Here’s a look at our latest NBA Power Rankings.
(All stats through Saturday’s games)
(Last week’s rank and change are in parentheses)
1. Indiana Pacers (1, NC): Last week’s loss to the Bulls seems to have only been a minor bump in the road, as they have now won three straight, and upped their record to a league-best 12-1.
2. San Antonio Spurs (2, NC): The Spurs always seem to be the best team in the league that nobody talks about…until they’re in the NBA Finals. Like the Pacers, they are 12-1, and have won 10-straight games. No matter how old they get, Coach Popovich finds a way.
3. Miami Heat (3, NC): The way the Eastern Conference is looking (aside from Indiana), the Heat might wrap up either of the top 2 seeds by February. They’ve just been cruising along, winning 7 of 8 at home and six straight overall. Dwyane Wade’s knee issues have to be a little concerning though. He was forced to miss two games this week with the ailment.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (4, NC): Getting Russell Westbrook back earlier than anticipated has proven to be the spark the Thunder needed. Without him they scored only 91.0 ppg, but with him they’re averaging 107.2 ppg.
5. Portland Trailblazers (16, +11): Are the Blazers for real? Their 12-2 record is enough to put that in the realm of possibility. They have fared very well so far, but against poor competition. The combined record of their opponents have been 81-95 (.460 winning percentage).
6. Los Angeles Clippers (6, NC): Imagine the damage the Clippers could do if they hit their free throws? They’re only shooting 71 percent from the line as a team, yet still rank second in the league in scoring at 107.3 ppg.
7. Houston Rockets (8, +1): Houston, we don’t have a problem! The Rockets have been scoring points at a blistering pace, averaging 114.1 ppg over their last seven games, and going 5-2 in that span. Dwight Howard is shooting 66 percent (31-for-47) from the charity stripe in his last four games, hopefully debunking the “Hack-a-Dwight” theory for good.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves (9, +1): Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio seem to be the perfect trio. Love (24.9 points, 13.6 rebounds) is an MVP frontrunner, while Martin (22.8 ppg) and Rubio (8.7 assists, 3.0 steals) aren’t looking too shabby in their own right. Chase Budinger is set to return within the next few weeks as well.
9. Golden State Warriors (5, -4): The Warriors are a fun, exciting and, well, a very good team, but that can all change in an instant without their oft-injured star, Stephen Curry. Their All-Star point guard has battled injuries throughout his career and is now dealing with a concussion. For Golden State to contend they need to keep him on the court. When Curry sits, the Warriors are 0-3 and average a meager 83.3 ppg.
10. Chicago Bulls (7, -3): It’s a tough blow losing Derrick Rose to season-ending surgery (torn meniscus), but if you remember, they played very well without him last year. I’m sure they’d love to have Nate Robinson back, but Mike Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague will hope to fill the void left by the former MVP. This is still a team that plays excellent defense under coach Tom Thibodeau and will be a force in the Eastern Conference.