NBA Power Rankings: Pacers hold steady in top two

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers are no lower than #2 in this week's power rankings despite an ugly first loss to Chicago.

The Indiana Pacers slipped up big time against the Chicago Bulls last Saturday when the Bulls blazed a path of 110 points, singeing the three point line and forcing the Pacers offense into a icy cold lull that was only salvaged by Chris Copeland going HAM. It's no wonder the Pacers slip a spot to the San Antonio Spurs in most power rankings.

It wasn't so much the loss for Indiana, but the way the loss unfolded. Arguably the biggest game of the year for both teams, and it was Chicago that rose to the occasion, making the Pacers look like less like the team that had rolled to 9-0 with Paul George looking like an early MVP candidate.

A rising talking point is the continued competitive advantage of the Western Conference compared to the East, as if somehow means to diminish Indiana being the only team to win the games you would expect them to win. The Pacers playing a road game in Chicago 10 days after the Pacers handled the Bulls at home, wouldn't that typically be a game Chicago should be expected to win if the Bulls are the championship contender they're made out to be?

There's no excuse for Indiana's performance Saturday regardless; being to that point the only team that had gone through the grind unscathed means little when you fail to show up for a key divisional game, no matter when in the season it is. But attempts to look at Indiana's first bad showcase and take away from an NBA team's nine game winning streak is incredibly shortsighted.

Indiana beat Memphis on their fifth game in seven nights, the same Memphis team that beat Golden State and last night the Los Angeles Clippers, but somehow winning becomes something of an indictment on Indiana's conference instead of Indiana's level of talent and early body of work compared to their contemporaries. The Pacers still top the league in point differential at 9.7 and have done so with four back-to-backs in the season's first three weeks.

Those wanting to see how the Indiana Pacers stack up against the Western Conference's elite will have to wait a bit longer as this week's slate will include an Atlantic Division trio of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Philadelphia leads the Atlantic with a 5-7 record, so even if the legitimacy of the Pacers is somehow diminished because of their early schedule, there's nothing soft about winning when you're expected to.

NBA power rankings 2013: Spurs edge Pacers for top spot - SBNation.com
The Pacers drop to #2 after their loss in Chicago, but still boast the league's best point differential.

In season's early going, West clearly has East's number | NBA.com
Despite the loss (and slipping to No. 2), John Schuhmann likes what Chris Copeland might be able to provide.

Power Rankings: Spurs on the climb - ESPN
Now that Indiana drops their first game, sliding to 2nd, Marc Stein is already fast forwarding to Indiana's first showdown with Miami.

Spurs claim No. 1, Nets tumble down NBA Power Rankings - NBA - SI.com
Roy Hibbert's defensive prowess is on another level for the #2 Pacers, but Matt Dollinger believes he needs to be a bigger part of Indiana's offense.

NBA Power Rankings: Pacers hold onto No. 1 - Yahoo Sports
The Pacers stay on top thanks to their franchise best start and the looming (hopeful) return of Danny Granger.

PBT NBA Power Rankings: San Antonio slides into top spot | ProBasketballTalk
Indiana drops to No. 2, with Kurt Helin noting the uptick in scheduling moving forward, with eight road games in their next 11 contests.

Power Rankings: Offense rules the day, as the Knicks and Nets sink - CBSSports.com
The Pacers stay locked in at #1 according to Matt Moore, who sees their loss in Chicago simply as an off-night.

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