NBA Power Rankings: Spurs Continue Dominance, Cavs Get Reinforcements

by NESN Staff

December 21, 2015

Are the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on a collision course for an NBA Finals rematch?

The San Antonio Spurs might have something to say about that.

The Warriors continued to roll this week, while the Cavaliers are getting healthier by the day and maintained their No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference after getting point guard Kyrie Irving back from a knee injury.

The Spurs quietly continue to get the job done, however, riding a balanced offensive attack and a relentless defense to wins in nine of their last 10 games.

After those top three, where does the rest of the league stand? Find out in our Week 8 NBA Power Rankings, which account for all games played through Sunday, Dec. 20.

1. Golden State Warriors (26-1): The Bucks nearly beat the Warriors again Friday night, but Golden State’s late comeback helped justify those “10-18” T-shirts. Last week: 1

2. San Antonio Spurs (23-5): The Spurs just keep on rolling. A clean sweep at home this week moved their record at AT&T Center to 15-0. Last week: 2

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (18-7): Cleveland beat the Celtics and Thunder, then welcomed Kyrie Irving back in a blowout win over the Sixers. Not a bad week. Last week: 3

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (18-9): OKC’s only loss in the last 16 days came in a four-point defeat to the East-leading Cavs on Thursday. Last week: 4

5. Indiana Pacers (16-10): The Pacers and Celtics are the highest-scoring teams in the East, averaging 103 points per game. Last week: 8

6. Miami Heat (16-10): Miami is keeping pace in the East thanks to a solid defense that ranks second in the NBA, surrendering just 94.4 points per game. Last week: 9

7. Toronto Raptors (17-12): The Raptors have been streaky of late, dropping three of four after last week’s four-game winning streak. Last week: 5

8. Chicago Bulls (15-10): Chicago’s offense has struggled in back-to-back losses. (Sorry, needing four OTs to score 144 points isn’t good.) Last week: 6

9. Atlanta Hawks (16-12): The Hawks showed resolve this week, gutting out close wins over the upstart Celtics and Magic. Last week: 12

10. Charlotte Hornets (15-11): The Hornets have lost a bit of their sting, dropping three of their last four. They’re just 4-7 on the road this season. Last week: 7

11. Los Angeles Clippers (16-12): DeAndre Jordan and Co. didn’t enjoy their trip to Texas, suffering back-to-back losses to the Spurs and Rockets. Last week: 11

12. Detroit Pistons (16-12): Reggie Jackson helped the Pistons outlast the Bulls and survive the Celtics with some clutch play down the stretch in both games. Last week: 13

13. Dallas Mavericks (15-12): The Mavs are trending toward mediocrity, having lost three consecutive home games to drop to a 5-5 record in their own arena. Last week: 14

14. Orlando Magic (15-12): Do you believe in Magic? Orlando had ripped off three wins in a row before falling to the Hawks on Sunday. Last week: 16

15. Memphis Grizzlies (15-14): Memphis has hit a bit of a rough stretch but managed to topple a solid Pacers squad Saturday night. Last week: 15

16. Boston Celtics (14-13): The Celtics dropped all three of their games this week, and the players in the locker room aren’t happy about it. Last week: 10

17. Houston Rockets (14-14): Houston has the chance Monday to go over .500 for the first time since early November. Last week: 17

18. New York Knicks (14-14): Kristaps Porzingis had seven blocks Wednesday, and the Knicks have followed their four-game losing streak with a four-game winning streak. Last week: 21

19. Washington Wizards (11-14): John Wall’s double-double (27 points, 12 assists) carried Washington to a win over the Hornets on Saturday. Last week: 19

20. Utah Jazz (11-14): The Jazz are really hurting without Rudy Gobert. They’ve won just one of their last five games and three of their last 10. Last week: 18

21. Phoenix Suns (12-16): Phoenix is second in the NBA in pace behind only Golden State but still owns the league’s 25th-ranked defense in terms of points allowed. Last week: 20

22. Denver Nuggets (11-16): The Nuggets continued their improved play into this week but fizzled with back-to-back losses to the Jazz and Pelicans. Last week: 24

23. Milwaukee Bucks (11-18): The Bucks can hang with the Warriors but not too many other squads. They’re also just 2-13 on the road. Last week: 22

24. Portland Trail Blazers (11-18): Portland has slipped to the bottom of the Northwest Division after losing three straight. Last week: 23

25. Sacramento Kings (11-16): The Kings are starting to turn things around with wins in four of their last five games. Last week: 26

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-16): Andrew Wiggins (32 points, 10 rebounds, six assists) was excellent in Friday’s win over the Kings. Last week: 25

27. New Orleans Pelicans (8-19): Two of the Pelicans’ eight wins on the season came this week. Last week: 28

28. Brooklyn Nets (7-20): The Nets, back to their losing ways, are in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Last week: 27

29. Los Angeles Lakers (4-23): The Lakers beat the Bucks, who beat the Warriors. So the Lakers should beat the Warriors, right? Last week: 29

30. Philadelphia 76ers (1-28): The Sixers are averaging 91.4 points per game. That’s really bad. Last week: 30

Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) and guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) celebrate during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 108-86.
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