The Pacers climb back up to take a seat on the power rankings throne, while the Heat sink after dropping two straight games in the Big Apple. And while we’re on the topic of New York, both the Knicks and Nets are looking like revamped teams hungry for a playoff spot — and respect. Keep an eye on those two as they try to shake up the bottom Eastern Conference postseason seeds.
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 (30-7, Last Week: 3)
Paul George has struggled getting buckets (he was 2-for-14 against the Wizards), but that’s not keeping the Pacers from getting Ws. Indy’s suffocating defense held opponents to under 80 points in three of its last five games. With a matchup against the Warriors on the horizon, the Pacers hope George, who redeemed himself with 31 points against the Kings Tuesday, and his offense shows up more consistently.
2. Golden State Warriors (25-14, Last Week: 1)
Speaking of the Warriors, they have quickly earned a reputation of keeping games interesting in late-game situations. Stephen Curry’s game winner versus the Celtics was nothing short of amazing. He’s the purest shooter in the league and is made for moments like that. He’ll take his shooting heroics into games against OKC this week and Indiana next week.
3. San Antonio Spurs (30-8, Last Week: 6)
The first squad to reach 30 wins this season and best road team in the league (14-3) are on a five-game win streak. The Spurs’ four-game homestand invites two subpar and two offensive powerhouse teams to San Antonio. The big test, however, is when they take on the energized and youthful Trail Blazers Friday. It’ll be fun to see if the Spurs take the Blazers to school or if San Antonio will be schooled.
4. Portland Trail Blazers (28-9, Last Week: 4)
Two back-to-back losses in a six-game span isn’t rattling the Trail Blazers. Portland redeemed itself by beating Orlando and the Celtics, with LaMarcus Aldridge notching his 21st double-double against Boston. The Blazers are 18-2 when Aldridge leads the team in scoring. He’ll aim to keep the offensive momentum going Friday against the Spurs, then OKC and Houston next week.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (28-10, Last Week: 5)
Talking heads used to complain about the erratic play of Russell Westbrook, but they’re silenced when they see OKC is an unimpressive 5-5 with him out of the lineup. Despite Kevin Durant’s prolific scoring and all around game—34 points, nearly nine rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game—the Thunder just aren’t the same without its zippy, drive-to-the-hole point guard.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (26-13, Last Week: 9)
Another squad playing without its floor general, the Clippers are riding on the shoulders of Blake Griffin, who has reached the 30-point plateau five times this season. J.J. Reddick returned to the lineup and dropped 19 points in 23 minutes. Not much to complain about in Hollywood, but the team heads out on a tiresome seven game road trip, which includes a stop in Indiana, later this week.
7. Houston Rockets (25-14, Last Week: 8)
Houston lost control of the fast break battle in last week’s loss in Atlanta, 20-8, which resulted in the end of their six-game win streak. Then came two delays due to a leaky roof in Washington and a potential meltdown in the nation’s capital by blowing a 25-point lead against the Wizards. They held off the Wizards and kept the Celtics from snapping their terrible losing streak by defeating Boston over the weekend.
8. Miami Heat (27-10, Last Week: 2)
The Heat found no love in NYC: the Knicks and Nets knocked off the defending champs during Miami’s two-game Empire State tour. Most surprising was Dwyane Wade going 0-6 at the charity stripe against the Knicks — unusual for the career-76.5 percent free throw shooter. On a brighter note, the defending champs were honored at the White House, rubbing elbows with Bo, Sunny, and the President.
9. Toronto Raptors (19-17, Last Week: 10)
It was Drake Night at the Air Canada Centre last Saturday night. The rapper and Toronto native, who announced the starting line-up, could quite possibly be the squad’s good luck charm in addition to its team ambassador. The Raptors have won three straight and their next four games—Celtics, T-Wolves, Lakers, and Bobcats—shouldn’t pose as stumbling blocks for them.
10. Dallas Mavericks (23-16, Last Week: 16)
Dropping 40 points against the Pelicans, Dirk Nowitzki gave us flashbacks of the sharp shooter he used to be. The Mavs aren’t as threatening as they were in years past (remember, they won the 2011 NBA championship), but the 35-year-old is helping his Mavs hang around. Dallas is in third place in the Southwest division, only two games behind the Harden-Howard led Rockets.
11. Denver Nuggets (19-18, Last Week: 18)
The scrappy team is keeping its hat in the playoff ring, despite getting tripped up by the Jazz and Warriors.
12. Chicago Bulls (17-19, Last Week: 14)
Despite no D-Rose or Luol Deng, the Bulls refuse to lie down and play dead. They’ve won five of their last six games.
13. Phoenix Suns (21-16, Last Week: 7)
Will Eric Bledsoe be back this season after undergoing knee surgery last week? No one knows for sure, but the Suns will miss his 18.0 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.
14. Atlanta Hawks (20-18, Last Week: 11)
Both Indiana and Houston couldn’t contain the Al Horford-less Hawks at home. Kyle Korver’s perimeter shooting (and streak) keeps them in flight.
15. New York Knicks (15-23, Last Week: 19)
New Year, new Knicks. They’ve won six straight and beat the Heat last week without J.R. Smith, who was benched for his shoelace antics.
16. Brooklyn Nets (15-22, Last Week: 8)
After a 5-0 to start 2014, the Nets will go toe-to-toe with another hot team with a similar record later this week, their intra-state rival, the Knicks.
17. Memphis Grizzlies (18-19, Last Week: 23)
Mike Conley’s 24-point average per game over the last five contests is something to smile about as the Grizz wait for Marc Gasol’s return.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (18-19, Last Week: 13)
MVP candidate Kevin Love is frustrated that his sub-.500 T-wolves aren’t exactly looking like the playoff team he envisioned. They haven’t strung together two straight wins since December 28th.
19. Sacramento Kings (13-23, Last Week: 28)
Rudy is enjoying an uptick in offense, shooting 52 percent from the field since joining the Kings.
20. Washington Wizards (17-29, Last Week: 12)
The Wizards are tied with the Bulls for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. The two teams meet for a second time this week on Friday.
21. New Orleans Pelicans (15-22, Last Week: 15)
The Pelicans are banged up, with three key players nursing injuries, and have lost six straight.
22. Cleveland Cavaliers (14-24, Last Week: 29)
Getting blown out by 44 points by Sacramento is just plain painful. Oooouuch.
23. Utah Jazz (13-26, Last Week: 25)
The Jazz are on the rise, just a bit, after stunning the Thunder and Nuggets with double-digit victories.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (16-23, Last Week: 20)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is back, but the Bobcats’ recent 1-5 skid is slowly erasing postseason hope.
25. Detroit Pistons (16-22, Last Week: 24)
Things the Pistons are thankful for: Piecing together two consecutive wins after a rough stretch, and being first in the NBA in offensive rebounding.
26. Orlando Magic (10-28, Last Week: 27)
Nikola Vucevic’s absence (concussion) is a blow to the Magic who are 0-9 without him.
27. Philadelphia 76ers (12-25, Last Week: 21)
The Sixers didn’t build any momentum after their win over the Trail Blazers on January 4. Philly is on a four game losing streak.
28. Boston Celtics (13-26, Last Week: 23)
The Celtics are living in misery with chilly temperatures in Boston and no wins in their last nine contests.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (14-24, Last Week: 26)
The lowly Lakers continue to stack up the losses (11 in their last 12 games).
30. Milwaukee Bucks (7-30, Last Week: 30)
There’s no movement from the bottom spot of the power rankings. The Bucks’ losing streak is now at six.
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