By Sam Rubenstein
Last week I was late on my Dirty 30, so I’m making up for it with consistency. Since we’re about to close up for the Thanksgiving break, I present to you my latest, followed up the Player of the D.A.Y. and then I’m getting out of here. If anybody is in the NY area and wants to see that underground Hip Hop with emcees that have lyrical skill stuff, there is a show at Southpaw in Brooklyn tonight. 125 5th avenue. Nuclear Family is performing and tickets are just $10 at the door. There, enough shameless promotion of my friend’s group. I’ll be in the building. Try not to get too star struck if you show up.
The Dirty 30, once again power rankings so powerful and dangerous that I can’t even call them dangerous cause it’s too dangerous. The lesson I learned while writing this up is that the Eastern Conference is terrible. As always. Enjoy.
1. (1) San Antonio (9-2) 3-0 since the last Dirty 30. They play Miami tonight and Dallas on Friday. Last years NBA finalists. The Spurs are not impressed.
2. (2) Utah (10-1) When do we have to do a cover with Deron Williams, Boozer, and Memo? Hopefully never, but still the Jazz are playing great basketball.
3. (8) Dallas (7-4) Hey now. Seven wins in a row. Everything that was wrong, is now right. And Josh Howard will be back soon enough.
4. (4) Cleveland (8-3) Washington and Gilbert got their revenge for opening night, but other than that the Cavs still don’t have any losses since the collapse against the Hawks. LeBron is doing a great job of delegating so he doesn’t run out of energy.
5. (19) LA Lakers (8-3) Did I have them at #19 last week? I must have been subliminally hating. That was a huge mistake. They’ve won 5 in a row overall and Kobe is back at it, and not disrupting the early season buzz. Consider this huge jump an apology.
6. (6) New Orleans (8-3) Last time I wrote “Streaky. Very streaky. Unstoppable, then a three game losing streak, and now they’re winning again. I don’t know how much I trust them. Peja looks good though.” I stand by those statements.
7. (3) LA Clippers (6-3) Lost to Utah and the Lakers with a win over Philly sandwiched in. The Clips are in a little rut with a decent three game road trip at Minny, Denver, and Sactown coming up. And here’s a trend for you, they are 6-0 at home, 0-3 on the road (including road loss to Lakers). Better fix that on this trip.
8. (7) Houston (7-4) Survived a near collapse vs. Chicago, lost to the Pistons, beat the Knicks. Treading water, interesting game with Washington coming to Houston tonight.
9. (5) Sacramento (5-4) They played two games since the last dirty and lose them both. One at Golden State, one to the Spurs. So they’re not invincible at home.
10. (13) Phoenix (4-6) Starting to get back into their Suns groove. Coincidentally that happened against Memphis and Philly, Whaddya know. Lost at unbeatable Utah but responded by squeaking past the Warriors.
11. (15) Denver (5-4) They beat Toronto and Chicago and Carmelo is scoring 30 points every night. Home and home with Golden State coming up. Those should be fun. I think Denver is a better team than Golden State and that’s why they are in this spot.
12. (12) Golden State (7-4) Baron was playing so well that he needed a challenge in the form of a shot to the ribs that sent him to the bench. They still won against Seattle without him and gave Phoenix all they could handle. Monta Ellis people.
13. (10) Miami (4-6) Blown out by the Knicks at home, which was the third time a team has done that to them already. They got past Atlanta when Wade scored 37, then they lost to New Orleans. If Wade and Haslem have an off-night, they struggle.
14. (11) New Jersey (5-5) They scored 68 points one night. In today’s free throw friendly NBA. Against the Blazers. They followed that up with a loss to the Sonics. Does anybody other than Cleveland want it in the East?
15. (17) Detroit (6-5) Three straight wins since the last Dirty. Congrats! A contender in the East that’s actually heating up.
16. (14) Orlando (7-4) The Magic have played two games since the last Dirty 30. In that time they are 1-1 and Dwight Howard has 48 points and 44 rebounds. Back to back 20-20 games. That is Wilt-esque. Damn! I’m impressed. Why are they so low, and in fact losing ground you might ask? Because deep down I still believe the Nets, Heat, and Pistons are better than them. But my belief is getting shaky.
17. (9) Chicago (3-8) 0-4 since the last Dirty 30. Their extended road trip has been an 0-5 pleasure cruise so far. Something’s wrong. They give up triple digit scoring more than anyone expected.
18. (16) Washington (4-6) Okay, going to what I wrote last week again, “This team has too much talent to be so dependent on whether Gilbert is hot or not. They don’t play any defense.” Gilbert scored 45 and they won, other than that they lost. In fact, outside of Gil’s three 40 point games this season they’ve got just one win.
19. (23) Indiana (6-5) The Pacers own the Bucks! Yeah I said it! If they played Milwaukee every night they would go 82-0. Indy at Orlando tonight. If the season ended today that would be the #2 seed against the #4 seed. Ah, the leastern conference.
20. (28) Boston (4-6) Oh my God this is one of the hottest teams in the East. They’ve won three in a row and tonight they’re at Charlotte, followed up by Friday vs. New York. The Celtics could be back at .500 very soon after their disaster of a start to the season. They are the Mavs of the East except not in any way.
21. (22) Seattle (5-7) Broke up their losing streak with win over the Nets. I’m keeping my eye on the Ray vs. Rashad three point shooting contest this year. They combine to take 15 threes every night. I’m serious. And the Sonics only take 20 threes per game, which is 5 less than Phoenix. These two are like Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson, but without Shaq. They are tied wit 33 threes (Jay-Z song?) each. Ray shoots more, Rashad shoots a better percentage. What did this all mean? Their two best players are way outside. Luke Ridnour drives and kicks. They have nothing inside.
22. (18) Portland (5-7) Coming back down to earth a little. Other than that Nets game. I can’t put them higher than the Nets, but that was impressive. Zach is still getting his numbers and intimidating snitches.
23. (20) Philly (4-6) Last Dirty 30 they were 4-3. Now they’re 4-6. The schedule’s been tough on them recently, but then again they are not very good. At least Webber isn’t demanding a trade. Outright.
24. (21) Minnesota (3-6) Lost at Cleveland and to New Orleans since last time. That’s not the end of the world, but winning one out of their last seven with that win coming against Portland is not so great. At least they play the Knicks tonight.
25. (24) Milwaukee (3-8) And they lost both games against Indy since the last Dirty 30 and that’s all they’ve played. I have been at every single Milwaukee Bucks victory since November 4th. That was one game in Atlanta.
26. (25) Atlanta (4-4) The Hawks played just one game since the last Dirty 30. (Naturally it was a loss.) Not much to say. I tried to bait Lang into writing a huge “THE HAWKS ARE BACK!” column. Still waiting.
27. (27) New York (4-8) They’re 2-0 against Eastern Conference contenders Miami and Washington. Clearly this team full of winners can only get up for the big games. That is exactly what is happening. They play at Minnesota tonight. Steph will hear boos. So it’s like a home game. (By the way Steph is short for Stephon Marbury or Starbury. In case you forgot who he was) The Knicks are playing the kids, getting an A+ for effort, and losing alot.
28. (26) Toronto (2-8) 0-3 since last time. The good news: The Raptors are just as good as the Chicago Bulls right now. The bad news: By that I mean they’ve also lost 5 straight games on a road trip.
29. (30) Memphis (2-9) The Grizzlies went 1-3 since the last Dirty 30. That’s like a hot streak down here.
30. (29) Charlotte (2-8) Okafor is having a great season. Um… so yeah. Jerry West and Michael Jordan are the front office types that are associated with the two worst teams in the league. How about that.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!