Took longer than expected, but Miami finally atop rankings
By: Corby Yarbrough | 1/11/11, 10:44 AM EST
Once upon a time there was talk of ...
When are the Miami Heat going to get it together?
When is Pat Riley going to come down from the executive offices to replace Erik Spoelstra?
Should the Heat trade one of the Big Three?
The Heat organization must just sit back and laugh at those questions, comments, etc. that were abound about them as they headed into LeBron James' return to Cleveland on Dec. 2 on the heels of a two-game winning streak.
Well, since leaving Cleveland after a 118-90 drubbing of the Cavaliers, the Heat have lost just once in the last 20 games (96-98 to Dallas) and currently ride a nine-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at the Clippers. They have won 13 in a row on the road and have three more away from Miami this week — Clippers, Denver and Chicago.
That Jan. 15 game against Chicago is one of just five games between top 10 teams in this week's Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings — a list Miami is on top for the first time this season. They are only the second Eastern Conference team through 12 weeks to take the top spot (Boston in Weeks 8 and 9).
It will be the first meeting between the Bulls and Heat this season. The seventh-ranked Bulls bounced back from terrible road losses to New Jersey and Philadelphia by returning home and defeating Boston Saturday night.
On Jan. 13 the No. 3 Orlando Magic travel to No. 8 Oklahoma City for their first meeting of the season. The Magic, winners of nine in a row, will be coming off a game against No. 11 New Orleans the night before.
Dallas, reeling after the season-ending loss of Caron Butler and the absence of Dirk Nowitzki, are 5-5 in its last 10 games and will travel to No. 2 San Antonio on Jan, 14. It will be the third meeting of the season, a series they have split thus far.
On Monday, Jan. 17, there are two games between top 10 teams. The Magic and fourth-ranked Celtics go at it again, this time in Boston. The two teams met in Orlando on Christmas Day with the Magic winning 86-78.
The fifth-ranked Lakers play host to Oklahoma City in their first meeting since the Thunder took the defending NBA champions to six games in the first round of last year's playoffs.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
Most Popular Articles
Contests & Promotions
Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing!
Enter the Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing game. Just head over to athlon.myfantasyracing.com and register for your chance to win a chance to watch a 2014 race from the grandstands. You'll also have a chance to win other amazing prizes such as an autographed Kyle Busch helmet.