The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 8

Merry Christmas and Happy Basketball season to all! There will be 5 games on Christmas Day but 2, maybe 3 of the games lack injured superstars and 4 of the teams playing are non-playoff teams. I dont suggest that you wake up early or stay up late just to watch the first 2-3 games.

Now, the last 2 games between the Rockets-Spurs and Warriors-Clippers should be watched.

Hero team of the week: Miami has won 5 straight games and they defeated the Pacers in Round 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Preview.

Sucky team of the week: The Nets have lost 3 straight and they lost Brook Lopez for the rest of the season with a broken foot.

The standings are current up to December 25, 2013 and the rankings from Last Week refer to Week 7.

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Kevin Durant is leading the league in scoring and the
Thunder is within half a game of the NBA's best record
1. Indiana Pacers | 23-5 | Last Week: 2 | +1
Indy almost beat the Heat in Florida but came up a tad short. Too bad, they don't play again until March. The Pacers came up with 3 straight wins including a major beat down vs the Rockets (+33). Lance Stephenson leads the NBA in triple-doubles with 3.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder | 22-5 | Last Week: 3 | +1
OKC missed out on 14 straight home wins to start the season when they were upset by the gritty Raptors last Sunday. Reggie Jackson has played well since the start of the season. Jackson has placed his name among Sixth Man of  the Year and Most Improved Player candidates.

3. Portland Trailblazers | 23-5 | Last Week: 1 | -2
The Blazers last 3 wins have been within 3 points or less. They are an amazing 6-1 among games decided by 5 points or less. Aldridge and Lillard are the second-best scoring duo after KD and RW. Their next 3 of 4 games will be against elite teams (Clippers, Heat and Thunder).

4. San Antonio Spurs | 22-6 | Last Week: 4 | Same
The Spurs won a game versus the Warriors without Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. Their system allows role players to shine (Splitter, Belinelli) and they are always a very unselfish team (2nd in assists). Their defense is still good at 4th which makes them the best defensive team in the West.

5. Miami Heat | 21-6 | Last Week: 5 | Same
The champs swept a 5-game set at home and escaped in OT vs the Hawks without Dwyane Wade. D-Wade played his best ball of the season last week by winning the Player of the Week award. He displayed his highest-scoring game of the year (32 points) vs the Pacers in a thrilling win.

6. Los Angeles Clippers | 20-9 | Last Week: 6 | Same
The Clips have won 5 straight and are tied with the Heat for the longest streak in the NBA. Matt Barnes returned from an eye injury after missing 15 games. Barnes immediately got ejected from his 2nd game back after delivering a flagrant foul 2 on Kevin Love.

7. Phoenix Suns | 17-10 | Last Week: 7 | Same
The Suns have 6 players averaging double figures and a 7th guy, Miles Plumlee is not far behind at 9.7 ppg. Channing Frye is having a great season after missing a year with heart problems. Frye is getting 11 points and 5 boards a game plus shooting 42% from three.

8. Houston Rockets | 18-11 | Last Week: 8 | Same
The Rockets have some injury problems to their back-court. James Harden is being bothered by a gimpy ankle while Patrick Beverley could miss a few weeks with a broken hand. Jeremy Lin is back after missing 10 of their last 12 games. Dwight is averaging 32 points and 17 boards in his last 2 games.

9. Dallas Mavericks | 16-12 | Last Week: 10 | +1
Brandan Wright continues to play good in his first 5 games back: 12 points, 5 boards. Dirk Nowitzki recently climbed up in the all-time scoring list. Dirk is now 13th overall and is feeling physically strong and healthy to climb a few more notches. Mavs play the Spurs and Twolves before the New Year.

10. Golden State Warriors | 16-13 | Last Week: 11 | +1
After their disappointing loss to the Spurs, the Dubs have 2 quality wins over the Lakers and Nuggets. David Lee is balling over his last 3 games: 26 points and 11 rebounds. His front-court mate, Andrew Bogut is gobbling up rebounds over that span: 16 rpg and 3 blocks.

11. Atlanta Hawks | 15-13 | Last Week: 12 | +1
The Hawks played the Heat tough and should have won that game. Paul Millsap was spectacular from deep making a career-high 7 threes. Kyle Korver has made a 3 in 96 straight games. In the month of December, Korver is shooting a sparkling rate of 55% from downtown.

12. Denver Nuggets | 14-13 | Last Week: 9 | -3
Danilo Gallinari has not played this season due to a torn ACL. His return has no timetable but there are reports that he is way behind his schedule. The Nuggets have lost 4 straight and their home record is not at all impressive at 7-6. Kenneth Faried is day-to-day with a lower body injury.

13. Washington Wizards | 12-13 | Last Week: 19 | +6
John Wall is making a strong case for his first All-Star game stint. Wall scored at least 20 points in his last 4 games and the Wiz are 3-1 in that span. He is averaging close to 20 points and 9 assists, both career-highs. Trevor Ariza is having a great season, career-high in points, rebounds and three-point shooting.

14. Charlotte Bobcats | 14-15 | Last Week: 18 | +4
Kemba Walker almost got a triple-double in a win vs the Bucks: 25 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds. Walker has scored at least 20 points in 6 straight games and the Bobcats are 4-2 in those games. The Achilles injury to Jeffery Taylor hurts especially with MKG still out.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves | 13-15 | Last Week: 13 | -2
Kevin Love had 45 points and 19 rebounds in a loss to the Clippers. Love scored over 40 points twice this season and both games were losses. Love is currently 2nd in PER, 3rd in scoring and 1st in rebounding. Meanwhile, Ricky Rubio continues to struggle from the field: 35% from 2s and 3s.

16. Detroit Pistons | 14-16 | Last Week: 16 | Same
Brandon Jennings has been very unselfish lately. He is averaging 10 assists over his last 5 games to go along with 20 points. Sophomore stud, Andre Drummond continues to haul rebounds at a high rate. He is 4th in rebounding and 3rd in double-doubles after Kevin Love and Chris Paul.

17. New Orleans Pelicans | 12-14 | Last Week: 17 | Same
Tyreke Evans haunted his former team (Kings) with 25 points, 12 assists and 6 boards. That performance was reminiscent of Evans during his ROY campaign 4 years ago. In 3 games back from a hand injury, Anthony Davis is getting 22 points and 11 rebounds.

18. Memphis Grizzlies | 12-15 | Last Week: 20 | +2
Zach Radolph is starting to play better even without Marc Gasol. Z-Bo has 4 double-doubles in his last 5 games and averaging 20 and 12. Quincy Pondexter will miss the rest of the season with a foot injury. Marc Gasol is expected to be back by mid-January.

19. Los Angeles Lakers | 13-15 | Last Week: 14 | -5
Kobe going down with a knee injury for about 6 weeks might help the Lakers create team chemistry again. Maybe even help them win more games without him. Jordan Farmer is expected to play soon but Steve Nash and Steve Blake are still out. Nick Young "Swag Mamba" leads them in scoring.

20. Toronto Raptors | 11-15 | Last Week: 21 | +1
The Raptors now lead the Atlantic division after impressive wins over the Mavs and Thunder. They are a respectable 7-7 on the road but their home record of 4-8 needs a lot of work. The Raptors are 5-3 after Rudy Gay got traded with Amir Johnson and Kyle Lowry stepping up their games.

21. Boston Celtics | 12-17 | Last Week: 15 | -6
The Celtics are last in team assists and the possible return of Rajon Rondo might fix that problem if he does not get traded. Jeff Green was expected to be a better scorer this season but his shots haven't been falling and the lack of an established #2 scorer has hurt his scoring chances.

22. Chicago Bulls | 10-16 | Last Week: 22 | Same
The Bulls are still an elite defensive team (2nd) but they cannot score enough points to win (30th). Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich are healthy but Luol Deng has some nagging injuries. Butler has been inconsistent since coming back from injury: 9.5 points on 38% shooting.

23. Cleveland Cavaliers | 10-17 | Last Week: 24 | +1
The Cavs have lost 4 of 5 and face 3 playoff teams in the coming week (Hawks, Warriors, Pacers). Andrew Bynum was held scoreless in his last game after going 0-11 against the long and athletic Pistons. Rookie Anthony Bennett is having a historically terrible year for a #1 pick.

24. New York Knicks | 9-18 | Last Week: 27 | +3
The Knicks have more injury problems to their back-court with both Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni injured. Carmelo Anthony also sprained his ankle and is day-to-day. Tyson Chandler has been solid in his first 3 games back from injury: 9 points and 9 boards.

25. Brooklyn Nets | 9-18 | Last Week: 23 | -2
The Nets have enough talent to still make the playoffs even without Brook Lopez. They just need everyone to be healthy and start contributing. Paul Pierce was held scoreless vs the Pacers for just the 2nd time in his career. Meanwhile, KG is having the worst season of his 18 years in the NBA.

26. Sacramento Kings | 8-19 | Last Week: 25 | -1
The Kings are scoring over 100 points with Rudy Gay but their defense is hemorrhaging points too (29th). DeMarcus Cousins is a force on offense: 23 ppg and 11 rpg but his defense needs major improvement. Rookie coach Mike Malone already lambasted his team for poor effort and shoddy defense.

27. Philadelphia 76ers | 8-20 | Last Week: 28 | +1
The Sixers have lost 8 of their last 9 games with the lone win coming from a buzzer-beater by Evan Turner vs the Nets. Turner has elevated his game with career-highs in points and rebounds. Meanwhile, Spencer Hawes has slowed down in December after having a spectacular November.

28. Orlando Magic | 8-20 | Last Week: 26 | -2
Tobias Harris is finally back from injury and has played 6 games: 12 points and 6 boards. The Magic is expecting big things from him once his conditioning and rhythm comes back. Rookie Victor Oladipo is struggling. His last 5 games: 8 points on 28% shooting.

29. Utah Jazz | 8-23 | Last Week: 29 | Same
Rookie Trey Burke exploded for a career-high 30 points and 8 assists in a win vs the Magic. He followed up that game by scoring only 2 points in a blowout loss to the Hawks. Gordon Hayward has not solved his problems with his shooting stroke. Hayward is shooting 27% from deep and below 40% overall.

30. Milwaukee Bucks | 6-22 | Last Week: 30 | Same
The Bucks have lost 6 of 7 including losing 3 OT games in that span. Brandon Knight has been their top performer over the last few weeks with John Henson and Khris Middleton providing help. Larry Sanders is back in practice and could be playing very soon.

Biggest Jump of the Week: Bobcats +4
Biggest Drop of the Week: Celtics -6

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