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NBA Power Rankings: Week 13

Monday, January 7, 2019

After knocking off both the Bucks and Pacers on back-to-back nights, the Toronto Raptors have raced to the top spot in this week’s updated NBA Power Rankings.

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1. Toronto Raptors
Record: 30-12
After beating Milwaukee on Saturday and Indiana on Sunday, the Raptors became the first NBA team to win 30 games this season. In fact, no other squad has more than 27 victories. And Sunday’s win was notable because Toronto beat Indiana without the help of Kawhi Leonard, who was rested on the second leg of a back-to-back set. Impressively, they are 8-2 without Kawhi this season. However, the Raps did benefit from the return of Kyle Lowry (lower back pain). Lowry, who had missed six straight games and 10 of the past 11, tallied 12 points, eight assists, three rebounds, three steals, two 3-pointers. Lowry and Leonard haven’t played together since Dec. 9.

2. Denver Nuggets
Record: 26-11
The Nuggets have a league-high ten-game winning streak at home and have won five straight overall. The 26 wins they have currently complied is the team's most through a season’s first 37 games in the franchise’s history. Per the AP, this is also the latest they've been in first place in the conference since March 16, 1977. If Nikola Jokic continues to play as well as he has of late, he deserves recognition in the MVP conversation. Over the Nuggets last five games, Jokic is averaging 25.6 points, 11.2 boards, 9.0 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.7 steals and 1.6 treys, while shooting 59 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line.


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3. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 27-11
The Bucks had a five-game winning streak snapped when they lost to the Raptors on Saturday night; however, the loss can’t be pinned on Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak poured in 43 points (on 16-of-25 shooting) ripped down 18 rebounds, and tacked on four assists, one steal and three 3-pointers.

4. Golden State Warriors
Record: 26-14
Shockingly, the Warriors have lost three straight home games, which is the longest home losing streak since Steve Kerr was hired as head coach. Golden State will look to end this skid when they host the Knicks on Tuesday in the Bay. Golden State has swept New York in the regular season series (2-0) in each of the last four seasons, dating back to 2014-15.

5. Indiana Pacers
Record: 26-13
The Pacers had won 13 of 15 before heading north of the border and losing to the Raptors on Sunday. Over the last five weeks, Indiana has lost only three games, and two of those three defeats came against the Raps. Remarkably, the Pacers have lost 11 straight games in Toronto, with their last win coming back in March of 2013. Something to keep in mind should these two squads face off in the postseason later this year.

6. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 26-14
The Sixers won all three games they played last week, but they ended up embroiled in a bit of controversy anyhow. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported over the weekend that Jimmy Butler “aggressively challenged coach Brett Brown on his role in the offense” and that “Butler has been vocal in his contesting of Brown and his system, including a recent film session in Portland that some witnesses considered ‘disrespectful’ and beyond normal player-coach discourse.” Butler, who has missed each of the Sixers last two games due to an upper repository infection, will likely address the issue for the first time shortly.

7. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 25-14
OKC was rolling, carrying the second-best record in the Western Conference into their Sunday night showdown with the undermanned Washington Wizards. Surprisingly, the Thunder laid an egg and got beat by badly by the Wiz, 116-98. Russell Westbrook (22 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists) registered his 12th triple-double of the season and the 116th of his career but shot just 9-of-23 from the field and committed eight turnovers.

8. Boston Celtics
Record: 23-15
The Celtics have won two straight contests, and Gordon Hayward is a major reason why. After struggling for much of the of 2018, Hayward has looked excellent in the two games Boston has played in 2019, averaging 25.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists, while shooting 60.6 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent from downtown.

9. Houston Rockets
Record: 22-16
The Rockets had their six-game win streak snapped in Portland on Saturday night. However, Houston has an opportunity to string together another winning surge starting this week. The Rockets play six of their next seven games at home, and their one road contest is vs. the Magic in Orlando. Incredibly, James Harden has scored at least 35 points, dished out five assists and knocked down five 3-pointers in nine straight games, which is an all-time NBA Record.

10. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 23-17
For the vast majority of coach Gregg Popovich’s terrific tenure in San Antonio, the Spurs success was predicated upon their dominant defense. However, San Antonio’s offense has been incredibly impressive of late. Over the last month, the Spurs are tied for the league's best record (12-3) and rank first in the NBA in Offensive Rating, averaging 117.4 points per 100 possessions. Their Net Rating (15.5) over this stretch is more than six points higher than every other team in the league.

11. LA Clippers
Record: 23-16
The Clips began a stretch in which they will play six of seven games at home by beating the Magic in Los Angeles on Sunday. The Clips hope to stockpile some wins in hopes of maintaining their spot in the top half of the Western Conference playoff picture.

12. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 23-17
Monday’s home game vs. the Knicks marks the halfway point of Portland’s 2018-19 regular season. Per their game notes, the Trail Blazers were 22-19 through 41 games last season and are guaranteed their best record through 41 games since the 2014-15 season (30-11).

13. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 21-19
Dating back to March of 2016, LeBron James has missed 16 games. Here are his team’s results in those 16 games LeBron has not played:
Loss, loss, loss, win, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss.
Yeah, it turns out LeBron is an important factor in his squad’s success. He’ll miss at least the next two games, but reportedly has a chance to rejoin the Lakers Friday in Utah.

14. Utah Jazz
Record: 20-20
After scoring just two points in the first half, Donovan Mitchell caught first after halftime and poured in 24 points to carry the Jazz to a win in Detroit on Saturday night. Utah finishes up their current rod trip Monday in Milwaukee before heading home. Beginning Wednesday vs. Orlando, Utah will play eight of their next nine games at home.

15. Sacramento Kings
Record: 19-20
The Kings and Warriors combined for an NBA record 41 made 3-pointers on Saturday night. Buddy Hield knocked down a career-high eight triples on his way to scoring 32 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. Buddy has poured in over 20 points in four straight games and is averaging 27.3 points, 3.8 boards, 3.0 assists and just 1.5 turnovers during this four-game stretch.

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