Updated: February 6, 2012, 6:26 PM ET

Top Teams Rising In The East

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

You haven't heard any Leastern Conference jokes lately, have you?

The latest edition of ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings, with East residents occupying the top four spots, should make it pretty clear why.

It's been 23 days since the Miami Heat last lost a game to a team that hails from somewhere other than downtown Milwaukee. So when the Heat followed up a surprising second straight defeat to the Bucks with three more wins -- including a 20-point cruise in Friday's trip to Philadelphia in spite of the Sixers' penchant for winning big at home -- they retained the top spot in the rankings for the second successive week.

The East's revival, though, stretches down to the No. 4 slot, with Chicago (No. 4 to No. 2), Indiana (No. 5 to No. 3), Philly (No. 7 to No. 4) -- as well as No. 5 San Antonio from the West -- all leapfrogging Oklahoma City (down five spots to No. 7) and Denver (also down five to No. 8). The Boston Celtics, meanwhile, have moved to the brink of the top 10 after a long and uncharacteristic spell in the bottom half of the rankings thanks to their defense-fueled surge that came despite point guard Rajon Rondo's eight-game absence due to a wrist injury.

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