Just as many were beginning to doubt the Pacers' elevated status in most power rankings, they knock off the Lakers in LA to solidify their spot.
Some fans—especially the Sixers faithful—believe their team is still better than Indiana. That certainly is not an absurd notion, but I point to the fact that the Pacers have more wins over teams with winning records and more quality wins overall.
The Pacers have six wins of note: at Golden State (the Warriors have defeated both the Bulls and Heat at Oracle Arena), Cleveland before their recent swoon, the Lakers in LA, Boston twice (yes, I'm still calling that a quality win for now) and Atlanta.
Whose a better team 76ers or Pacers?
The Sixers have three quality wins: at Golden State, Atlanta and the one that fuels the debate, over Indiana head to head.
While head to head in the regular season is important, it certainly isn't the end all be all. Consider this—the Chicago Bulls swept the Miami Heat in the regular season in 2010-2011, only to be defeated in five games in the playoffs. So, who was a better team?
Their records are almost identical (11-4 for Indy and 12-5 for Philly), but as of right now, the Pacers still get my vote, as well as a few other teams with better resumes than the Sixers, for now.
Two other teams scored major wins already this week. These victories were confidence savers, as the following teams were previously falling by the wayside.
On Sunday, the Bucks went into Miami and knocked off the Heat. Miami was without Dwyane Wade, but the Heat had proven themselves a formidable squad without Flash. As a matter of fact, this was their first loss in seven games without Wade.
The Bucks held the Heat to their worst offensive night of the year. The Heat shot a season-low 37 percent from the floor and snapped the Heat's three-game win streak.
Milwaukee grabbed only their second road win of the year against one of the NBA's elite teams.
The talk has surfaced of blowing up the Big Three in Beantown. While that is still the smart move, the Celtics' veterans responded on Monday night with a huge win over the Orlando Magic. The Celtics' defense was in championship form, despite playing without Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen.
Will the Celtics make the playoffs?
The C's held the Magic to a franchise-low 56 points and defeated them 87-56. Perhaps rumors of the C's demise is premature, but they will need more games like this to climb in the power rankings.
Here are my full early-edition power rankings. The full weekly list will still be posted on Sunday.
1. Chicago Bulls 16-3
2. Miami Heat 11-5
3. Oklahoma City Thunder 14-3
4. San Antonio Spurs 11-7
5. Denver Nuggets 12-5
6. Indiana Pacers 11-4
7. Atlanta Hawks 13-5
8. Memphis Grizzlies 10-6
9. Los Angeles Clippers 9-5
10. Orlando Magic 11-5
11. Philadelphia 76ers 12-5
12. Houston Rockets 10-7
13. Utah Jazz 10-5
14. Los Angeles Lakers 10-8
15. Portland Trail Blazers 10-7
16. Dallas Mavericks 11-7
17. Minnesota Timberwolves 7-10
18. Golden State Warriors 5-11
19. Boston Celtics 7-9
20. Milwaukee Bucks 6-10
21. Phoenix Suns 6-10
22. Sacramento Kings 6-12
23. Cleveland Cavaliers 6-9
24. New York Knicks 6-10
25. New Orleans Hornets 3-14
26. Toronto Raptors 4-13
27. New Jersey Nets 5-13
28. Detroit Pistons 4-14
29. Charlotte Bobcats 3-14
30. Washington Wizards 2-15
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