NBA Power Rankings: Is Celtics' 12-game streak enough to put them above Warriors?
A clear top tier is being established, and it's led by last season's No. 1 seeds
NBA viewership is up this season, locally and nationally. That's great for the NBA and all, but nobody is really sure why.
It might have to do with big-market franchises like the 76ers, Lakers, and Knicks being relevant all at the same time for once. It also might have to do with what's really a great quality of basketball across the NBA. There are so few truly awful teams right now, and even they can't be overlooked.
Noise is starting to filter out of stats, but it's still too early to get a clear picture of how this season will take shape. The Magic look like they might be legit, and the Nuggets appear ready to make the playoffs, but how much of that is just early-season hot starts? When regression comes, as it does for everybody, how will they react? Can they survive?
There are always two or three teams that start off well only to fall back to mediocrity, or worse, by January. One struggling team always manages to figure it all out and be okay by Christmas. That might be the Cavaliers and Thunder this season, but when someone rises another falls. Who is going to topple from the top?
Either way, this week's power rankings see the formation of a clearer top tier -- but for how long?
||Beating the Warriors really depends entirely on the third quarter. If teams can survive it and force them into a close situation they might have a chance. However, the majority get the doors blown off of them at some point in the third.||--||11-4|
||What's even crazier about the Celtics right now, besides the 12 straight wins, is how they're doing all of this while dealing with injuries -- even beyond Gordon Hayward's. No Al Horford? No problem. Kyrie Irving leaves? Again, that's no problem.||--||14-2|
||James Harden is playing out of his mind right now and the Rockets have the best offense in the NBA along with the best net rating. With an offense that's this dynamic who cares if they're still middle of the road in pace?||--||12-4|
||Anybody who bought into the Pistons last season and got burned is realizing they were a year early. This group looks a lot how last season's Pistons team should have. It helps that Tobias Harris is shooting 50.6 percent from 3-point range.||--||10-5|
||Their schedule is about to get way easier, which for most teams would be a good thing, but the Grizzlies' history of losing to bad teams makes it a weird concern.||2||7-7|
||Nikola Jokic is back to doing what he does best. A Jokic game is worth one absurd pass, a lot of points and every rebound known to man. If he doesn't do that, then perhaps he'll rack up nine assists like he did against the Magic.||9||9-6|
||Until Kawhi Leonard comes back, this section of the Power Rankings may turn into a weekly case on why Rudy Gay should be Sixth Man of the Year. He is destroying second units in his current role and it's played a huge part in keeping the Spurs afloat while they await Leonard's return.||3||10-6|
||The big concern is their hesitancy to shoot 3-pointers. They're second to last in the NBA in 3-point rate, and their lack of confidence in that shot showed in the Suns loss.||3||10-5|
||The Magic got Elfrid Payton back and immediately blew out a Knicks team missing Kristaps Porzingis. He has an absurd on court net rating of 19.3. When he's healthy, they may be legitimate.||4||8-7|
||West coast road trips are brutal. Getting blown out by the Warriors, then losing on a De'Aaron Fox buzzer beater has given the Sixers a rough week.||1||8-6|
||Kristaps Porzingis was the lone thing holding New York afloat, but there suddenly is a semblance of a team around him. He's built a great rapport with Frank Ntilikina already, and Kyle O'Quinn is playing arguably the best basketball of his career.||3||8-7|
||If you thought the Blazers would have a top-five defense and a middle-of-the-road offense, then you are either psychic or lying. Potentially both!||6||8-7|
||Toronto's new offensive system helps them, but they just can't stick with it in clutch situations. DeMar DeRozan got a good look in the final moments against Boston, but it was still that isolation offense everybody is used to. Same ol' Raptors.||5||10-5|
||The best thing they run is putting DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis together in the high post to work the offense from there. They don't do it for entire games, but it absolutely torches teams when they do bring it out.||8||8-8|
||Miami did what they were supposed to all week by beating bad teams and losing to good ones. That sounds very fitting for this .500 team.||4||7-8|
||Oh, no, it happened again. The Clippers lost to the Warriors and immediately imploded. Los Angeles has lost five straight and seven of their last eight. The one win? Dallas.||8||5-9|
||Cleveland continues to wake up for good teams and sleepwalk against bad ones. The win against Dallas was way too close for comfort.||7||9-7|
||Scott Brooks refuses to stagger his bench unit, preferring instead to have two separate five man lineups, and it's really causing the Wizards problems. They need more starters on the floor.||2||9-6|
||Eric Bledsoe has taken Malcolm Brogdon's starting role, but Brogdon's still playing 33 minutes a game. Those two showing chemistry should give Giannis Antetokounmpo the help he needs.||4||8-6|
||Charlotte's ability to look good in losses is really impressive when you think about it. They're struggling through a rough part of their schedule while they fight through absences from both starting wings. Nicolas Batum should be back soon, which will do wonders for their struggling offense.||9||5-9|
||It isn't time to panic yet, but concerns about the Thunder are warranted. They haven't looked good in wins, and they look even worse in losses. They've struggled in clutch situations, yet they have one of the best defenses in the NBA. Maybe this all balances out and swings in their favor, but it's not great right now.||--||7-8|
||Lonzo Ball is the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. That is the highlight of a really rough week for the young player. He's in a rough patch right now which he'll eventually bounce out of. Every rookie goes through those motions at some point.||6||6-10|
||Utah might be bad. They just can't score points and with Rudy Gobert out for a few weeks their elite defense will likely take a dip.||11||6-10|
||The early season optimism about Indiana is starting to dwindle. They're 2-5 in November and defenses are expecting the scoring now. They're still fun to watch, but it doesn't look like they're going to beat many good teams.||7||8-8|
||D'Angelo Russell's injury leaves the Nets in a bad spot. They already don't have Jeremy Lin. Can they afford to lose another key point guard?||2||6-9|
||Sacramento can be feisty, but they aren't particularly good at scoring or defending. George Hill is an early trade possibility with how bad he's been.||3||4-11|
||The Suns aren't good, but they shouldn't be overlooked. That's how games like the Minnesota win happen.||2||6-11|
||Dallas has gone from a team that gets run over to one that'll keep games close. They aren't winning a lot of games, but they're at least watchable now.||2||2-14|
||Three good teams and three losses, but the Hawks are pesky. The Mike Budenholzer system can not be overlooked.||1||3-12|
||Not only do the Bulls have the worst offense and net rating in the NBA, but they also have the worst True Shooting and Effective Field Goal percentages. That's a special level of bad that not many teams are able to reach.||4||3-10|
Davis left the Pelicans' game against the Nuggets in the third quarter
Popovich was upset about an out of bounds call
Wall went 3-for-12 from the field, and had just eight points in the Wizards' loss
Noah was reinstated from his 20-game suspension on Monday, but is yet to play for the Knic...
In his first season with the Cavs, Rose has not played since Nov. 7
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