Power Rankings: Warriors, Cavs poised for third straight Finals meeting
We never get things right, especially when no real games have been played yet.
Last year, we whiffed on the Portland Trail Blazers, ranking them 25th to start the season, and had two teams that failed to make the playoffs — New Orleans and Chicago — in the preseason top 10. Two years ago, it was the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks who surpassed expectations, while it was hard to see how hard the Phoenix Suns would fall when the three-point-guard thing didn’t work out.
This year, there are sure to be some rankings below that look silly six months from now. After the top three teams in each conference, there’s potential volatility all over the place. Changes could work or backfire. Old guys will start to look old and young guys will step up. Injuries will happen, of course. And some teams will be greater than the sum of their parts, while others will be much worse.
That’s what makes sports so fun.
It would be really fun to predict something other than Cavs-Warriors in The Finals again. But how do you envision that without an injury to the guy who’s played 6,000 more minutes than anybody else over the course of his career without missing just a few games here or there, or without at least two injuries to the Warriors’ star quartet?
In the 70-year history of the NBA, we’ve never had the same Finals matchup three seasons in row. But we never had a team come back from a 3-1 deficit to win The Finals either … until the Cavs did it four months ago.
Anything is possible. It’s just hard to predict anything other than Cleveland and Golden State playing again in June. For now, the Warriors are ahead of the champs in the rankings. The Cavs made history in 2016, but then Bob Myers added Kevin bleeping Durant to the team that won 73 games.
April 11: Warriors headline a special season
This time last year: Warriors No. 1, and for good reason — Luke Walton was the Warriors’ (temporary) coach and the Cavs began the season with Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert on the shelf. The Pacers were trying to play small, the Pelicans already had injuries, Kyle Lowry was the preseason MVP, and Mikhail Prokhorov showed off his skills.
Hero team of the preseason: Golden State (6-1) — Preseason doesn’t count, but that doesn’t mean that the Warriors weren’t going to look like the best team in the league.
Zero team of the preseason: Brooklyn (1-5) — After beating the Pistons in their opener, the Nets lost their last five games, allowing their opponents to shoot 49 percent.
High jumps of the summer: Utah (+8), Houston (+6), New York (+6)
Free falls of the summer: Miami (-15), Oklahoma City (-8), Milwaukee (-5)
Team to watch this week: LA Clippers — The Clips play only two games, but it’s the start of what could be a franchise-defining season and they’re playing two teams – Utah and Portland – that should be in the mix for a top-four seed in the West.
Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league averaged 98.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.9 points scored per 100 possessions last season.
NBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.
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