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NBA Power Rankings, 1/13

01.13.11 at 10:55 am ET
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From time to time Rohrbach gives up his beloved Power Rankings and hands the duties over to me (read: his computer crashed and he begged me to do them). But we’re all about teamwork on the dotcom and his computer woes have left me with a problem: Who to put in the top spot?

The analytical part of the brain says Miami and it’s not really close. But the Heat lost to the Clippers Wednesday night and while the Clips are a much-improved team, it’s hard to rank anyone No. 1 coming off a loss to Donald Sterling’s team.

Besides, the Celtics beat them twice. But the Celtics are hurting a bit and haven’t really played good basketball for a month. No one but the most passionate Celtics fan would argue that on Jan. 13, right now, today, they are the best team in the league.

That leaves the Spurs, another team the Celtics beat, but San Antonio has the best record in the league and won all four of its games last week. So, congratulations Spurs. I’m sure this will make Gregg Popovich’s week.

1. San Antonio (33-6): If you are looking for a darkhorse MVP candidate, you can do a lot worse than Manu Ginobli. 19 points, four rebounds and five assists a game don’t jump off the page, but he’s doing it in 32 minutes a night on the best team in the Western Conference (so far) and he is the Spurs go-to player in the fourth quarter.

2. Boston (29-9): The following phrase should be forever banned from Celtics fans’ thoughts: “Imagine how good they’ll be when they get everyone healthy.” Considering that it’s mid-January and that hasn’t happened once this season, including preseason, what makes anyone think they will ever all be healthy at the same time?

3. Miami (30-10): Things LeBron James does not understand: contraction, karma, and English pop bands. Seriously, somebody put this dude in touch with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It’s entirely possible that LeBron is simply a bore with not many interesting thoughts to share with the world.

4. Orlando (25-13): Have you seen Hedo Turkoglu’sShake Weight Dance?’ It’s about as awesome as you might expect. Turkoglu has emerged as the single most important player involved in the mega-trade between the Magic and Suns, which must come as a huge surprise to the people of Toronto and Phoenix since Turkoglu was a gigantic bust in those cities.

5. LA Lakers (29-11): The Lakers beat the Cavaliers by 55 points on Tuesday. 55! I don’t care how bad the Cavaliers are, that’s insane. Looks like the Lakers have worked out their creative differences. For now. 

6. Chicago (25-13): It seems that old friend Tom Thibodeau is still learning on the job when it comes to rotations, playing time and the like. But there’s no denying that he has Chicago playing inspired defense, even without Joakim Noah. The key has been Kurt “Crazy Eyes” Thomas, who simply scares opponents off the block.

7. Atlanta (26-14): The Hawks are completely perplexing to me. When everyone thinks they’re good, I think they’re overrated, and when everyone thinks they’re bad, I think they’re undervalued. They’re going through a good stretch right now, while some of the other good — but not great — teams are faltering. That will probably change again.

8. Oklahoma City (26-13): I still don’t know what to make of the Thunder, really. They’re not as good defensively as they were last year. Outside of Kevin Durant, they don’t shoot very well and they live at the free throw line, which will be much harder to do once the playoffs start. But they keep winning games now.

9. Dallas (26-11): Stop me when this sounds familiar: Dirk Nowitzki was supposed to miss a couple of weeks with a sprained right knee. The Mavs are now into their third week without Nowitzki and have gone 2-6 in the games he’s missed. Dallas is 23 points better with Nowitzki than without him. No player may be more important to his team.

10. Utah (26-13): The Jazz come to Boston for their one and only visit next week and I’ll be anxious to see Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo match up. It’s hard to think of a more under-appreciated great player than Williams.

11. New York (22-16): Did you see the jacket Walt Frazier wore last week? There is only one man who could pull that off and it ain’t Don Cherry. In other news, the Knicks did all right for themselves on their recent west coast trip, beating the Suns and Blazers and losing to the Lakers and Jazz. They’re not a real threat to the top three teams in the East, but they’re not going away either.

12. New Orleans (23-16): Perhaps it’s dawned on Carmelo Anthony that the real prize in the ‘Melo sweepstakes isn’t him but Chris Paul and that he is merely a pawn in a much larger game. Or not.

13. Denver (21-16): OK, so we’ve got the framework of a three-team 13-player trade in place. Wait, has anyone asked Carmelo if he wants to go to New Jersey? In other news, general Francisco Franco is still dead.

14. Portland (20-19): This hasn’t received a lot of attention, but LaMarcus Aldridge is very quietly turning into a big-time post player. Hopefully for the good people of Portland his knees hold up.

15. Houston (17-22): The Rockets won only one game this week, but it was against the Celtics, which does earn them some bonus points. They lead off the run of sub .500 teams.

16. Memphis (18-21): Let us pause for a moment to recognize the breakthrough season Rudy Gay is having with the Grizzlies. His shooting percentages are up across the board and as far as anyone knows he hasn’t lost money to Tony Allen in a card game.

17. Indiana (16-20): The Pacers beat the Sixers in a game that may have meaningful playoff implications and by meaningful I mean they may get to be the team that gets swept by Miami in the first round. In keeping with Philadelphia pro basketball tradition, it was witnessed by about 4,000 people.

18. Milwaukee (14-22): I still maintain that the Bucks will not only make the playoffs, they will be the team none of the contenders want to play in the first round. I will admit that it’s getting more difficult to maintain that stance. (By the way, what the heck is Brandon Jennings doing in the dunk contest?)

19. Philadelphia (15-23): Once and for all, Andre Iguodala’s career is proof that you don’t give a max money contract to a player who is not a max money player.

20. LA Clippers (13-24): Blake Griffin, Blake Griffin, Blake Griffin. (And Eric Gordon too.)

21. Phoenix (14-19): #FreeSteveNash

22. Golden State (15-23): In a perfect world the Warriors would be on national TV more so everyone could see what an amazing player Monta Ellis has become.

23. Charlotte (15-21): Hmmm, the Bobcats have won four straight games under new coach Paul Silas. Is it real? We’ll find out more Friday night when they come to Boston.

24. Toronto (13-25): The Celtics don’t play the Raptors again, which is good because I was beginning to think that I would have to spend every weekend watching Andrea Barganani not play defense or rebound.

25. Washington (10-26): The Wizards are becoming the East Coast version of the Warriors. A cult team with an exciting lead guard (John Wall) and a freak of nature in JaVale McGee. (Note to the Javalenator: You don’t have to try to block every shot).

26. Minnesota (9-30): The Wolves were called for five technical fouls in 10 seconds, which is a record not even Rasheed Wallace could match.

27. Detroit (12-26): The Pistons thought they had a trade worked out to get rid of Rip Hamilton‘s contract, which raises the question: Why did they give him an extension in the first place?

28. New Jersey (10-28): It’s probably best for all concerned if the Nets dropped the Carmelo thing once and for all and tried to teach Brook Lopez how to rebound again.

29. Sacramento (8-28): News broke this week that the Kings are re-naming their arena after a sham product, and the punchline writes itself.

30. Cleveland (8-30): I don’t know anything about karma, and I’m guessing LeBron James doesn’t either, but if ever there was divine retribution for using Comic Sans, this was it.

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