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NBA Power Rankings, 12/9

12.09.10 at 6:37 pm ET
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Boston Celtics1. Boston (17-4): The Celtics have the best top six in the NBA and the best defense in the league. They’re the best shooting team in the league, and they’ve won eight consecutive games despite not having Rajon Rondo at full strength. With five All-Star candidates, they’ve  been the most complete team.

San Antonio Spurs2. San Antonio (18-3): The Spurs won another three games this week, and Manu Ginobili (20.1 points, 5.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds) has played his way into the MVP conversation. Oh, and New Hampshire’s own Matt Bonner is making two 3′s a game while shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Los Angeles Lakers3. LA Lakers (16-6): After losing four straight, the Lakers are back on track with three consecutive victories. This whole Andrew Bynum situation is strange. Phil Jackson seems to call him out on a daily basis, but why rush him back? The guy is like Mr. Glass. Don’t you want him healthy for the playoffs?

Dallas Mavericks4. Dallas (17-4): The Mavericks have the longest winning streak in the league at 10 games. Even Ian Mahinmi is contributing double-doubles. Why did this team all of a sudden decide to start playing defense? This team could’ve won multiple titles if they were playing defense like this in the mid-2000s.

Orlando Magic5. Orlando (15-6): You can’t really blame the Magic for losing two straight games to Atlanta and Milwaukee. Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick, Mickael Pietrus and Jameer Nelson have all been hit by the flu. With them, they’ve been able to keep pace with the C’s. Without them? Not so much.

Utah Jazz6. Utah (16-7): So, how do the Jazz move up a spot when they finished 1-2 for the week? Fortunately for them, the Hornets have been worse in that same time period. Al Jefferson is settling in, as his numbers continue to climb.

New Orleans Hornets7. New Orleans (14-7): After their torrid 11-1 start, the Hornets have lost six of their past nine games. They’re falling back to earth, but how far will they fall? Enough for Chris Paul to lose his grip on the MVP trophy? Probably.

Chicago Bulls8. Chicago (12-8): The Bulls are starting to figure it out with Carlos Boozer in the lineup. And that’s a scary thing for the rest of the league. They’ve won three straight, including a nine-point victory against the Thunder.

Miami Heat10. Miami (15-8): Speaking of figuring it out, is it possible the Heat — particularly LeBron James — righted the ship amid the Cleveland media frenzy. It’s still strange that it took that game to inspire them to a six-game win streak.

Oklahoma City Thunder10. Oklahoma City (15-8): If the Thunder could find some consistency, they’d be top five. I thought Kevin Durant would be an MVP layup, but he’s not even the MVP of his own team right now. Russell Westbrook has been.

Atlanta Hawks11. Atlanta (15-8): Could the Hawks be better without Joe Johnson? Led by Josh Smith‘s ridiculous athletic ability, they’ve won 7-of-8 games to keep pace with the Magic and Heat in what should be a wild divisional race.

New York Knicks12. New York (14-9): Outside of the Celtics and Mavericks, the Knicks are the hottest team in the league — and I don’t mean Danilo Gallinari looks good in shorts. They’ve won nine out their past 10 (albeit against bad teams).

Denver Nuggets13. Denver (13-8): I’m not going to kill the Nuggets for losing to the C’s without Carmelo Anthony, but I am going to kill them for losing to the Bobcats with Anthony. Also, is Ty Lawson better than Chauncey Billups at this point?

Portland Trail Blazers14. Portland (10-11): After losing six straight, the Blazers stopped the bleeding, picking up wins over the Clippers and Suns this week. Even though they lost agains the C’s, I still was impressed, especially with Wesley Matthews.

Phoenix Suns15. Phoenix (11-11): Is anyone else surprised that Jason Richardson is only 29? I feel like he’s been around for 20 years. On another note, the fact that Channing Frye leads the Suns with 5.7 rebounds a game isn’t a good thing.

Indiana Pacers16. Indiana (10-10): At this point, it’s not even a question the Pacers are making the playoffs, right? I can’t believe I’m writing that about a team that starts Josh McRoberts.

Houston Rockets17. Houston (8-13): Despite continuing to play against a brutal schedule, the Rockets are climbing the rankings — winning 5-of-8, including wins over the Lakers, Grizzlies and Thunder. Look out for them over the next month.

Memphis Grizzles18. Memphis (9-14): Playing in a division with the Spurs, Mavericks and Hornets, the Grizzlies are going to go through some rough patches. And their in one right now, losing 4-of-5. But this is still a good team.

Milwaukee Bucks19. Milwaukee (8-13): The Bucks are playing good defense. They’re rebounding. So what gives? They have the worst passing team in the league and score the fewest points. So much for the Brandon Jennings bandwagon.

Golden State Warriors20. Golden State (8-14): I thought the Warriors would go on a run when David Lee returned the lineup. But it’s kind of tough when you play the Spurs, Suns, Thunder, Mavericks and Thunder in consecutive games. Rough.

Charlotte Bobcats21. Charlotte (8-13): The Tyrus Thomas injury isn’t going to do them any favors. And it’s got to be killing the Bobcats to see how well Raymond Felton is playing in New York.

Philadelphia 76ers22. Philadelphia (7-14): The 76ers have won 4-of-5 games entering Thursday night’s game against the Celtics. Thaddeus Young even mentioned the word playoffs when talking about his team.

Toronto Raptors23. Toronto (8-14): I keep waiting for the Raptors to completely fall off the face of the earth, but they keep coming up with some impressive victories, including one against the Thunder on Friday. Go figure.

Cleveland Cavaliers24. Cleveland (7-15): Now that LeBron’s homecoming is over, it’s like the Cavaliers have nothing left to play for. They’ve lost six straight with games against the Rockets, Thunder, Heat, Pacers, Knicks, Jazz and Hawks coming up.

Los Angeles Clippers25. LA Clippers (5-18): The Clippers can beat the Spurs, but they can’t beat the Pistons, Nets and Timberwolves? I continue to be dumbfounded how Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin can’t have won more than five games together.

New Jersey Nets26. New Jersey (6-16): The Nets have lost five straight, and Brook Lopez doesn’t appear to be taking the leap many thought he would. On the bright side, the Nets host the Mavericks and visit the Lakers this week.

Washington Wizards27. Washington (6-15): The Wizards gave up 119 points per game in losses to the Suns, Lakers and Kings this week, and Gilbert Arenas summed it up in one word: “That’s terrible.” He’s got that right.

Minnesota Timberwolves28. Minnesota (5-17): You thought allowing 119 points in three games was bad. How about allowing 110 points for the season? Who would’ve thought a Michael Beasley-led team would be so bad at defense? Oh, wait, everyone did.

Sacramento Kings29. Sacramento (5-15): The good news? The Kings are on a one-game winning streak. The bad news? They face the Heat, Rockets, Hornets and Thunder in their next four games. I’m guessing that win streak isn’t going to last too long.

Detroit Pistons30. Detroit (7-16): The Pistons are the worst rebounding team in the league, the second-worst scoring team in the league and the third-worst passing team in the league. But, hey, at least they beat the Cavaliers this week.

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