By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst
(Last week’s record in parenthesis [regular season games only]; last week’s ranking in brackets)
1) Houston Rockets (1-1) : Playing without Luc Mbah a Moute (separated shoulder) probably won’t matter against Minnesota in the first round, but the Rockets are going to need him deeper in the playoffs.
2) Toronto Raptors (1-1) : There are playoff demons to be slain. Can this crew provide the seraph blades?
3) Golden State Warriors (0-1) : After throttling the Spurs in Game 1 Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) at Oracle, the Warriors have won 10 straight playoff games at home. Their last loss was Game 7 of The 2016 Finals.
4) Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1) : Need Playoff J.R. Smith (105-231, .455 on three-pointers last two postseasons) to re-emerge.
5) Boston Celtics (1-1) : Terry Rozier said it was “disrespectful” for teams to say they wanted to play the depleted Celtics in the first round. Now’s their chance to do something about it.
6) Utah Jazz (1-1) : First back-to-back playoff appearances since 2008-10.
7) New Orleans Pelicans (2-0) : Owner Gayle Benson seems to be making it plain that she plans to remain hands-on with the Pelicans in the wake of her husband Tom’s death last month.
8) Philadelphia 76ers (2-0) : Haven’t lost a game in a month. That’s about three Scaramuccis!
9) San Antonio Spurs (1-1) : Someone will do a "30 For 30" soon on just what the hell has happened between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs. It promises to be fascinating.
10) Oklahoma City Thunder (2-0) : Good to see Paul George’s shot came back, just in time for Game 1 Sunday (Monday, PHL time) against Utah.
11) Portland Trail Blazers (1-1) : Maurice Harkless (arthroscopic knee surgery) is an under-the-radar big loss for the Blazers.
12) Indiana Pacers (0-1) : Victor Oladipo getting the James Bond treatment from teammate Lance Stephenson after going off on the Cavs in Game 1.
13) Miami Heat (1-1) : The longtime beat writer for the Heat, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman, pointed out last week that the Heat, by making the playoffs rather than the Lottery, will surrender a much more benign first-round pick to Phoenix this year as part of the Goran Dragic trade than they could have. Miami still owes the Suns an unprotected first in 2021.
14) Milwaukee Bucks (1-1) : If I’m the Bucks, I honestly don’t know what I would do about Jabari Parker -- what to pay him, if he’s the long-term small-ball answer at center. He’s talented, but is he a fit? I really don’t know.
15) Minnesota Timberwolves (2-0) : Wednesday’s (Thursday, PHL time) overtime victory over Denver to clinch the final playoff spot was the biggest win for the franchise since May 19, 2004, when the Wolves beat Sacramento in Game 7 of the Western Conference semis, making the conference finals for the first -- and, so far, only -- time in franchise history.
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