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Eastern Conference Power Rankings: Cavaliers remain top dogs, Bucks rising?

Checking in on the Eastern Conference

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

While the Cavs did lose a game last week the fact that it came while resting the big three means Cleveland holds onto the top spot in the power rankings. Unsurprisingly, the Cavaliers are in the top three in the NBA in offensive efficiency so far this season and look poised to make another deep playoff run. The injury to Chris Anderson hurts the Cavaliers depth and it will be interesting to see how David Griffin addresses Cleveland's depth issues as the season rolls on. Based on Griffin’s history of aggressively pursuing trades to fill roster holes, Cavaliers fans have to feel comfortable that Griffin will adequately find the pieces necessary for the team to compete.

2. Toronto Raptors

3. Boston Celtics

4. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks surge into the top four in the East as they approach being one of the few teams in the top 10 in both offensive (12th overall) and defensive efficiency (8th overall). Conventional wisdom said that the preseason loss of Khris Middelton, who is on IR with a torn hamstring, would be too large of a loss for the Bucks to overcome. However, the development of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker has propelled Jason Kidd’s Bucks to a legitimate Conference Finals contender. Giannis has clearly taken the next step forward toward becoming a superstar, and leads the Bucks in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Jabari Parker is starting to look like the player he was expected to be when coming out of Duke. The former Blue Devil is averaging 19.4 points per game and has become the offensive weapon the Bucks needed him to be in Middleton's absence. The Bucks weakness remains their sub standard guard play, but with interesting trade pieces in Jon Henson and Greg Monroe it is not unreasonable to think the Bucks could upgrade their roster and make a strong playoff push.

5. Charlotte Hornets

6. Indiana Pacers

7. Chicago Bulls

9. Detroit Pistons

9. New York Knicks

Before last week the Knicks looked like they belonged in the tier above with Milwaukee and Charlotte but a three game losing streak has them entrenched in the 6th-10th team Eastern conference muck. A loss to the Warriors is expected, but giving up a combined 240 points to the Suns and Nuggets does not inspire confidence in Phil’s super team. For as exciting as Kristaps Porzingis has been this year, the Knicks roster is poorly constructed and it limits their upside. The Joakim Noah contract is an albatross and he can only play center which is the position Kristaps is most effective at. The Knicks may move up the rankings a bit and even win a playoff series but their team as currently constructed has a low ceiling unless, Kristaps becomes a top 10 player in the NBA.

10. Atlanta Hawks

11. Washington Wizards

12. Orlando Magic

13. Brooklyn Nets

The Heat have a better record than Brooklyn, but Sean Kilpatrick is playing superb basketball right now and Jeremy Lin is back from injury for Brooklyn. Plus even when the Nets are losing they are entertaining.

14. Miami Heat

15. Philadelphia 76ers