The Miami Heat slipped past the Boston Celtics in the win-loss ledger, and in SBNation.com's Week 11 NBA Power Rankings, they've passed the San Antonio Spurs, too. Meanwhile, the Mavericks and Lakers try to keep pace while holding off charges from the Jazz, Magic and Bulls.
1. Miami Heat (30-9): The Heat officially took over the No. 1 seed in the East with Boston's loss Monday night. But the momentum has been building for weeks. With Miami defending as well as it is and an offensive attack featuring two of the five best scorers of this generation (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade) and a fantastic power forward (Chris Bosh) ... what are you supposed to do?
2. San Antonio Spurs (31-6): An unprecedented double-dip in the loss column left these Spurs ... yep, they still have the No. 1 record in the NBA and the league's top offense. But that defense was obliterated in the Knicks-Celtics back-to-back, leaving concern of what the Lakers could do to it in the playoffs.
3. Boston Celtics (28-9): The Celtics haven't had a full complement for more than a couple games since early December. As such, it's no surprise that Boston is struggling a bit. Once Kevin Garnett returns, this team will pull it all back together. (Right?) Don't forget that Kendrick Perkins is also prepping for his 2010-11 debut.
6. Chicago Bulls (25-12): How serious is Derrick Rose's MVP candidacy? He's continuing to defy skeptics like myself; a recent hot shooting streak has gotten his scoring efficiency over the league average standard, and the fact that the Bulls are rolling is a big boon to his campaign. (It doesn't hurt that he's extraordinarily fun to watch.)
7. Orlando Magic (25-12): Whether the Magic's set of blockbuster trades in December were a success might be defined in the postseason. But don't forget how listless Orlando looked before the deals, and how powerful the team looks right now.
8. Utah Jazz (25-13): The Jazz's miracle stretch of comeback road wins was, well, miraculous. But don't forget that there was a reason they fell behind in all those games. Now, those early deficits are coming home to roost as Jerry Sloan tries to figure out how to fix the problem.
9. New Orleans Hornets (22-16): Defense continues to carry the Hornets, who continue to need a better scorer than Marco Belinelli at the two-guard spot. The Italian has shot plenty well, but he's basically a spot-up gunner. Chris Paul needs a creator not named Trevor Ariza to help out, and the Jarrett Jack acquisition isn't yet paying great dividends.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (25-13): Despite a signature run like those the Lakers, Spurs and Mavericks have run off, the Thunder find themselves within striking range at the top of the conference. Pushed-up expectations might have dampened our warm-fuzzies about OKC; it's hard to forget that team was the No. 8 seed last season.
11. Atlanta Hawks (25-14): The Hawks have ripped off four straight, and Joe Johnson's return to form has been a big reason why. In his last 10 games, Johnson is shooting 46 percent from the floor and 40 percent on threes. He had been below 40 and 30 percent, respectively, on the season before this spurt.
12. Denver Nuggets (20-16): The uncertainty surrounding the Carmelo Anthony trade is killing this team, and never was it more evident than when the team laid down in front of the rampaging Sacramento Kings in crunch time last Thursday. The white flags are out, and the Nuggets need to kill the embarrassment and end the charade lest the city turns on them.
13. Portland Trail Blazers (20-18): The Blazers followed up a big home-and-home sweep of the Rockets last week with a win over the Wolves and a heartbreaking loss to LeBron James and the Heat. At least the team has settled into some sort of consistency without Brandon Roy: Portland is beating decent and bad teams, and losing to the elite.
14. New York Knickerbockers (21-15): The Knicks enter the top half of our Power Rankings after a big win over the Spurs. That rough loss to the then-flagging Lakers won't do any favors -- all New York's flaws were brought into focus. But not many teams in the East will have the cadre of big men L.A. does.