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NBA Power Rankings: Spurs On Record Pace, Heat Chasing Hard

The San Antonio Spurs continued to maintain a pristine pace to start the season, sitting currently at 29-4. Right now, the Spurs are on pace to go 72-10. Given that everyone debated whether the new-look Miami Heat could do that before the season began, that San Antonio is in the conversation is nothing short of amazing.

Elsewhere, the other West powers jockey for the No. 2 spot while the Heat and Celtics race for No. 1 in the East with the Magic and Bulls hot on their tails.

1. San Antonio Spurs: Record - 29-4 | SB Nation Blog: Pounding The Rock

The good: San Antonio has been a model of health, with none of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan or Richard Jefferson missing a single game.

The bad: The weighted age of the team is 29 years old, and Duncan and Ginobili are 34 and 33, respectively, meaning the odds of a perfectly health season are similar to those of Glen Davis winning the three-point shoot-out at All-Star Weekend.

The extraordinary: The Spurs have the No. 1 offense in basketball. The Spurs!

2. Miami Heat: Record - 27-9 | SB Nation Blog: Peninsula Is Mightier

The good: The Heat are now 7-7 against teams with a record above .500, if you're into that sort of thing.

The bad: Mike Miller has played just 41 minutes since returning two weeks ago, and is 1-12 from the floor.

The weird: The stat lines of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, if you ignore assists and three-point shooting, are ridiculously similar.

3. Boston Celtics: Record - 26-7 | SB Nation Blog: Celticsblog

The good: Paul Pierce is an actual threat to join the ultra-exclusive 50-40-90 club (that's 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three, 90 percent from the line).

The bad: Should Kevin Garnett be out longer than the Celtics have announced, Boston will suffer, as KG has the league's second-best adjusted plus-minus.

The audacious: Nate Robinson is taking just one fewer three per game than Ray Allen ... in just more than half Allen's minutes.

4. Dallas Mavericks: Record - 25-8 | SB Nation Blog: Mavs Moneyball

The good: Dirk Nowitzki has never missed more than six games in a season. He's expected back from a knee injury this week.

The bad: The rest of his team, particularly Caron Butler, has not been as fortunate.

The fortuitous: If there was any team in the NBA that could withstand a serious injury to anyone but its Alpha star and maintain quality, it was the Mavericks.

5. Chicago Bulls: Record - 22-10 | SB Nation Blog: Blog-A-Bull

The good: It took exactly zero hours and zero minutes for Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer to get comfortable with each other. The Bulls went 12-4 in December, with Boozer averaging better than 20 a game on 54 percent shooting.

The bad: The Bulls turn the ball over too much; Rose's 3.6 per game separate him from the true top tier of the NBA's point guards.

The frightening: Chicago is No. 2 in the NBA in defense (as of Monday) ... with Joakim Noah on the shelf for the past month!

6. Los Angeles Lakers: Record - 23-11 | SB Nation Blog: Silver Screen And Roll

The good: Despite the Kobe Bryant-Pau Gasol-Phil Jackson drama, the Lakers have the league's No. 4 offense.

The bad: The Lakers' defense, No. 4 in the league last year, has fallen to No. 12. And no one seems to know why.

The interesting way of putting it: In response to the Lakers' embarrassing loss to the Grizzlies Sunday night, SS&R went with: "Joe Smith's Debut Is Forever Tarnished." Well yes, that's true.

7. Orlando Magic: Record - 22-12 | SB Nation Blog: Orlando Pinstriped Post

The good: Hedo Turkoglu has been pretty good so far in his return to Orlando, averaging 13/5/5.

The bad: Brandon Bass' potentially nagging injury could be a huge blow to the Magic's already queasy frontcourt rotation.

The nice bonus: Marcin Gortat is not making friends or wins in Phoenix, and as it turns out may never develop into a stud! (Whew.)

8. Utah Jazz: Record - 24-11 | SB Nation Blog: SLC Dunk

The good: The Jazz are 11-1 against the East, with most of their toughest games already done.

The bad: Like clockwork, the Jazz are among the league's most likely to foul an opponent (No. 2 in foul rate). Why, Sloan, why?

The amazing: The Jazz have taken to yelling "Too Big Yo" at Gordon Hayward from the bench when the rookie makes a nice play or two.

9. Denver Nuggets: Record: - 20-13 | SB Nation Blog: Denver Stiffs

The good: Nene is poised to win the NBA's True Shooting percentage crown for the third straight season. It really is an accomplishment.

The bad: Carmelo Anthony is not poised to win the NBA's True Shooting percentage crown.

The good effort: I poked fun at Chris "The Birdman" Andersen for the sequence of strong dunks the Kings expressed on his face Saturday, but hey. At least he challenged them.

10. New Orleans Hornets: Record - 21-14 | SB Nation Blog: At The Hive

The good: Chris Paul is currently No. 3 in NBA history in assists per game average. Behind Magic Johnson and John Stockton. !

The bad: The Hornets have the NBA's No. 22 offense, which one could argue is because ...

The ugly: Among the 79 players who through Sunday's action had taken at least 100 threes this season, Trevor Ariza had the worst conversion rate at 25.6 percent.

11. Oklahoma City Thunder: Record - 23-12 | SB Nation Blog: Welcome To Loud City

The good: Despite the Thunder's slow start, the team is one game out of the No. 3 seed in the West, and just a half-game behind the Lakers.

The bad: OKC's margin of victory is poor, which means they are due to lose some close games. So spaketh the God of Regression to the Mean.

The somewhat alarming: It's January, and OKC's defense still hasn't picked back up to its 2009-10 standard. With every week, you wonder how much the loss of assistant coach (and defensive coordinator) Ron Adams meant.

12. Atlanta Hawks: Record - 22-14 | SB Nation Blog: Peachtree Hoops

The good: Al Horford continues to lay it down, and is currently No. 6 in the NBA in Win Shares.

The bad: Joe Johnson is shooting 39.9 percent on the season, and 26.6 percent on three-pointers. He is by far the most frequent shooter on the Hawks.

The platoon: I have long-term doubts about whether Larry Drew's platoon with Jason Collins starting games against teams with good centers can work. Are you really going to start Collins in a playoff series against the Magic?

13. Portland Trailblazers: Record - 18-16 | SB Nation Blog: Blazers Edge

The good: The weird veteran-youth mix of the Blazers has Portland looking at a fight for a playoff bid.

The bad: Brandon Roy is considering an unprecedented (for active players) surgery to repair his knee. Gulp.

The liberté: You won't find a Frenchman more beloved by Americans than Nicolas Batum. Ever. (And I'm including Serge Gainsbourg.)

14. Houston Rockets: Record - 16-18 | SB Nation Blog: The Dream Shake

The good: Kevin Martin is having an epic shooting season, and might even be the most valuable two-guard in the Western Conference behind Manu Ginobili.

The bad: Jordan Hill hasn't been able to take a stand during the injury absence of Chuck Hayes.

The desperate need: As such, the Rockets really need some help at center. Will the Knicks' 2012 pick come into play at the deadline?

15. Memphis Grizzlies: Record - 15-19 | SB Nation Blog: Straight Outta Vancouver

The good: Rudy Gay has overachieved this season, which is saying a lot considering he signed an $80 million contract in July.

The bad: It's not apparent that Hasheem Thabeet is or will ever be much better than Hamed Haddadi. Hamed. Haddadi.

The hope that doesn't come back to bite you: Memphis' dramatic loss in Sacramento last week could loom large at season's end as the Grizzlies push for a playoff bid. How awful would that be?