For the first time since week 6, the San Antonio Spurs return to the top position in the Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings.
Despite dipping down below 100 points in three of its last four games (average 105.6 this season), San Antonio continues to win. The Spurs have lost just once since Dec. 1 — a 123-101 defeat at Orlando.
They move from the third spot to the top spot, supplanting Southwest and state rival Dallas, who they defeated 99-93 last week. The Mavs fell to No. 4 after losing three of four before disposing of our lowest-ranked team, Cleveland, on Jan. 1 to end the skid.
Miami has moved into the No. 2 spot and still have not lost a game since a 98-96 defeat on Dec. 20 against Dallas — a six-game span.
Boston fell to No. 3 with a 3-2 mark over the last week — losses coming in back-to-back games against Detroit and New Orleans.
Chicago rounds out the top five as winners of five in a row since a Christmas Day loss to New York.
It's a ho-hum week for games between top 10 teams in the Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings.
San Antonio and Boston square off for the first time this season when the Spurs travel to Beantown Jan. 5.
Dallas tries to right the ship when it plays host to No. 9 Oklahoma City Jan. 6. It will be the third meeting of the season; the Mavericks have won the first two by eight and 10. Dallas will also try for the season sweep when it plays host to No. 6 Orlando on Jan. 8. The Mavericks won the first meeting 105-99 on Dec. 21.
Boston and Chicago will also meet for the third time this season when the Celtics travel to the Windy City on Jan. 8. The Celtics won the first two meetings — the first by five, the second by 12 — both of which were in Boston. The Bulls have the second-best home record in the Eastern Conference at 14-3 entering the Jan. 4 game with visiting Toronto.
The No. 8 Lakers and No. 10 New Orleans Hornets meet for the second time in nine days when L.A. plays host this time. The Lakers won the first meeting 103-88 on Dec. 29 in New Orleans.
There are also a few fringe match ups between those teams just outside the top 10 against top 10 teams.
The No. 13 Knicks have certainly had their fair share of high-profile games over the last three weeks. It started with back-to-back losses against visiting Boston and Miami to end an eight-game winning streak, picked back up with back-to-back home wins over Oklahoma City and Chicago before another set of back-to-back losses to Miami and Orlando on the road.
New York gets its chance again this week. It plays host to the Spurs on NBA TV Jan. 4 and closes the week with a Jan. 9 visit to the Lakers.
No. 11 Denver, winners of four in a row, will try to make its way back into the top 10 with a week that includes the Clippers and Kings on the road before closing out against No. 10 New Orleans at home Jan. 9.
After a 5-5 split of the top 10 the last two weeks, the Western Conference reclaims the lead this week with a 6-4 edge.
Dallas resumes the top spot in the Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings this week after Boston had held the No. 1 ranking for the last two weeks. The Celtics, who saw their 14-game winning streak snapped on Christmas by the Orlando Magic, go down to the No. 2 spot.
Dallas, which had been on top the two weeks before the Celtics took over, has won five in a row and nine of its last 10.
San Antonio and New York dominate the key games this week between top 10 teams in the Athlon Sports Power Rankings.
The No. 2 Spurs play host to the No. 6 Lakers on Dec. 28, travel to No. 1 Dallas on Dec. 30 and play host to No. 7 Oklahoma City on Jan. 1.
San Antonio had its 10-game winning streak snapped by Orlando on Dec. 23. This will be the first meeting this season between the Lakers and Spurs, the second with Dallas (the Mavs won 103-94 in Dallas on Nov. 26) and the second with Oklahoma City (the Spurs won 117-104 in Oklahoma City on Nov. 14).
The No. 10 Knicks will get a chance to avenge their loss to Miami when the two meet Dec. 28. Miami won the Dec. 17 outing in New York, 113-91, holding the Knicks under 100 points for the first time since Nov. 27. New York has since gone 2-1 with wins over Oklahoma City and Chicago in its last two games.
No. 4 Miami, which had its 12-game winning streak snapped by Dallas on Dec. 20, has scored victories over Phoenix and Lakers since then.
The Knicks will then head to Central Florida on Dec. 30 to take on an Orlando Magic team that has won its last three after a four-game skid. The ninth-ranked Magic got those wins against San Antonio, Boston and New Jersey. This will be the first meeting of the year between the Knicks and Magic.
There are a few fringe matchups of teams within Athlon's top 10 this week against teams in the 11-15 spots.
No. 13 Denver plays both of the teams just behind it in the power poll. The Nuggets play host to No. 14 Portland Dec. 28 and play host to No. 15 Houston on Jan. 3.
Meanwhile, Portland, which enters the Denver game 6-4 in its last 10 outings, will return home Dec. 30 to play host to No. 5 Utah. Portland is 10-3 at home this season. The Jazz handed the Blazers one of those three losses when they won the first meeting at the Rose Garden (103-94 on Nov. 20), but Portland just defeated Utah at its place Dec. 27 (96-91).
Other fringe games see the erratic New Orleans Hornets, ranked 11th, playing host to the Lakers Dec. 29 and then traveling to Boston Dec. 31. It's the first time the Hornets will clash with L.A. and Boston this year in games involving three teams that started the season equally hot.
The No. 12 Atlanta Hawks, winners of three of the last four, travel to Oklahoma City Dec. 31.
After having the upper hand for the first seven weeks of the season with a majority of its teams in the Athlon Sports Power Rankings top 10, the Western Conference has seen the Eastern Conference make a push the last three weeks. The conferences each have five of their teams in the top 10 for the third week in a row. The Western Conference had seven in the top 10 three times in the first seven weeks and six the other four weeks before the split.