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SI Power Rankings put Rockets at No. 1

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Sports Illustrated rankings slot Rockets on top after defeating the defending champion Cavaliers.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets
H-Town proud
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Paper magazine Sports Illustrated moved the Houston Rockets to the number one spot in the power rankings (monster truck announcer voice).

Houston is only the fifth team to sit at the number one spot in the rankings over the last two seasons. They join the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers (sure, why not).

The red and yellow boys are a win, or a Blazers loss, away from clinching a playoff spot and appear headed toward home court advantage.

Rising to the top of the rankings came on the back of a 117-112 win over the defending champion Cavaliers last night. James Harden had a triple double while the Rockets played laudable defense in the fourth quarter and brought a playoff intensity to their late-game play.

Houston is on the verge of clinching a playoff berth with its massive win over Cleveland and becomes just the fifth team to sit in the top spot of the rankings over the last two seasons, joining Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland and the LA Clippers. I’ll say it again: they’ve got a real chance.

Also... by the league’s stated rule that Kawhi Leonard blocking James Harden determines that he wins the MVP, then the Rockets beating the Cavaliers makes Houston NBA Champions. The season is officially over. We won. We get to put duck boats in the Buffalo Bayou now!

In reality, the top of the chart ranking reflects the torrid pace the Rockets continue combined with the Warriors three-game losing streak, their first since the NBA Finals. And the article author sandbagging the Spurs for the indefinite sidelining of LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard sitting with a concussion and questions about Tony Parker.

I will gratefully accept this ranking. But I view it as a national entity chiseling their mark on the Rockets now, so they can say “look what we predicted” if Houston lays it on the Spurs in the playoffs.

In reality, it’s tough for me to understand the calculus here as the Rockets went 2-2 in the last week, including blowing a substantial lead to the Spurs and dropping a home game to the Jazz. Consider the Spurs went 3-1 this week, had a huge come-from-behind win against the Rockets and were No. 1 in the rankings last week. But the Rockets are number one.

But... The Rockets are top of the power rankings!