This past week wasn’t exactly the best for the NBA’s top teams. Oklahoma City is struggling on their six-game road trip, the Clippers have hit a low point, and Miami has played just one game over the past eight days. San Antonio is about the only team that’s done anything noteworthy lately, but is it enough to vault them to number one in our power rankings? Here’s a look at the answer…
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (33-10) – The Thunder have lost two out of their last three games, but it’s understandable since they’ve been on the road 10 out of the last 12 contests. Plus one of these losses was a three-point overtime game at Denver, and the other was a five-point road loss to Golden State – both solid teams. Taking all of this into account, the next few weeks should get easier for Oklahoma City and see them remain atop the standings.
2. San Antonio (34-11) – In our last NBA power rankings, the Spurs were sitting at number four. But they’ve since ascended to the second spot (almost first) following a six-game winning streak. Their best victories during this stretch include beating Memphis, Golden State, Atlanta (road) and Philadelphia (road). Tony Parker has boosted his scoring average over the past month, and is now pouring in 19.8 PPG.
3. Miami Heat (27-12) – We had Miami ranked third last week, and it’s hard to move them up after playing just one game since then – a 123-116 OT victory over Toronto. After a home game against Detroit tonight, the Heat run into a much tougher part of their schedule by going on the road against Boston, Brooklyn and Indiana. LeBron James leads this team in four categories, including points (26.5 PPG), rebounds (8.2 RPG), assists (7.1 APG) and steals (1.6 SPG).
4. LA Clippers (32-12) – The Clippers seem to win and lose in streaks since they lost four straight games earlier in the season, rattled off a 17-game win streak, and have now lost their last three contests. One of these losses was particularly bad because Los Angeles dropped a game to the Western Conference’s worst team in Phoenix. Things don’t look to get any easier either with 9 out of the next 10 games being played on the road.
5. New York Knicks (26-14) – The Knicks are busy trying to work Amar’e Stoudemire (11.3 PPG) back into the lineup. In terms of wins/losses, this hasn’t been the smoothest of transitions because New York is just 5-5 in the 10 games he’s played. Will Stoudemire’s return from injury hinder the chemistry that Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton built? It’s difficult to say for sure, but we’re convinced that a team without him can’t beat Miami in the playoffs.
6. Brooklyn Nets (26-16) – The Brooklyn surge continues as they’ve now notched wins in 10 out of the past 11 games. Brook Lopez (18.6 PPG), Joe Johnson (17.4 PPG) and Deron Williams (17.0 PPG) are quite the fearsome trio. Backup PF Reggie Evans has been a terror on the boards (8.9 RPG), despite playing only 21.9 MPG.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (27-14) – Following three straight blowout losses last week, we were particularly low on Memphis. However, they rebounded this week by winning three out of the past four games, including a thrilling OT victory over the Bulls. C Marc Gasol (13.2 PPG, 1.8 BPG) and PF Zach Randolph (16.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG) have been a tough inside duo this year.
8. Chicago Bulls (25-16) – While Chicago has won five out of their past six games, we have trouble ranking them ahead of Memphis after the Grizzlies beat them at home. But on the other hand, that loss was the third overtime contest in a row for a drained Chicago team. Derrick Rose still isn’t back from an ACL injury, but he’s expected to return very soon. He’s had more time to heal since Nate Robinson (10.6 PPG) and Kirk Hinrich (5.2 APG) have been capable replacements.
9. Golden State Warriors (26-15) – Golden State moves up a spot after winning their last three games, including back-to-back victories over the Clippers and Oklahoma City. PF David Lee has seen a small dip in his points (19.6 PPG) recently, but he did make his first All-Star game after being selected last night. Teammate Stephen Curry (20.9 PPG), on the other hand, got snubbed.
10. Indiana Pacers (26-17) – Despite falling from 6th to 10th in our power rankings, Indiana hasn’t played particularly bad. However, they’ve been pretty mediocre after going 3-3 over the past six contests. Indiana grabbed recent victories over Memphis and Houston though, which puts them pretty close to the 6th-9th teams in our book. Paul George (17.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG) was recognized for his outstanding play by being tabbed as an All-Star.