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PBT NBA Power Rankings: Pacers, Heat and a lot from out West at the top

Dec 2, 2013, 2:03 PM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics Getty Images

The Eastern Conference has two elite teams — Indiana and Miami — and they are on top of the PBT Power Rankings for this week. Then you don’t see another team from the East until No. 12, which speaks to the depth of the West and the drop off after the East elite.

 
source:  1. Pacers (16-1, Last Week No. 2). Statistically the best way to predict playoff success? How many points you outscore your opponents by per 100 possessions. Indiana now leads the NBA in that category at XX. We’ll see how that holds up on their tough West Coast road swing this week, but they won the first game of it against the Clippers.

 
source:  2. Heat (13-3, LW 3). They have won 10 in a row and getting it done with defense — they held three consecutive opponents under 40 percent shooting last week (before the last team you’d expect, the Bobcats, snapped that Sunday shooting 46 percent).

 
source:  3. Trail Blazers (14-3, LW 4). This is currently your No. 1 seed in the West. Count me in the group that doesn’t think Portland can sustain this (not with the 21st ranked defense in the NBA) but this fast start gives them a cushion in a very deep Western Conference.

 
source:  4. Thunder (11-3, LW 5). OCK has won seven in a row and beaten good teams in the process. Don’t let his dramatic game winner fool you, Russell Westbrook is still struggling with his shot (he was 9-of-24 outside that shot in the win). The good news for Thunder fans is he’s struggling to finish in close and that skill will return.

 
source:  5. Spurs (14-3, LW No. 1). Marco Belinelli is the latest in the long line of smart player pickups by the Spurs as they just know how to get players that fit their system. Belinelli leads the NBA in three point percentage at 56.5 percent this season.

 
source:  6. Rockets (13-5, LW 8). Good teams win despite injuries, and the Rockets have done it with Jeremy Lin and James Harden missing time. The Rockets offense is still elite but a better sign for Houston fans is the defense has improved recently.

 
source:  7. Clippers (12-6, LW 6). The J.J. Redick loss will hurt, Willie Green is a big drop off. Despite this Clippers are going to be a top four seed and one of the best teams in the West this season, but their postseason success may hinge on the front office strengthening the bench near the trade deadline.

 
source:  8. Nuggets (9-6, LW 16). Two things are fueling Denver’s hot streak lately. First, Ty Lawson is playing at an elite point guard level, he is just a joy to watch lately. Second, the Nuggets started the season defending the pick-and-roll with aggressive hedging and they were getting burned, now they are switching and it works better for their athletes (not great, but better).

 
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9. Warriors (10-8, LW 9). They’ve struggled since Andre Iguodala went down and Matt Moore of CBSSports.com tweeted the reason: “Warriors pre-Iguodala injury: 97.4 defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions), 4th best. Four games since: 106.2, 20th best.”

 
source:  10. Suns (9-8, LW 18). I’m as stunned as anyone to see them crack the Top 10, but they are outscoring opponents by 6.6 points per 100 possessions. Channing Frye has shaken off the rust and his shooting from three is spacing the floor and sparking the offense.

 
source:  11. Mavericks (10-8, LW 7). They have lost 4-of-5 and looked a little ragged doing it. Blame the six back-to-backs they have already faced if you want (it didn’t help) but they are going to have to suck it up with another one this week (home to Charlotte then on the road at New Orleans).

 
source:  12. Timberwolves (9-10, LW 10). Before you think there is something really wrong with Minnesota, look at the schedule where they have played through a rough stretch. They are outscoring opponents by 2.1 points per 100 possessions, but had some tough losses. That will even out.

 
source:  13. Lakers (9-9, LW 17). They may get Kobe Bryant back as early as Friday night. That’s good for them, but expect a few bumps in the road as they insert a new No. 1 option into an offense that has shared the ball well.

 
source:  14. Pelicans (8-8, LW 15). Anthony Davis breaking his hand is brutal news, both for this team — he is their best player — and because he was going to be a focal point for the All-Star Game in New Orleans this year. Hope he is back soon.

 
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15. Hawks (9-9, LW 11). They are actually getting outscored by their opponents by 1.1 points per 100 possessions. They have lost 4-of-5 and Jeff Teague has struggled with his shot — those two things together are not a coincidence.

 
source:  16. Grizzlies (8-8, LW 12). Odd trend for Memphis — won five in a row on the road, lost four in a row at home. Still just a team trying to tread water until Marc Gasol returns, and it doesn’t help that Zach Randolph has been injured as well.

 
source:  17. Wizards (8-9, LW 22). If good teams find a way to win despite injuries, well, the Wizards have won six of eight despite missing Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza for stretches. The goal is the playoffs and they have bounced back from a slow start to be the five seed as of Monday.

 
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18. Bulls (7-8, LW 13). They went 1-5 on the circus road trip. The Bulls can be a playoff team in the East if they defend the way they are capable, but right now they are not playing like a Tom Thibodeau team on that end.

 
source:  19. Bobcats (8-10, LW 14). There are no moral victories in the NBA, but Charlotte looked pretty good in their loss to Miami Sunday. Charlotte forced the Heat into jump shots (just in the fourth quarter Miami hit them) and their offense wasn’t terrible. That’s way more than we expected to start the season.

 
source:  20. Raptors (6-10, LW 19). They have lost three games in a row but still lead the Atlantic Division. Which really speaks to the Atlantic Division right now. Tough week ahead on a West Coast swing that includes Golden State, Phoenix and the Lakers.

 
source:  21. Magic (6-10, LW 24). Victor Oladipo seems to be finding a groove averaging 14.8 points on 48 percent shooting the past five games. That includes wins over the Hawks and Sixers last week.

 
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22. Pistons (7-10, LW 20). While nobody was looking Rodney Stuckey has been the Pistons’ best backcourt player — he’s averaged 21.6 points a game on 53.9 percent shooting his last five games.

 
source:  23. Celtics (7-12, LW 23). Jordan Crawford has been playing well, as evidenced by his triple-double last week. But can they beat Milwaukee — the Bucks have just three wins this season and two are against Boston. They play again this week.

 
source:  24. Nets (5-12, LW 27). Hey Jason Kidd, if got a clever idea like spilling Coke on the court to get a timeout, save it for games that matter (like late in the season or playoffs). Brooklyn will now be without Paul Pierce for a month, to add to their injury woes.

 
source:  25. 76ers (6-12, LW 21). Michael-Carter Williams remains the brightest hope for the future on this team, but Evan Turner is averaging 21 points a game and is having by far his best season as a pro.

 
source:  26. Cavaliers (5-12, LW 28). There was an Andrew Bynum sighting over the weekend — 20 points, 10 rebounds on Saturday. Is he finding his groove as he gets healthier and in shame, or was this just a fluke? Magic 8 Ball says ask again next week.

 
source:  27. Kings (4-11, LW 25). It will be interesting to see if the new coach and new chance change things for Derrick Williams. — he’s going to get a real shot and play the three is Sacramento. In his Kings debut Friday he had 12 points on 13 shots (inefficient scoring was one of the issues in Minnesota).

 
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28. Jazz (3-15, LW 30). Jeremy Evans, the human pogo stick, is starting to show a little of his much-discussed potential on the court lately, and Trey Burke is back and playing well at the point. Things are not as bleak as a couple weeks ago.

 
source:  29. Knicks (3-13, LW 26). Nine straight losses. Carmelo Anthony is pressing and nobody else is stepping up to help him consistently, but the bigger issue remains the defense. It’s stunning how much Tyson Chandler means to this team (and it’s stunning how management built a team where Tyson Chandler meant so much).

 
source:  30. Bucks (3-13, LW 29). They picked up a win last week over the Celtics thanks to a hot O.J. Mayo (22 points). Two of the Bucks three wins are against the Celtics and they are on the schedule again this week.

  1. phillysports1 - Dec 2, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    So can someone tell me why in the hell is Brooklyn ahead of philly ??? Speechless

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 2, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      Speechless in Philly: sounds like a good name for a book or movie.

  2. broncobeta - Dec 2, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    “Hey Jason Kidd, if got a clever idea like spilling Coke on the court to get a timeout, save it for games that matter (like late in the season or playoffs).”

    You’re assuming he’s going to make it that far?

  3. sire2334 - Dec 2, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Speechless? Really? Is it that big of an atrocity??? It’s one position off, of one person’s opinion.

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 2, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      Cheesesteak > anything Brooklyn got except maybe shwarma!

  4. bougin89 - Dec 2, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Milwaukee Bucks successfully tanking now at #30. It’s been awful watching too much Pachulia, Middleton, Udoh, etc. but it will be worth it if we’re picking at the very top of the draft. Just get into the top 3 and it will be hard to screw up that pick.

    • sportsfan18 - Dec 2, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      Bucks would sweep the Knicks in a playoff series though!

      • jimeejohnson - Dec 2, 2013 at 5:16 PM

        Nobody would have thought the NY Knicks would be the second lowest ranked NBA team. It’s a mockery of a sham.

  5. elcapitanfiscal - Dec 2, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Im enjoying watching Melo and the Knicks suck so bad

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 2, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      Ain’t no time to hate. Sure, the Knicks suck (hence my thumbs up), but a competitive Knicks team makes the whole league better. Having a crappy team in the mecca of basketball just doesn’t cut it.

  6. azarkhan - Dec 2, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    The Pacers play the Spurs on Saturday, but what games are the clowns at NBATV broadcasting? Clippers vs Cadavers and Trailblazers vs Mavericks. Great!

  7. balfe13 - Dec 2, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    “Indiana now leads the NBA in that category at XX.”
    ………..
    Oh, and it’s “OKC,” not “OCK.” I don’t even need to look to see who wrote this. Seriously man, how do you get paid to write?

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 2, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      You sound like the grammar police.

    • spigster - Dec 2, 2013 at 6:04 PM

      I think you want to take the proofreader to task on this one.

    • asimonetti88 - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:58 PM

      If you’re better, maybe you should apply with NBC.

  8. 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 2, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Pacers are the best team in the league. No doubt. Just have to hope we can fight and scrap, and even then just have to hope to stay with them and have a shot at the end.

    • jimeejohnson - Dec 2, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      Will be interesting to see if the Pacers can get past the Heat. It’s going to be epic, except for the hateful losers who cannot appreciate. So you have to ask yourself: “Am I a hateful loser”?

      • jimeejohnson - Dec 2, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        Whadya mean, “yes”?

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 2, 2013 at 5:49 PM

        (between you and me, I’m just messin around. I’m playing the underdog card in the snarkiest most patronizing way possible. Don’t tell anyone)

  9. jamesinva - Dec 2, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    I find it funny that most power rankings, people will put “Blazers..they won’t keep this up, no way”. Why is this even necessary? Why not give props on how well they are doing vs “yea they will drop” type comments? Being a Blazers fan, this is definitely a surprise and I personally do not expect them to keep it up either, in fact, speaking realistically, I see them being a 6th or 7th seed when it’s all said and done..but at least give them some real props when they are ranked so high and playing damn good ball.

    They beat Denver in Denver, came back to beat the Bulls when they were down 20+, stormed back in Toronto, got Wesley Matthews ejected (how did Bogut not get ejected??) and came back to beat the Warriors in the Bay. Swept a road trip. What else must they do to get real props? It’s as if once they lose to Indiana tonight (which is my prediction) will people say “see, I told you, they aren’t that good” type of stuff to come out.

    • azarkhan - Dec 2, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      As a Spurs fan, the Trailblazers are one team I hope the Spurs don’t meet in the playoffs. For some reason, they have the Spurs number. NBA.com: “The Blazers, however, are one of two teams with a winning record against the Spurs during the regular season since 2008-09. They’ve won 12 of 17 meetings over that span, while Miami owns a less-impressive 5-4 record.”

      Now the Trailblazers have won 13 of 18, since they beat the Spurs again on Nov 2.

  10. jamesinva - Dec 2, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Speaking of the Spurs, check this weird stat out. December 2 1999…After 17 games, the Trailblazers led the west with a 14-3 record…The Spurs also had a 14-3 record………What…??

  11. xli2006 - Dec 2, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    Editor on extended Thanksgiving break I presume?

    That “XX” likely was typed with the intention of entering numbers later but was pushed before a final edit. Pretty sure that’s not how journalism works.

    Slippin’ daily PBT.

  12. jimsjam33 - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    I’ve seen Sacramento play three times this year and they’ve lost every game . The league had better take notice because this team is dangerous . No , they won’t make the playoffs , but they are going to take down some serious teams real soon . The addition of Derrick Williams is going to be huge . DeMarcus Cousins is an all-star right now and they have a supporting cast with a lot of experience and some mixed in youth . Definitely a team to watch , They’re rated 27 right now , but before long they could go as high as 12 in a flash .

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