Updated: January 26, 2015, 2:51 PM ET

Power Rankings: Hawks or Warriors?


By Marc Stein
ESPN.com
Monday, Jan. 26

Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching ... but so is the other Super Bowl.

Golden State Warriors at Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 6, as of Monday morning, was just 11 days away.

In ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings, meanwhile, these teams remain incredibly hard for the committee (of one) to separate. We've never allowed ties in these rankings, but the Hawks and Warriors sure make you think about it with the way they keep winning.

The latest illustration of how impressive they've been: Atlanta's current 16-game winning streak, combined with Golden State's 16-gamer from Nov. 13-Dec. 15, makes this the first season in NBA history in which multiple teams have gone unbeaten for a span of at least 15 games before the All-Star break.

The Warriors, though, can't reclaim the No. 1 spot if the Hawks don't give them an opening. And Atlanta, since moving into the top spot on Jan. 5, is merely 12-0. (Told you there's no such thing as a Power Rankings jinx!)

We'll delve further into this week's order -- starting with Cleveland's return to the top 10 and the constant challenges to find anyone playing decent ball in the bottom 10 -- on Stein Line Live. You can comment below on our 1-to-30 ladder, which as always was compiled with data and research assistance from our friends at ESPN Stats & Info and the Elias Sports Bureau.

Rk(LW)TeamRec
1(1)
Hawks
37-8
The Hawks, thanks to win streaks of nine and 16 games and 10 wins in a row against Western Conference opposition, are just the 10th team in history to play at least 32 games and lose only two of them. Six of the previous nine -- since we know that was your next question -- went on to win it all.
2(2)
Warriors
36-6
An update for you omen-trackers: Golden State is just the ninth team in NBA history to win at least 36 of its first 42 games. Good omen: The first six teams to do so all went on to win a championship that season. Bad omen: The last two -- Detroit in 2005-06 and San Antonio in 2010-11 -- did not.
3(3)
Grizzlies
31-12
Stacked as the Grizzlies are in the frontcourt, they have to be smarting a bit to see the production suddenly coming from Hassan Whiteside down in Miami. Memphis had Whiteside on its roster in training camp, and again briefly in November as well, before opting to release the Heat sensation twice.
4(5)
Spurs
29-17
It's been a busy 46 games, to say the least, for Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have been forced through their various injuries to trot out 23 different starting lineups already, which is second-most in the league (behind New York's 26) and only seven short of San Antonio's total for all of last season.
5(7)
Clippers
30-14
Can't deny we expect more on the boards, but it's tough to buy into the notion that we've seen real slippage from Blake Griffin when he's the only player in the West averaging at least 23 PPG+, 7+ RPG and 5+ APG. His team, meanwhile, now has 20-point wins this month over Dallas and Phoenix.
6(6)
Rockets
31-14
Worrisome as it sounds that the Rockets just incurred their first season sweep at the hands of Golden State since (gulp) 1973-74, there's this consolation: James Harden is now 13-for-23 lifetime on game-tying and go-ahead FGAs in the final 24 seconds after what he did to the Suns.
7(4)
Trail Blazers
32-13
Given everything they've been through with the likes of Bill Walton, Sam Bowie, Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, Blazermaniacs understandably see LaMarcus Aldridge as a hero for delaying thumb surgery and playing on. This helps, too: LA is one of just three players averaging 20-and-10 this season.
8(8)
Mavericks
30-15
Agonizing weekend Ls to the Bulls and Pels, in the wake of that huge MLK Day win in Memphis, have quickly dropped the Mavs to sixth in the West. But things could be way worse; Dallas appears to have dodged a major injury bullet with Tyson Chandler shaking off a knee scare in New Orleans.
9(11)
Bulls
29-17
For all the angst about the recent 2-6 funk, D-Rose's critical comments and the Jeff Van Gundy/John Paxson flap, one thing we presume pleases the Bulls is the Pau Gasol signing. The Spaniard is the first Bull to earn All-Star status in his first Chicago season since a certain M. Jordan in 1984-85.
10(15)
Cavaliers
25-20
No need to get too scientific here. Encouraged as the Cavs are by the contributions from newcomers Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith, as well as Iman Shumpert's long-awaited return from injury, LeBron James is fueling this six-game win streak with his first burst of MVP-worthy ball all season.
11(10)
Wizards
30-15
It could have been a truly special week for the Wiz had they managed to hold off Kevin Durant and Co. at home and/or hold on in Portland. The consolation: Led by the NBA's only guard averaging a double-double, John Wall's crew is still on pace for 55 wins. The Wiz haven't won 50 since 1978-79.
12(9)
Suns
26-20
Phoenix, for now, continues to cling to the No. 8 seed by a three-game margin over OKC. Yet they'd undoubtedly feel better about their odds of hanging on if the Suns weren't leading the league with losses at the buzzer thanks to daggers by Blake Griffin, Khris Middleton and now James Harden.
13(13)
Raptors
29-15
Surprise Eastern Conference starter Kyle Lowry will amazingly be just the fifth All-Star in Raptors history. Another surprise: Toronto still ranks second in the East and sixth in the league overall in nightly average point margin (+5.0) despite the 3-8 skid that followed its impressive 24-7 start.
14(14)
Pelicans
23-21
To have any shot at a playoff berth, as well as hush the strains of fan discontent with Monty Williams, New Orleans needs to do some damage in this stretch that offers 10 of 12 games at home leading into the All-Star break. So far so good: Sunday's big win over Dallas made it a 3-0 start for the Pels.
15(12)
Thunder
22-22
The Thunder are just the fourth team in history to sink as far as nine games below .500 and rebound to a winning record within the first 41 games of a season. Even better for OKC: All three previous teams to do so (2004-05 Bulls, 1980-81 Blazers and 1977-78 SuperSonics) managed to make the playoffs.
16(18)
Heat
20-24
Hassan Whiteside's triple-double fairy tale for the Heat was the weekend talk of the league next to Klay Thompson's 37-point quarter. Now the Heat need to find an elixir for their home woes, having lost 13 games already at the AAA ... after going 69-13 at home over the previous two seasons.
17(19)
Hornets
19-26
This week's honorary Leastern Conference crack comes from old pal Sean Grande, radio play-by-play voice of the Celtics, who took to Twitter to note that the Hornets -- one night after losing to the Cavs by a mere 39 points -- moved into playoff position with a win over the Knicks just 24 hours later.
18(17)
Bucks
22-22
Brandon Knight is generating zero All-Star buzz. Even in the East. But maybe he should be: Knight is one of only eight players averaging 18+ PPG, 5+ APG and 2+ RPG; four of the other seven are All-Star starters ... with James Harden, Damian Lillard and Russ Westbrook all likely All-Star reserves.
19(16)
Pistons
17-28
Days after becoming the first Piston with at least 20 points and 20 assists in a game since Isiah Thomas way back in April 1985, Brandon Jennings has been struck down by an Achilles tear that has your lefty-loving committee (of one) too down to even contemplate Josh Smith's looming return yet.
20(20)
Jazz
16-28
Zach Lowe got the conversation started. Yet you had to know that the committee (of one) was going to want in, too. So we ask thee: Which nickname do you prefer for Rudy Gobert? Our pal @DJJazzyJody is pushing "Stifle Tower." This Sabres fan, though, naturally still favors "French Rejection."
21(28)
Celtics
15-27
Have we unearthed a specialty for the oft-maligned Evan Turner? His decisive 3 in the win at Portland that finally snapped Boston's 24-game road losing streak to Western Conference teams made him 4-for-8 lifetime on go-ahead shots with less than five seconds to go in the fourth quarter or OT.
22(25)
Pacers
16-30
All that dismay coming from Rob Hennigan in the Magic's comment space is actually from mid-January. Can't imagine what the mood in the Magic's front office was after the Pacers, ranked 29th in offensive efficiency, scored at a rate of 110.5 points per 100 possessions in Orlando on Sunday night.
23(24)
Nets
18-26
The Nets frankly look like a team that has surrendered. Hard to avoid such conclusions when they follow up a 39-point loss to the Clippers with a 35-point loss in Utah. It's just the fifth time in NBA history, according to Elias, that an NBA team has dropped back-to-back games by at least 35.
24(22)
Kings
16-27
Can the NBA's only player who ranks in the top five in both points per game and rebounds per game really be snubbed out of the All-Star Game? In the case of Boogie Cousins, in this Western Conference, I fear the answer is affirmative with the Kings in a six-game skid and mired at a lowly 16-27.
25(23)
Nuggets
18-26
Does this make you feel as old as we feel when we hear it? Thursday marks the 30th anniversary of the NBA's first All-Star Saturday at the old McNichols Arena in Denver, where Larry Nance used his two-ball windmill special to trump favorites Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins in the dunk contest.
26(21)
Magic
15-32
GM Rob Hennigan to the Orlando Sentinel: "Am I disappointed with our team's inconsistent play? Yes. Am I frustrated with our overall effort and competitive spirit? Yes. Am I frustrated with our recent play after we had a seemingly good start to the season in spite of a tough road schedule? Yes."
27(26)
Lakers
12-33
In his first 17 seasons, Kobe Bryant missed only 8 percent of the Lakers' regular-season games. But his torn rotator cuff, on top of the Achilles tear he suffered at the end of 2012-13 and the various issues that followed, means Kobe will have missed 75 percent of the past two seasons.
28(27)
76ers
8-36
Props to the Sixers for how hard they continue to play for Brett Brown in spite of their obvious talent limitations, as evidenced by the fact they rank a passable No. 14 overall in defensive efficiency. The flip side, though, isn't pretty: Philly now has been held below 100 points in 21 consecutive games.
29(30)
Knicks
8-37
Last week's three Ws, sparked in part by 10-day signees Langston Galloway, Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson, were a good start. The Knicks, though, still have to win two of nine games before the All-Star break to spare Melo from the worst record ever for a player voted in as a starter by the fans.
30(29)
Timberwolves
7-36
Thaddeus Young, Mo Williams, Kevin Martin ... surely Minnesota will look to move any and all of them before the Feb. 19 trade deadline. Right? Something for Flip Saunders to ponder deeply when he's looking for things to focus on besides what this season is doing to his career W/L record.

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