The Bucks leapfrogged the Warriors to regain the No. 1 overall spot, while the Celtics tumbled out of the top ten in this week’s updated NBA Power Rankings.
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1. Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo missed two games last week due to a sprained right ankle, but he returned to action over the weekend, posting 27/8/7 in a blowout win over the Heat and 26 points (on 11-of-16 shooting), ten rebounds, seven assists and four blocks in another easy win over the Cavs. The Bucks have 1-3 in the last four games Antetokounmpo has missed this season, yet are 51-16 in games in which The Greek Freak plays.
2. Golden State Warriors
With Stephen Curry sitting out to rest, the Warriors were embarrassed by the Mavs on Saturday night, 126-91. The 35-point margin of defeat was Golden State’s largest home loss since 2007. With Steph back in the lineup on Sunday, the Dubs bounced back to beat the Pistons. The Warriors are 25-1 in their last 26 games in which Kevin Durant has sat out, but Steph Curry plays. However, the Warriors are 5-7 this season in the 12 games in which Steph Curry has sat out, but Kevin Durant plays.
3. Denver Nuggets
Heading into Sunday, the Nuggets were making a hard charge at the Warriors, having won six straight and each of the first three games of their four-game road trip. Then, they got blown out by the Pacers in Indiana on Sunday afternoon. Nonetheless, Denver is just a half-game behind Golden State with ten games left in the season.
4. Houston Rockets
The league is still buzzing from James Harden’s most recent historical scoring explosion. After pouring in 57 points and nine 3-pointers vs. Memphis last Wednesday, The Beard exploded for 61 and nine more treys in a win over San Antonio on Friday. His 61 points are the most ever scored by any player against a Spurs team coached by Gregg Popovich. In addition, Harden is only the second player in NBA history (joining Wilt Chamberlain) to score 50-plus points in back-to-back games twice in the same season, and the second player ever (joining Steph Curry) to make nine or more triples in consecutive contests.
5. Toronto Raptors
The Raps lost the last two games they played last week, including a heart-breaker to Charlotte, in which Jeremy Lamb banked in a 50-footer at the buzzer. Encouragingly, Kyle Lowry (sprained right ankle) returned to action vs. Charlotte on Sunday and tallied seven points, six assists and two rebounds in 28 minutes.
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6. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers surprisingly had their six-game winning streak snapped Saturday night in Atlanta to the lowly Hawks. During this seven-game surge, Joel Embiid is averaging a whopping 29.2 points, 16.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 treys, 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks, while shooting 49% from the floor and 85% from the charity stripe.
7. Portland Trail Blazers
Despite playing without injured guard C.J. McCollum (knee), the Blazers won all three games they played last week. Damian Lillard has been carrying Portland and has scored at least 28 points in four straight games. During this current stretch, he is averaging 31.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 10.3 assists, and 4.8 triples, while shooting 50.6 percent from the field, 46.3 percent from behind the arc and 90 percent from the charity stripe.
8. Utah Jazz
The Jazz played four road games last week, but won three of them and are 6-1 over their last seven contests. Utah now plays four straight at home, and each of those four games are against teams that currently have losing records (Suns, Lakers, Wizard and Hornets).
9. LA Clippers
The incredibly overachieving Clippers have won 10 of their last 11 games and are now in fifth place by themselves in the West. Doc Rivers deserves a ton of credit and strong consideration for this year’s Coach of the Year award. The five top players from L.A.’s 2016-17 team (Blake Griffin, CP3, JJ Redick, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford) are all on gone, yet the Clips are going to make the playoffs for the second-straight season. Their top three players this season in terms of minutes played are Patrick Beverly, Montrezl Harrell and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Yet, this team is ahead of the Thunder, Jazz, Spurs, Wolves and Lakers in the standings.
10. San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge was dominant in the Spurs 115-96 victory over the Celtics on Sunday, racking up 48 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes. Per Basketball-Reference, he is just the second player in Spurs franchise history with at least 48/13/6 in a single game.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder finally snapped a four-game losing streak by registering an impressive victory over the Raptors in Toronto on Friday night. OKC travels to Memphis on Monday, but then finish their season by playing six of their last eight games in Oklahoma City.
12. Indiana Pacers
Indiana pulled off one of their most impressive victories of the season on Sunday, demolishing the Nuggets 124-88. Bojan Bogdanovic paced the Pacers, racking up 35 points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal in only 26 minutes. Indiana holds a solid two-game lead over the Celtics in the battle for the fourth seed and homecourt advantage in the first round.
13. Boston Celtics
What a roller-coaster season it’s been for the C’s. Last week at this time, we were talking about how Boston seemed to have righted the ship, as they had won four of five at that time. However, the Celtics last all four games they played over the last seven days. They will look to get back on track with a winnable game vs. Cleveland on Tuesday.
14. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have won two straight and are sitting in sixth place in the East. However, they are only two games ahead of ninth-seeded Orlando and three games ahead of the Hornets. The Nets have a brutal scheduled to close out their season. Not only would each of their final eight opponents qualify for the postseason if the season ended today, but six of those eight would also be top-4 seeds in their respective conferences. The Celtics and Heat are the only two teams currently seeded five through eight.
15. Miami Heat
Miami has won four of five, including impressive road wins over the Thunder and Spurs during this stretch. Their only loss was to the Bucks in Milwaukee. Their next game is their most important of the season thus far. On Tuesday they host the Magic. The Heat currently has a slim one-game lead over Orlando.