NBA Week 8 Power Rankings
The Chicago Bulls may have momentarily slipped out of the top-10, but they will remain on the radar until we see what Derrick Rose looks like upon returning. If Rose is able to rekindle even 80 percent of what he had going just two seasons ago, the Bulls could be a darkhorse candidate in the East Conference. They may not have enough on the roster to win an outright title, but Coach Thibodeau’s squad may be able to play the role of ‘spoiler’ once we get to playoff basketball.
The Los Angeles Lakers are getting healthy (Nash/Gasol return), and it is by no coincidence they are finally showing signs of life. They’ve won 5-straight, while Bryant is up to 9-straight 30+ PPG, and fans in LA are finally seeing slivers of a team that entered the 2012-13 season with the highest level of expectation in recent years. Watch out for the Lakers and Boston Celtics lurking their way(s) up the rankings as each team gets healthy and settles into the New Year. Don’t even talk to me about Brooklyn. They struggled without Brook Lopez, but are suddenly continuing to struggle now that he has returned. They’re 3-9 over their past 12, and Avery Johnson could be next on their star point guard’s coach killer list.
#1 Los Angeles Clippers 22-6 (Last week- 2): No more 1-liners about how different this team looks, no more speculation over if they could maintain the pace, and no more references to the “Clippers Curse”…unless (until) it rears its ugly head. Lob City is the deepest team in the league, hits you with waves of talent, and comes to play on a nightly basis.
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder 21-6 (1): The back-to-back road losses to Minnesota and Miami were the first consecutive losses for the Thunder all season. Something tells me they’ll be okay. One question has resurfaced: Beyond Durant/Westbrook, where will they turn to for play-making ability in a tough series vs. the better teams? They should be fine for now, but will need to answer that question in the postseason.
#3 Miami Heat 19-6 (4): The Heat won the first installment of the 2012 Finals rematch, and ran their current streak to five games. Not only five-straight wins, but four of the five by double-digits. The Heat’s near month-long stay-cation in Miami is over, and they’ll have to utilize that new-found health while battling through 10 of the next 13 games being on the road.
#4 New York Knicks 20-8 (3): No shame in dropping one (on the road) to a surging team, but the Knicks need to settle it down. With multiple reports of their attempts to move injured PF Amar’e Stoudemire recently surfacing, we are all eager to see how coach Woodson is able to work Stoudemire (soon to return) back into the mix without off-setting their positive flow/balance.
#5 San Antonio Spurs 21-8 (5): The Spurs look as though they’ve ended their rare and momentary funk, as they’ve followed up losing four of five with consecutive wins. They’ll hover around, as they normally do, before taking off around the annual Rodeo Trip. Health, like any other year, will be their ultimate determining factor.
#6 Memphis Grizzlies 18-7 (6): They may have taken a 20+ point loss at the hands of the Rockets, but the Grizzlies are continuing to coast along, winning just over two of every three games…which is what they’ll continue to do all season, barring any major injuries.
#7 Golden State Warriors 18-10 (7): They’ve dropped (a bit) after losing two of three, but still maintain in the playoff mix out West. it will be interesting to see how the parts fit together once starting center Andrew Bogut returns. Tough 6-game stretch facing them, with the final two coming against the Los Angeles Clippers (twice) and Memphis.
#8 Atlanta Hawks 16-9 (8): Had they not been able to make such quick work of the Bulls (92-75), the Hawks would have dropped. They have a softer patch in the schedule, which should permit them to get back into a groove before a test on the road vs the Rockets (next Monday).
#9 Indiana Pacers 16-12 (N/A): Winners of six of their past seven games, the Pacers are finally looking like the team that surprised much of the Eastern Conference last season. After receiving that huge contract, Roy Hibbert simply hasn’t been able to get rekindle last season’s success.
#10 Houston Rockets 15-12 (N/A): The Rockets have won six of seven, and James Harden is back to playing MVP-type basketball over his past five games (29 ppg, 4.6 rebs, 5.6 asts). Let’s see how they handle their next four games: @Minnesota, @San Antonio, vs. OKC, vs. Atlanta.