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NBA Power Rankings: Back-to-backs play a factor in Pacers rankings

The Pacers are at No. 1 & No. 3 in this weeks' power rankings, as back-to-back games play a key discussion at the top of the rankings.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

There were two trains of thoughts this week in the national power rankings regarding the Indiana Pacers: Either they stayed locked into the top spot, citing their 2-2 week out West against some of the league's best competition as enough to hold on, or the back-to-back losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers were reason to drop them behind the two teams for third. In fact, back-to-backs proved to be the dominate talking point in this week's assessment of the Pacers, and with good reason.

Indiana sits at 18-3 on the season, still holding down the league's best record despite all three losses coming on the second night of a back-to-back on the road. Though the NBA did the Pacers no favors scheduling them in back-to-backs at Portland and Oklahoma City after first games against the Clippers and Spurs, back-to-backs are simply one of the NBA's great scheduling quirks. It's part of the reason why teams lose more frequently, but it's also become the ultimate "write-off" game, which is something Matt Moore at CBS Sports isn't too keen on. After all, shouldn't the league be more perceptive to showcasing a game between teams like the Pacers and Thunder rather than throwing Indiana on a back-to-back at the end of a road trip while Oklahoma City has a day off at home beforehand?

But despite an oblong number of back-to-back games between teams, it is something everyone has to deal with, work though, and move on from. Indiana does get a hefty load of back-to-back work, however. They've played seven in the first quarter of the season, and still have 13 left, including three straight back-to-backs to start January. They're 4-3 so far, but just 2-3 on the road, with the two wins being late wins against New Orleans and Brooklyn. To make matters worse, 10 of their remaining back-to-backs wrap up on the road. When Marc Stein suggests Indiana can inch towards 70 wins, he's basically assuming the Pacers can run the table outside of back-to-backs.

Nowhere is back-to-backs showing up more than on the defensive effort. Indiana is holding opponents to 84.8 points in non-back-to-backs, where it is balloons up to 99.0 on that second night as their point differential goes from 13.5 to -1.3. The Pacers proved in this past week that back-to-backs are a valid talking point when it comes to the eventual win/loss record of quality teams, but it'll be important for the Pacers to not fall victim to something they should still be able to overcome on most nights.

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Indiana stays locked into the top spot thanks to the circumstances surrounding their play the past week despite the loss to Oklahoma City.

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The Pacers drop to #3 with John Schuuhman showing some minor concern for Indiana's back-to-backs moving forward.

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Marc Stein isn't ruling out the possibility of the Pacers winning 70 games. I am. I can't see more than 69.

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Matt Dollinger doesn't put much fault on Indiana for losing a tough game in Portland, but would've liked to see a better effort against Oklahoma City as he moves them to 3rd.

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Indiana stays #1, with Marc J. Spears opting to look ahead to Tuesday's game against Miami than back at the back-to-backs.

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Indiana falls to No. 3, behind the two teams that beat them at home on the second night of back-to-backs.

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Matt Moore also isn't putting much weight into Indiana's back-to-back performances on the road. He keeps them in the top spot despite them being 0-2 in back-to-backs this past week.