Seemingly recovered from injury, Chris Paul is playing at a high level as he chases his first championship ring (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).
We’ve reached the final day in a historic NBA season packed with nearly unprecedented statistical seasons by some players, monstrous single-game outbursts by others and a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs for almost all of the teams in the league. On Wednesday’s final 14-game slate, six playoff seeds are still yet to be determined: 1, 2, 7 and 8 in the East and 4 and 5 in the West. Thirteen teams have already been eliminated from further contention, and the rest hope that their fortunes will be on the rise. This will be the final edition of our power rankings this season, but as a reminder, you can chart how every team has fared in our rankings over the course of the season with the interactive graph atop the Power Rankings landing page.
Biggest Jumps: Atlanta Hawks (+8), Minnesota Timberwolves (+6), Los Angeles Lakers (+6)
Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-7), Denver Nuggets (-6), Dallas Mavericks (-5) Continue reading
Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls halted their five-game losing streak by defeating Charlotte Monday night (Jacob Gaertner/Creative Commons).
A particularly tumultuous period sees the Warriors and Cavaliers dropping to their lowest positions of the season. Meanwhile, every other team has moved up or down at least one spot except for the Clippers and Hawks, who remained at No. 8 and 12, respectively. A handful of sub-.500 squads are recognized for their strong recent play, as the Grizzlies and Bulls are punished for their sluggish performances over the past two weeks. One final fun fact: Last edition, Chicago came in at No. 15, a full 10 spots ahead of the Hornets. This time around, Chicago clings to a single-spot lead over Charlotte after edging the Hornets Monday night.
Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+6), Minnesota Timberwolves (+5), Washington Wizards (+4)
Biggest Falls: Chicago Bulls (-6), Memphis Grizzlies (-5), Dallas Mavericks (-4), Indiana Pacers (-4), Toronto Raptors, (-4) Continue reading
Expectations for 20-year-old forward Justise Winslow are soaring. Can he live up to them in 2016-17 (Erik Drost/Creative Commons)?
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In the first team-focused interview of the season, Slice Miami’s Josh Baumgard makes On the NBA Beat history by becoming the first guest to appear three times, and the third time was certainly a charm (as were the first two). In this Miami Heat-themed episode, he gushes about the monstrous numbers Hassan Whiteside has the potential to post as the focal point of Miami’s offense. Baumgard also waxes nostalgic and practical about the ramifications of Dwyane Wade’s departure after 13 seasons as the franchise cornerstone. Plus, along with a range of other timely topics, he explains how Miami’s already stout defense can be even stronger this upcoming season. Scan some scorching excerpts below:
2:58-3:10 As the episode title suggests, second-year wing Justise Winslow will make or break Miami’s season, according to Baumgard: “I think he’s the key to the whole season. I think he’s the difference between whether they’re gonna be a 35-win team or a 45-win team. You’ve got to see some offensive improvement out of him, and I think with the increased role he’s ready for it.”
5:50-6:22 “That’s gonna be huge, because if he can develop a consistent jump shot, the defense is gonna play closer to him; that’s gonna open up driving lanes. And as we saw in the preseason, he’s a pretty good ball handler and he’s a very underrated passer. I think he can find guys in the corner for those open 3s, so, again, I think it goes back to Winslow. If he’s able to create some offense behind Goran Dragic, it’s gonna ease the burden on them scoring, because they’re likely not gonna be a great offensive team, but if they’re at least better than average, I think that bodes really well for their playoff chances.” Continue reading
Kristaps Porzingis’s brilliant performance in the Rising Stars game was not enough to lead the World team to victory over the United States (PJMixer/Flickr).
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Spend some of your All-Star break with your favorite fellas as they discuss the Miami Heat and All-Star Saturday night. The co-hosts revisit interviewee Josh Baumgard’s thoughts on Hassan Whiteside’s impact and future with the Heat, the team’s handling of Dwyane Wade’s usage and the degree to which Chris Bosh’s injury matters.
Next, Joshua and Loren guide you through the most exciting NBA All-Star Saturday night in recent memory. On a busy basketball weekend that featured Timberwolves domination, a retooled Skills Competition featuring big men and thrilling three-point and dunk contests, On the NBA Beat has you covered.
Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod
Chris Bosh celebrates the Heat’s 2012 title with reporter Josh Baumgard on his right (Getty Images/Andrew Bernstein).
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While Josh Baumgard of Slice Miami doesn’t believe the Heat are the contenders they expected to be, he does shed light on their many strengths and what’s currently holding them back. Also on the docket, the impending free agency of enigmatic big man Hassan Whiteside, as well as Justise Winslow’s rookie campaign, Chris Bosh’s value and many other fascinating Heat topics. Here are some of the highlights:
3:27-4:08: “He (Hassan Whiteside) could be gone in two weeks. That’s what’s crazy. Here is a guy who’s reminiscent of a very poor man’s David Robinson or Alonzo Mourning in that he could be a two-way force (and) he’s a shot-blocking machine. He’s a rim-protecting giant, super-athletic…when he’s not out there, it’s open season on the rim. Defensively, I know he’s got some things to learn…(he should) not necessarily go for the block all the time, but he has all the makings of a top-5, top-10 defensive player. Offensively is where he has a lot of work to do.”
7:03-7:37: “The biggest thing (defensively) is…it’s amazing because he’s only 19 but it’s Justise Winslow, just putting the clamps on the perimeter. He’s been a defensive menace from Day 1. The second game of the season, they threw him on LeBron (James), and LeBron torched him, I think he put up 30, but Winslow still played great defense. He made him take tough shots, and LeBron was just hitting them because he’s an all-time great. But Winslow has been a huge surprise early on. I don’t think anyone expected him to be this good early, this soon as far as on the defensive end.”