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NBA Power Rankings: Celtics, Hornets crash the top of Eastern standings

The Celtics and Hornets mounted impressive weeks and landed in the top 10 of this week's NBA Power Rankings. 

Alright, the Warriors lost. Let’s get on with the season.

It probably won’t be quite that easy to focus your attention elsewhere as Golden State’s historic season rolls on, but perhaps we can give a little more love to what’s going on around the league.

With the omnipresent streak over, take the time to check out stifling San Antonio, healthy Cleveland, or surging Oklahoma City and Toronto. The Celtics and Hornets have crashed the East’s upper tier as the Pacers, Heat and Bulls tread water, creating a murky, intriguing landscape. Meanwhile, the rest of the West is a gigantic mess. When someone tries to make a point about abolishing conference-based seeding, remember these things go in cycles.

But anyway, in case you’re tired of hearing about the soon-to-be 81–1 Warriors, we ranked the other 29 teams again this week, just for fun.

• MORE NBA: Warriors still chasing history | Lakers backcourt in flux

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1. Golden State Warriors


RECORD: 24-1 (2–1)

All good things come to an end, but the Warriors are in no danger of losing this spot. Five straight games at home without a back-to-back offers a welcome respite from the grind. And at this point, it’s safe to bank on the champs responding.

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2. San Antonio Spurs


RECORD: 20-5 (3–1)

If not for the Warriors, we’d be talking even more about just how much these guys have been cruising. Over the past 15 games, the Spurs are 12–3, lead the league in net rating, and 15 of their 20 wins have come by double digits. Their stability is downright staggering after an off-season that brought more change than usual.

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3. Cleveland Cavaliers


RECORD: 15-7 (2–0)

Cleveland snapped a three-game skid nicely, landing its largest win of the season with a 35-point road win in Orlando. Despite some inconsistency, they’re where they needed to be at this stage, with Iman Shumpert back and Kyrie Irving getting close. Nationally-televised dates with Boston and Oklahoma City should be great opportunities to build confidence.

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4. Oklahoma City Thunder


RECORD: 16-8 (4–0)

With five straight wins and the league’s second-best offensive rating, the Thunder might be rounding into form. They’ve been beatable, but their current groove and a mostly welcoming rest of December gives OKC a chance to finally join the league’s best teams.

5. Toronto Raptors


RECORD: 16-9 (4–0)

This resumé looks strong, as the Raptors are one of just two teams in the league to beat the Spurs, Cavs and Thunder (plus, nearly the Warriors twice). They’ve won seven of 10 playing at the league’s second-slowest pace in that span, while deploying Bismack Biyombo in lieu of Jonas Valanciunas. It’s hot up in the 6.

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6. Indiana Pacers


RECORD: 13-9 (1–2)

Indiana’s defense has slipped of late, allowing 118 points four of its last five games, all losses. Paul George’s hot shooting has largely slowed in that same span. It’s a long haul, and the Pacers’ start still feels tenable, but let’s remember George hasn’t strung together this many games since before his leg injury.

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7. Miami Heat


RECORD: 13-9 (1–3)

After a frustrating week, it was fun to see Dwyane Wade come up big down the stretch against Memphis to snap a three-game losing streak. But for all the talent on this roster, the Heat are averaging just 95.6 points and has cracked the century mark just twice in their past 10 games. Getting more out of Goran Dragic (11 points, 44.6% FG) would help.

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8. Boston Celtics


RECORD: 14-10 (3–1)

Two strong weeks have the Celtics in great shape in the standings and boasting a top-five defensive rating. Boston responded well to a challenging section of its schedule, nearly became the first team to topple Golden State and can prove itself further with Cleveland, Detroit and Atlanta next up.

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9. Charlotte Hornets


RECORD: 14-9 (3–1)

I hedged the wrong way on Charlotte last week with the news of Al Jefferson’s injury and five-game suspension. They’re overachieving, sure, but it sure has been impressive: they’ve somehow formed a lineup that rates in the top 10 in defensive efficiency (minimum 10 games) that features Jeremy Lin, Frank Kaminsky and Spencer Hawes.

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10. Chicago Bulls


RECORD: 13-8 (2–2)

The Bulls can be downright ugly to watch at times, and, despite a sunny-looking record, are narrowly outscoring opponents per 100 possessions and are bottom-five in offensive efficiency. They essentially have the same roster as last season but are still tough to peg. Not even Derrick Rose’s new haircut can bring back old times.

11. Los Angeles Clippers


RECORD: 14-10 (3–1)

The Clippers have essentially righted the ship, but are 4–7 against teams over .500 and are still without a statement win. They’ve begun to share the ball a bit better, but a lot of their guys need it in their hands and Blake Griffin remains their second-best point guard.

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12. Dallas Mavericks


RECORD: 13-11 (1–2)

Here are the NBA’s leaders in double-doubles: Andre Drummond, Russell Westbrook, Zaza Pachulia. That’s nice, and so are things in Dallas, which continues to beat the teams it should and has benefitted in the standings from a watered-down West.

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13. Atlanta Hawks


RECORD: 14-11 (1–2)

A blowout loss to the Spurs at home raises some concerns, and though it feels like we know who the Hawks are, they aren’t winning 60 games again. As the conference improved around them, they’ve slipped into a competitive pack, and with Miami, Boston and Orlando on the docket, Atlanta can point things back in the right direction.

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14. Detroit Pistons


RECORD: 14-11 (2–2)

If he maintains his current marks, Andre Drummond will become the first player to average more than 17 points and 16 rebounds over the course of a season since Moses Malone in 1979. What’s more? Only 12 players have ever done that, and all are in the Hall of Fame. One caveat: Drummond’s shooting 36.6% from the free-throw line.