Sherrod's NBA Six Pack: Finish strong
SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR
BOSTON — With most of the playoff spots already secured, games this time of year are more about jockeying for position along with fine-tuning a few things for the postseason.
And for the playoff-deprived bunch, finishing strong with some momentum going into the offseason is the goal.
But it's also a time for those players who have had strong seasons, to leave a lasting impression on the voters who will be making choices for accolades.
For the first time in years, the Boston Celtics have very few candidates for honors other than Avery Bradley as an all-NBA defender, Kelly Olynyk as a member of the NBA's All-rookie team and possibly fellow rookie Phil Pressey although he appears to be a long shot at this point.
As much as the winners are chosen in large part because of the stats they put up, what usually gets them in the running has to do with letters; specifically W-I-N-S.
When players do that a lot AND they put up decent numbers, a little hardware may in fact be coming their way.
And that of course is determined by how you play. And as we have seen of late, there has been very little movement for teams near the top and bottom of the NBA standings.
And with a week remaining in the regular season, that's unlikely to change.
Now the mind's of some voters?
That's a different story.
Here's this week's power rankings...
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
30. (29) Milwaukee — Former Brookline star Jeff Adrien has been one of the few positives for the Bucks this season, averaging 10.8 points and 7.6 rebounds - both career highs.
29. (30) Philadelphia — Like landing the No. 1 pick, Michael Carter-Williams being this season's rookie of the year is far from a sure thing for Philly.
28. (27) Boston — Danny Ainge's color analyst work for Comcast SportsNet during Boston's loss at Atlanta was the best job by a Green Teamer this week.
27. (28) Orlando — One of the big mysteries in O-town has been how promising big Andrew Nicholson just fell off the map this season.
26. (24) Los Angeles Lakers - UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is a smart guy, which is why the thought of him leaving Storrs, Conn. for La-La land is just plain silly.
25. (26) Utah — Maybe not rookie of the year, but Trey Burke's a serious contender to at least be named to one of the all-rookie teams.
BACK OF THE PACK
24. (25) Detroit — Joe Dumars' expected resignation as the Pistons' GM will bring closure to a great run that ended in disappointment.
23. (22) New Orleans — You have a franchise player. He's not healthy. You're not going to the playoffs. #shutunibrowdown
22. (23) Sacramento — A perennial lottery team, Kings haven't had No. 1 overall pick since Pervis Ellison in 1989.
21. (21) Denver — No postseason for the Nuggets, but they finish the season with a winning record at home. #silverlining.
20. (18) Cleveland — Regardless of whether Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving have beef, the facts remain the same: both hurt more than help their teams when it comes to winning.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
19. (19) Minnesota — Dante Cunningham. Final year of contract. Domestic abuse arrest. #badcombination
18. (17) New York Knicks — The game of 'tag, you're it' that the Knicks have Hawks have played with the No. 8 spot will thankfully end soon.
17. (20) Atlanta — If there was an award for best offseason pick-up, Paul Millsap would surely be on the short list.
16. (15) Memphis — Haven't strung together back-to-back wins since March 22-26. This is a bad time to be in win-one, lose-one mode.
15. (13) Phoenix — They face Memphis on April 14, a game that may very well decide the eighth and final playoff spot out West.
14. (14) Charlotte — Al Jefferson proving it wasn't just a money grab when he took that three-year, $40.5 million contract from the Bobcats last summer.
13. (12) Washington — Nene's return to practice bodes well for his chances of being a serviceable X-factor for the Wizards in the playoffs.
12. (11) Golden State — The month of April has been good to the Warriors so far with the lone loss (in four games) coming at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.
11. (16) Dallas — The good news is they've won four straight. The bad? They close the season out against San Antonio, Phoenix and Memphis.
RUNNING WITH THE PACK
10. (10) Portland — Blazers likely stuck as a No. 5 seed which isn't all bad when you consider only three teams have more road wins (22) this season.
9. (9) Brooklyn — Mason Plumlee doesn't have great numbers, but keeping him off the All-Rookie first team? That thought, like that LeBron James dunk attempt, should be rejected.
8. (7) Chicago — One of the more stealth keys to the Bulls success this year has been the play of Taj Gibson off the bench.
7. (8) Toronto — If the playoffs were today, the Raptors would face the Charlotte Bobcats. #notmade4tvmatchup
6. (5) Indiana — We'll find out soon enough if they were just bored with the regular season, or a team that wasn't as good as we all thought.
5. (4) Miami – LeBron James doesn't put much stock in the Nets sweeping them this season. Isn't that the kind of attitude that got you, not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 Ls from Brooklyn this year?
4. (6) Houston — Maybe the most dangerous team in the playoffs because of their depth and dominance inside (Dwight Howard) and on the perimeter (James Harden).
3. (3) Oklahoma City — Kevin Durant's consistency as an elite scorer should be rewarded with his first league MVP award this season.
2. (2) Los Angeles Clippers — Health continues to be an issue of concern for this group, even on the eve of the postseason.
1. (1) San Antonio — Can't you see Popovich grinning when he heard the news about the Pacers sitting all five of their starters against the Milwaukee Bucks? #popovichapproved