Now into Week 16 of the NBA Power Rankings, the real action is between the top and the bottom, with mediocre teams battling for the final playoff slots as the All-Star break approaches.
The NBA Power Rankings move into Week 16 and we're just about ready for the All-Star break and butting right up against the trade deadline. Usually, this time of year is filled with trade chatter at a blaring and obnoxious volume, with every Tom, Dick and Jane concocting one ridiculous seven-team, 14-player trade after another. But things have been pretty quiet this year, outside of Carmelo Anthony's whereabouts (which are still unknown).
As far as the standings go, the top and the bottom of the NBA's squads are pretty much set. The San Antonio Spurs continue to brutalize nearly every team in their path, the Miami Heat are getting the hang of things, the Dallas Mavericks are milling around despite losing Caron Butler for the year, and Derrick Rose is doing his part to keep the Chicago Bulls clinging near the top of the East. The real week-to-week excitement is found in the middle of the pack, among the teams battling for the seventh and eighth seeds in their respective conferences.
A couple of these teams have been positively and negatively affected by a recent coaching change. The Indiana Pacers fall into the first category. Since relieving head coach Jim O'Brien of his duties, Indiana has won seven of their ten games under interim head coach Frank Vogel to propel themselves into the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff seeding. The Utah Jazz, on the other hand, have lost their first two games following Jerry Sloan's resignation, though they were sliding before that. They've dropped four in a row and 13 of their last 17 games. Right now, they're holding onto the eighth seed for sweet, dear life, but the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns are right on their heels.
Unfortunately for the Grizz, Rudy Gay will now be out at least four weeks with a shoulder injury. For a team that's as deep as a kiddie pool, it's not the best news ever when one of your top scorers and leading minutes-players is out. It is, however, a great opportunity for the Phoenix Suns, who have been playing better of late and could slip past Memphis and Utah in the standings, provided the fates are on their sides -- though they're often not.
Anyway, on to the rankings:
SBNation,com | NBA Power Rankings: Spurs Reign Over Chaos, As Knicks Await Glory's Final Judgment
The Spurs continue to lead SBNation's NBA Power Rankings, but chaos reigns behind them.
NBA.com | After a week of parity, top three remain the same
The Bulls beat the Hornets, who beat the Magic, who beat the Lakers, who beat the Celtics, who beat the Heat. That was all in the last seven days. And the parity extended well beyond last week's top 10. Only one team (Portland) went undefeated and only one (Atlanta) went without a win over the last week. The other 28 teams all had at least one win and one loss.
ESPN.com | Power Rankings: Texas takes top spots again
The old Texas rivals who can't seem to get away from each other will spend this Valentine's Day side by side in ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings.
SI.com | Spurs ranked No. 1, Celtics claim No. 2 in NBA Power Rankings
The big mover in this week's Power Rankings likely won't be around for the second round this postseason. But the 76ers, up five spots to 13th, just walloped Atlanta on the road and toppled the Spurs at home in a week that put their 3-13 start further in the rearview mirror.
ProBasketballTalk.com | NBA Power Rankings: Spurs still sitting pretty, Heat slip
In our weekly NBA Power Rankings, every team seemed to have a nice win and an ugly loss, balancing the karmic scales.
FOXSports.com | NBA Power Rankings - Top 30 NBA Basketball Teams
Well, the Cavaliers found the win column. The Spurs keep finding it. The Lakers started the week like champions, but ended with a pair of head-scratchers. Every team could use the rest this weekend's All-Star break will bring, though the Blazers are playing so well they'd probably like to keep going. Boston, by the way, still owns the Heat. And that's one storyline we'll still be discussing three months from now.
CBSSports.com | Power Rankings: Despite victory, Celtics can't pass Heat
Because I know you're wondering ... Yes, this much thought went into every rating in this week's Power Rankings, where much of the shuffling occurred in the middle of the pack.