DA's Top 15 Rankings: 76ers rising as playoffs roll along

NBA.com Global on May 01, 2018 08:41 AM
DA's Top 15 Rankings: 76ers rising as playoffs roll along
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 24: The Philadelphia 76ers celebrate the series win after the game against the Miami Heat in Game Five of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst

(Last week’s record in parenthesis; April 16 ranking in brackets)

1) Houston Rockets (3-0) [1]: Got Luc Mbah a Moute back, and he’ll be crucial if they get past Utah and see Golden State in the conference finals.

2) Toronto Raptors (2-0) [2]: They trusted their bench as they have all season, and pulled away from the gassed Wizards when it counted in consecutive fourth quarters in Games 5 and 6.

3) Golden State Warriors (2-0) [3]: Andre Iguodala said he had plenty left for the playoffs, and shown so the first five postseason games against the Spurs and Pelicans.

4) Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1) [4]: Small, hopeful sign of life from Cavs Sunday (Monday, PHL time): a double-double (15 and 10 in 34 minutes) from Tristan Thompson, back in the starting lineup for the decisive Game 7 against Indiana.

5) Philadelphia 76ers (1-0) [8]: The Belinelli Line in April: seven games, 18.4 ppg, 51.7 percent from the floor, 43 percent on three-pointers, .665 True Shooting Percentage.

6) Boston Celtics (2-1) [5]: It will be hard enough for the Celtics to slow down the 76ers in the next round; if Jaylen Brown (hamstring) is limited or out of action, the task becomes extremely difficult. Brown’s size and length makes him one of the few guards that could really make Ben Simmons work to get his shots off.

7) Utah Jazz (2-2) [6]: See Boston above if Ricky Rubio’s hamstring does the same to his chances of playing against Houston.

8) New Orleans Pelicans (0-1) [7]: It’s not gonna be the North Texas Smoothie King Center now, is it?

9) Indiana Pacers (1-2) [12]: Season complete. What a turnaround season for the Pacers, whose future is extremely bright.

10) Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) [10]: Season complete. I would not write off a Carmelo opt-in followed in near-record time by a Carmelo trade somewhere. Yes, he’ll be 34 on opening night. Yes, he’s not good at all defensively. But in a league where scoring averages show no signs of slowing down, you still need guys who can get buckets. ‘Melo can still do that with regular minutes. Someone could use that, on what you shouldn’t forget will be a one-year commitment only.

11) San Antonio Spurs (0-1) [9]: Season complete. It will not shock, if Mike Budenholzer doesn’t get the head coaching job he seeks -- or, if Ettore Messina does get a head gig in the NBA -- to see Bud back on the Spurs’ bench next season. He should be in no hurry to take a bad job with his last two years’ worth of checks from Atlanta accruing interest nicely.

12) Miami Heat (0-1) [13]: Season complete. Can the Heat find a taker for Hassan Whiteside?

13) Milwaukee Bucks (1-2) [14]: Season complete. Now comes one of the biggest questions in the recent history of the franchise: who will coach Giannis Antetokounmpo going forward, if interim Joe Prunty doesn’t keep the gig? Because of the Greek Freak, it’s the most coveted job among the currently unemployed in the coaching ranks.

14) Minnesota Timbewolves (0-2) [15]: Season complete. Making the playoffs after 12 seasons outside the dance was a worthwhile and reasonable goal this season. But the Wolves have to aim much higher next year.

15) Portland Trail Blazers [11]: Season complete. Wouldn’t expect a breakup of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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