Our weekly NBA Power Rankings. Dallas, Boston and Denver all on seven-games or longer winning streaks… and the Knicks could join them this week.
1. Mavericks (16-4). Winners of nine in a row, they are getting fantastic play from Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd… which makes you wonder if they can keep it up as the season drags on. They aren’t really doing anything different during this streak, they are just hot.
2. Celtics (16-4). Winners of seven in a row and getting it done with Rajon Rondo missing games and other assorted injuries. They are the best shooting team in basketball right now — highest eFG% in the league — and if you can shoot and defend you win. A lot.
3. Spurs (17-3). They slip down two spots not because of anything they did — well, they did lose to the Clippers — so much as two hotter teams leapfrogged them. Tony Parker looked like his aggressive self again Sunday.
4. Magic (15-5). I got the flu just watching one of their games — they were down to eight healthy players on Sunday, a loss that ended a six-game win streak.
5. Jazz (15-6). Overlooked in all the “damn Chris Paul is good” talk is the fact Deron Williams is having probably his best season so far. His is getting to the line more, turning the ball over less all while taking on more of the offense. Highest PER of his career.
6. Lakers (14-6). Sometimes you just need a slump-buster. A win no matter how it looks or who it was with. The Lakers got theirs against the Kings. We’ll see if that turns them around.
7. Nuggets (13-6). Winners of seven in a row. Nene is averaging 15 and 7 shooting 62 percent in the last 10 games. Denver heads out on the road this week for what should be some good tests.
8. Heat (13-8). They have a point differential that is much better than their record, one of those will catch up with the other in the coming months. Good test against Utah on the road this week.
9. Thunder (14-7). Russell Westbrook is to be feared.
10. Hawks (13-8). The Hawks are getting along just fine without Joe Johnson so far — if that continues you have to ask again about that contract he got this summer.
11. Bulls (10-8). The next couple weeks are the Carlos Boozer adjustment period, and then we should be able to get a better picture of where this team really stands.
12. Knicks (12-9). Winners of four in a row and eight of their last nine. You can note they have played the easiest schedule in the league so far (opponents winning 41.5 percent) but the fact is they are beating the teams they are supposed to. This team is pretty good.
13. Hornets (13-7). They have lost six of their last eight. Teams undergoing an ownership change — even one that should be for the better, as George Shinn was one of the worst in the league — always give me pause. Winning comes from the top down.
14. Suns (11-9). Earl Baron is no Robin Lopez in the paint, but he’s an improvement as the Suns rattled off three wins last week. Hakeem Warrick had a good weekend off the bench as well.
15. Pacers (9-9). Great wins followed by bad losses. Pretty much what we can expect all season.
16. Blazers (9-11). Clippers win breaks the losing streak, but did the Blazers solve any of their underlying problems? That said, Nate McMillan is safe as coach for now.
17. Grizzlies (8-13). Every time I watch them play I think “shouldn’t they be better than this?”
18. Raptors (8-12). If the playoffs started today, this is your eight seed in the East. They’ve won 6 of their last 10.
19. Warriors (8-12). On tap this week is Dallas, San Antonio, Miami and Utah. Rough stretch of the schedule. David Lee didn’t look great this week upon return.
20. Rockets (7-13). Beat the Lakers this week (didn’t everyone) and have a schedule they can hold their own against for a few weeks until Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming are back.
21. Bucks (7-12). Andrew Bogut had 31 and 18 in his first game back against Orlando — who cares if Dwight Howard was playing or not. The Bucks need Bogut to be right.
22. Bobcats (7-13). Last season a very good defense made up for a lackluster offense. This season the defense has been average (13 in league in points allowed per possession) and here we are.
23. Sixers (6-14). They quietly have won three of their last four, and their defense has looked better lately. Also, their point differential (-1.6) is that of a 9-11 team. Look for them to keep winning more.
24. Pistons (7-14). Detroit heads out on a tough road trip this week with four games in five days. But that’s a lot of cities to write new “we should trade for Tayshaun Prince/Rip Hamilton” stories.
25. Cavaliers (7-13). It wasn’t the roll-over-and-die loss to Miami that cause the Cavaliers to fall down the rankings this week, it was getting crushed by the Timberwolves and Pistons.
26. Clippers (4-17). Baron Davis is back, but is that a good thing?
27. Wizards (5-10). They head out on the road this week, where they are 0-10.
28. Nets (6-15). Four straight losses and they are dead last in the East. Mikhail Prokhorov learning turning an NBA team around is not a fast process.
29. Timberwolves (5-15). Darko Milicic was +41 the other night, best single-game +/- number in the league this season. Let’s focus on that and not what the Spurs did to this team.
30. Kings (4-14). They are 1-9 in their last 10, but had a chance against the top-rated Mavericks Saturday. This team has some talent but right now they are just terrible to watch.