (18.6–8.6) if the Bulls want to hold onto that first place spot in the East. Get well soon D-Rose.

4. Miami Heat (2nd in Eastern Conference, 35-11 overall, 2-1 this past week); Beat PHX at home, DET on the road; lost to OKC on the road

Before this season started Lebron James said that he was going to try and get rid of the villain persona. Well this past week he organized a team picture that was inspired by the killing of Trayvon Martin. Then came along this gem; apparently some military personnel in Oklahoma City spotted the Heat in the airport and wanted a picture with the team. When team security told them no, Lebron overheard and said that the team would take a picture with whoever wanted one. Awesome stuff, but will this help people pull for LBJ? I’m going to go with a resounding no.

 5. Los Angeles Lakers (3rd in Western Conference 30-18 overall, 2-1 this past week); Beat POR at home, DAL on the road; lost to MEM at home

Pau Gasol put on a shooting display (13-16 from the field, 27 points) Wednesday night on the road against the reigning NBA champion Mavericks. After being embarrassed in the second round last year, Kobe and co. have won all three contests against Dallas, including the blowout last week. If Dallas somehow draws LA in the playoffs, the Black Mamba is going to leave a venom trail through Texas.

6. Indiana Pacers (5th in Eastern Conference, 28-19 overall, 2-1 this past week); Beat LAC at home and MIL on the road; lost to PHX at home

With the uncertain rumors of team president and GM Larry Bird stepping down, the Pacers were three points away from being perfect 3-0 this week. On Saturday night George Hill scored 24 points in 27 minutes off of the bench in a blowout win over a very hot Milwaukee team. With the lineup of Hibbert, Granger, West, George, Collision, and Hill as the 6th man, Indiana is going to be on tough out come May.

7. Dallas Mavericks (5th in Western Conference, 28-22 overall, 2-2 this past week); Beat DEN and HOU on the road; lost to LAL at home and SAS on the road

Rough week for the Mavericks as they played three playoff teams and the 9th place Rockets who are only a half game back of the Nuggets. Dirk scored over 30 points in both of the wins, but only scored 16 in the loss to the Spurs, who totally shut down Dallas’ half court game. Lamar Odom has to step up if Dallas wants to make any type of run. He gives them some much needed versatility at the forward position.

8. Orlando Magic (3rd in Eastern Conference, 31-18, 2-1 this past week); Beat CLE and PHX at home; lost to CHI at home

After putting up an abysmal 59 points against the Bulls at home on Monday, the Magic bounced by beating the Cavs and Suns. Dwight Howard had his usual lines in those victories (28-16, 16-13), but it was Ryan Anderson who led the team to victory on Wednesday night against the Suns. He banged seven threes en route to a game high 29 points. How insane is it that he might just be the most versatile PF/C in the league?

9. Utah Jazz (7th in the Eastern Conference, 26-22 overall, 3-1 this past week); Beat OKC and DEN at home, SAC on the road; lost to ATL in a 4OT game

Can the Jazz be this year’s Grizzlies? Al Jefferson has become the alpha dog for Utah (19-9), similar to Zach Randolph last season (20-12). Paul Millsap is a perfect complementary player for Jefferson, just like how Gasol is for Randolph. Tony Allen and Sam Young were way better defensively than Gordon Hayward, but they can’t match his offensive ability. Devin Harris is more versatile than OJ Mayo. The Grizzlies didn’t have anyone like Derrick Favors coming off of the bench. The only clear cut advantage is Mike Conley over C.J Miles. The only way that this question can be solved is if the Spurs and Jazz meet in the first round and hey look that’s what would happen! IF the season ended today.

10. Philadelphia 76ers (4th in Eastern Conference, 27-21 overall, 2-2 this past week); Beat BOS at home, CHA on the road; Lost to NYK at home and SAS on the Road

Philly really needed the victory against Boston at home on Friday night because they couldn’t lose two in a row with the fresh prince in da house. In the fourth quarter of the Knicks game on Wednesday night I thought for sure Will Smith was going to pull out the memory eraser from MIB and flash it in Spike Lee’s face because he just wouldn’t sit down.

It appears that the Evan Turner era has come to a screeching halt due to the combo of Spencer Hawes’ return and Turner’s reliance on a mid range jump shot that just isn’t there. The Sixers are just 9-15 against teams that currently hold playoff spots, but they hold the key to a possible apocalypse in the Eastern Conference. How you ask? Well if the season ended right now the Sixers would win the Atlantic and the four seed, Boston would face the Heat and the Knicks would play the Bulls. Smells like a potential column!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NHL

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (4th in Eastern Conference, 44-22-6 overall, 2-1 this past week); Beat WPG, NSH, and NJ at home; lost to OTT on the road

After having an 11 game win streak snapped by the Flyers, the Pens responded with victories of 8-1 and 5-1, then were trounced by the Senators 8-4. Crosby had six points and Malkin increased his lead in the Art Ross trophy race to ten. The NHL has to be salivating at the possibility of a Flyers – Pens or Caps – Pens first round series.

2. New York Rangers (1st in Eastern Conference, 47-21-7 overall, 3-1 this past week); Beat NJ and DET at home, TOR on the road; lost to BUF on the road.

The Rangers and Devils just couldn’t resist having round two of the brawl that ends it all. Not only was it one of the best moments in recent memory for hockey fans, it was exactly what the NHL didn’t need. Hockey finally got national buzz, but that fighting stunt just gave radio and television personalities across the country a chance to bash the NHL. On the ice the Rangers had a good week, even though they were stoned by Ryan Miller. That lead in the East has dwindled down to just 3 and with seven games left in the season the Atlantic has suddenly become a three team race.

3. Boston Bruins (2nd in Eastern Conference, 43-28-3, 3-1 this past week); Beat TOR at home, LAK and ANA on the road; lost to SJ on the road

It was very weird to see Ottawa take over the second seed in the East two weeks ago, something about looking at the standings and seeing the Senators logo right underneath the Rangers just didn’t look right. Well Boston must have thought the same thing as they proceeded to trounce the Maple Leafs 8-0 on Monday night. Even though the Bruins have slowed down recently, they will still the hardest out of the playoffs.

4. St Louis Blues (1st in Western Conference, 46-20-9 overall, 1-1-1 this past week); Beat PHX on the road; lost to ANA and LAK on the road.

I would feel safe putting a $50 bet and asking a sports fan this question: Who is the current first place team in the Western Conference of the NHL? I’m 90% confidence that their answer would either be the Red Wings or the Canucks, to which I could respond NOPE! IT’S THE ST.LOUIS BLUES! My roommate who is a big sports fan was flat out stunned when I told him that the answer, so if it passes the Kyle test then I know it’s good to go.

5. Philadelphia Flyers (5th in Eastern Conference, 44-23-8 overall, 2-1 this past week); Beat WAS and MTL at home; lost to FLA at home

36-13! That was the shot totals for the Flyers and Panthers on Wednesday night. Somehow Florida escaped Philadelphia with a desperately needed two points. Philly then played a sloppy against the Habs and won 4-1 behind three power play goals. Anytime you can play that ugly and still win by three goals it’s impressive, unless it’s against the Blue Jackets.

6. Vancouver Canucks (2nd in Western Conference, 45-21-9 overall, 1-2 this past week); Beat COL on the road; lost to MIN and CHI on the road

I really wanted to put Vancouver in the 9th spot because of the shutout loss against the Wild, but just couldn’t pull myself to do it. The Canucks have four big home games against teams who are all fighting for a playoff spot (LA, COL, DAL CGY). More than likely one of those teams is going to face Vancouver in the first round, hopefully it’s the Kings.

7. Detroit Red Wings (4th in Western Conference, 45-25-5 overall, 1-1-1 this past week); Beat CAR at home; lost to WAS and NY on the road

Tough loss to the Rangers in overtime at MSG on Wednesday night, but Detroit was able to bounce back on Saturday and squeak out a 5-4 victory over a feisty Carolina team. Hard to imagine this but the Red Wings have went 2-6-2 in their last ten and are only a point up on Nashville for home ice in what would be a first round bloodbath between the two teams.

8. Chicago Blackhawks (6th in Western Conference, 42-25-8 overall, 1-1 this past week); Beat DET at home; lost to NSH at home

The Shanahammer was brought down on Duncan Keith after his elbow to Daniel Sedin, Chicago’s best defenseman was sent home for five games. It was not exactly the best move by Keith considering that the Blackhawks were 8-1-1 in their last ten games before he was suspended. They’ve vaulted all the way up to the sixth seed, but the combination of Keith’s suspension and a tough upcoming schedule next week (@NJ, STL, @NSH, MIN) could be the equation that knocks them back into the race for eighth.

9. Los Angeles Kings (8th in Western Conference, 37-26-12 overall, 2-1 this past week); Beat SJ and STL at home; lost to BOS at home

The Kings offense is starting to roll, they’ve score four or more goals in six out of eleven games this month. Slowly but surely they’ve gotten more confidence in the attacking zone. Jonathan Quick alone almost gave them a chance to make the playoffs, with this new found offensive fire power, the Flyers West is going to have the SPOILER ALERT sticker going into the playoffs.

10. New Jersey Devils (6th in Eastern Conference, 42-27-6 overall, 0-3 this past week); Lost to TOR at home, NYR and PIT on the road

The Rangers, Penguins, and Flyers are currently battling for not only positioning, but the number one overall seed in the East, however it is the Devils that currently have the best playoff spot. For more than two weeks the Devils have sat in the 6th seed just hoping that the season would end because if everything holds up they’ll play the Florida Panthers in the first round, which would be by far the easiest matchup.

Follow me on Twitter @scottdargis

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