Bulls

NBA Power Rankings: The cluttered Eastern Conference

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NBA Power Rankings: The cluttered Eastern Conference

Close playoff races down the stretch are commonplace in the NBA, a league where more than half the teams make the postseason.

Such is the case in the Western Conference, where the No. 6 Dallas Mavericks are just three games ahead of the No. 9 Utah Jazz, with the Trail Blazers and Rockets currently holding the final two playoff spots. The Warriors' historic run hasn't deterred the Spurs from competing for homecourt advantage, and they're still just 3.5 games back of the Splash Brothers and will play each other three times still.

But in the Eastern Conference things are even tighter. Consider that a mere two games separate the fourth-seeded Miami Heat and the ninth-seeded Detroit Pistons. One stretch of hot play could be the difference between having homecourt in the first round of a playoff series and missing the postseason altogether. Even the Wizards are two games back of the No. 8 Bulls. There will be plenty of seed-shifting in the East from now until early April. Toronto has also moved within two games of the Cavaliers, who have lost three of four.

On to the rankings:

Previous power rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17

Rank (LW) Team
Record Comment
1 (1) 53-5 Stephen Curry's magical, historical, unfathomable season added another chapter Saturday against the Thunder. His game-winner from 35 feet, his 12th triple of the night, was on another level. He's the MVP and it's not close.
(3) 50-9 A 7-1 Rodeo Road Trip was the latest statement to the Warriors (and the rest of the league) that the West is still up for grabs. Tim Duncan became the fifth player in NBA history with 3,000 blocks on Saturday night. 
(4) 41-18 Kevin Durant went from hero to zero in a 14-second span Saturday night in the loss to the Warriors. Still, that was more proof that the Thunder are Golden State's biggest threat in the West. KD and Russ will be a steep challenge if they meet.
4 (5) 39-19 Not only did Kyle Lowry drop a career-high 43 points and hit the game-winner in the Raptors' win over the Cavs on Friday. He also limited Kyrie Irving to 10 points. Toronto could make the East real interesting in late May.
5 (2) 41-17 The Cavs are just 11-6 under Tyronn Lue, and they've lost three of their last four. They've got Indiana, Washington and Boston at home this week. A 3-0 week would help ease some concerns.
6 (6) 38-20 Chris Paul had one of the best individual lines of the year Friday against the Kings: 40 points, 8 rebounds, 13 assists, 2 steals, 13-20 FG, 4-9 3FG, 10-10 FT. And +14 in a 10-point road victory.
7 (7) 35-25 The C's haven't lost at home since Jan. 6, a span of 10 games. And now they get eight of their next 12 in Boston. Interested to see if they can catch the top two dogs in the East/stave off Miami for the No. 3 seed.
8 (8) 33-26 Joe Johnson scored 12 points in his first game with the Heat. Miami isn't short on wings, but Johnson gives them an efficient scorer and apt defender, as well as someone with valuable playoff experience.
9 (11) 32-28 Damian Lillard and Co. are 17-4 since Jan. 10, the third best record in the NBA behind Golden State (19-3) and San Antonio (18-3). That's good company, and Dame doesn't look like he's slowing down anytime soon.
10 (14) 33-27 Picking up two conference wins (CHI, CHA) was crucial to end the week with a brutal March schedule upcoming. They're on the road for five straight, beginning with Golden State on Tuesday and ending in Toronto next Thursday.
11 (9) 31-28 The Pacers have lost three of four, and will now play six of seven on the road, beginning Monday in Cleveland. Oh, and their one home game in that span? When the Spurs come to town a week from today. Bis stretch for Frank Vogel's group.
12 (10) 34-24 They're still No. 5 in the West and aren't in any real danger of missing the postseason. But being on the wrong end of the Suns snapping their 13-game losing streak is ugly no matter how you slice it.
13 (12) 30-28 They finish a difficult six-game road trip with a 4-2 record and now get 10 of their next 12 at home, where they tout a 19-9 record (third best in the East). That's a good sign for their playoff chances.
14 (16) 32-28 Chandler Parsons was a one-man wrecking crew Sunday night against the Wolves, going for 29 points, six rebounds and four assists in just 27 minutes. Dallas has won three of four.
15 (20) 31-29 An East-best four-game win streak has included victories over the Cavaliers and Raptors. Tobias Harris has averaged 16.3 points on 51 percent shooting in that span. He's making Stan Van Gundy look smart.
16 (15) 30-28 Doug McDermott has stepped up in a big way with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler missing time. The sharpshooter is averaging 19.6 points on 50 percent shooting from deep in his last five games.
17 (17) 28-30  A pair of 20-point, 10-assist games against the Sixers and Cavaliers (both W's) was a good start to Washington's biggest stretch of the year. They're two games behind Charlotte, Chicago and Detroit for a playoff spot.
18 (13) 28-30 Losers in five of seven after winning a season-best seven straight, the battle for a playoff spot gets more difficult with five of six on the road, including five against current playoff teams.
19 (18) 23-35  Thursday's win over the Thunder was seriously impressive. But 11 of their 17 March opponents have winning records. That includes Golden State, San Antonio twice, Portland, Toronto, Indiana and the Clippers. Bunches of L's coming.
20 (19) 29-30 James Harden's performance Friday in Portland was superb, scoring 46 points as Houston overcame a 21-point deficit to earn a victory. The bad news is that the massive win salvaged a 1-2 week. They're clinging to the No. 8 seed.
21 (21) 24-33 DeMarcus Cousins is making a strong case for a spot on the All-NBA First Team. Since the calendar flipped to 2016 he's averaged 30.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists, plus a block, steal and 3-pointer per game.
22 (23) 23-36 Danilo Gallinari's most recent ankle sprain will give youngsters Gary Harris, Will Barton and Emmanuel Mudiay more touches to progress before the end of the year.
23 (22) 24-35 Giannis Antetokounmpo logged his first career-triple double (27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) on Tuesday against the Lakers. It was Milwaukee's fourth win in their last give games, though they've dropped two straight since.
24 (26) 25-36 Phil Jackson should probably do less nonsensical tweeting about Stephen Curry and do more worrying about his team that's lost 14 of 17.
25 (24) 26-32 In six games since Tobias Harris was dealt to Detroit, snubbed dunk contest champion Aaron Gordon has averaged 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 31.3 minutes per game for Orlando.
26 (25) 19-41 We didn't get the KAT-Brow matchup Saturday night in New Orleans. But Towns went for 30-15, Andrew Wiggins dropped 20 and Zach LaVine added 25 in a solid road win. The young guns are getting better up north.
27 (28) 17-42 A .500 record in their last 10 games, their first two-game winning streak since Dec. 10 and taking another step toward rebuilding in waiving Joe Johnson? A nice solid week for Sean Marks and the Nets.
28 (27) 8-51 Opponents have averaged 118.9 points during Philly's seven-game losing streak. Barring some unexpected hot stretch of play they'll have the most Lottery balls in the Ben Simmons sweepstakes.
29 (29) 11-49 Year 20 has been good to D'Angelo Russell. Since his birthday on Tuesday, the No. 2 overall pick has averaged 22.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in two games. Still, the Lakers have lost eight straight.
30 (30) 15-44 They haven't won on the road in nearly three months (Dec. 7 in Chicago) and will play eight of their next 10 games away from Phoenix. Incredibly, we still haven't seen rock bottom. They're 3-28 in their last 31 games.

NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules

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USA TODAY

NBA Board of Governors pass new, stricter anti-tampering rules

After much discussion over whether or not the NBA should impose harsher penalties on teams for breaking the anti-tampering rules, an official decision has been made. The NBA Board of Governors passed a much more strict set of rules that will force teams to be compliant with the anti-tampering rules.

Among the new measures, the league will be selecting five teams per year that will undergo a "random audit", the maximum amount for a fine related to tampering has been raised to $10 million and team officials are required to save communications with agents for one full year.

The league will also retain the right to take the communication devices of owners if it is deemed necessary in investigations, though it has been stated that it is not something that Adam Silver wants to rely on moving forward. 

Though concrete details have not been released, possible punishments for tampering will reportedly include taking away draft picks, the voiding of contracts and more.

This is all in an attempt to create a more "even playing field" amid the belief that small-market teams are at a disadvantage when it comes to player movement. The new rules sound great but there is already fear among NBA GMs when it comes to how their privacy will be affected with this being a clear area of focus for the league. 

Along with the new, harsher tampering penalties, the league also announced that they have changed the language regarding traveling calls to "address the uncertainty around traveling." Another new rule announced was that teams are now required to announce their starting lineups at least 30 minutes before tipoff as opposed to 10 minutes, in an effort to "increase transparency for teams, media and fans." Teams will still be allowed to change their lineups up to the last minute if a player gets hurt in pregame warmups. 

All of the new anti-tampering rules approved by the league on Friday were a response to this wild NBA offseason we just experienced. There were many deals agreed to right at the start of free agency, such as the Bulls with Thaddeus Young, and the timing of those deals had many owners wanting the league to make tampering a greater focus. To a greater extent, moves like Anthony Davis forcing his way to the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard orchestrating he and Paul George's move to the Clippers are what got this package of anti-tampering measures passed.

Adam Silver has picked up a reputation as an NBA Commissioner who is very willing to listen to new ideas and make changes, and Friday's events support that reputation as he and the league continue to look for the best ways to get NBA teams to be in compliance with the anti-tampering rules. 

Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?

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USA TODAY

Is Ryan Arcidiacono trying to become the fourth Jonas Brother?

The Jonas Brothers are in Chicago for concerts that are taking place on Thursday and Friday night, and they have enjoyed quite a week. This week the trio has enjoyed a nice golf outing at Village Links in Glen Ellyn, had some quality BBQ at Bub City and even got the amazing opportunity to play a touch football game at Soldier Field. But one particular Bulls guard is looking to add another fun experience to their Chicago trip.

The Bulls organization welcomed the Jonas Brothers to the city with a set of custom jerseys for the trio and their significant others and that's when Ryan Arcidiacono chimed in with his offer. 

Since the Jonas Brothers have already got to play some football on the actual Soldier Field grass, Arci figured they might as well keep the Chicago sports-themed fun going and shoot some hoops with him. 

Now, Arcidiacono didn't make it clear whether or not he was offering for the Jonas Brother to get some shots up with him at the United Center, where their shows take place on Thursday and Friday night. But, either way, his time is running out as they will be moving on to Jackson County, MO for their next stop on tour on September 21.

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