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Rowan’s Rankings | NBA Week 20

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While there’s been little change at the top of this week’s rankings, there’s plenty of change lower in the rankings. At this time of year, the league’s best separate themselves from the herd, which is exactly what has taken place to this point.

1. Golden State Warriors

last week 1
Kevin Durant and the Warriors took care of business in Oklahoma City and have managed to keep their impressive play going. The Warriors have done a tremendous job of navigating distractions and bouncing back from occasional hiccups. Their composure has been incredibly impressive.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

last week 2
The rough patch for the Cavs might be over. The team has won five of their last six games and Derrick Williams has looked good in his first two appearances. The team still needs another playmaker, but it seems unlikely that they will receive one until after the trade deadline.

3. San Antonio Spurs

last week 3
While the Spurs have been impressive, they still have been prone to the occasional bad loss, like their road loss at Madison Square Garden. They’re still the clear third best team in the league and with the league’s best defense, they remain one of the league’s most potent threat.

4. Washington Wizards

last week 4
The Wizards were on the wrong end of the game of the year with their overtime loss to the Cavs, but Washington gained some validity. With a 9-1 record over their last ten, Washington has managed to continue it’s ascent up the standings.

5. Boston Celtics

last week 5
Like the Wizards, Boston is also 9-1 in their last ten games. They’re three and a half games up of Toronto and currently look like the clear second best team in the East. With a loaded war chest for the impending trade deadline, Boston is poised to make some noise.

6. Houston Rockets

last week 9
The Rockets have won four straight games and have managed to capitalize on a soft schedule. Their defense has looked better lately and they’ve won most of their games in convincing fashion.

7. Memphis Grizzlies

last week 11
The Grizzlies lost their last game to the Warriors, but have been playing dominant basketball lately. They got a quality blowout win over the Spurs and have been one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference.

8. Utah Jazz

last week 6
The Jazz have lost their last two games, which is yet another case of inconsistency for this Jazz roster. The loss to the Celtics is understandable, but their loss to the inexplicably hot Mavericks was still surprising.

9. L.A. Clippers

last week 10
Blake Griffin has been finding his groove lately as the Clippers have found a way to win close road games. If Griffin can resume the level of play he’s known for, it can help take pressure off of a short-handed roster.

10. Indiana Pacers

last week 7
Speaking of maddening inconsistency, the Pacers lost understandable games to the Cavs and Wizards, but they failed to bounce back and were blown out by a Jabari Parker-less Bucks. With upcoming games against the Spurs, Cavs, and Wizards, things aren’t going to get any easier.

11. Atlanta Hawks

last week 8
The Hawks have also experienced some slippage lately, but are still stumbling into position to overtake a slumping Toronto Raptors. They haven’t been impressive, but they’re still winning enough to make up ground.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder

last week 12
The Thunder won against a shorthanded and tired Cavs team, but were unable to give Russell Westbrook the revenge he craves against the Warriors. They’ll have to wait until March 20th to get another shot at beating Durant in OKC.

13. Miami Heat

last week 13
I didn’t expect that Miami would still be in this spot when I placed them here last week. The team stretched its win streak to 13 games before losing to an Embiid-less Sixers squad. How Miami reacts now that it’s streak is over will be fascinating, as they try to prove their run was more than just lightning in a bottle.

14. Toronto Raptors

last week 15
Things haven’t got much better for the Raptors. They’ve suffered two bad losses in a row to the Wolves and Pistons. The team has fallen apart with injuries lately. While DeRozan is back, the team still is missing Patrick Patterson.

15. Denver Nuggets

last week 16
Nikola Jokic has been absolutely fantastic lately and has kept Denver in position to make the playoffs. With the trade for Mason Plumlee, the Nuggets can keep continuity with two excellent passing big men.

16. Detroit Pistons

last week 18
Detroit is simply too talented to struggle as much as they have this season. They’ve won four of their last six games and are back in playoff position. They have the ninth best defense in the league, but their woes on the other end have limited their success to this point.

17. Chicago Bulls

last week 17
The Bulls have lost three straight games, as the law of averages catches up to them. The Bulls are tenth in the East in point differential, so I don’t expect things to get better for Chicago any time soon.

18. Portland Trail Blazers

last week 19
How Jusuf Nurkic will fit with this Blazers squad remains to be seen. He’ll likely be a downgrade from Plumlee. But with three first round picks in the upcoming draft, the Blazers have the potential to be buyers at the trade deadline and turn their season around.

19. Dallas Mavericks

last week 14
Seth Curry has been one of the best stories in the league this season. Since entering the starting lineup, the Mavericks have had the most surprising runs of success outside of Miami.

20. Sacramento Kings

last week not ranked
Wins over both Boston and Atlanta have helped Sacramento get back on the right track. It’s proof that as long as Sacramento has DeMarcus Cousins, they’ll be capable of beating anybody.

From the heart of continent, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Justin is a life-long hoops head with a love of the team from Northeast Ohio. He’s written for Fear the Sword as well as Hoops Habit. And he’s never blown a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. "It's kind of boring when you take open shots." - J.R. Smith. Checkout Justin’s weekly NBA Power Play called Rowan’s Rankings.

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Featured Article

Ride The Wave

Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things were good then.

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Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers, drawing in a decent support team and a lot of talk that the West was looking incredibly dominant next to a “weaker” East. Things were good then.

Five months later and things couldn’t be farther from that idylistic picture. The East thrived without the King and GMs put together some of the most noteworthy teams in a while. And the Lakers? The Lakers currently sit in the 11th spot of the Western Conference with very little hope of making it to the playoffs. They’re a team that is constantly attacked for their lack of chemistry, skill, and effort. For the first time in a long time, LA became synonymous with “hopeless”.

This wasn’t the future we saw for the King.

On the heels of a night filled with one of his greatest achievements ever, the Lakers as a team walked away with a loss to the Denver Nuggets. A night that began on a high note went out on one that was equivalent to sour candy. Furthermore, a frustrated team left an arena, hopped on social media, and found a bevy of congrats for their star player, while enduring the storm that came with another Lakers loss.

It seems that James’ stardom has reached a tipping point, one that makes him a GM one moment, the King of the league the next, and finally the biggest point of contention within the locker room. The most notable thing is that it is clearly wearing him down. Chris Martin let us know that “nobody one said it was easy”, but you’ve got to ask yourself, does it have to be so hard?

The answer is unfortunately, yes. It’s always going to be this way, and there is no fighting the current, but there is beauty in riding the wave. Embracing that moment when the wave comes crashing down on you is important, because it’s always going to happen, but your attitude will always be remembered. LeBron rides high, and keeps things in the positive light for the media, but he’s got to realize that they are writing his story, and he doesn’t have to play into their’s. Ride the wave, and take the loss in stride with all the great that has come with it, but take the loss because your part of a team that is.

The wave has crashed down, but the current will bring another.

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Year 15 | A Mini Documentary

Year 15 of a legacy…

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What’s to come for the man on top, and what got him here?

It’s Year 15 of a man’s career, but it’s also Year 15 of a legacy…

Created by Tristan Laughton | Twitter: @Ctrice

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Editorial

Something Out of Nothing

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It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.

We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.

Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.

It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.

We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.

I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.

Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.

The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).

Stay tuned, because it’s not over.

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