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Rowan’s Rankings | NBA Week 18

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The All-Star lineups are set and now the league is heading into the annual of trade speculation, buy-outs, and LeBron complaining about his roster. Teams have had enough time to evaluate what they have, and what they need. Only a few more weeks are left to make some shakeups before we are locked in and sprinting towards the playoffs. With that in mind, let’s look at how the league stands after this week.

1.

Golden State Warriors

last week 1
Do you think the Cavaliers regret moving Warrior-killer Dion Waiters for J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and a first round pick? Probably not, but the Warriors have won 10 straight games outside of their loss to Dion and the Heat.

2.

San Antonio Spurs

last week 2
The Spurs managed to lose to two of the West’s worst teams in the Pelicans and Mavericks over the weekend, but it isn’t enough to knock them out of the second spot just yet. Pop’s squad is still playing some of the best basketball in the league and can be excused for one hiccup.

3.

Cleveland Cavaliers

last week 4
The ship may have righted itself in Cleveland. They found their rhythm against the Nets in the second half and demolished the Thunder on their home court. The only cause for concern is that the already-thin Cavs will be without Kevin Love for an undisclosed period of time as he deals with a sore back.

4.

Washington Wizards

last week 10
That’s right, the Wizards are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. They have won four straight games including decisive wins over the Hornets, Hawks, and Celtics. With Toronto and Boston slipping, there’s a real chance for the Wizards to make some noise in the East.

5.

Boston Celtics

last week 9
The Celtics have finally passed the Raptors and currently hold the second seed in the East. Boston hasn’t been blowing the doors off of teams lately, but have capitalized on a freefall from Toronto. Winners of three straight games, the Celtics are finding ways to win behind Isaiah Thomas.

6.

Houston Rockets

last week 5
The Rockets defense is plummeting in a big way after being one of the biggest surprises of the first half of the season. Houston has lost 3 of it’s last 4, with it’s latest loss coming against the Pacers, where Harden and Gordon combined for 7-28 shooting.

7.

Atlanta Hawks

last week 6
I’m not sold on this Hawks team. They’ve had the second easiest schedule in the league to this point and their point differential is that of a very mediocre team. Keep an eye on a possible collapse during the second half of the season.

8.

L.A. Clippers

last week 8
The Clippers have lost two straight games, but they got good news on the injury front as Blake Griffin returned to the lineup. While the loss of Chris Paul hurts, having Griffin back and getting him in rhythm should help prevent any prolonged losing streaks.

9.

Utah Jazz

last week 3
The Jazz responded to being 3rd in the rankings last week by going 1-3 for the week with losses to the Thunder, Nuggets and Grizzlies. Inconsistency has been the name of the game for the Jazz, who haven’t been able to consistently generate offense as of late.

10.

Memphis Grizzlies

last week 12
Wins against the Raptors and Jazz will help the Grizzlies feel better about their loss to the Trail Blazers this week. The Grizzlies are just a half game back of the Thunder as of Monday and will need a little more consistency if they want to avoid a first round matchup with the Spurs.

11.

Indiana Pacers

last week 13
The Pacers have won three straight games including a convincing win over the Rockets. Paul George continues to be the catalyst of this team, as he shoulders the heavy lifting. But he’s received help recently as both Teague and Turner have provided consistent production.

12.

Toronto Raptors

last week 7
The Raptors are in freefall mode at the moment after losing to the Orlando Magic. They missed DeRozan for three games heading into Sunday’s game against Orlando. But as he returned, so did their defensive issues. Toronto is lacking an identity and their rotations are amplifying the defensive issues that their personnel has.

13.

Oklahoma City Thunder

last week 14
The Thunder have navigated the month of January well, dealing a blow to critics that stated their record was just a production of a soft schedule (hi!). If they beat the Spurs on Tuesday they can have an above .500 record for the month. Not bad considering how difficult their schedule has been.

14.

Denver Nuggets

last week 17
The Nuggets are for real, and that’s no Jokic. With a 7-3 record over their last ten games, the Nuggets are beginning to build a cushion between them and ninth seed Portland. Nikola Jokic is on a tear and is making a case for being the best passing big man in the league.

15.

Chicago Bulls

last week 16
Team turmoil got itself a win against an Embiid-less Sixers team. The Bulls have managed to hold onto a playoff spot for now, but there’s a fairly decent chance that this team will look different once the trade deadline passes.

16.

Miami Heat

last week not ranked
To quote Dion Waiters, “men lie, women lie, buckets don’t.” The team has found an unlikely hero in Waiters as he has led the team to seven straight wins and an Eastern Conference Player of the Week award. This Miami run doesn’t make sense, but it’s fun.

17.

Charlotte Hornets

last week 11
The Hornets have lost four straight games as the team has failed to give Kemba Walker the help he needs. Nic Batum has struggled and Marcin Williams is the team’s third leading scorer. In other-words, Walker really deserved the All-Star nod he received this week.

18.

Minnesota Timberwolves

last week not ranked
The Wolves have won four of their last five games and are starting to get more winning plays out of their roster. It takes a young team time to learn how to win, and that’s what we’re seeing now.

19.

Portland Trail Blazers

last week 19
The Blazers still can’t defend, but are playing better basketball lately. The team won three straight games before losing a close one to the Curry-less Warriors. But they have some tough competition to make playoffs in the Nuggets.

20.

Philadelphia 76ers

last week 18
The Sixers have lost two straight games, although only their narrow loss to the Rockets came with Embiid in the lineup. They’re tough to beat with their young star, but he still doesn’t play every game. Likely a factor in him missing out on a spot with the All-Star team.

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…

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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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