NBA East Power Rankings 11-19

Warriors Bucks Basketball

By Paul M. Banks

The Milwaukee Bucks and their hot start led by uber-rookie Brandon Jennings are the talk of the NBA. So how far did they move up in this week’s power rankings?

1. Boston Celtics (9-3)
Kevin Garnett is their centerpiece, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce the main sidekicks. But if you really want to see the barometer of the Celtics, look at Rajon Rondo. His statistical measures of productivity correlate best with their record.

2. Atlanta Hawks (10-2)
They are for real, even though they don’t get the national publicity the deserve. Hawks basketball would be a bigger brand if they didn’t seemingly change their logo and team colors every three seasons. In Joe Johnson they have a closer, and in Josh Smith they have a go-to defender.

3. Orlando Magic (9-3)
I guess we’ll really see what they’re made off now that Jameer Nelson is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

4. Miami Heat (7-4)
I couldn’t agree more with this insight from a Heat blog entitled “Hot Hot Hoops” “Unfortunately, the guy who gets lost in the Wade fray is Udonis Haslem, who has absolutely taken to his sixth-man role.” Haslem is an underrated gem.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-4)
The Suns’ Jason Richardson has taken up Lebron’s cause to retire #23 for every NBA team. I don’t think it will ever happen, but I do agree with the idea. Shaq will miss a few games with a shoulder injury…well, you knew when they made this deal he was inevitably going to miss some time.

white_tailed_deer_buck

6. Milwaukee Bucks (6-3)

Despite the hot start, they are still the Bucks right? Maybe not now that they have that Brandon Jennings guy. You might have heard a thing or two, or twelve about his 55 point game last Saturday. And don’t look now, but Andrew Bogut has 5 double doubles already.

7. Chicago Bulls (6-4)
Derrick Rose is clearly not 100%. His injury is worse than the league is leading on. Joakim Noah is indeed making “the leap” this year he’s been a double-double machine so far. And it’s believably hilarious that he didn’t know why the current Bulls road trip is called “the circus trip”

8. Philadelphia 76ers (5-6)
How awesome is it that they went back to their retro 80s logo? How mediocre and inconsistent will they be this season due to their up-and-down guard play? Answer to both: VERY

Sixers_old_new_logo

9. Detroit Pistons (5-7)
I’ll admit it: the signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are working well for the Pistons…so far.

10. Indiana Pacers (5-4)
A summation of Indiana’s season can be found at the Pacers blog 8 points, 9 seconds. “In a larger sense, Tyler is already the teams fourth-best non-injured player after Danny, Roy and Dahntay. Luther Head is ineffective, and I’m being polite here.”

11. Toronto Raptors (5-7)

Chris Bosh might have to have 20-15 every night if they’re going to reach the postseason

12. Charlotte Bobcats (3-8)

Under Larry Brown, they’ll figure some type of rotation that works out. Or maybe he’s finally nearing the end of his storied career?

13. Washington Wizards (3-7)
Things should get a lot better now that they have Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and Gilbert Arenas all on the floor at the same time now. Jamison is especially crucial because he can play both the three and the four so well.

14. New York Knicks (2-9)
They have a grasp on the concept of defense…it’s right up there with Sarah Palin’s stranglehold on reality; and knowledge of basic science. How much longer can they blame Isaish for this mess? A while actually.

15. New Jersey Nets (0-12)
Closing in on one of the most embarrassing records a NBA team can have. But they will get healthy, and be better, eventually. Someday soon they won’t have to take the floor with Brook Lopez and CDR as their “go-to-guys.”

Brandon Jennings slices, then rains on the Golden State defense

Warriors Bucks Basketball

By Jake McCormick

If social media could crown NBA stardom, Milwaukee Buck Brandon Jennings is well on his way after Saturday night’s record-setting performance against the Warriors.

Typically on a Saturday night, the college community is out debaucherizing themselves away from the blue hue that is the computer screen. A quick check of Facebook statuses and Twitter search words revealed profile-wide praise of the 20-year-old rookie point guard that popped up almost as quickly as his crossover drives to the hoop. Notice I said almost.

“Considering (Jennings’) is a rookie, he’s not greedy. He was just open and knocking down shots,” head coach Scott Skiles said after the Milwaukee Bucks’ 129-125 win over the Golden State Warriors. “I know what it’s like to be in that zone. In any NBA game when a guy goes off like that, you’re foolish if you’re not going to ride that.”

In a defensively-challenged win against one of the league’s top scoring offenses, Jennings’ much needed 55 points was the most posted by an NBA rookie since 1968 and broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s previous mark of 51. All of his points were scored after the first quarter, including a Bucks’ record 29 points in the third.

After shooting a frustrating 4-13 in the first half, Jennings said his second made shot of the third quarter turned on the switch that made him knock down 12-13 third quarter shots, including 4-5 three point three pointers.

“Luckily I hit the first two and it seemed like the rim was getting bigger and bigger and I couldn’t miss,” Jennings said after the game.

Down 57-49 at halftime, the Bradley Center crowd was so lethargic that parachute T-shirts raining from the rafters like World War II paratroopers were cheered louder than any run the Bucks’ put together in the first two quarters. Jennings’ 16-2 run to start the second half increased the decibel level faster than a Michael Jackson surprise concert outside Neverland Ranch. The torrid start helped the Bucks’ to an 80-68 second half advantage and keeping Milwaukee undefeated when trailing at halftime this season.

Warriors Bucks BasketballCenter Andrew Bogut continued his high percentage inside game, going 9-12. However, his 1-6 at the line continued Milwaukee’s ventures into the entrepreneurial field of brick laying, but Bogut said he isn’t concerned about stats as long as the wins keep coming.

“It was a great game for Brandon; great for his confidence,” said Bogut, who’s solid 19 points and 11 rebounds were his fourth double-double of the young season.

Despite the win, Skiles wasn’t happy with Milwaukee’s uncharacteristically slow defense. The Bucks have been one of the top defensive teams in the league this season, but you wouldn’t know it from Saturday’s performance. With a 56.1% field goal percentage for the game, the Warriors became the first team to shoot above 50% against Milwaukee this year.

“I don’t want to sell their players, but we just didn’t come out with the necessary defensive intensity,” Skiles said. “At some point during game, you’re going to have to get stops, and we never really did. When you give guys three or four feet they take the distance.”

Despite the Bucks' win, this was a pretty common site all night. Too bad the Warriors treat the glass like a fourth grader would treat the "hot lava" sidewalk.

Despite the Bucks' win, this was a pretty common site all night. Too bad the Warriors treat the glass like a fourth grader would treat the "hot lava" sidewalk.

Heading into Monday’s matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, Jennings just hopes to follow up his record-setting performance with another win that would extend the Bucks’ streak to five. Growing into a star in only his seventh game has done wonders for Jennings’s confidence, but he’s more than willing to relent and spread the wealth as needed.

“My confidence level is like when I was at Oak Hill my senior year in high school, as far as being comfortable and playing out there,” Jennings said. “Every game we have to come out, feed Bogut the ball and see what happens after that.”

With Jennings taking a philosophically socialist approach to his job as a point guard, the rest of the team seems to be feeding off his energy and charisma. It’s too early, of course, to be talking about more than just the next game on tap, but the Jennings-Bogut co-op are certainly injecting some life and interest into a franchise that is definitely one of the big surprises of the young NBA season.

Oh, and Michael Redd is expected back during this week’s three game homestand. Just thought I’d throw that out there.