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Eastern Conference power rankings: Cavaliers back on top, for now

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The Cavaliers have skied to the top of the East Power Rankings.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It certainly didn’t seem like anybody would have any chance of catching the Boston Celtics for the one seed in the Eastern Conference after Boston won 16 consecutive games. The Cavaliers clearly thought otherwise, and have rattled off 11 consecutive wins. They’re just 3.5 games back. Let’s see where they’re at by the end of the streak.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers | 16-7 (+2.6 point differential)

The Cavs haven’t played the best competition during the course of this streak, and at certain points, the same problems plagued them from earlier in the season. What they have done is figure out how to win at every stop, and with a soft schedule moving forward, it’s very possible that this team could find their way to 16 consecutive wins as long as they can get through a back to back against Indiana and Philadelphia.

2. Boston Celtics | 20-4 (+7.1 point differential)

The Celtics haven’t really let up since their streak was busted by the Heat. They followed that loss with a 4-1 stretch with wins against Orlando, Indiana, Philadelphia (without Joel Embiid) and Phoenix while dropping to the Pistons. We’ll see how they adjust once the schedule gets tougher.

3. Toronto Raptors | 14-7(+7.2 point differential)

The Raptors have rattled off seven wins in nine games including a win against the Rockets in Houston. Kyle Lowry is re-discovering his mojo in a more low-key role, and the rest of the roster is stepping up. This team has depth and Fred Vanvleet has long been a favorite of this blogger.

4. Milwaukee Bucks | 12-9 (-0.7 point differential)

Milwaukee is still being outscored on the season, but they’re figuring things out. Eric Bledsoe is a great secondary creator for the team, and he’s figured out how to play alongside Giannis. The team is reportedly pushing for DeAndre Jordan. If they make that happen, they’ll be truly scary.

5. Philadelphia 76ers | 13-9 (+0.7 point differential)

Is anybody else completely dreading the “Hack-a-Simmons” narrative becoming the thing that dominates the 76ers season? It’s going to be super annoying.

6. Detroit Pistons | 14-8 (+2.0 point differential)

Detroit’s survived during an insanely tough stretch of their schedule. They beat Minnesota, OKC and Boston, but they’ve dropped their last two in Washington and Philly. You just have to survive stretches like the Pistons are going through, and it appears they’ll come out on the other end alive.

7. Washington Wizards | 12-10 (+4.0 point differential)

The Wizards are similarly surviving a stretch without John Wall. They’re 2-2, and beat Minnesota and Detroit during that stretch.

8. Indiana Pacers | 12-11 (+0.3 point differential)

The Pacers are finally coming back to Earth. They’re still going to be competitive, and an upcoming six-game homestand should help juice the record. But they won’t be in the top-half of the East playoff picture, and that’s alright.

9. New York Knicks | 11-11 (+0.5 point differential)

The Knicks are not fun to watch without Kristaps Porzingis. This has been Carter’s Obvious Take of the Week™.

10. Miami Heat | 11-12 (-3.7 point differential)

As always:

11. Charlotte Hornets | 8-13 (-1.5 point differential)

Charlotte just doesn’t have the juice to compete on a lot of nights. They’ve dropped four games in a row, and they’re just 1-10 on the road.

12. Orlando Magic | 10-14 (-3.3 point differential)

The Magic stopped their bleeding by beating the hell out of the Thunder in a move that made thirsty Cavs fans pleased. They’re still not very good, Aaron Gordon outbursts notwithstanding.

13. Brooklyn Nets | 8-14 (-3.5 point differential)

Brooklyn started a profoundly tough stretch for December with a home loss to the Hawks. This could be the stretch that Cavs fans will look at as the reason they were delivered a high pick in the draft or the reason that they’ll hate the Nets forever for winning games they had no business winning.

14. Atlanta Hawks | 5-17 (-5.2 point differential)

Atlanta is awful, but at least they’re not Bulls awful.

15. Chicago Bulls | 3-18 (-11.1 point differential)

When does Zach LaVine come back again?