NBA Power Rankings: Bulls Take Over, Celtics Slide Into Abyss

As the Miami Heat falter, the Chicago Bulls are there to take over the top spot. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics slide down to the land of Raptors and Kings.

The Miami Heat, our No. 1 team a week ago, fell hard with an 0-3 road trip out West. (The league really should have scheduled a stop in Sacramento to keep the Heat rolling.) But the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder kept rolling on, and the L.A. Clippers leaped up our NBA Power Rankings.

The San Antonio Spurs also climbed, and the Dallas Mavericks are making a push toward the top with some massive home wins. We're being forced to come to the realization that the Boston Celtics may be toast.

Here's the full rundown, No. 1 through 30.

Rank Team Record Last Week SB Nation Blog
1. Chicago Bulls 12-2 W: MIN, BOS, WAS, TOR Blog-a-Bull
The Bulls had a largely simple slate last week, with only the Celtics standing as a likely playoff team in their path. But Chicago got the job done, as it has all season. With the league's No. 2 efficiency differential and a much more normal schedule than No. 1 (Philadelphia), the Bulls have gotten right back where we expected them.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 11-2 W: MEM, NO, NY Welcome To Loud City
The Thunder's defense needs to firm up if the squad wants to run away with the regular season West crown; it's been pretty iffy all season. But everything else looks just fine, including late-game execution.
3. San Antonio Spurs 9-4 W: HOU, POR, PHX; L: MIL Pounding The Rock
The Spurs had a strong week with three multi-possession wins over decent-to-good teams, and a tough, last-second loss on the road to Milwaukee. San Antonio gets a huge road test this week, with back-to-back games in Miami and Orlando.
4. Philadelphia 76ers 9-3 W: IND, SAC, WAS x 2; L: NY Liberty Ballers
The Sixers will fall back to Earth in efficiency differential and margin of victory once the schedule toughens up, but you have to respect what the team has done to date. Even if much of it is against teams like the Wizards.
5. L.A. Clippers 6-3 W: MIA, LAL; L: POR Clips Nation
Wins over the Heat and Lakers will do the trick to convince observers your team is for real. Like the Thunder, the Clips have a lot to prove on the defensive end. But when you have Chris Paul and a few well above-average players around him (Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups), you're going to do well.
6. Denver Nuggets 8-5 W: NJ, MIA; L: NO, UTA Denver Stiffs
The Nuggets have slowed a bit, and that Sunday loss to the Jazz in which Denver's big couldn't stop a thing Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson were running was frightful. But double-digit wins over the Heat are huge, and the Nuggets have proven already this season they belong in the conversation in the West.
7. Portland Trail Blazers 7-5 W: LAC; L: ORL, SA, HOU Blazer's Edge
The Blazers have lost some tough games, but they have a strong efficiency differential and have played a brutal schedule to date. This is still a strong team.
8. Miami Heat 8-4 L: GS, LAC, DEN Peninsula Is Mightier
Obviously, the Heat had a rough week, and fell from our top spot down to No. 8. Things could get tougher if Dwyane Wade is out long. The team's going to rely more than ever on its strong defense to grind out some wins.
9. L.A. Lakers 9-5 W: PHO, UTA, CLE; L: LAC Silver Screen And Roll
The Lakers' offense is more than sub-elite so far: it's been subpar. L.A. is turning the ball over way too much for a team that creates no opponent turnovers. That leads to a shot deficit that's hard to make up, even with good offensive rebounding.
10. Atlanta Hawks 9-4 W: NJ, CHA, MIN; L: IND Peachtree Hoops
Atlanta's edged out two wins since losing Al Horford, but the schedule will get much tougher later this week with games against Portland and the Sixers. Atlanta's schedule has been rather soft so far this season.
11. Dallas Mavericks 8-5 W: DET, BOS, MIL, SAC Mavs Moneyball
Dallas is back with a 4-0 week and two monster home wins (+26 over Milwaukee, +39 over Sacramento). The schedule is slowly toughening up, and the team's efficiency differential is headed in the right direction. Can they go deep with an imperfect center rotation made up of Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi?
12. Orlando Magic 8-3 W: POR, GS Orlando Pinstriped Post
The Magic have benefited from a rather cupcake schedule; things get tougher this week against the Spurs and Lakers. Orlando is relying on abnormally hot shooting, not traditionally a hallmark of Dwight Howard teams.
13. Utah Jazz 8-4 W: CLE, NJ, DEN; L: LAL SLC Dunk
The Jazz's 8-4 record is a bit misleading. Utah has the efficiency differential of a .500 club, but has played a decently tough schedule. It seems likely that over the next month, the Jazz will fall back down to .500 or below ... but it's hard to count out the team when Al Jefferson is playing as well as he has.
14. Indiana Pacers 9-3 W: ATL, TOR, BOS; L: PHI Indy Cornrows
It's tough to put a three-loss team this low, but Indiana has played against two teams we know are good -- the Sixers and Heat -- and lost each handily. Wins over Boston are quickly losing meaning, and the Flyin' Vogels are going to have to prove it against stiffer competition. They draw the Lakers Sunday and the Magic and Bulls next week.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves 4-8 W: NO; L: TOR, CHI, ATL Canis Hoopus
The Wolves! Minnesota has a +0.7 efficiency differential against an above-average strength of schedule. So ignore that 4-8 record for a minute and recognize that this team is actually not bad. The Wolves!
16. Memphis Grizzlies 5-6 W: NY, NO; L: OKC Straight Outta Vancouver
Memphis is staying afloat by beating mid-rung and worse teams, but that offense is too anemic without Zach Randolph to compete with the West's best.
17. Phoenix Suns 4-8 L: LAL, CLE, NJ, SA Bright Side Of The Sun
The problems with Phoenix are the same as they've always been: they aren't good on the glass, and they don't draw any fouls. The shots haven't been falling as readily, so that kills the whole offense, no matter how Steve Nash plays.
18. Houston Rockets 5-7 W: CHA, SAC, POR; L: SA The Dream Shake
The Rockets are quietly getting into position to challenge for that final playoff spot out West; the Jazz and Grizzlies are the chief competition. Houston needs much more out of its defense, and that's largely going to come down to Samuel Dalembert and Kyle Lowry. Can they cover all of the other holes?
19. Cleveland Cavaliers 5-6 W: PHX; L: UTA, LAL Fear The Sword
Kyrie Irving is damned good. After that forgettable Game 1 debut, he's averaging 18 points on 50 percent shooting and five assists as Cleveland has been better than expected. The Cavs could crawl over .500 with wins over the Bobcats and Warriors, but the Bulls, Hawks and Heat are the subsequent three opponents.
20. Golden State Warriors 4-8 W: MIA, DET; L: ORL, CHA Golden State Of Mind
Losing by 12 to Charlotte should count as two losses. But Golden State is getting a ton of production out of Monta Ellis, and though the defense remains a problem, David Lee is performing well. Is there an outside chance Golden State could sneak into the West No. 8 conversation?
21. New Orleans Hornets 3-9 W: DEN; L: OKC, MIN, MEM At The Hive
A completely improbable, defensive win over a good team on the road, and three no-brainer losses to mixed competition? That is the story of the 2011-12 New Orleans Hornets.
22. New York Knicks 6-6 W: CHA, PHI; L: MEM, OKC Posting And Toasting
The Knicks' efficiency differential is so bad -- just -0.6 points per 100 possessions. But the fact that it's come against one of the very softest schedules in the league is frightening. What happened to this offense? It scored 83, 85, 91 and 92 points last week.
23. Milwaukee Bucks 4-7 W: SA, DET; L: MIL BrewHoop
Milwaukee is still doing the bi-polar home-road jig, looking like world-beaters at the Bradley and an also-ran away from Wisconsin. That's got to change for the Bucks to make an assault on a playoff seed; a game at the Knicks on Friday is as good an opportunity to grab a road win as any.
24. Boston Celtics 4-7 L: DAL, CHI, IND CelticsBlog
I'm not asking the Celtics to beat all of the Mavericks, Bulls and Pacers. Just one of them. That loss to Indiana was a brutal indicator that this team is toast. Boston has a -2.5 efficiency differential against a subpar strength of schedule. Yikes.
25. Toronto Raptors 4-9 W: MIN; L: WAS, SAC, IND, CHI Raptors HQ
Losing to the Wizards and Kings back-to-back should be met with relegation to the CBA. The D-League is too good for that.
26. New Jersey Nets 3-10 W: PHX; L: ATL, DEN, UTA NetsDaily
Deron Williams, though still shooting poorly, is coming around this season. If only the team has one more player -- just one -- who belonged in an NBA starting lineup.
27. Detroit Pistons 3-10 W: CHA; L: CHI, DAL, MIL, GS Detroit Bad Boys
The Pistons have one bright spot (Greg Monroe), one glimmer of hope (Brandon Knight) and nothing else but indigestion.
28. Sacramento Kings 4-9 W: TOR; L: PHI, HOU, DAL Sactown Royalty
The Kings' offense is bad anywhere, but especially so on the road. Saturday's 60-spot against the Mavericks was painful to watch on every level.
29. Charlotte Bobcats 3-10 W: GS; L: NY, HOU, ATL, DET Rufus On Fire
Over the last 10 games, Byron Mullens is Charlotte's leading scorer and rebounder. Let that soak in for a minute.
30. Washington Wizards 1-11 W: TOR; L: CHI, PHI x 2 Bullets Forever
It's only six months until the draft. It's only six months until the draft. It's only six months until the draft.
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