NBA Power Rankings: Pacers vault to top

Marc J. Spears
Special to Yahoo Sports

 

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Paul George has helped lead the Pacers to a franchise-record start. (USA Today)

 

Indiana
1. Indiana Pacers (7-0; last week's ranking: 2): The Pacers are off to a franchise-record start. With a win over Memphis on Monday, Indiana can match the best winning streak to start a season since the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets were both 8-0 in 2010.


San Antonio
2. San Antonio Spurs (6-1; last week's ranking: 6): The Spurs are off to a great start despite Tim Duncan averaging a modest 13.3 points and 6.6 rebounds. The Spurs have winnable games ahead against Philadelphia, Washington, Utah and Boston.


Oklahoma City
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1; last week's ranking: 7): The Thunder have a tough back-to-back challenge this week on the road against the Clippers and Golden State. It will be Russell Westbrook's first back-to-back since knee surgery.


Minnesota
4. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-2; last week's ranking: 4): After beating the Lakers, the T'wolves will stay in L.A. for a showdown against the Clippers on Monday. The matchup between Kevin Love and Blake Griffin is usually entertaining.


Miami
5. Miami Heat (4-3; last week's ranking: 5): One of the big reasons for the Heat's success the past four seasons is that LeBron James has stayed healthy. But this season the NBA MVP has been slowed a bit by a sore back.


Phoenix
6. Phoenix Suns (5-2; last week's ranking: 18): Eric Bledsoe and the Suns have risen past the Sixers to become the NBA's newest surprise team. Jeff Hornacek became the first coach in franchise history to win his first four home games.


Los Angeles
7. Los Angeles Clippers (4-3; last week's ranking: 8): Former Boston coach Doc Rivers will be reunited for the first time with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett when the Clippers play Brooklyn in Los Angeles on Saturday.


Golden State
8. Golden State Warriors (4-3; last week's ranking: 9): The Warriors have four players averaging at least 15 points per game. After signing a big contract extension, center Andrew Bogut is off to a slow start, averaging 5.4 points and shooting 47.1 percent from the free-throw line.


Houston
9. Houston Rockets (4-3; last week's ranking: 3): Dwight Howard and the Rockets have dropped three of their past four games, including two to the Clippers, after a 3-0 start. Guard Jeremy Lin returns to New York on Thursday to play the Knicks.


Memphis
10. Memphis Grizzlies (3-3; last week's ranking: 12): Memphis has the talent and size to give the Pacers their first loss of the season on Monday. After a disappointing 2-3 start, the Grizzlies are coming off a big home win over the Warriors.

 

Portland
11. Portland Trail Blazers (4-2; last week's ranking: 13): Portland is off to strong start, but two wins were against Sacramento. If the Blazers are legit, they should win at least three of their next five games with Detroit, Phoenix, Boston, Toronto and Brooklyn.

 

Philadelphia
12. Philadelphia 76ers (4-3, last week's ranking: 1): The Sixers' seat at the top didn't last long; their 1-3 record last week dropped them out of the top 10. The Sixers' schedule also doesn't get any easier with San Antonio and Houston visiting.


Dallas
13. Dallas Mavericks (4-3; last week's ranking: 14): Newcomer Monta Ellis, not Dirk Nowitzki, is currently the Mavs' leading scorer, averaging 23 points. Nowitzki is averaging 18.1 points but just 14.2 in the past four games.


Chicago
14. Chicago Bulls (2-3; last week's ranking: 11): A big matchup on Monday with the Bulls' Derrick Rose vs. the Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving. The Bulls have a chance to avenge last week's loss to Central Division rival Indiana on Saturday.

 

Detroit
15. Detroit Pistons (2-3; last week's ranking: 10): Converted small forward Josh Smith is averaging a team-best 18.8 points, but has also averaged 4.2 fouls while shooting 28.6 percent from the 3-point line.


Charlotte
16. Charlotte Bobcats (3-3; last week's ranking: 23): After getting two stents placed in his heart and missing a game, coach Steve Clifford will return to the sideline on Monday against Atlanta. Clifford had the procedure after having chest pains last Thursday.


Atlanta
17. Atlanta Hawks (3-3; last week's ranking: 24): Paul Millsap is off to a fast start, averaging 20.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Atlanta is hoping to get consecutive wins for the first time this season Monday against Charlotte.


New Orleans
18. New Orleans Pelicans (3-4; last week's ranking: 21): Center Anthony Davis has scored at least 20 points in four games, including 32 points and 12 rebounds against the Lakers on Friday. The Pelicans play the Lakers in Los Angeles on Tuesday.


Washington
19. Washington Wizards (2-4; last week's ranking: 28): The Wizards are much better than their record shows, but they have to close out big wins – like they failed to do in their overtime loss against Oklahoma City on Sunday.


Los Angeles
20. Los Angeles Lakers (3-5; last week's ranking: 17): Kobe Bryant is entering the third week of ramped-up workouts as he tries to return from Achilles tendon surgery. Steve Nash has suffered from back pain.


Cleveland
21. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4; last week's ranking: 22): Irving is coming off a 39-point performance against Philadelphia entering Monday's showdown against Rose. He has scored more than 25 points in two of his past three games.


Brooklyn
22. Brooklyn Nets (2-4; last week's ranking: 15): The Nets are tied with the Knicks and Wizards for the worst record in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Garnett is averaging six points and 6.7 rebounds.


New York
23. New York Knicks (2-4; last week's ranking: 16): The Knicks got J.R. Smith back after he served a five-game suspension for violating the NBA's anti-drug problem. Carmelo Anthony called a 120-89 loss to San Antonio on Sunday "embarrassing."


Toronto
24. Toronto Raptors (3-4; last week's ranking: 19): Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan are struggling with their shot: They are both shooting less than 40 percent from the field while averaging team-highs of 17.6 and 16.6 shots, respectively.


Orlando
25. Orlando Magic (3-4; last week's ranking: 20): The Magic will try to snap a 15-game road losing streak on Monday in Boston. Center Nikola Vucevic is off to a fantastic start, averaging a double-double of 15.7 points and 12.1 rebounds.


Boston
26. Boston Celtics (3-4; last week's ranking: 30): Boston has won three straight games, including Saturday's win over Miami, after an 0-4 start. The Celtics have also won nine straight games over the Magic, who they beat last Friday and play again on Monday.


Milwaukee
27. Milwaukee Bucks (2-3; last week's ranking: 26): Forward Larry Sanders had a forgettable week after missing two straight games with a right thumb sprain and issuing a public apology after he was involved in an altercation at a nightclub.

 

Denver
28. Denver Nuggets (1-4; last week's ranking: 27): Denver is off to its worst start since 2004. Under new coach Brian Shaw, the Nuggets are at risk of going six games into a season with no more than a win for the first time in 15 years. They face the winless Jazz next.


Sacramento
29. Sacramento Kings (1-5; last week's ranking: 25): The Kings have lost five straight since beating Denver in the season opener. A bright spot for Kings: DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 23.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals.


Utah
30. Utah Jazz (0-7; last week's ranking: 29) Utah is in the midst of its worst start since opening its inaugural 1974-75 season with 11 consecutive losses. The Jazz are shooting NBA worsts of 40.1 percent from the field and 23.6 percent on 3-pointers.

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