Ranking the rankings, Week 17: the Mavericks' playoff push begins

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

After a break last week, power rankings are back. How kind has the sports world been to the Mavs the past two weeks?

Hi everyone. Power rankings are back! I know, you missed me. But I was busy recovering from writing this fun article on my New Orleans experience, which I think we can all agree was more interesting than a bunch of numbers.

But numbers are fun too, though the All-Star break didn't really create much movement for any team anyway. Here are two whole weeks of rankings for you to fight over in the comments! Keep in mind these numbers do not reflect Monday's totally awesome victory against the Knicks.

The rankings

Week 16

Mmb_power_rankings_2013-14_wk_16_medium

[Ed. note: I wasn't able to get CBS's full rankings from week 16, but Dallas was 6th in them that week.]

Week 17

Mmb_power_rankings_2013-14_wk_17_medium

Some observations

  • Not much movement over week 16, which makes sense, and is another reason I opted not to do this last week. But the Mavericks were one of the teams that moved, thanks to that win over the Pacers. As that brutal loss to Charlotte and then win over the Pacers seems to have shown, though, the Mavs are odd. I think they can hang with any team in the NBA. They're also capable of losing to any team.
  • And right on cue, they moved down in week 17. As much of the comments below indicate, they HAVE been the beneficiaries of a somewhat light schedule recently, and as has been noted elsewhere on MMB, they have a brutal March coming up. Strap in, y'all.
  • In case you guys were wondering (you probably weren't), I have reluctantly forsaken the Warriors as my second favorite team for the time being. It seems I kind of have to.
  • Speaking of teams receiving consideration for my new second-favorite team, the Kings are so interesting to me this year. As you guys know, I don't do a ton of research for these, but I have been following them more of late, and they kind of seem a couple moves away from figuring things out.
  • The Lakers seem to have settled comfortably into that bottom five, which is both terrifying (for draft reasons) and full of schadenfreude at the same time. Doesn't look like they're going to try to bring Kobe back this season, either. Personally, I am eagerly awaiting the return of Xavier Henry, for reasons I still can't fully explain.
  • Look at the Bobcats! Good for them. That's nice, and makes me feel a little (though not much) better about the Mavs losing to them. They really seem very close to being a team that will demand attention.

Week 16 quotables

NBA.com

The Mavs went into the break winning six of their last seven, beating the Pacers on the road, and playing some of their best defense of the season. They have only four back-to-backs remaining (no team has fewer) and their opponents on the second night are Detroit (on Saturday), Utah, Boston and the Lakers. That kind of a schedule should allow Dirk Nowitzki to stay fresh through April.

ESPN:

GUYS. ESPN's Week 16 Mavs commentary comes courtesy of our very own Kirk Henderson!

The Mavs snuck up to sixth in the West before the break. Now for the bad news: 18 of their final 28 games come against playoff-bound or playoff-chasing squads. So pretty much every game from here has postseason weight for Dirk and Co. (Kirk Henderson, TrueHoop Network)

Sports Illustrated:

The NBA's new longest-tenured All-Star, Dirk Nowitzki, is averaging 24.2 points per 36 minutes, up from 19.9 last season. Dallas will be a tough out in the playoffs if the Nowitzki- and Monta Ellis-led attack continues to play at a top-five level in offensive efficiency.


Week 17 quotables

Yahoo! Sports

Just how good is the Western Conference? As one Mavericks scout noted, they are 12 games over .500 and are in seventh place.

NBA.com

A soft schedule has helped the Mavs win eight of their last 10 games. They've shown improvement on the glass (a weakness all season), getting outrebounded only twice in that stretch. But they're still just a game in the loss column ahead of Memphis for the final playoff spot in the West and their schedule picks up later this week, with six straight games against teams with winning records.

ESPN:

The Mavs' 7-2 mark in February is the league's third best. Even better for Dirk Nowitzki's crew: Dallas is down to a league-low three back-to-backs remaining. Any giddiness is tempered, though, by the fact the Mavs still found themselves stuck at No. 8 in the West on Monday morning.

Sports Illustrated:

Monta Ellis continues to provide a fascinating contrast to Dirk Nowitzki on offense. Ellis has been the NBA's best at driving toward the rim this season, leading qualified players with 7.3 points per games off drives, according to SportsVU, and ranking second in team points per game off drives (12.2).

Sources

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