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NBA Power Rankings: Week 12

Monday, January 1, 2018

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1. Golden State Warriors (29-8):
The Warriors went 13-2 in December, matching a franchise record for most wins in a calendar month. Stephen Curry missed 11 of those 15 contests due to an ankle injury, but returned in grand fashion on Saturday night, pouring in 38 points and knocking down ten 3-pointers in just 26 minutes in the Dubs win over the Grizzlies. Golden State enters 2018 with a healthy roster, which is a scary thought for the rest of the league.

2. Boston Celtics (30-10):
Thanks in large part to a hot start, Boston is the first team to notch 30 wins this season. It’s just the third time in franchise history the C’s have reached the 30-win plateau before January. Here's another nugget, courtesy of Elias Sports research, that Celtic fans will enjoy: Each of the last three times that the Celtics were the outright first team to win 30 games, they reached the Finals: 1983–84 (won NBA finals), 1984–85 (lost Finals), 2007–08 (won Finals).

3. Toronto Raptors (24-10):
There are only currently two teams in the league that rank in the top-six in both offensive and defensive efficiency: the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors.

4. Houston Rockets (26-9):
It took two overtimes to beat the pesky Lakers on New Year’s Eve, but the Rockets got it done and snapped a five-game losing skid. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rockets five-game losing streak is the longest in league history immediately following a winning streak of 14 or more. However, Houston fans now have to hope for good news on James Harden, who limped off the floor Sunday night in obvious discomfort, clutching his left hamstring. "Hopefully it's not that serious," Harden said after the game. "Just a pull... just got some treatment so hopefully day-to-day it gets better."

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-12):
The Cavs are currently riding a three-game losing streak, with all three defeats coming on the road. It’s their second losing skid of at least three games this season. Cleveland hosts the Blazers on Tuesday, then hit the road again for five more games away from home.


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6. San Antonio Spurs (25-12):
The Spurs got smacked by the Pistons on Saturday, as the Detroit defense limited San Antonio to a season-low 79 points. However, one positive San Antonio fans can take away from that beatdown was Kawhi Leonard scoring a team-high 18 points and, more importantly, logging a season-high 28 minutes.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-14):
The Wolves are one of the league’s hottest teams, having won six of their last seven games. They have a chance to stay hot over the next few weeks, as they play six of their next eight games at home.

8. Detroit Pistons (20-15):
Detroit will be without Reggie Jackson for 6-8 weeks, but Ish Smith is certainly capable of picking up the slack. Over the two games Smith started in place of R-Jax last week, Ish tallied a combined 36 points, ten rebounds and nine assists.

9. Washington Wizards (21-16):
An essential part of the Wizards success this season has been their stellar perimeter defense. In Sunday's win over the Bulls, Chicago shot just 8-of-35 from 3-point range. It was the third straight game and the 15th game this season Washington has held an opponent below 30.0 percent from beyond the arc, which ranks first in the NBA.

10. Oklahoma City Thunder (20-17):
OKC was 11-3 in December before dropping their final two games of 2017. We’ve become somewhat desensitized to the incredible numbers Russell Westbrook produces, but Russ has been a beast of late. Over the Thunder’s last six games, Westbrook is averaging 32.7 points (on 53.0 percent shooting), 11.5 assists, 10.0 rebounds, 3.3 treys and 1.7 steals. However, OKC seems to enjoy greater success when Westbrook looks for his shot less often. The Thunder are 10-14 in games in which Westbrook has attempted more than 18 shots. They are 8-1 when he's had fewer than 18 field goal attempts. OKC is 3-8 when Russ has attempted more than five 3-pointers. They are 12-3 in games in which he attempts fewer than four treys. The Thunder are 10-1 this season when Westbrook dishes out 12 or more assists. They are 6-12 when he tallies less than ten assists.

11. Milwaukee Bucks (19-15):
Milwaukee got a little help from the refs in their most recent win over the Thunder on Friday night and now find themselves four games over .500 heading into 2018.

12. Denver Nuggets (19-17):
After a slow start to the season, Jamal Murray has heated up recently. The Blue Arrow has scored at least 20 points in three straight games and is averaging 24.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.0 treys over those three contests.

13. Indiana Pacers (19-18):
Last week was a tough one for the Pacers, as they dropped all four games they played. It was the second four-game losing skid of the season for Indiana. Victor Oladipo has missed the past three contests due to soreness in his right knee, which has pumped the brakes on his breakout season. As of Sunday, ‘Dipo still was not running or practicing with the team. Hopefully, we get more encouraging news when the Pacers provide an update early this week.

14. Portland Trail Blazers (18-17):
Damian Lillard was a game-time decision on Saturday night, but was not cleared to play. The Blazers are hoping to get him back in the lineup Monday night vs. the Bulls. Backup point guard Shabazz Napier is averaging 21.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in the three games he has started for Portland this season.

15. New York Knicks (18-18):
The Knicks desperately needed a win on Saturday night, as they entered the evening below .500 and riding a four-game losing streak. Down five points late in the fourth, Kristaps Porzingis put New York on his back, scoring seven points in the final two minutes to carry his team to 105-103 victory. It was the first time in KP’s career he scored more than six points in the final two minutes of a game.

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