The Indiana Pacers continue to make a case for being the best team in the Eastern Conference. Their win over Miami on Tuesday gives them bragging rights until the two squads meet again next week.
But are the Pacers the best team in the league? The Portland Trail Blazers are right on Indiana’s heels, and they’re proving that Rip City might just be a more serious contender than we all thought.
Check out this week's NBA Power Rankings and tell us in the comments section where you think your team should be ranked!
1. Indiana Pacers (19-3, Last Week: 2)
A 10-0 record at home, an impressive win over the Heat, and stingy defense keeps Indiana above the rest of the league. A sluggish start versus Miami, which included only two points from Paul George, ended when the Pacers' size and defense helped them rally back from a 13-point deficit. Indiana still has the NBA's best record, with only three losses (all of which came on the second night of a back-to-back, including Sunday's loss to OKC).
2. Portland Trail Blazers (18-4, Last Week: 3)
Rip City rises in the rankings despite a buzzer beating loss to the Mavericks. The team rebounded with a win over the Jazz two nights later, shooting 61 percent from the field in the third quarter. The Trail Blazers are off to their best start since the 1990-91 season, when they won 27 of their first 30 games.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (17-4, Last Week: 2)
Last weekend, OKC took full advantage of a tired Pacers squad who played the Spurs the night before. With the win in Atlanta, the Thunder has won 11 of their last 12 games. Guard Reggie Jackson continues to steadily develop into a reliable sixth man, averaging 11.7 points and 3.9 rebounds a game this season.
4. Miami Heat (16-6, Last Week: 6)
It was a marquee rematch, but the defending champs fell short to the Pacers on Tuesday. Miami’s solid double teams of Paul George couldn't contain him down the stretch, while the Heat, which squandered a 13-point lead, had no answer for a dominating Roy Hibbert in the middle. The two teams meet again on December 18.
5. Houston Rockets (15-7, Last Week: 6)
Good defense helped the Rockets put away the Warriors and Magic last week. Against Golden State, Houston held the Warriors to their worst shooting (35.5 percent) and worst 3-point shooting (12.5 percent) of the season. The Rockets also limited the Magic to 34.5 percent from the field.
6. San Antonio Spurs (17-4, Last Week: 5)
The Spurs have taken another dip in the rankings after losing three of their last five games and surrendering more than 110 points in each of their last four contests. The Spurs should bounce back before a tough road stretch that includes the Clippers and Warriors. Next up: the Bucks, Timberwolves and Jazz.
7. Denver Nuggets (13-8, Last Week: 9)
Back-to-back losses on back-to-back nights on the road to the Cavaliers and Celtics ended the Nuggets seven game win streak. But Denver found redemption by closing out their six game road trip with two victories, including one in which they barely squeaked by Washington.
8. Dallas Mavericks (13-10, Last Week: 10)
After 18 lead changes in the game, the Mavs were able to get one past the sizzling Trail Blazers with a Monta Ellis game-winning shot. Dirk Nowitzki had a season-high seven assists to complement his 28 points in Dallas’ third straight win. Two nights later, however, the Mavs shot a dismal 5-of-27 form the arc in a loss to the Kings.
9. Los Angeles Clippers (15-8, Last Week: 7)
The Clippers are 3-2 without J.J. Reddick (wrist injury). An ugly loss to the Cavaliers, where they only scored 33 second half points, should wake the Clippers up from the funk. The Clippers take on two sub-.500 teams next: the 76ers and Wizards.
10. Golden State Warriors (13-10, Last Week: 8)
Here’s hoping Andre Iguodala returns soon to take some pressure off of Steph Curry. Without Iguodala in the lineup, Curry has played at least 40 minutes in five of the last six games, including a loss to the Bobcats in which the pure shooter scored a season-high 43 points.,
11. Phoenix Suns (12-9, Last Week: 11)
Rookie coach Jeff Hornacek has engineered a 12-9 Suns team that knocked off the Rockets and has won three straight.
12. Atlanta Hawks (11-11, Last Week: 18)
Kyle Korver’s three-point record (he’s sunk treys in 91 straight games) is one of the most exciting storylines this season.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-11, Last Week: 12)
The T-Wolves head to Philly after a blowout win over the Pistons, which followed two losses (to the Thunder and the Heat) and a postponed game in Mexico versus the Spurs.
14. Los Angeles Lakers (10-11, Last Week: 15)
Three words Lakers fans have waited to hear: Kobe is back. He only had nine points in his first game, against the Raptors, but the rust will wear off soon.
15. Memphis Grizzlies (10-11, Last Week: 17)
A banged up Memphis team gave the Magic its sixth straight loss, with Grizzlies' reserves outscoring the Magic bench 38-4.
16. Charlotte Bobcats (10-12, Last Week: 20)
Kemba Walker shined as he fought screens to defend Steph Curry and scored 31 points—27 in the second half and the Bobcats' final 15 — in Charlotte’s win over the Warriors.
17. Detroit Pistons (10-13, Last Week: 19)
The Pistons were riding a four game win streak until they stumbled in losses to the Heat and Timberwolves.
18. Boston Celtics (10-14, Last Week: 22)
The C’s are still holding onto that top spot in the Atlantic after routing the Knicks by 41 last weekend.
19.New Orleans Pelicans (10-10, Last Week: 14)
Without Anthony Davis, the Pelicans outrebounded the Thunder and had 20 second-chance points in the loss to OKC.
20. Chicago Bulls (8-12, Last Week: 16)
Injuries aside, Chicago came to play when they hosted the Heat, but lost all momentum after losing to the Bucks and Pistons. They need Loul Deng and Joakim Noah back soon.
21. Washington Wizards (9-11, Last Week: 13)
Down by one, the Wizards fell short to the Nuggets after they were unable to produce in their last three possessions.
22. Toronto Raptors (7-13, Last Week: 21)
Another season, another big-deal trade: Rudy Gay was shipped to the Kings. Let’s see what newly acquired Greivis Vasquez and forwards Patrick Patterson, John Salmons, and Chuck Hayes can do in Toronto.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-13, Last Week: 28)
After knocking off the Clippers Saturday, the Cavs were hoisted to victory over the Knicks by star guard Kyrie Irving’s 37 points and 11 assists.
24. Sacramento Kings (6-14, Last Week: 25)
Rudy Gay's acquisition gives the Kings more scoring power, as the former Raptors' star was the second-leading scorer for Toronto.
25. Brooklyn Nets (7-14, Last Week: 26)
Injuries and Jason Kidd’s ineffectiveness as head coach are two problems that Brooklyn has yet to overcome.
26. Orlando Magic (7-15, Last Week: 23)
The Magic’s struggles on the road continue: Their away record is 2-10 this season.
27. Philadelphia 76ers (7-16, Last Week: 24)
Michael Carter-Williams is out of the line up again (knee infection), which doesn’t help the Sixers’ inconsistency problems.
28. New York Knicks (6-15, Last Week: 29)
Carmelo Anthony is the second-leading scorer in the league right now, but his shaky Knicks are in last place in the Atlantic division.
29. Utah Jazz (5-19, Last Week: 27)
The only positive for the Jazz right now? Trey Burke. His 12.8 points and 4.3 assists per game show he can develop into a solid floor general, after missing 12 games due to a finger injury.
30. Milwaukee Bucks (5-17, Last Week: 30)
Milwaukee gets behind early and can’t recover. Against the Spurs, the Bucks were outrebounded 17-4 in the first quarter after San Antonio started the game on a 9-0 run.
Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images