The Warriors are currently the best team in the NBA. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

The Warriors are currently the best team in the NBA. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Here are this week’s NBA power rankings (as of Nov. 30).

1. WARRIORS (16-2): The collective fears of the 29 other NBA franchises upon Kevin Durant’s signing have all seemed to be well founded. This team looks superior to the 2015-16 version that set the NBA regular season wins record. The dubs have ripped off 12 straight wins, and sit firmly atop my power rankings.

2. CAVALIERS (13-3): The defending champions certainly have a strong argument for the top spot in the power rankings. Kevin Love has had a basketball renaissance of sorts, averaging 22.3 points per game, six points higher than last season. This team is far and away the class of the Eastern Conference.

3. SPURS (15-4): The retirement of Tim Duncan has had seemingly no affect on the Spurs in terms of them being right in the thick of the best teams in basketball conversation. Kawhi Leonard is a top-five player in the NBA, and few players can impact the game on both sides of the ball like he can.

4. CLIPPERS (14-5): The Clips hot start has taken a hit with a three game road losing streak, including an inexplicable double OT loss to the lowly Nets. Despite that, the Clippers have too much talent and are too well coached to not bounce back.

5. RAPTORS (12-6): Demar Derozan has come back down to Earth a little bit after a torrid scoring start to the season. The Raptors boast perhaps the second best backcourt in the NBA to the Warriors, and will go as far as Lowry and Derozan can take them.

6. ROCKETS (11-7): The James Harden point guard experiment is off to a rousing success. The Beard is averaging a league best 11.9 assists per game, and scoring in the top-five as well. The problem for Houston though is after Harden, the cupboard is pretty bare.

7. THUNDER (12-8): Oklahoma City’s success begins and ends with Russell Westbrook. Fortunately for them, Westbrook is in the midst of what could be a historically great individual season in the NBA. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, something that has not been done this late into a season since the great Oscar Robertson in the 1963-64 season.

8. CELTICS (10-8): An up-and-down start to the season due mostly to injuries to Al Horford and Jae Crowder seems to be turning itself around as the C’s have won four of their last six games. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are enjoying career years, but the Celtics inability to rebound could prove to be this team’s undoing.

9. BULLS (10-7): The Bulls have fared better than many pundits expected at this point in the season, largely in part to another leap in the game of Jimmy Butler. Butler is fifth in the league in PER, ahead of players like Steph Curry, Chris Paul, and Lebron James.

10. JAZZ (11-8): The Jazz might be a little too low on this list, but I’m not convinced yet. A recent four game losing streak was followed by a four game (and counting) winning streak. Offseason acquisition George Hill is averaging a crazy nine points better than his career average, if that lasts, the Jazz will rise quickly.

11.GRIZZLIES (11-8): The Grizz have been playing excellent basketball of late, including a recent 6 game win streak. However their hopes to stay alive in a highly competitive Western conference just took a major hit with the announcement that point guard Mike Conley will miss at least six weeks with a fractured vertebrae.

12. HORNETS (10-8): The fighting Michael Jordan’s, like several other teams on this list, started hot and have cooled off of late. Kemba Walker is playing at an all star level, but the Hornets are in desperate need of a second reliable scorer.

13. PACERS (9-10): A trendy pick for a bounceback season, the Pacers have been the model of inconsistency. Losses to the Nets, Suns, and 76ers have been paired with wins over the Cavs, Clippers and Thunder. Larry Bird is probably tearing what’s left of his blonde locks out

14. HAWKS (10-9): The Hawks have dropped six of their last seven games on the road and their quick 9-2 start to the season is starting to seem like a distant memory.

15. LAKERS (10-10): Some argued that Luke Walton should have had some coach of the year consideration last season in his stint filling in for Steve Kerr. This season, with a team all of his own, coach Walton should be the early front runner for his work turning around what was an awful Lakers team last year.

16. PISTONS (10-10):The Pistons have been a superb 7-2 at home this season, the only problem, they’ve been an abysmal 3-8 on the road. The return of point guard Reggie Jackson who just was cleared to practice should help.

17. BUCKS (8-8): A team that some thought might make a leap has remained pretty much stagnant this season. A gruesome injury to Khris Middleton that may keep him out all year certainly didn’t help, but the fact that the Bucks are getting next to nothing from Greg Monroe is a killer.

18. KNICKS (9-9): I’m not sure this is what Derrick Rose had in mind when he dubbed the Knicks as a super team. If anything, the Knicks are a super average team. Carmelo can still score, Porzingis is absolutely the real deal, but it seems to be increasingly obvious the mix of players in New York is not a good fit.

19. TRAILBLAZERS (10-10): Out in the pacific northwest, the Blazers were hoping to build on a 44 win season. Thus far though, the Blazers haven’t been able to find their rhythm. The Lillard and McCollum backcourt is still giving teams fits, but Portland lacks any real quality wins since early November against the Grizzlies.

20. PELICANS (7-12): There are one man teams, and then there is the New Orleans Pelicans. Anthony Davis is doing all he can night in and night out to try to drag this Pels team to victory. Unfortunately for him he’s not getting much help. Sixth overall pick Buddy Hield shooting 23 percent from three certainly is not getting the job done.

21. NUGGETS (7-11): The Nuggets find themselves in a place they’ve been many times before…the dreaded no man’s land territory of the NBA. They aren’t bad enough to be amongst the bottom teams, and they aren’t good enough to make a playoff run. Strong starts to the season by youngsters Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray certainly gives Denver fans some hope for the future.

22. KINGS (7-11): New season, same story line for the Kings. Will Demarcus Cousins be traded? The All Star center continues to put up great numbers but the team can’t convert that into wins. It’s looking more and more apparent that Sacramento might be best off blowing it up and starting from scratch.

23. TIMBERWOLVES (5-13): The young and extremely talented T-Wolves are still very much a work in progress. While Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns continue to shine night in and night out, the losses keep piling up.

24. WIZARDS (6-11): On paper the Wizard’s starting 5 actually looks pretty good. John Wall and Bradley Beal are both scoring in the 20’s and Otto Porter has been contributing. The issue for Washington, is that when they turn to the bench, all hell breaks loose. The Wizards’ bench is averaging 23.7 points  per game, second-worst in the NBA.

25. MAGIC (7-11): A recent four game skid was stopped by a very impressive win in San Antonio. That however doesn’t change the fact that the Magic lack a true scoring threat, and until they acquire one (or two), they’ll continue to struggle.

26. HEAT (6-12): This Miami team is virtually unrecognizable from the Heat teams of recent years. With Dwyane Wade gone to Chicago, Hassan Whiteside is the alpha dog in South Beach. Injuries to Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow have hampered them, but even when fully healthy, this Heat team just isn’t very good.

27. 76ERS (4-14): The team that has been the laughing stock of the NBA the past few years, is for the first time showing signs of life. Not many signs mind you, the basketball equivalent of the wiggle of a big toe, but it’s enough to keep them out of the bottom three of the rankings. Philadelphia fans can thank the play of Joel Embiid who has been nothing short of phenomenal in his rookie season.

28. MAVERICKS (3-14): The Mavs will almost certainly finish the season under the .500 mark for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Despite major offseason additions of Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes, Dallas seems destined to finish the season towards the bottom of the standings.

29. SUNS (6-13): Nobody expected the Suns to be good this year, and they are dutifully complying with that assessment. Losses to Philadelphia and Brooklyn should probably put Phoenix in the last spot, but the talent they have in their backcourt just squeaks them above the Nets.

30. NETS (5-12): Some early victories had Celtics fans in a state of shock, that quickly wore off however after a 7 game losing streak. Even a gutsy double OT win over the Clippers can’t mask the severe lack of talent on this team. Expect Brook Lopez to be on the move soon, leaving Brooklyn with even less NBA level talent.

Blog Author: 
Jet Striar

The Celtics take a remarkable 42 3-point shots and play little defense and a home-court loss to the Pistons Wednesday night at TD Garden. Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon have your recap inside TD Garden.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The Celtics pushed and pushed, but couldn’t break through enough to take control, falling to the Pistons at home Wednesday night 121-114.

Nov 30, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) takes a shot while guarded by Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (34) during the second quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas takes it to the basket Wednesday night against Detroit. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics pushed and pushed, but couldn’t break through enough to take control, falling to the Pistons at home Wednesday night 121-114.

Defense was lacking throughout the game on both sides, but the Celtics’ defensive woes stood out through the entirety of the game, letting all five of the Pistons’ starters into double figures before the start of the fourth quarter.

Per usual, Isaiah Thomas drove the bus for the Celtics offense, dropping 27 points to go with his four assists. Kelly Olynyk had a solid night of his own, going 3-for-4 from deep and 7-for-9 from the field for 19 points.

Regardless of any Celtics offensive effort, they were lost defensively, getting worked over by whichever member of the Pistons stepped up at a given moment. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the charge with 25 points while Tobias Harris put away 21 points. The Pistons shot 55-percent from the field as a team.

All the while, Andre Drummond was a force in the paint, topping off his 20 point performance off with 17 rebounds — eight of which coming on the offensive end.

As has been the story all season, the Celtics could not find a way to grab a rebound, getting outrebounded 51-33. In the early stages of the game, it looked as if rebounding issues would potentially be circumvented, with Amir Johnson grabbing four boards in the first two minutes. But as time went on the Celtics continued to struggle on the glass.

The Celtics never truly went away throughout the game, but never found enough answers on the defensive end to make a series of stops to let them push ahead. They went ahead by one with 7:26 left in the game, but never had the fortitude to push away.

For a complete box score, click here.

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Stud of the night: Andre Drummond

The Celtics could never find an answer for the former UConn center, as Drummond owned the paint on both ends of the floor in his double-double performance. On top of his 20 points, Drummond grabbed 17 boards and defensively didn’t give the Celtics much to work with in the interior.

Dud of the night: The Celtics defense

It didn’t matter what they tried doing, the Celtics could never find a way to quiet the Pistons offense. Four of the Pistons’ five starters had north of 20 points, while the other remaining starter, Ish Smith, netted 19 points.

When the game was lost: Tobias Harris’ 3-pointer with 5:08 left in the fourth

After the Celtics started showing some life and posing a threat to claim control of the game, the Pistons went on a 9-0 run to go up by eight. The run was capped off by a baseline 3-pointer from the already hot Harris. The dagger quieted the Garden to the point where his congratulatory high-fives from his teammates were audible throughout the arena. 

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the ‘Dale and Holley Show’ talk about what the Celtics will need to do in order to be considered one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference along with the Cavs.

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The Celtics will be back to full strength for Wednesday’s tilt against the Pistons, with Al Horford back in action following the birth of his second child. 

Amir Johnson

Amir Johnson

The Celtics will be back to full strength for Wednesday’s tilt against the Pistons, with Al Horford back in action following the birth of his second child. 

Horford’s addition will be a much-needed addition to a Celtics team still very much attempting to find its touch on the glass. The Celtics have been out-rebounded five of the last six games, due in some aspects to mismatches and guys having to play bigger than they are.

That notwithstanding, the Celtics are heavily reliant on asking guards to grab boards, as the boxing out responsibilities rest on the bigs.

Said coach Brad Stevens, “We ask our bigs to block out. Sometimes when you’re blocking out and you’re the same size or bigger, you can get the ball. But sometimes when you’re blocking out and smaller you just have to keep the other guy from getting it.”

As has been standard since his acquisition prior to the 2015-16 season, Amir Johnson has been tasked with playing a key role in the paint. Standing at 6-foot-9 and occasionally having to run the five, a stat sheet — which currently has him averaging 4.2 boards per game — can be a misleading basis of judgement.

“We’re asking Amir Johnson to guard a lot of fives, so to judge Amir’s performance by his defensive rebound percentage probably isn’t fair, because there’s probably six rebounds a game that somebody else gets in large part because he’s doing his job,” Stevens said.

Jonas Jerebko has found himself in a nice stretch of late off the bench. In his past seven games, the 6-foot-10 forward has averaged 6.4 points per game while shooting 81.8 percent from the field.

Since late last season, the 29-year-old has shown a wide range of versatility as a solid defender, a shooter, and a player with finesse around the basket — as evidenced by his more and more frequent use of a hook shot from just outside the paint.

“[He’s] just trying to do what he’s good at, I think that’s the most important thing. He’s a spacer and he’s a guy that can guard multiple positions and he’s really, really good when he does those things,” Stevens said.

Part of the current run for Jerebko can be attributed to his synergy with Kelly Olynyk, with the two combining well off the bench in Olynyk’s 11 games so far this season. The pair play a similar style, and can pose a threat from both the paint and the perimeter.

“I think people are figuring out how to play and play together and anytime you can do that, that’s better. [Jerebko] and Kelly have been a good combination for a while now, and I think that they kind of play and feed off each other.”

Other Celtics Notes

— Jae Crowder won’t be confined to any minutes restrictions in the foreseeable future. Stevens noted he hasn’t heard about any sort of minutes restrictions since before Monday’s win over the Heat.

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the 'Dale and Holley Show' talk about what the Celtics will need to do in order to be considered one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference along with the Cavs.

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WALTHAM — Jae Crowder could see and hear Miami coach Erik Spoestra trying an old trick Monday night to get under the skin of Marcus Smart. 

Crowder and everybody else familiar with Smart knows the third-year guard came out of Oklahoma State with a reputation for letting his intensity turn into anger and frustration, eventually leading to technical fouls or worse. 

“It’s funny because I was telling him [Monday] during the game, Spoelstra was saying, ‘He’s a hothead. He’s a hothead.’ So obviously that was part of the game plane to try to get under his skin a little bit,” Crowder said with a brotherly smile after practice Tuesday.

“A lot of teams know he wears his emotions on his sleeves so they’re going to do stuff like that. And you just have to be more cautious of it and know that it’s just a game they’re trying to play with him. I’m sure as the season goes on he’ll be more aware of it. And hopefully he gets better.”

Tired of getting hacked by Goran Dragic, Smart indeed took a technical foul when he complained about a double-foul with 2:26 left in the game. There’s clearly a fine line for Smart to walk and always has been since he came into the NBA in 2014. 

“I was begging for Spoelstra to get a technical foul because he was saying a lot of stuff. He was everywhere last night, but that’s one of the things he did say. When they went to intentional foul Marcus it was obvious that what they were trying to do was more than just foul. They were trying to get under his skin and play a little physical, and knowing he wanted to retaliate for the most part. So it’s just part of the scouting report on I guess Marcus that he wears his emotions on his sleeve.”

Crowder got his wish when Spoelstra was finally T’d up with 2:11 left as the Celtics pulled away for the 112-104 win. 

“It’s a very fine [line]. He as a person, as an individual, has to control it,” Crowder said. “We as teammates can keep being on him about it, but it’s about him and being able to control it. A lot of players and coaches in this league know he’s an emotional type of guy, so they’re going to try to do everything they can to get under his skin and in his head. But he has to want to put his pride aside and put his emotions aside for the team’s sake. And take care of business.”

Can Crowder see a maturity in Smart?

“Of course. He has not gone backwards in that regard,” Crowder said. “But he’s playing more minutes now than he was when he was a rookie. He’s playing a bigger role now, so we need him to be more locked in on that standpoint. You can’t just give away points at the free throw line on technicals and flagrants and stuff like that. So, we’ll keep pounding it in his head, and he keeps [telling] us he wants to change, so he’ll get better, hopefully.” 

Brad Stevens is also keeping a close eye on Smart’s on-court intensity. 

“I think toughness is such a critical component of a team and everybody brings their own levels of skill to the table and everything else but you have to have a competitiveness and an ability to figure out a way to win that possession,” Stevens said. “He’s able to do that on a lot of possessions.”

There’s an obvious irony to what happened Monday as it’s usually Smart and his intense defense that agitates and gets opposing players out of their game. 

“Well, he plays physical. For the most part, a lot of guys don’t like to play physical,” Crowder said. “They want an easy-flowing game and Marcus don’t play like that. That alone just gets under guys’ skin, just him playing physical and him being a presence on the basketball court with his body and his stature. A lot of players don’t like it. [Hassan] Whiteside is one of those guys who doesn’t like to play that physical. He likes to play physical as long as guys don’t play physical back with him. So, he didn’t like the foul Marcus laid on him late in the first quarter.”

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Al Horford’s sister has the Celtics’ star’s back. One perusal of Anna Horford’s Twitter account and that becomes clear.

After Horford received criticism from Mike Felger on Comcast SportsNet New England over the forward’s decision to skip the Celtics’ game in Miami Monday night to be present for the birth of his daughter, Anna fired back.