NBA Power Rankings: LeBron James Dominates, But Are The Miami Heat Numero Uno?

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Feb 11, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (left) and point guard Tony Parker (right) sit on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Spurs won 103-89. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

For NBA fans, it’s been a rather eventful week. For starters, LeBron James has gone an absolute rampage while the Spurs’ have managed to stay ahead despite losing their entire big three at one point. After the Raptors’ blockbuster trade for Rudy Gay the Grizzlies, Pistons and Raps are coming to terms with their new reality. Meanwhile, Boston has from mediocre to dominant in Rondo’s absence.

1. San Antonio Spurs

The race to NBA superiority has mostly been a three-way race between the Spurs, Heat and Thunder. Despite Oklahoma’s godly margin of victory over the past few games and LeBron James’ even more godly performance, San Antonio takes the cake. They’ve gone 13-1 over the past month and easily handled the Chicago Bulls on the road yesterday night despite the absence of their big three. Time will tell if this team can eventually stay healthy but regardless of injury issues, Pop has added yet another great season under his belt.

2. Miami Heat

LeBron James has done nothing but solidify his case for MVP. With the Miami Heat sitting at the number one spot in the Eastern Conference, James has been nothing if not dominant. He’s put together a +30 point streak over the past five games, supplemented by his 71% shooting from the field and 60% from beyond the arc. Not to mention, Miami hasn’t lost a game since the beginning of the month. Oh, and albeit a small sample size, the Heat are 7-1 when Chris Anderson plays.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

In the most classic of classic bounce-back weeks, the Oklahoma City Thunder won four

Feb. 10, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) talks to guard Russell Westbrook (0) in the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

straight. They obliterated the Suns by 100 points, took their revenge against the Golden State Warriors and all the while they steered clear of Russell Westbrook related issues. With both teams rolling, Thursday’s match-up between the Thunder and the Heat is bound to be electric.

4. Denver Nuggets

With the Celtics and Nuggets facing off this Sunday, both dawning the NBA’s largest winning streaks, one of these unlikely group of hero’s was bound to go down. It took the Boston 3 OT’s on their home floor, but they did manage to snap Denver’s nine game winning streak. The Nuggets are faster than pretty much every team in the NBA, and the chemistry that George Karl has intertwined between these guys seems to hold a shade of ‘ubuntu’. By the way, they’re the third best home team in the league.

5. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers haven’t exactly been at the top of their game lately, but lucky for them, Chris Paul is back and he’s looking healthy. Save for his return, a blowout loss against Miami, in which CP3 was rusty to say the least, he’s been back to his dominant self. The Clips have won their past two games and with Blake Griffin back, they seem to rounding out at exactly the right time of the year. They’ll play their next five games at home, if you’re willing to call an away game against the Lakers what it really is (cue to a “There can only be one” promo featuring Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant).

6. New York Knicks

Not even Carmelo Anthony could save the Knicks from the embarrassing effort they put forth against the Clippers this Sunday, which solidified their place as just outside of this week’s top five. Which is not a bad place to be for a team that plays lacklustre defense and relies on unsustainable three-point shooting to win games. Lucky for them, they’ll be heading into the All-Star Weekend following a home match-up against the new-look Toronto Raptors.

7. Memphis Grizzlies

Since Ed Davis and Tayshaun Prince have made their debuts, the Grizzlies’ have been 3-2. While this isn’t exactly a dominating 5 game stretch, the important part is that they’ve gained more and more continuity as each game has passed. With Denver right at their heels though, they’d better keep on keepin’ on with that stifling defense.

8. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers’ had their five game winning streak snapped by a Rudy Gay game-winner last Friday, and since then they’ve taken another loss to the Nets, surrendering the first spot in the Central Division back to the rival Chicago Bulls. Paul George is headed towards Houston this weekend while Danny Granger seems to be on his way back, so it isn’t all bad in Indiana.

9. Houston Rockets

The divide between the Rockets and the Warriors would be a lot easier to gauge if we could get a preview into tonight’s match-up between them, but for now the Beard has kept his team on top. If the Warriors can get revenge for the way the Rockets insulted their defense last week, things may change. Houston has both allowed and scored over 100 points for their past five games. Luckily, they’re an offensive juggernaut and have come out victorious all but once.

10. Golden State Warriors

Ah, the Golden State Warriors. After winning four straight games and warming the hearts of NBA junkies everywhere while simultaneously causing fury for Stephen Curry’s All-Star snub, they’ve managed to do a complete 180 and drop four games in a row. Over that stretch, their defense has dropped to 16th in the league. Mama, there goes that first-round homecourt advantage!

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  • Joe Soriano

    Rondo, Sullinger, and now Barbosa. Ugh, you can’t help but feel awful for the Celtics. And I agree with you, the Bobcats aren’t the league’s laughingstock, especially since they have such a deep backcourt. Now if only they can get a big man to pair up with Mullens…

  • akennedy13

    I am curious to the logic that puts the Spurs ahead of the Heat but the Heat ahead of the Thunder. This is sometimes tricky with NBA Power Rankings. Are they based on which team is the best or the team with the best chance to win a title. That’s different because you can easily argue that the Spurs have been the best team over the course of an entire season the last three seasons but have no rings to show for it.

    If you’re putting the Spurs ahead of the Thunder then I think you have to put OKC ahead of the Heat by the same logic. The Thunder have had a better season and have been better offensively and defensively and against tougher competition.

    We will have a better answer to Heat vs. Thunder Thursday night though.

  • Brett David Roberts

    The Rockets are not the 9th best team, nor are the Bulls the 12th. Houston’s defense is far too weak to be considered a top-10 team, and though they have a great collection of talent they are also too young (NBA’s youngest team) and have little chance of winning more than a game or two in the first round this year against a top seed opponent.

    The Bulls are playing phenomenal basketball despite having been riddled by injuries. Carlos Boozer is playing the best ball he has since he left Utah, and Nate Robinson (who will serve as a third stringer when Derrick Rose returns) just won player of the week. Jimmy Butler gives the Bulls one more great rotation player and defensive stopper. I can see No. 12 now in the rankings, almost, but they should be around 8-10, and after Rose returns, likely top-5.

    Basically, flip-flop the Rockets and Bulls and you have a pretty solid set of power rankings in my opinion. Well done.

  • cpatty

    I could nitpick, but all in all liked the column. I don’t see the Bucks as a worse team than the 76ers, but that is opinion.

  • Ian Denchasy

    Clippers at number five behind Denver? You’ve lost your ever lovin’ mind! With the full squad back, they should be at at LEAST fourth. Clips barely lost to Boston last week with players hurt while Denver lost at full strength.

    • akennedy13

      I think the Clippers will start to rise soon but you can’t deny how awesome Denver has been lately.

  • Ben Mehic

    Would’ve liked to see Philly ranked a little lower, perhaps even lower than Washington. The Wizards have won four consecutive games, which include games over the Knicks, Clippers, Nets, and the Bucks.

  • Charlie Livingston

    Bulls behind the Celtics? I don’t know about that. Even without Derrick in the lineup they’ve still posted a better record than Boston and the Celtics just lost their best player. Granted, they’ve rallied in his absence but that’s mostly in their own gym. Other than that, not too bad.

  • Stephen Ajamie

    I gotta agree with the Spurs as the top team at this moment. As a Pacers fan, I know how they’ve handled our team. Beating the Bulls without their own big three is saying something as well. The Heat are probably up there as the second best team with the way they’ve taken care of business. I thought they might have hit that wall as far as focus, but with the way they’ve played that doesn’t look like it’s coming.

    My Pacers are right there in the top ten, and in the closest divisional race, I will wonder how they come out after the All Star Break with Danny Granger back. If he can get off to a good start, then this team will look just as good as last season. We saw that they gave the Heat all they could handle, and maybe they give them even more come playoff time.