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NBA Power Rankings: Soaring Hawks

Christmas Day has arrived, and it is the red hot Hawks who have climbed in this week’s Power Rankings.

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The NBA season may have began in October, but we all know that December marks the unofficial beginning of the sprint to the winning post. At this point, most NBA teams have played somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 games and we have a fairly solid idea of who they are.

The Golden State Warriors, despite a questionable loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, remain the top team in the entire league, winning 85 percent of their games thus far. That, in a word, is a surprise.

Yet still, as we welcome Saint Nick on this Christmas Day, it is the Atlanta Hawks who have emerged as the hottest team in the league. To them, we must show copious amounts of love. It is not merely because they have won fives games in a row, but because they have defeated very good teams. They have downed the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets, and have seemingly silenced the critics who have wondered they were good enough or tough enough. (In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I was one such critic).

Even if they are not number one in our Power Rankings, they are the team of the week.

Meanwhile, out East, the Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets are leading revivals of their own.

As we turn the calendar to 2015, we begin to separate the contenders from pretenders, but know that the trade winds are swirling and that teams—such as the Cleveland Cavaliers who lost Anderson Varejao for the remainder of the season—will do all that they can to solidify themselves as contenders.

We wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year, and to the NBA’s contenders, hope for as competitive a 2015 as we have had in the latter stages of 2014.

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders.

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