NBA Power Rankings: Lakers' big weekend creates separation at the top

NBA Power Rankings: Lakers' big weekend creates separation at the top

BOSTON — With several marquee matchups the past couple of weeks in the NBA, the gridlock at the top is starting to loosen up. 

Analytics-driven analysis has been the basis for many of the team comparisons as far as which teams are the best. 

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But the past week has seen many of the upper echelon teams square off, which has taken away some of the guesswork involved in determining the best teams.

Because of that, there is a noticeable shift at the top of the power rankings this week.

Click here for the gallery.

Who does Kendrick Perkins think is the NBA's most overrated player? Paul George

Who does Kendrick Perkins think is the NBA's most overrated player? Paul George

Former Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins has an opinion about everything. And that includes the NBA's most overrated player.

Appearing on NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Pregame Live, Perkins was asked about who he thought was the league's most overrated. After some hesitation, he came with his answer.

"To me, it's Paul George," Perkins said.

And his reasoning? You can hear it here, via the Celtics on NBC Sports Boston's Twitter account.

"Everybody put him in that superstar status but I don't believe that," Perkins said. "I've witnessed too many times where Paul George has disappeared. And, to me, in my opinion, he's one of the most overrated players."

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That's certainly a bold take from Perkins. After all, George is averaging 20.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game for the Los Angeles Clippers while continuing to play the stellar defense that made him an MVP contender last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

George hasn't been asked to do as much with the Clippers and has only played in 40 games this season due to injuries. But as the team's second star next to Kawhi Leonard, he has been solid.

Still, Perkins has never been afraid to speak his mind, and maybe he has a point. If George wilts down the stretch, perhaps he'll prove Perk right.

For more of Perkins' thoughts in the lead-up to the Celtics' game against the Utah Jazz, check out the clip below or watch it on YouTube.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Thunder-Celtics, which begins Sunday at 5 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 6 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Celtics hit milestone not reached since Larry Bird era in Clippers win

Celtics hit milestone not reached since Larry Bird era in Clippers win

The Boston Celtics needed their best players to be at their best Thursday night.

Mission accomplished.

The Celtics defeated the talented Los Angeles Clippers 141-133 in double overtime thanks to an exceptional effort from their starting five, who combined to score 122 points -- or 86.5 percent of Boston's total.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

When is the last time the Celtics' starting five scored 120 points or more? You have to go back to the late 1980s, when Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish were running the show.

Four of the five Celtics players in that Feb. 10, 1988, lineup are in the Basketball Hall of Fame, with Danny Ainge as the lone exception. Not a bad group to compare yourself to (although the 1987-88 Celtics lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals).

Celtics fans will be pleased to know that Jayson Tatum matched Bird with 39 points, while Marcus Smart went off for 31 and Gordon Hayward chipped in 21.

Tatum certainly channeled his inner Bird on Thursday night, hitting several clutch shots and out-dueling Clippers star Kawhi Leonard to help carry the Celtics to victory.

What makes Boston's feat more impressive is that its starting five didn't include Jaylen Brown, who is the Celtics' third-leading scorer at 20.2 points per game.

But the Celtics' effort without Brown is further proof they have a wealth of quality offensive options -- they're the only team in the NBA with three players averaging 20-plus points per game -- that could make them very dangerous come playoff time.

This unit is hardly on the level of Bird, McHale, Parish, Dennis Johnson and the 1980s Celtics, but they belonged the same breath as that legendary squad for one night, at least.

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