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SoB NBA Power Rankings 1-24-11

Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls cracked the top 5 for the first time this season. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The first half of the 2010-2011 NBA regular season is officially in the books, and it appears the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are on yet another collision course (unless, of course, the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat have something to say about it). Those elite teams currently hold the top four positions in this week’s SoB NBA Power Rankings.

The Celtics and Lakers boast the second and third best records in the league, surpassed only by the Spurs, who have ripped off winning streaks of eight, ten, and 12 games in the first half of the season. The Heat had a twelve-game winning streak of their own, but injuries to Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh caused them to drop four of their last five games.

The Chicago Bulls round out the top five, and could crack the elite level later in the season with a trade for Detroit Pistons’ guard Richard Hamilton, and the return of injured Joakim Noah.

The new-look Orlando Magic trail the Bulls at No. 6, followed by the New Orleans Hornets (No. 7), Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 8), Atlanta Hawks (No. 9) and Dallas Mavericks (No. 10).

The Hornets are back in the top 10 for the first time since November, supplanting the struggling Utah Jazz. The Mavericks slipped from No. 4 to No. 10, thanks in part to injuries to Caron Butler and Dirk Nowitzki, while the Lakers climbed from No. 7 to No. 3 this week.

Previous Power Rankings: 11/7/10 | 11/30/10 | 12/17/10 | 1/9/11

Rank (points) Team Record Comment
1 (30) San Antonio Spurs 37-7 Getting the one-seed will be very important for the Spurs, who are 24-2 at home this season. (John Scullane)
2 (25) Boston Celtics 33-10 Despite all of the injuries to big men (KG, Perk, Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal), the C’s continue to stand tall atop the East. (KC Downey)
3 (23) Los Angeles Lakers 32-13 General manager Jerry West thinks there is a correlation between the Lakers’ old age and defensive inconsistency, and coach Phil Jackson doesn’t disagree. (Andrew Kipp)
4 (20) Miami Heat 31-13 Injuries to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have cooled off the Miami Heat. (Andrew Kipp)
5 (19) Chicago Bulls 31-14 Derrick Rose isn’t Michael Jordan, and Tom Thibodeau isn’t Phil Jackson, but Chicago is poised to make a deep playoff-run. (John Scullane)
6 (14) Orlando Magic 29-16 This new trio in Orlando is starting to win some games, but Dwight Howard continues to act like the lone star. (KC Downey)
7 (13) New Orleans Hornets 30-16 The Hornets are serious contenders, having already beaten the Spurs, Heat, Mavericks, Jazz, Hawks, Magic and Celtics this season. (Andrew Kipp)
8 (10) OKC Thunder 28-16 Kevin Durant is leading the NBA in scoring again, and his Thunder are in first place in the Northwest Division. (KC Downey)
9 (8) Atlanta Hawks 29-16 Atlanta still needs to step it up a notch to compete with the other good teams in the Eastern Conference. (John Scullane)
10 (2) Dallas Mavericks 28-15 Mavericks (2)-Sorry Mark Cuban, signing 33-year-old Toronto Raptors reject Peja Stojakovic isn’t going to save your team’s season. (Andrew Kipp)

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