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Power Rankings Watch: Contenders Once More

Finally, as we come roaring down the home stretch, people are starting to take notice of the Clippers as a credible championship threat. Did that play into this week's power rankings at all? Keep reading to find out!

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Power Rankings

Outlet Ranker Ranking Change Comment
SB Nation Drew Garrison 7 -1 Who has the second-longest winning streak in the NBA right now? The Clippers have been on a roll and are still within striking distance of jumping into home court advantage in the first round The game against Golden State on Tuesday is huge for Chris Paul and company. Also, Blake Griffin's spinning block on Jonas Jerebko was incredible.
ESPN Marc Stein 6 +1 The Clips are 7-1 since Blake Griffin's return and have nosed past the mighty Warriors to reclaim the league's top spot in offensive efficiency. The not-so-good news: L.A. has sunk to 18th in defensive efficiency despite DeAndre Jordan's presence and is a mortal 19-20 against .500-or-better teams.
CBS Sports Matt Moore 6 +1 After the last time I bought Clippers stock and it subsequently hemorrhaged in price the same week, I swore I wouldn't make judgments on them until April. April starts Wednesday, and I want an extension. They're so good... but that bench. They've won so much!... But that bench.
Yahoo! Marc Spears 4 +1 L.A. decided not to re-sign Nate Robinson, who has a knee injury, for the remainder of the season after his second 10-day contract expired. Robinson is expected to be cleared to play by week’s end. David Aldridge 6 +1 Since Blake Griffin's return, entering play Sunday in Boston: offensive rating: 111.2 (4th in NBA)/defensive rating: 98.1 (5th). John Schuhmann 5 +1 The Clippers have their defensive issues, but they've been in a real groove offensively, having scored over 115 points per 100 possessions in their last six games, with J.J. Redick (24-for-42 from 3-point range) shooting the lights out. They've taken back the No. 1 spot in offensive efficiency, but it will be on the line in Tuesday's meeting with the Warriors.
Sports Illustrated Matt Dollinger 4 +3 The Clippers’ seven-game winning streak might lack victories over formidable opponents, but their 13.8 average margin of victory shows L.A. is doing more than just taking care of business.
Pro Basketball Talk Kurt Helin 5 +2 They have won seven in a row and they are doing it with offense — J.J. Redick is playing the best ball of his NBA career. The Clips are just 1.5 games back of the two seed and 1.5 games up on the six seed, no team’s playoff landing spot is harder to predict.
USA Today Conglomerate 6 +1 DeAndre Jordan's shooting percentage is up to 71.3, within shouting distance of Wilt's 72.7.
/r/nba Conglomerate Unavailable
Average 5.4 +1.1

Friend of the rankings Matt Dollinger also devoted a section of this week's writeup to pondering whether or not the Clippers are contenders.

The Clippers might be one of the most confounding contenders in recent memory.

They boast one of the best starting lineups in the league (15.7 net rating, second in NBA), yet one of the worst benches. Their offense leads the league in efficiency (109.6), yet their defense ranks below average (103.0). They are both title-tested (Doc Rivers) and title-deficient (Chris Paul), somehow toeing the line between proven and uncertain contender. They own the NBA’s second-longest winning streak at seven games, yet only one victory came against a playoff team (the woeful Wizards). Their last seven losses all came against potential playoff opponents: Rockets, Mavericks, Warriors, Blazers, Rockets, Grizzlies and Thunder.

So what do we make of L.A.? Before games kicked into gear, I was as high on them as anyone, picking the Clippers to win the title in the preseason. But not everything has gone according to plan (for my Crystal Ball picks or the Clippers). Spencer Hawes has failed to bolster the bench, Blake Griffin isn’t the MVP of his team, much less the league, and L.A. has failed to ascend to the throne of Western Conference frontrunner.

But with only eight games remaining on the schedule, the Clippers have to be pretty happy with where they stand despite the regular-season detour. They’re still in the running for home court advantage in the first round if they can catching the sinking Grizzlies (one game back), Griffin and Paul are both healthy heading into the postseason, and the team’s offense is clicking heading into the home stretch. With Jamal Crawford still recovering from a calf injury, the Clippers' bench issues are glaring—Griffin’s Austin Rivers impression was only funny because it was true—but Doc Rivers has made second-unit production appear out of thin air before.

Metrics Watch

Metric Number Ranking
Win Percentage .662 5th
EWP .732 2nd
Margin of Victory +6.30 2nd
Net Efficiency +6.6 2nd
Simple Rating System 6.54 2nd
RPI .548 5th
Hollinger Rankings 107.26 2nd
Strength of Schedule .514 T-4th

In the last week, the Clippers have finally started getting widespread national attention as a contender and a serious threat in the Western Conference playoff field. Surprisingly it hasn't shown as much in this week's power rankings, where the Spurs have often leapfrogged them and the Rockets and Grizzlies remain slightly ahead in many cases.

With a slate of Atlantic cupcakes to feast on, Los Angeles continued to improve on its measurable metrics, extending its edge in differentials and remaining a clear-cut second only to the Golden State Warriors (who by all accounts are historically great).

This next week will be a little bit more challenging, starting on Tuesday with a matchup against the Warriors, showcasing the two hottest teams in the NBA right now. After that, the Clippers face a SEGABABA in Portland, still a challenging game despite the Trail Blazers' injury woes. Then come a few days of rest, then another SEGABABA with two road games in Denver and in... Los Angeles, where the Lakers get to play under the light of their banners. The first two games are crucial, and the Clippers have to hope they can secure at least a split, rather than a disappointing pair of losses.