2009 NBA Playoff Power Rankings v2.0

At least three games have been played in each playoff series, so it’s a good time to update the power rankings (where I list each team and their relative chances of advancing to the next round and/or the Finals.)

Click here for the first edition of these rankings.


16. Pistons
Detroit was unceremoniously swept by the surging Cavs, who won by an average of 15.5 points. This series was never in doubt, and went just like everyone (but the Detroit faithful/demented) thought it would after the Allen Iverson trade blew up in Joe Dumars’ face. Assuming they let AI and Rasheed Wallace walk, the Pistons will have a ton of cap space to work with this summer (or next, if they choose to wait). The core looks to be Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey and Rip Hamilton. Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson appear to be ready to play heavier minutes, but the Pistons still need to add a free agent big man over the next two summers. Carlos Boozer will be this year’s free agent prize, at least as far as bigs go, while Anderson Varejao, Brandon Bass and Drew Gooden are cheaper options. It’s going to be interesting to see how Dumars reshapes this roster — he gave up any chance at a deep playoff run by trading Chauncey Billups away.


15. Jazz
Down 3-1 with two games remaining in L.A., the Jazz are in serious trouble. They desperately needed Game 4 to have a chance and without it, they…um…don’t have (much of) a chance. Utah faces a tumultuous offseason, though they can rest easy that they have one of the few franchise players in the league in Deron Williams. Carlos Boozer plans to test free agency, so the team will need to decide if he’s worth a long-term commitment or if they should turn the reins over to Paul Millsap, who was actually more productive on a per-minute basis. (For the record, if Boozer wants more than $12 million a year, and he probably will, I’d let him walk.)


14. Blazers
13. Spurs

Both teams are down 3-1, but have the luxury of two home games over the next three, so they just need a Game 5 win to put the pressure back on the opposition. Given their incredible playoff experience, San Antonio would seem to have the better chance of pulling out a series win, but neither team is in a good position right now. Tony Parker has been phenomenal, but he and Tim Duncan aren’t getting much help from their supporting cast, while the Blazers are having trouble matching Houston’s mental and physical toughness. It would be a shame if the Rockets go on to fall to the Lakers in the next round because Portland gave L.A. fits in the regular season, and it would be a fun matchup to watch.


12. Hawks
11. Hornets
10. Sixers
9. Bulls

After looking great in Game 1, Atlanta laid an egg in Games 2 and 3, and are now facing an (almost) “must-win” Game 4. The problem is simple: The Hawks are simply not defending the three point line. Miami has made 27 of 49 (55%) treys in the last two games. The Hornets bounced back in Game 3 and got a much-needed win. They face similarly desperate circumstances in Game 4, but I’m not overly optimistic given how the team has failed to click all year long. The Sixers and Bulls head on the road with the series tied. Both teams have shown the ability to win on the road, but they’re still at a disadvantage. I give the Bulls the better chance of springing the upset, but who knows…


8. Heat
7. Celtics
6. Mavs

Miami shellacked Atlanta the last two games and can put a ton of pressure on the Hawks with a win in Game 4. The Celtics head back to Boston with the series tied, and while they’re nowhere near comfortable, at least they got one win in Chicago. The Mavs have the Spurs on the ropes, but if there’s a team that has the mental toughness to pull out a series win from the jaws of defeat, it’s the Spurs.


5. Magic
4. Nuggets
3. Rockets

The Magic regained control of the series (and showed great mental fortitude) with a Game 4 win in Philly after a tough, tough loss in Game 3. Hedo Turkoglu has been struggling, but he hit a MONSTER three in the waning seconds to give Orlando the win. The Rockets are making the Blazers look like a bunch of boys out there. They’re playing physical and getting up in Portland’s collective grill. The only worry for Houston is the fact that they only have one more home game in the series. The Nuggets had a golden opportunity to put a nail in the Hornets’ coffin in Game 3, but Carmelo Anthony missed the game-winning bucket with 0:04 to play. It’s unclear how the Hornets’ near-meltdown will affect the rest of the series. (New Orleans was up by eight with 1:33 to play and nearly lost the game.)


2. Cavs
1. Lakers

The Cavs were the first team to get out of the first round. They looked strong and focused against the Pistons. The Lakers are facing a much better team in the Jazz. If Utah were in the East, they’d probably be the second- or third-best team in the conference, so that’s why I still have them ahead of the Cavs. (That, plus the Lakers’ fine play in two meetings with LeBron and Co. this season.) The Lakers need to close out the Jazz on Monday night, as they are likely to get a tough test from the Rockets in the semis and could use the rest.

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