NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak

NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak The Miami Heat might be starting to finally put it together. Watch out, Eastern Conference.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have begun to play as a cohesive unit, and the result is five straight games in which the Heat have made their opponents look absolutely foolish on defense.

And while the true test won't come until late April, Miami's "Big Three" is starting to remind fans why there was so much hype in South Beach heading into the season.

NBA Power Rankings
1 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 1
Record: 17-3
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are getting a combined 19.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game from DeJuan Blair, Gary Neal and James Anderson. This year's team is dominating with depth — if this means that their big three have fresh legs come April, the Western Conference is in for a scare.
2 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 2
Record: 16-4
Boston Celtics
In recent years, the Celtics have been an NBA superpower before Christmas. The question, though, is whether this year's C's can exterminate the injury bug and continue dominating in 2011. That remains to be seen.
3 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 3
Record: 15-6
Los Angeles Lakers
Fast fact: In Phil Jackson's two decades as a head coach, he has never lost four straight games in a championship-winning season. The Lakers will try to reverse history this year.
4 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 5
Record: 17-4
Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks could always score in bunches — that was never a problem. But with the addition of Tyson Chandler and a recommitted Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs are now playing top-notch defense as well. It just might be enough to vault them into the discussion as legit title contenders.
5 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 6
Record: 15-6
Orlando Magic
A nasty stomach virus swept through the Magic locker room last week, infecting four of their best players including superstar Dwight Howard. Orlando is now both under the weather and under the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings.
6 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 7
Record: 16-6
Utah Jazz
Deron Williams' stat line in last Wednesday's decisive win over the Pacers: 24 points, 16 assists, zero turnovers. Something tells me he's not losing that "greatest point guard alive" debate without a fight.
7 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 8
Record: 14-8
Miami Heat
Decent analysis: The Heat hit a turning point with a decisive win Thursday in an emotional game in Cleveland. Better analysis: Anyone can turn things around when they're playing the Wizards, Pistons, Cavs, Hawks and Bucks. The Heat still need to learn to beat good teams.
8 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 11
Record: 13-7
Denver Nuggets
George Karl's chasing history — there are six coaches in NBA history with 1,000 or more career wins, and he's got a chance this week to become the seventh. Larry Brown was the sixth, and his Bobcats held off Karl's charge for history on Tuesday night.
9 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 10
Record: 14-8
Oklahoma City Thunder
Things didn't go well for the Thunder last week in two games without Kevin Durant. They needed three overtimes to overcome the Nets 123-120, and then they lost by double digits to the Raptors. Maybe the Thunder aren't as complete a team as we thought.
10 NBA Power Rankings Feature Heat Earning Back Some Respect Following Five-Game Win Streak
Last week: No. 4
Record: 13-7
New Orleans Hornets
If the Hornets continue their losing skid (now six of their last eight), it's distinctly possible that we'll see the same eight teams in the West playoffs that we did last year. Parity? What parity?
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