The San Antonio Spurs surging and the Indiana Pacers slipping were two of the major trends from this week's Power Rankings on SB Nation, ESPN, CBS Sports, SI.com, and Yahoo sports. While the West-leading Spurs have won 14 straight games, the East's top two seeds are a combined 10-10 in their last combined 20 games. The Pacers' rank runs the gamut across the various media outlets, ranging anywhere from No. 5 (SBNation.com, Yahoo Sports) all the way to No. 14 (CBS.Sports).
The rationale behind Indiana's slide in the Power Ranking varies, but their recent offensive struggle is cited most heavily. Interestingly, although the Heat have struggled of late, with Chris Bosh going so far as to say they "suck," most writers gave the team that hails from South Beach the edge over the Pacers in their weekly rankings. Of course, with the two crucial head-to-head match-ups between the East's two super powers still looming, the Power Rankings could change in a hurry depending upon which team comes out on top.
After failing to break 90 points in each of their last four games, the Pacers fell from No. 3 to No. 5. The Pacers hold tight at first in the Eastern Conference, but trail the San Antonio Spurs (No. 1), Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 2), Los Angeles Clippers (No. 3), and Houston Rockets (No. 4). Jason Patt astutely characterizes Paul George's shooting slump (30% overall and 24% from three over the last five games) as "not good."
Achieving their longest win streak in the Duncan era, the Spurs (No. 1) surged to Marc Stein's top spot followed by the Clippers (No. 2), Thunder (No.3), and Rockets (No. 3) in the West. Meanwhile, Marc Stein pushed Miami (No. 5) up one sport over the East-leading Pacers at No. 6. Stein praises the Pacers for achieving their first 50 win season since 2003-2004, but he also voices concern over what he perceives as low morale. According to Stein, Andrew Bynum already being listed as out indefinitely only adds insult to injury for the suddenly struggling Pacers. He also adds that maybe the upcoming head-to-head match-up between the East's two top seeds is exactly the "jolt" both Indiana and Miami need.
The Pacers have experienced the biggest free fall in the standings over at CBS Sports. However, after falling to the bottom half of the league in the last week's rankings, the Pacers have managed to jump three spots to No. 14. In the East, Matt Moore has the Brooklyn Nets (No. 2), Chicago Bulls (No. 7), Miami Heat (No. 9), and Toronto Raptors (No. 12) all ranked above the Blue and Gold. This is interesting given that the Pacers and Heat have both struggled of late, going just .500 over each of their last 10 games. Nevertheless, Moore expresses some harsh concern for the "overall trend of their offense crawling into a gutter, entering the fetal position and crying for its mommy."
Sports Illustrated's Matt Dollinger drops the Pacers from No. 3 to No. 7 for a myriad of reasons. When rhetorically asking what ails Indiana he answers, "That depends -- how much time do you have?" He then goes on to cite Paul George's shooting slump, Evan Turner's fit, Roy Hibbert's season low averages in points, rebounds, and assists in the month of March, and Andrew Bynum's injury status as reasons for the Pacers' recent slippage. In his commentary on the 7th place rankings, he concedes that Indiana still holds the edge over Miami in the playoff standings, but that does not stop him from ranking the Heat two spots above the Blue and Gold.
Yahoo's Marc J. Spears drops the Pacers from No. 3 to No. 5 in the Power Rankings after watching them drop games against the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies. He also notes, at the time of publication, that the East's top team will have upcoming challenges against some of their conference's top squads.
What do you think of the rankings? Should the Pacers be higher or lower? Should the Heat be ranked ahead of Indiana when both have struggled? Which team should be more concerned?