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NBA Power Rankings: Spurs back in the saddle again

Jan 28, 2013, 4:29 PM EDT

Tony Parker AP

You know the consistently good Spurs are going to climb into the top spot a couple times during the season. The top four remain the same but we see some teams fall farther down the list while teams like the Wizards and Hornets climb.

source:  1. Spurs (36-11, last week ranked No. 2). They have won eight in a row and have a top five offense and defense. They bring a level of execution to the regular season every other coach covets. So why do I still feel like the elite teams can scheme them out of the playoffs with time to prepare?


source:  2. Thunder (34-11, LW 3). As expected, they beat one Los Angeles team this week and lost to the other… wait, they lost to the Lakers? They went 3-3 on a six game road trip, which feels pretty blah for their standards.


source:  3. Heat (28-13, LW 4). They still seem to be just coasting through games like the Sunday loss to the Celtics. Do that this week against the Nets and Pacers and they will pick up a couple more losses.


source:  4. Clippers (33-13 LW 1). They had lost four in a row before Blake Griffin and the front line took over against the Trail Blazers Sunday night. Chris Paul (bruised knee) keeps missing games and that’s okay, they have Eric Bledsoe. Let CP3 get right.


source:  5. Bulls (26-17, LW 10). Tough road trip that will really test the team starts this week — six games, all against winning teams and the first four against teams from the East (Bucks, Nets, Hawks, Pacers). This is a huge stretch for Chicago.


source:  6. Nets (26-18, LW 8). The big question — does Brook Lopez get called up to take Rajon Rondo’s spot on the All-Star team? David Stern makes the pick and he is not bound by position.


source:  7. Knicks (27-15, LW 5). Raymond Felton’s back and maybe that can mean some easy buckets for Tyson Chandler off the pick-and-roll. But Sunday against Atlanta shows us again that when the Knicks just knock down threes they are dangerous.


source:  8. Nuggets (27-18, LW 9). They have won 8 out of 10, they are playing at a faster pace and Ty Lawson seems to be thriving in that environment. Amazing what a few games in a row at home can do.


source:  9. Grizzlies (28-14, LW 7). Mike Conley tweaked his ankle Sunday but it doesn’t appear to be serious, which is good for a team that’s offense is already dragging the team down. In their last 10 games the Grizzlies have averaged 96.4 points per 100 possessions, 28th in the league for that stretch.


source:  10. Warriors (26-17, LW 11). They beat both the Clippers and the Thunder last week, how about that for a statement? When they focus on defense and rebounding they still do well, but they’ve had some inconsistent moments on that end recently.


source:  11. Pacers (26-18, LW 6). Their eight-game road trip comes to an end Monday in Denver and they have gone 3-4 on it so far (and Denver with it’s fast pace is about the worst place to end a trip on). Back home look for them to rack up a few wins.


source:  12. Hawks (25-18, LW 15). Atlanta is becoming the Utah Jazz of the East — really good at home and really beatable on the road — they have lost 7-of-8 away from home and the one win was against Charlotte. They have four of the next five at home, then 8 of 10 out on the road again.


source:  13. Bucks (23-19, LW 13). In his last five games, Ersan Ilyasova is shooting 53.3 percent overall and 60 percent from three, and that’s been part of the Bucks success under interim coach Jim Boylan. He looks like the Ilyasova from last year smart fantasy players snapped up.


14. Jazz (24-20, LW 14). They are 4-1 in their last five, mostly because the offense really seems to have found its groove. They have six of their next seven at home, where they are 15-4 on the season. This is a good time to solidify a playoff spot for them.


source:  15. Rockets (24-22, LW 17). James Harden will get a heroes welcome as the lone representative of the host Rockets at the 2013 All-Star Game. He’ll get more than that if he can get this team back up into the eighth playoff spot in the West.


source:  16. Trail Blazers (22-22, LW 16). They are stumbling of late, 3-7 in their last 10, and starting Friday they will have seven of eight games on the road. They are one game out of a playoff spot now and can’t slip way back during this upcoming stretch.


17. Celtics (21-23, LW 12). No Rajon Rondo is going to mean a lot of trade rumors and talk of blowing it up, and as much as Doc Rivers will play it down and there is a veteran core on this team, it will be hard for this not to impact them.


source:  18. Mavericks (19-25, LW 18). They are starting to make their push up the standings, but like the Lakers the math is hard for them to climb all the way back into the playoffs.


19. Lakers (19-25, LW 23). The Lakers have won two in a row but now comes the real test — starting Wednesday in Phoenix the Lakers are on the road for seven straight. Any dreams of getting the eight seed (and getting thumped by the Thunder in the first round) hinge on having a good road trip, at the very least 4-3.

source:  20. 76ers (18-25, LW 20). It’s really simple — they are 2.5 games back of the Celtics now and now catching them suddenly looks more possible. But Boston still defends and will not make it easy. Jrue Holiday making the All-Star Game is well deserved, not sure I’d give him Rondo’s starting spot over Kyrie Irving, however.


source:  21. Pistons (17-27, LW 24). They are 5-5 in their last 10 and four games back of the Celtics. Eight of the next 11 Pistons games are in Detroit, if they are going to make a run between now and the All-Star Game is when they need to do it.


source:  22. Raptors (16-28, LW 21). Toronto is playing better of late and that is sparking playoff dreams north of the boarder — but making up five games and leapfrogging two teams (Detroit and Philly) is going to take more than the 4-6 they are in their last 10.


source:  23. Hornets (15-29, LW 25). Something to watch as the Hornets keep picking up wins (like Sunday against Memphis): Anthony Davis to start closing the Rookie of the Year gap on Damian Lillard. Davis is playing smart, efficient basketball and people are starting to notice.


source:  24. Wizards (11-31, LW 26). They are 7-3 in their last 10 and the losses they made the other team work for it — finally healthy they look like a playoff team. Unfortunately injuries dug them too deep a hole to start the season.


source:  25. Cavaliers (13-32, LW 27). Kyrie Irving has this team winning three games in a row and in my book is the guy who should get Rajon Rondo’s starting spot in the All-Star game.


source:  26. Timberwolves (17-24, LW 19). Four game losing streak and they have lost 9 of their last 10. The good news is Rick Adelman is back at the helm as coach, but the Timberwolves woes go well beyond interim coach Terry Porter and straight to the rash of injuries.


27. Kings (16-29, LW 22). They have lost four games in a row and it seems like nobody is noticing because the focus is off the court. On the court Tyreke Evans has played better of late.


source:  28. Suns (15-30, LW 29). Lindsay Hunter is 2-2 as a coach but you can see why he was hired on Sunday — it was an ugly loss but Kendall Marshall played nearly 15 minutes, the most he has in months. It’s about playing the rookies.


source:  29. Bobcats (11-32, LW 30). They have won two of their last five (including one over the one team below them) but have six of their next seven on the road and the only teams below .500 in that stretch are the hot Cavaliers and the Lakers.


source:  30. Magic (14-29, LW 28). J.J. Redick is playing well (31 on Sunday), so expect a whole lot of trade rumors to start flying around him as we move closer and closer to the deadline.

  1. southbeachtalent - Jan 28, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Yea that Sunday Heat vs Heat game was intense I didn’t know who to root for!! It was like that Family Guy episode with evil Stewie.

    I love ya Kurt but i had to do it.

  2. smoochytherhino - Jan 28, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    No way on BKN at number 6. They should be at 10 or 11. And yes, I am a Knicks fan, but I still speak the truth.

    • him247 - Jan 28, 2013 at 6:12 PM

      U aint never lie about brooklyn, how can than have gone on up that much after getting blown out twice this weekend and there record is 9-18 against teams 500 or better

    • denverhoopdreams - Jan 28, 2013 at 6:41 PM

      I would have the Nuggets in that spot.. I mean, has the Nuggets even higher than 6. But, I would keep BKN at 8.

  3. mgavin78 - Jan 28, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    How did the heat lose to the heat??

  4. rodge1 - Jan 28, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    These power rankings looked the exact same last year, and look what happened in the finals.

  5. halohonk - Jan 28, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Lets see Lakers beat #2 Thunder and you have them ranked #19. That makes sense to me. Rankings dont mean squat. Everyone knows the Lakers are a top tier team. Just havent played like it til lately. Bet you they go 6 and 1 on this road trip and on their way to a playoff bearth. I say after their trip you will have them in the top 10. You see its not how you start its how you finish. If they can get that # 7 spot in the conf. they would probably get the Clips in the 1st round and that would be an epic match up. 2 LA teams going at it in the same building. Dont under estimate the heart of a champion.

  6. bucrightoff - Jan 28, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Also, don’t underestimate being old, lacking a bench, and lacking athletecism. Even at their best the Lakers won’t beat OKC, SA, LAC or Memphis, and they’ll have to beat 3 of them. Dug themselves too deep a hole.

  7. dko83 - Jan 28, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Pretty much in agreement with all of this. My thing is though.. and there’s no way to know this until we see it (which I can’t wait to see it), but Thunder handle Spurs in playoffs in 6 games or less. If they even end up meeting that is.

    • savvybynature - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:38 PM

      I love the knocks on the Spurs. Not great, not exceptional or noteworthy, just consistently good. Will get “out-schemed” in the playoffs, lol. Yeah, because Pop is always getting out-coached when it matters I guess. Good call.

      Yet the Clippers are considered real contenders, even though they got swept by the Spurs last year in the playoffs. Yeah, OK :)

      Kurt is definitely an LA guy, and hey, if I were an LA guy I wouldn’t like the Spurs either. Too many bad memories!

      • Kurt Helin - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:44 PM

        It’s not Pop, he’s the best coach in the game. It’s the players he has. I have watched the Spurs get knocked out of the last two playoffs by better front lines and more athletic teams. Scott Brooks is not a better coach, he’s just got a lot more weapons. I think it happens again, you can limit their efficiency in a 7-game series and beat them.

      • savvybynature - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:30 PM

        I hear ya Kurt. I mean, clearly their biggest weakness is only having one wing playmaker, or if they insert Manu into the starting lineup to have a second then they have no one to anchor the bench. I get it. Putting Sefalosha on Parker was a good tactical move last season in the WCF, and OKC won 4 straight after that.

        However, the Clippers really only have one perimeter playmaker too (Crawford makes plays only for himself, so no I don’t think he counts), and yet I don’t see any hesitation in jumping on their bandwagon. Jordan and Griffin’s post games have improved, sure, but to the point of leading them to a title? I don’t think so.

        Also, the Spurs’ defensive improvement isn’t just a statistical anomaly imo. Green and Leonard are both making strides, and are both young and hungry. So while I agree that you can limit their efficiency, the Spurs can also limit other teams’ efficiency to a greater degree this year. And I think the Spurs’ front line has been bolstered quite a bit this year by inserting Splitter into the starting lineup, something that didn’t factor into the last two post season defeats (and really, when Memphis beat them Duncan and Ginobili were both hurt, so I don’t put as much into that defeat as some).

        Anyway, thanks for explaining your thoughts. I have no problems with people thinking OKC and the Heat are better, they should think that until the Spurs can prove otherwise, but I think dismissing them is a mistake. They are clearly the 3rd best team in the league imo, and I don’t think it would be a shocker if they snuck into one last finals. The degree of separation isn’t so much that a hot shooting series from a couple role players couldn’t make a difference.

    • savvybynature - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:39 PM

      And yeah, I can’t wait to see it either!!!

  8. broncobeta - Jan 29, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    The Nuggets are entirely too low.

    However, this doesn’t surprise me from PFT. You can’t even get it right on the games they’ve actually won. Your last power rankings stated that they dropped the last two to OKC, when in fact they split those two.

    This blog sucks, but can we at least but able to sort articles by teams like on PFT? I mean it’s freaking WordPress, a monkey could develop that feature.

    • edwardemanuelson - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      Ha! I wish we could filter to only read articles about our favorite teams. But if that were the case, I’d probly only get one article about my Spurs a week – when they’re number one in the power rankings.

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