Dirk Nowitzki (41), Jason Kidd (2), and Jason Terry (31) have all been instrumental in lifting the Dallas Mavericks to the top of the NBA Power Rankings. ((Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images) )

Each week, CBCSports.ca's Lance Winn breaks down the balance of power in the National Basketball Association.

1. DALLAS MAVERICKS [up from 3]
Record: 17-4
Last 10: 10-0

A 10-game winning streak will get you a lot of things, including top spot in the power rankings. Not just any streak either, their victims included the Hawks, Thunder, Heat, and Spurs. Jason Kidd continues to be the facilitator averaging nine assists while Dirk Nowvitzki remains the recipient averaging a team-best 25 ppg. The biggest surprise has been the Mavs' defence which ranks fourth in the Association.
2. BOSTON CELTICS [up from 5]
Record: 17-4
Last 10 : 8-2

If there's a constant in this league, these Celtics might be it. Talk about winning games you should. An eight-game streak against sub-par teams isn't really anything to brag about but these stats are certainly worthy of a mention: first in assists (26.3) and field goal percentage (50.8), third in team defence, rebounds allowed, and rank fifth holding the opposition to 43.6 per cent shooting. Not bad for a bunch of senior citizens.
3. SAN ANTONIO SPURS [down from 2]
Record: 18-3
Last 10: 8-2

Want to be a contender? Go 10-2 at home, 8-1 on the road, and 12-3 in the conference. Yes I said "Conference," as in the Western Conference. Manu Ginobili is healthy and averaging 20+ and they are the best three-point shooting team in the league.
4. UTAH JAZZ [down from 1]
Record: 16-7
Last 10 : 8-2

Possibly playing over their heads? Don't think so. They are the league's second-best passing team, limit their opponents to 18 assists per game(first), and fewest assists (first) all the while holding the opposition to 30 per cent (first) from the land beyond. Throw in Deron Williams' 22 points, 10 assists per game and you've got yourself a winner.
5. LA LAKERS [up from 8]
Record: 16-6
Last 10 : 6-4

The Zen Master would never push the panic button even in the midst of a four-game slide. So the defending champs took it out on Sacramento, beat Washington and now embark on a seven-game road trip. This will be a good test, don't expect a very warm reception at any of the venues they visit.
6. DENVER NUGGETS [unchanged]
Record: 13-8
Last 10: 7-3

A tough loss in Charlotte may set the stage for a challenging road trip. Hello, Boston. Sure this team can score, Carmelo Anthony leads the team with 22.8 points and eight boards a game, but 20th in points allowed (103 ppg), and 27th (43) in rebounding make winning that much harder. Next up, Toronto and New York, on the road.
7. MIAMI HEAT [up from 14]
Record: 15-8
Last 10: 7-3

It appears the wrinkles are slowly being smoothed out and the talent is starting to surface. They are the second best defensive team in the league, the Big 3 are looking better with each game and have reeled off five straight, including a 38-point performance from LeBron James in his return to Cleveland. And why shouldn't he be happy with his decision?
8. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS [down from 7]
Record: 14-7
Last 10 : 4-6

Tough to concentrate when team ownership is up in the air. Either way, all-star PG Chris Paul is still the quarterback and they continue to win games. Problem is they're offensively challenged, (95 ppg, 25th) and can't seem to beat teams above .500.
9. ORLANDO MAGIC [down from 5]
Record: 15-6
Last 10: 7-3

After sporting a six-game winning streak the Magic have dropped their last two. Not the best time to be struggling, they embark on a five-game West Coast swing with stops in Portland, Utah, LA (Clippers), and Denver.
10. NY KNICKS [up from 11]
Record: 14-9
Last 10: 9-1

Talk about hot, these Knicks have won six straight and 10 of their last 11. So what's going on in the Big Apple? Something that hasn't happened in a while ... they can score. Averaging 108 points (third in the league), Amare Stoudemire and company can put the ball in the basket. Enjoy it now, after Washington, they'll see Denver, Boston, and Miami. Let's talk then.

11. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER [up from 13]
Record: 15-8
Last 10: 6-4

The Thunder have cooled off of late, not having the league's leading scorer in the lineup will do that, but with Kevin Durant set to return sometime in the near future and Russell Westbrook making highlight-reel buckets every night it's only a matter of time before they find their groove again.

12. ATLANTA HAWKS [down from 10]
Record: 15-8
Last 10: 7-3

Joe Johnson will miss at least a month following elbow surgery so Josh Smith decided to pick up the slack dropping a season-high 34 on the Nets. They will need Al Horford to step up and contribute more offensively with JJ out of the mix.

13. CHICAGO BULLS [down from 12]
Record: 12-8
Last 10: 6-4

Carlos Boozer is rounding into game shape and is a welcome option for PG Derrick Rose and the Bulls. Give them credit, they beat the teams they should and play well at home (9-3).
14. PHOENIX SUNS [up from 16]
Record: 11-11
Last 10: 5-5

For the second week in a row the Suns hold the honour of leading the league in scoring (110 ppg), and sit last in defence (allowing 110 ppg) ... see the similarities in the numbers? Tough to save any money when your expenses equal your entire paycheque.
15. INDIANA PACERS [down from 13]
Record: 10-10
Last 10 : 5-5

This young nucleus has been playing better of late but they still can't bring it on a nightly basis. Next three against Eastern Conference opponents, so a chance to make some headway in the Central Division.
16. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS [up from from 18]
Record: 10-11
Last 10: 4-6

Not easy to keep pace in the West but that's what these Trail Blazers are doing. Despite the ever-present injury bug, the likes of LeMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, and Brandon Roy, opponents had better bring it, because Portland certainly can.
17. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS [down from 15]
Record: 7-14
Last 10: 5-5

So what if it's a modest streak, a win is a win in Philly. Thaddeus Young stepped into the spotlight and what about Jodie Meeks? If you don't know you better ask somebody because this kid can play.
18. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS [up from 14]
Record: 8-13
Last 10: 4-6

Beating Denver was huge, but to finish Top 8, the team's best player has to be on the floor, not sitting courtside because he had too much to say ... these cats remain in the fight, for now.
19. TORONTO RAPTORS [up from 21]
Record: 8-14
Last 10 : 5-5

If you look past the record, the Raptors don't look that bad on paper. Averaging 101 ppg (10th), 42.5 boards (seventh), and fifth in team rebs. Respectable, sure. Unfortunately that doesn't always translate into "wins." Tough loss to Knicks, strong over the Thunder, but also blown out by the Knicks and Pacers.

20. GOLDEN STATE WARRRIORS [down from 17]
Record: 8-14
Last 10: 1-9

Say what you want about the Warriors, but they leave it on the floor every time out. A four-game skid against teams with a combined 45-14 record is nothing to be ashamed of. But it's not like relief is on the way ... San Antonio, Miami, and Utah are not likely to show much holiday cheer.

21. HOUSTON ROCKETS [up from 21]
Record: 8-13
Last 10: 5-5

Up and out of the Southwest Division basement, that has to draw a collective sign of relief ... until they hit the hardwood again. Gave T-Mac a welcome back he won't soon forget.

22. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS [down from 19]
Record: 7-15
Last 10: 2-8

Not sure if they can recover from the return of the King, what began in Cleveland has snowballed into a five-game slide. Good luck with that.

23. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES [unchanged]
Record: 9-14
Last 10: 5-5

No where to go but up and there aren't a lot of open arms waiting. Although the Clippers might be in a giving mood.

24. MILWAUKEE BUCKS [down from 22]
Record: 8-13
Last 10: 3-7

Better get one from the Pacers or Rockets before Dallas, San Antonio, and Utah come calling.
25. DETROIT PISTONS [down from from 20]
Record: 7-16
Last 10 : 2-8

Thankfully the Pistons reside in the East. They're only 6.5 games back in the Central Division race.

26. WASHINGTON WIZARDS [unchanged]
Record: 6-15
Last 10 : 2-8

No need to cast any spells, the 0-11 road record speaks for itself.

27. NEW JERSEY NETS [down from 23]
Record: 6-16
Last 10 : 2-8

Better than last year.
28. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS [unchanged]
Record: 5-18
Last 10: 4-6

Keep an eye on Blake Griffin ... and maybe the baron... but that's it.
Record: 5-17
Last 10: 2-8

The return of Jonny Flynn will provide some much needed scoring. Right now it's the house that Love built.

30. SACRAMENTO KINGS [unchanged]
Record: 5-15
Last 10: 2-8

Not much left to say.