In this condensed season of constant travel and back-to-back-to-backs, the aging stars with their proud traditions of success in San Antonio and Boston were supposed to be close to road kill by now, or at least holding on for dear life and storing up their energy for the playoffs.
Instead, the Spurs and Celtics were the only undefeated teams last week, elevating both past my season-long skepticism and into the top 10 together for the first time. Boston's 34-year-old leader, Paul Pierce, was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, and San Antonio's 35-year-old leader, Tim Duncan, could have achieved the same honor in the West based on his recent performances. And both teams, not surprisingly, have found themselves young, valuable role players, such as Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio and Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson in Boston.
The Spurs have won five in a row and are 14-7 without Manu Ginobili, who is nearing his return from a broken hand. The Celtics have taken advantage of a home-heavy stretch to go 9-2 since a 4-8 start. Those two teams settle in behind No. 6 Indiana, No. 5 Philadelphia and a top four that remains unchanged from last week.
(All stats and records are through Monday, Feb. 6 unless otherwise noted.)
NBA Power Rankings