Power Rankings: Indy leads the way
Monday, Dec. 2
For all the talk about how many bad teams are weighing the league down these days, there's some solace to be found at the top of ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings, where things are rather competitive in the top seven.
Two losses and a couple of injury scares involving Tony Parker and Boris Diaw have sent San Antonio tumbling from No. 1 to No. 5 ... despite the fact that the Spurs fell just one win shy of the best start in franchise history (15-2). The scorching-hot Oklahoma City Thunder, meanwhile, can't climb any higher than No. 4 on this Monday, even after winning seven games in a row.
In both cases you can go ahead and blame the relentless Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and, yes, Portland Trail Blazers.
There is plenty of skepticism in circulation about Indiana's 16-1 launch, given that the Pacers have played all but four of those games against teams from their own pathetic conference, where only Indy and Miami sport winning records. Yet the fact remains that Indy, fresh off an impressive road win in L.A. against the Clippers, is only the 12th team in league history to uncork a 16-1 mark out of the gate, which makes Monday night's visit to Portland unexpectedly tasty.
The Elias Sports Bureau informs us that the Pacers' and Blazers' combined winning percentage of .882 is the highest shared by two opponents at least 15 games into the season for two decades, dating to the 1993-94 showdown that pitted 16-1 Seattle against 18-1 Houston. The ever-braggadocios Roy Hibbert is already convinced Indy can join the seven of those previous 12 teams that opened 16-1 to make it all the way to the NBA Finals, but let's see how outside opinions about the Pacers sound after the Portland stop and a weekend back-to-back in San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
The latest rankings, as always, were compiled by the committee (of one) with Chris Paul-esque dishing from ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau. You can click here to rank the teams yourself until we return next Monday with a fresh 1-to-30 pulse take of the league.