By Tyler Lashbrook (@lashy)
We’re back again with this week’s look at Power Rankings at some of the Internet’s most well-established sports websites. Remember: these lists aren’t the end of the world, though I have a feeling that most Golden State Warriors fans will be happy with their current rankings.
Golden State has risen over at ESPN, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, with the team ranked no. 3 on the Worldwide Leader and no. 2 on SI and CBS Sports. These lists live in the present, they give us a way to discuss how teams are playing now and right now there is no team hotter than the Warriors.
SI and CBS Sports have them behind the Indiana Pacers, which is pretty fair. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Indiana is the best, and healthiest, regular season team in the NBA. What’s a little unfair, is that ESPN’s Marc Stein ranks the Warriors behind the Heat, the team they pulverized in South Beach. This isn’t to say that Golden State is better, overall, than the Heat, but if these lists live in the present, then the Warriors, on a nine-game win streak, should be higher than the two-time defending champs.
The scary part of Golden State’s recent run is how it is very possible that it can extend to 13 games rather easily. The Warriors finish up their road swing with games against the Bucks and Nets before heading back to Oracle Arena to play the Celtics and Nuggets. They are, without a doubt, the better team in each of those games and, at this rate, don’t look like they should slow down much.
Jan. 17 is the date to mark down on your calendar. That’s when the Warriors will play the on road against the Oklahoma City Thunder. There’s a very strong case to be made, with Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul out, that the Warriors are the best team in the west–a spot atop the conference very few imagined at the beginning of the season.
We knew with a healthy roster that the Warriors would be deadly and that they would have an outside chance at a run in the Western Conference, but we didn’t know they’d, at any point in the season, be the best team on the best coast. The aforementioned injuries plus a shaky Portland Trail Blazers bench leaves only the San Antonio Spurs on the same level as the Warriors at this point in the season.
San Antonio is four games ahead of the Warriors and beat them less than a month ago with Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan on the bench. But the Spurs also didn’t play very well in a loss against the Knicks and still probably aren’t as worried about dominating the regular season like the Warriors are.
The Warriors are 18-6 with Andre Iguodala and 18-3 when Iggy, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut are available. This nine-game win streak, obviously won’t last forever, but enjoy it while you can. For now, this is a Golden State world and we’re just living in it.