The Boston Celtics finally lost a game last week. It didn’t matter.
The Celtics, who won 16 straight games before falling to the Miami Heat on Thanksgiving Eve, remain atop ESPN’s NBA power rankings that are released every Monday throughout the regular season.
Boston, which recorded wins over the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers last week in addition to suffering the loss to the Heat, entered Monday with an NBA-best 18-3 record. The C’s now play five consecutive home games, starting Monday night with a showdown against the Detroit Pistons, who own the second-best record in the Eastern Conference (12-6).
ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, Amin Elhassan and Ramona Shelburne, The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears and FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring are responsible for compiling the ESPN power rankings, with research notes on each team provided by ESPN Stats & Information. Here’s what Jose De Leon wrote of the Celtics occupying the top spot for the second consecutive week:
“The Celtics couldn’t put together a double-digit rally against the Heat on Wednesday and were handed just their third loss of the season. Boston has won 18 of its first 21 games of a season for the ninth time in team history and for the first time since 2008-09. Kyrie Irving has scored at least 20 points on 50 percent shooting in five straight games, one shy of matching his career high.”
The Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs — three Western Conference teams — own spots No. 2 through No. 4, respectively. The Celtics’ biggest Eastern Conference rival, the Cleveland Cavaliers, check in at No. 5, continuing their rapid ascent in ESPN’s power rankings after a slow start to the season.