The Miami Heat find themselves ranked on top of NBA power rankings lists on various sites. After being ranked No. 4 in the SB Nation NBA Power Rankings, they are ranked No. 1 on both the Pro Basketball Talk Power Rankings and the NBA.com Power Rankings.
On Pro Basketball Talk, Kurt Helin bumped the Heat up two spots because of how well they are playing defense:
The Heat are back on top, and on a six-game winning streak, because they are starting to find their defensive stride again. The last two games they have held their opponent below the league average in points per possession, and as a team they are taking the long view of getting the defense to click.
Which was a more important development on Saturday night: That Dwyane Wade went off for 34 points, or that the Heat had one of their best defensive games of the season against a top-10 offense? Wade looked explosive and the defense was suffocating, holding the Nets to just 16 points over the last 17:57. Another big test of the improving defense comes Thursday against the Knicks.
However on ESPN.com, the Heat are still looking up towards the top spot in the rankings. Marc Stein's rankings have the Heat ranked No. 3 in the league, unchanged from last week. Stein believes that one of the reasons why the San Antonio Spurs rested their players before that game was because of the number of games they had played combined with the amount of rest the Heat had:
One of the factors we can only presume prompted Gregg Popovich to do what he did Thursday night: San Antonio's visit to Miami, which happened to be the Spurs' fourth game in five nights on the road, was only the third of four games that the ultra-rested Heat had to play in a 16-day span.
Marc Hollinger's rankings have the Heat ranked at No. 6 in the league which is also unchanged from last week. As for the Orlando Magic, ranked No. 23 on SB Nation, Hollinger has them ranked at No. 22, up three spots from the previous week. Stein has the Magic at No. 20, up five spots thanks to their win against the Los Angeles Lakers:
The Magic would naturally be thrilled if Sunday night's events at Staples Center plunged the Lakers into some sort of lasting crisis. Yet even if the misery doesn't last, Central Floridians won't soon forget the night that Orlando not only beat Dwight's new crew but exposed his every flaw.
Pro Basketball Talk has the Magic actually sliding a spot to No. 25 this week, but Helin acknowledges that Sunday's win must have been sweet for Magic fans:
There is no real revenge for Dwight Howard, but that win Sunday night sure tasted good to Magic fans. As it should.
NBA.com has the Magic at No. 23, up one spot from last week:
Thanks to a ridiculous fourth quarter and a huge game from trade centerpiece Arron Afflalo, the Magic (and Magic fans) got their win over Dwight Howard on Sunday. It's just too bad they can't play their March 12 home game against the Lakers right now, while Steve Nash is still out and the Lakers are still entirely dysfunctional. Think there will be a letdown at Golden State on Monday?