Many of the league's elite teams stumbled over the past week. The Heat and Pacers have now lost a combined seven in a row, while the Thunder, previous owners of the West's best record, have only won three of their last eight games -- a slump that has occurred alongside the anticipated return of Russell Westbrook.
But the fall of OKC and the two Eastern powers has coincided with a pair of other Western contenders also catching fire. The Clippers and Rockets are on seven- and five-game winning streaks, respectively, making the difference between first and fourth in the Western Conference a matter of just three games.
Caught in the shuffle is San Antonio, winners of six in a row -- and nine out of their last ten -- and now finally healthy again. With a full squad, the Spurs showed what they were capable of against the Miami Heat last week, toppling the defending champs at home. At 46-16, they're now number one in all the league, if only by a slim margin, and face a tough week ahead, with games at Chicago and against Portland.
Gregg Popovich made headlines last week with a seemingly innocuous quote stating that during some timeouts he'll have "nothing" for his team.
"Sometimes in timeouts I'll say, 'I've got nothing for you. What do you want me to do? We just turned it over six times. Everybody's holding the ball. What else do you want me to do here? Figure it out,' " Popovich said, according to the San Antonio Express-News, not long before the Spurs used 14 3-pointers and a season-high 39 assists to dispatch the Cavs. "And I'll get up and walk away. Because it's true. There's nothing else I can do for them. I can give them some bulls---, and act like I'm a coach or something, but it's on them."
While this might be no big revelation to those familiar with his style, it served as another track in the media's attempt to make Pop more, well, "pop". Whether he says anything or nothing at all, it seems like everyone is taking notice this season. All that matters to us is that his players do.
Marc Stein from ESPN, (Spurs rank: 3, last week's rank: 5)
The Spurs are as full-strength, roster-wise, as they've been all season. The Spurs are hot again, too, at a tidy 13-3 since Feb. 1. And the Spurs, perhaps most crucially, are 38-9 when the Kawhi Leonard is in uniform. Compared to a mortal 8-7 when Leonard is out injured.
Marc J. Spears from Yahoo! Sports (Spurs rank: 1, last week's rank: 5)
The Spurs jump back to No. 1 with six straight wins and nine in their past 10 games. San Antonio also now owns the NBA's top record.
Jason Patt from SBNation NBA (Spurs rank: 1, last week's rank: 4)
After everything they've gone through this season, the fact that the Spurs are now on top of these power rankings is pretty insane. All hail Pop.
USA Today (Spurs rank: 1, last week's rank: 4)
They still almost never lose to teams they are expected to beat, but lately they have beaten elite teams, too.
John Schuhmann from NBA.com (Spurs rank: 1, last week's rank: 2)
The Spurs are 6-0 since returning from the rodeo trip and if you think there are four title contenders, they finally got a win over one of the other three. Defensive consistency is still an issue, but after allowing 120 points per 100 possessions in their previous four games against Indiana, Miami and OKC, they held the Heat under 90 on Thursday, forcing LeBron James into more uncomfortable jumpers.
Matt Moore from CBSSports.com (Spurs rank: 1, last week's rank 6)
This may seem weird given that they were No. 6 last week. In short: The Spurs are judged on a curve and all the teams above them hit a bump or two, so I softened the curve. They have the best record and are the Spurs.