Guess that win over the Clippers didn't exactly change anyone's mind. Even if it did, a loss to the Washington Wizards to give them their first road win of the year definitely changed it back. In this edition of Tom Ziller's NBA Power Rankings, the Cavs are No. 30 with a bullet:
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (9-46, Prev: #30) -- The Cavaliers are champions! Long live the Cavs! (Serious question: do they have another 20+ streak in them? Probably not, as they've had the league's toughest schedule so far (meaning more Clippers-y teams are on the way).
Things won't be getting any easier for the Cavs as the trade deadline nears, either. They may not be big-time sellers (they could save it for the summer), but I'd bet good money that they'll be making at least one move, and maybe a couple more. Picks are the initial goal, although they may be able to poach a player or two who is buried on the roster or has fallen out of favor (à la Julian Wright with Toronto or the Bulls' James Johnson). Aside from that, I don't expect them to get any more than bit pieces unless they go all in and become that third team in the Carmelo Anthony deal (which I still believe makes a ton of sense for the Nuggets, Cavs and whomever Melo ends up going to).
Things aren't getting better any time soon, and that's okay. Cavs fans are realistic at this point. But they need to see positive momentum: evaluating talent, cutting dead weight, moving the big salaries, going young, loading up on draft picks. Those kinds of moves will put Cleveland in a position to follow the Oklahoma City Thunder model, one that makes sense for a team that doesn't exactly entice big free agents. Of course, to work out, the Cavs need to draft well, and I mean extremely well.
As for the rest of the Eastern Conference, the Heat are still at No. 2 overall with the Celtics right behind. I'm tempted to disagree with this, if only for the fact that all things considered, there's a good chance the Celtics are the team standing between the Heat and the NBA Finals, and LeBron and the rest of the Big Three do not match up well with Boston, especially down low.
The Bulls sit at No. 5, which is about right, as they keep playing well, but are still not quite right until Noah comes back. Right behind are the (somewhat) underachieving Orlando Magic, who need their shooters to actually...well, make shots.
The San Antonio Spurs are No. 1 overall, to no surprise, and until they run into some trouble or injuries, they belong there. This team is locked in, they have a terrific coach and a player in Tim Duncan that really wants another ring before he retires. Plus, they really look like they're coasting in general, which is amazing with how well they're playing.
You can find the rest of the power rankings here.