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Power Rankings: In injury-plagued season, sustainability's the goal

by | CBSSports.com Senior NBA Blogger
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Chauncey Billups, a solid presence behind CP3, may be lost to the Clips with an Achilles injury. (Getty Images)  
Chauncey Billups, a solid presence behind CP3, may be lost to the Clips with an Achilles injury. (Getty Images)  

Updated Feb. 7

Consistency is the word NBA coaches use most often. But it's really "sustainability" that we're talking about this week.

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The Bulls' approach is one that relies on defense, smart play by all their players and Derrick Rose. That's pretty sustainable. Tom Thibodeau's obsessive hammering of his starters in terms of minutes -- Luol Deng came back from injury this week and played 41 minutes in a blowout, as if Thibodeau were directly laughing at us -- might not be sustainable in this kind of season.

The Knicks are relying on an undrafted rookie point guard out of Harvard to keep them afloat. That doesn't seem sustainable. Until you watch Jeremy Lin and see how well he understands and commands the things that Mike D'Antoni point guards do.

The Clippers keep winning games by the skin of their teeth and without playing solid defense. That doesn't seem sustainable, but with a lineup like that, you really only need to get close before the talent seals the deal.

Kobe Bryant keeps shooting. Keeps scoring. But is ignoring the Lakers' bigs and taking 25 shots a game sustainable?

This insane NBA season has redefined the parameters of what we have come to rely on. Depth is more important, but cohesion and trust play a part, too. And luck. So much luck. Good luck isn't sustainable, and bad luck is unavoidable. The question for all these teams is whether they can sustain their abilities in the face of those challenges.

And if we're using that metric? We're going to want to start including the Philadelphia 76ers in the discussion of the top four instead of top three, along with Chicago, Miami and Oklahoma City.

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)
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