The NBA Power Rankings roll on, now into Week 6. We're a quarter into the 2010-11 season and the playing field seems to be settling down and teams are falling into their niches. The Miami Heat, the subject of early season struggles and doomsday theories, are figuring out how to win games these days, having put together a streak of five in a row.
During the streak, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have all played like the superstar players they're supposed to be (and paid to be), and have not really had to log a lot of minutes doing it, since most of the wins were blowouts -- against somewhat mediocre competition, however. In fact, the Heat have a pretty poor record against playoff-caliber teams, going 4-6 against teams currently above .500. And they can only lose one more game all season to break the Bulls' coveted 72-10 record, so that's not happening. Maybe next year.
The San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks continue to cruise along and smash the competition, with the first- and second-best records in the NBA, respectively. Dallas has now won 10 in a row, the second-longest winning streak this season behind the Spurs' 12 gamer. It seems like both teams could slow down before too long, considering the cores of both are older vets who realize it's a long grind to the postseason.
Perhaps the most surprising squad this week is the New York Knicks, who have now won five in a row for the second time this year and 10 out of their last 11. Over their latest streak, free agent overpayee Amare Stoudemire has averaged 34.2 points and 11 rebounds a game, reminding forlorn Phoenix Suns fans of his monster post-All-Star campaign last season that led the Suns to the third seed in the West and the Western Conference Finals. Tears.
In the cellar, (Rookie of the Year) Blake Griffin continues to shine for the otherwise benign Los Angeles Clippers, having attained double-doubles in nine straight games. He's also averaging 2.9 assists a game -- including three games with seven assists -- showing he's not ball-hogging his way to gaudy stats. The Sacramento Kings are still in free-fall with eight straight losses and star guard Tyreke Evans now battling a case of the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Speaking of injuries, Yao Ming is still out with a foot something-or-other and no timetable for return; meanwhile, his Houston Rockets continue to slump out of playoff consideration. Daryl Morey and his maths are upset.
In local news, the Phoenix Suns put together a nice three-game win streak against not-great teams that coincided with the insertion of Earl Barron into the starting lineup. The streak was snapped by the Portland Trailblazers, but it was still enough to get the Suns back above water. With Barron playing significant minutes, Phoenix actually out-rebounded two teams. Way to go!
And here are this week's rankings:
SBNation.com | NBA Power Rankings, Week 6: Spurs, Celtics Retain Supremacy
The Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs are not helping us find interesting story-lines at the top of the power rankings, as both teams continue to dominate their respective conferences.
NBA.com | Time to take stock: Who's in and who's out?
Exactly 300 NBA games and 41 days of the 2010-11 NBA season are done, putting us a little short of the quarter pole. This is when you can really start to take stock of where teams stand, especially if you take history into account.
ESPN.com | NBA Basketball Power Rankings
San Antonio coaching sage Gregg Popovich announced Sunday night that the league's top two teams at the minute, in his estimation, are Dallas and Boston. Sounds as if he wants a gig with ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings committee (of one).
SI.com | Mavericks still No. 1, but Knicks rising
For the first time since the Pleistocene era -- or the decade-old days of Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston and Jeff Van Gundy -- the New York Knicks are being talked about in terms that don't involve lawsuits, punch lines or salary-cap woes. Mike D'Antoni's team has won 10 of 11 games to move into the thick of the playoff hunt behind a potent, entertaining offense that revolves around Amar'e Stoudemire.
FOXSports.com | NBA Power Rankings - Top 30 NBA Basketball Teams
Another new No. 1, another shakeup in the middle, and more really, really bad basketball being played by teams at the bottom. The Mavericks have battled their way up the ladder, the Knicks are on their best roll in 10 years, and Carlos Boozer's return has stamped the Bulls as a team to really watch.
DimeMag.com | Dime NBA Power Ranking: Lakers fall outside the Top 5
Ranking the NBA from worst to first ...