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Rowan’s Rankings | NBA Week 24

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While the playoff picture is coming into focus in the Western Conference, there is still much to be decided in the East. There are many possible suitors for the eighth seed, and not much separating fifth from eighth. With ten or fewer games left for most teams, the marathon of the NBA season is coming down to one last sprint.

1. Golden State Warriors last week 4

Andre Iguodala has been one of the biggest keys to the Warriors’ recent success. The veteran wing is showing he still has gas in the tank, while Steph Curry is reminding doubters just how good he is. The Warriors have won seven straight games.

2. San Antonio Spurs last week 1

The Spurs have won narrowly against the Wolves, Grizzlies, and Knicks in order to maintain their position in the West. At this point, it seems unlikely that the team will be able to catch the Warriors for the top seed, given the roll Golden State is on.

3. Houston Rockets last week 2

James Harden is the MVP. He combines the jaw-dropping numbers of Russell Westbrook with efficiency, team success, and yes… even some defense. Unless you have an unhealthy obsession with whole numbers, the decision is fairly obvious.

4. Boston Celtics last week 5

The Celtics have won four straight games and have tied the Cavaliers for the first seed in the East. Home court seems to matter more to Boston, given the Cavs’ tendency to continue resting players. This means the April 5 showdown between the conference leaders could wind up deciding who gets the first seed.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers last week 3

How much stock do you put in the struggles of a team that has shown they can flip a switch in the past? Well, while the effort isn’t there yet, a banged up Tristan Thompson could be a massive problem come playoffs. While others can flip the switch, a wounded defensive anchor would make the path much more difficult for the Cavs.

6. Toronto Raptors last week 7

Their newly found defensive identity has suited the Raptors well, as they’ve won five straight games without the services of Kyle Lowry. DeMar DeRozan has stepped up his play-making and defense lately, showing a willingness to put the team first.

7. Washington Wizards last week 8

The Wizards have won three straight games, including a win over the Cavaliers on a second night of a back to back. Washington’s defensive play has been uneven lately, but John Wall has the offense clicking at a very high level.

8. Portland Trail Blazers last week 13

The Blazers have won three straight games and are officially back in a playoff position. Their remaining schedule is fairly weak in comparison to Denver, so expect Damian Lillard and company to once again return to the playoff stage.

9. Milwaukee Bucks last week 12

The Bucks have won five of their last seven games and are currently tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The prospect of facing Antetokounmpo and Middleton in the first round should be extra incentive for the Toronto Raptors to get out of the fourth seed.

10. Utah Jazz last week 6

Why must the Jazz make everything so difficult? They are getting all the help they could possibly ask for from the Clippers in order to get the fourth seed, yet they can’t come up with consistent play. Utah has lost three of its last four, including a loss to the Clippers. They still have a one game lead over L.A. for fourth, but they continue to make things difficult for themselves.

11. Oklahoma City Thunder last week 9

The Thunder have been on a roll recently. Sure they were dismantled by the Warriors and Rockets, but they’ve gone 6-2 over their last eight games. The team has routinely taken care of business against lesser opponents, and are tied with the Clippers in the loss column at 31.

12. Memphis Grizzlies last week 10

Three straight losses for the Grizzlies have put them a game and a half back of the Thunder for sixth in the West. Outside of games against the Spurs and Thunder, their remaining schedule is fairly easy. When they host the Thunder on April 5, it’s likely that playoff seeding will be on the line.

13. L.A. Clippers last week 11

After beating the Jazz, the Clippers came up with a massive choke-job against the Sacramento Kings. They blew an 18-point lead with only five minutes left in the game. No matter how good the roster is, the Clippers seem to find a way to disappoint. Can’t help but feel this is the last year that this team is together.

14. Denver Nuggets last week 14

The Nuggets got good wins over the Cavaliers and Pacers before getting man-handled by Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. Denver plays seven of their last nine games on the road to close the season. If they’re going to make playoffs, they will have to earn it.

15. Indiana Pacers last week 17

The Pacers finally broke their pattern of alternating between wins and losses as the Nuggets handed them their second loss in a row. Indiana rebounded from that with a win over the Sixers, but the recent play from the team remains uninspiring.

16. Miami Heat last week 15

The Heat have lost two straight games to the Celtics and Raptors. Miami is still in a playoff position, but they finish their season against the Cavs, Raptors, and Wizards twice in a four game span. The Heat will need to take care of business now, in order to take pressure off that stretch.

17. Dallas Mavericks last week 16

Playing the Warriors, Clippers, and Raptors in a row was a tough week for the Mavericks. While they got a win to show for it, at three-and-a-half games back of the playoffs, their hopes for an extended season seem all but faded.

18. Chicago Bulls last week 20

Somehow there is still hope for the Bulls making the playoffs. They are just a half game back of the Heat for eighth after their recent slide. The Bulls have actually played fairly well recently, showing you just how good Jimmy Butler is.

19. Detroit Pistons last week 18

Losers of three straight games, the Pistons are one of the biggest disappointments of the season. Their playoff hopes aren’t dead yet, but their inability to take care of business against lesser opponents doesn’t inspire hope.

20. Atlanta Hawks last week 19

The nosedive continues as the Hawks have lost seven straight games. If the Cavaliers fall to the second seed, the Hawks may wind up with a nightmare scenario of facing the Cavs for a third straight year and serving as the first round slump buster.

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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