The Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat have been the top two teams in the Eastern Conference for most of the season. They will continue to be the top two teams in the Eastern Conference when we head into the playoffs in about three weeks.
But for all the heavyweight-title fight hype that surrounded Wednesday night’s meeting between the East’s best in Indianapolis, the numbers indicate that it might have been more of a welterweight bout.
The Pacers have fallen out of the top three in the HoopsHabit.com NBA Power Rankings for the first time all season after another break-even week at 2-2. The Heat are out of the top five after similarly winning two and losing two over the last week.
That’s not to say Heat-Pacers III didn’t deliver on the hype, in more ways than one. It was a close game, not decided until the end, and there were some serious body blows delivered in a basketball game that degenerated quickly into a street fight.
There was some movement in the rankings last week, always a surprise in a numbers-driven set of rankings this late in the season. The Phoenix Suns’ 4-0 week propelled them back into the top 10 and the New Orleans Pelicans, also 4-0, were the big mover of the week, moving up three spots to No. 18. The Cleveland Cavaliers, who were 3-2, moved up a couple of spots as well.
In the other direction were the Toronto Raptors (2-2) and Atlanta Hawks (0-4), each of whom yielded two positions.
The other unbeatens last week were the Texas duo of the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. Houston moved into the top five for the first time this season, leapfrogging the Heat, while the Spurs didn’t move up … because there’s nowhere for them to go; they’re still at the top of the proverbial pile.
And with that, on to the NBA Power Rankings for this week (all statistical information via nba.com/Stats):