Last week’s rankings showed the huge gap between the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference, with not a single team from the East ranked inside the top seven. The East responded this week, though. Both the Bulls (vs. Blazers) and Wizards (vs. Clippers) notched huge wins against top Western conference teams, and launched themselves into the top five in the rankings. Don’t confuse a couple of top-five teams as perfect balance between the two conferences though; the Bulls and Wizards are the only Eastern Conference teams that found themselves in the top 10 this week.

Thunderstruck

The Thunder’s rise back to elite territory is complete. Oklahoma City has seen huge bumps each of the last two weeks with the returns of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Despite the returns of the two superstars last week, the voters weren’t totally sold, ranking the Thunder No. 14. But a week of convincing wins over good teams like the Cavs, Suns and Bucks have fully restored the confidence of the voters in the Thunder, as Oklahoma City moved to No. 6 this week.

Malone getting a raw deal?

The NBA had its first coaching casualty of the season over the weekend with the Sacramento Kings firing Mike Malone. Was it justified? Not according to the perception of our voters. The Kings were ranked No. 22 in our preseason rankings, and not one person picked them to make the playoffs. Almost two months into the season, Mike Malone had the Kings sitting at No. 20 in our rankings despite the absence of their top player, DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings have been fading since their hot start elevated them all the way to No. 10 in the rankings at one point, but in the big picture, it seems like Mike Malone was a victim of some unfair expectations by Kings management.

NBA POWER RANKINGS (THROUGH 12/14/14)

Rank (LW) Team
1 (1) Golden State Warriors
2 (6) Houston Rockets
3 (4) Memphis Grizzlies
4 (10) Chicago Bulls
5 (11) Washington Wizards
6 (14) Oklahoma City Thunder
7 (2) San Antonio Spurs
8 (5) Los Angeles Clippers
9 (3) Portland Trail Blazers
10 (7) Dallas Mavericks
11 (12) Atlanta Hawks
T-12 (9) Toronto Raptors
T-12 (8) Cleveland Cavaliers
14 (15) Milwaukee Bucks
15 (16) New Orleans Pelicans
16 (13) Phoenix Suns
17 (20) Miami Heat
18 (18) Brooklyn Nets
19 (17) Denver Nuggets
20 (19) Sacramento Kings
21 (21) Orlando Magic
22 (26) Los Angeles Lakers
23 (25) Utah Jazz
24 (24) Charlotte Hornets
25 (22) Indiana Pacers
26 (23) Boston Celtics
27 (30) Detroit Pistons
28 (27) Minnesota Timberwolves
29 (28) New York Knicks
30 (29) Philadelphia 76ers

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