Power Rankings: Blazers break into top 5
We saw the danger lurking. The team ranked No. 1 at lunchtime Monday had a tough game Monday night against an outstanding road team from Orlando. Boston, then, was a prime target to be victimized by the famed Power Rankings jinx.
But that couldn't factor into the decision-making here at Stein Line HQ. As of Monday morning, no team was more deserving of the top spot in our weekly rankings than the defending champs, who have narrowly held off the steamrolling Lakers for the fourth consecutive week.
Portland (No. 9 to No. 4) and New Jersey (No. 16 to No. 9) have made hugely impressive jumps this week in our fully unautomated pulse-check of the league, but I have a feeling you'll want to focus on the ongoing battle at the top. So how did the Celts stay there? Dominant as the Lakers were in November, they have played the fewest road games in the league (one of them at Staples Center against the Clippers) and just three back-to-backs (one of which required no travel because it included that game against the Clips). As a result, Boston's dominant start impresses us just that little bit more.
Tune in Tuesdays to "NBA Fastbreak" on ESPN to see this week's U.S. Army Power Rankings. The Nets are the U.S. Army Team of the Week after posting back-to-back road wins at Utah and Phoenix to improve to 9-4 when Devin Harris is healthy and to unexpectedly break into the top 10.