NBA Power Rankings: Spurs the new No. 1, Celtics back in top 15
Records through Feb. 4:
1. San Antonio Spurs (38-11, previous No. 2) – The Spurs are winners of 10 in a row, but the better news is that an MRI found no structural damage in Tim Duncan’s left knee or right ankle. They’ll obviously need him to win a championship – a realistic goal for this team.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (35-12, previous No. 1) – Consider the Thunder the latest victim of stone cold killer Kyrie Irving. Irving dropped 35 on them Saturday night, handing OKC its fourth loss in seven games heading into Monday night.
3. Miami Heat (30-14, previous No. 4) – Miami is dangerously close to dropping out of the top spot in the East, but it started a five-game home stretch Monday against the Bobcats. Always good.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (34-15, previous No. 3) – This much we know: The Clippers are going nowhere without Chris Paul. They’ve lost six of their last eight with him on the sidelines nursing a bum knee
5. Denver Nuggets (30-18, previous No. 6) – The NBA’s best “team” (see: no superstar) is on a roll, winning six in a row including four in a row at home. They’ve lost just four games since Christmas.
6. Memphis Grizzlies (30-16 previous No. 5) – The Grizzlies just finalized a trade that sent swingman Rudy Gay to Toronto in a three-team trade that got them Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, and Ed Davis. It’s a classic salary dump deal that doesn’t improve their team.
7. Golden State Warriors (30-17, previous No. 7) – It’s good to see that Stephen Curry’s ankle sprain was a minor one. That dude deserves a break. Wait, poor choice of words there. They’ve got a tough back-to-back on the road starting Tuesday in Houston, and then in Oklahoma City.
8. New York Knicks (30-15, previous No. 10) – Credit where it’s due: The Knicks manhandled the Kings Saturday night, 120-81. They’ve won four in a row and have a manageable February schedule ahead of them. Possible No. 1 seed by March?
9. Brooklyn Nets (28-19, last week 8) – The Nets followed up a blowout loss to the Heat with a close win over the Bulls. That about sums up where they’re at right now – second tier in the East.
10. Chicago Bulls (29-18, previous No. 9) – Chicago has overcome the Derrick Rose injury up to this point in the season, but with All-Star Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) hurt, and Carlos Boozer (hamstring) iffy, they’ll have a tough time ahead.
11. Indiana Pacers (28-19, previous No. 11) – The Pacers rebounded nicely from three straight losses with two double-digit wins over Pistons and Heat. It’s the one over the Heat that’ll give them some confidence going forward.
12. Atlanta Hawks (26-20, previous No. 12) – It’s getting to be “do or die” time for a Hawks team that could see its star, Josh Smith, traded away by the deadline. Don’t worry, Hawks fans, Zaza Pachulia is staying put.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (25-21, last week No. 13) – The Bucks are 9-5 under interim head coach Jim Boylan, and hanging around a lot longer than many thought. It looks like they’ll be fighting with Atlanta, Boston and Philly for final playoff spots.
14. Boston Celtics (24-23, last week 16) – They’ve lost Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger for the year, but the Celtics have inexplicably won four games in a row. You figure them out.
15. Houston Rockets (26-23, previous No. 15) – The Rockets are the only team in the NBA to have a top-five scorer (James Harden, 25.8 points), top-five rebounder (Omer Asik, 11.4 rebounds), and top five stealer (Jeremy Lin, 2.04). Whatever that means.
16. Utah Jazz (26-22, last week 14) – Obliterated by Houston last week (125-80), the Jazz won their next two before dropping the second of a home-and-home to Portland. Still, 125-80?
17. Portland Trail Blazers (24-23, previous No. 17) – The Blazers have a shot at the postseason, but it’s getting crowded down there with Utah, Houston, and the Lakers all in the mix.
18. Los Angeles Lakers (22-26, last week 20) – What’s in a name? Not much, apparently. Pistons rookie Brandon Knight says Metta World Peace punched him in the face on Sunday. Kind of like how Kobe wants to punch Dwight Howard?
19. Philadelphia 76ers (20-26, last week 19) – Are the Sixers tuning out head coach Doug Collins? Maybe. Is Andrew Bynum in the “beats lab” making tunes? Probably.
20. Dallas Mavericks (20-27, last week 18) – Mark Cuban sits in his Shark Tank chair every week hoping that some entrepreneur has a quick fix for his failing basketball team. No luck so far.