In this week’s Power Rankings, the top of the Eastern Conference takes a big blow. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors are batting .500 over their last ten games, while the Boston Celtics have lost two straight. Meanwhile, the West’s elite continue to keep it rolling.
1. Golden State Warriors
last week 1
The Warriors are currently first in the league in: offensive rating, defensive rating, field goal percentage, assist percentage, steals, blocks, point differential, three point percentage allowed, and field goal percentage allowed. They’re good.
2. San Antonio Spurs
last week 5
While they will be without Pau Gasol for the foreseeable future, we’re starting to reach a point where I don’t think the personnel even matters for Pop’s squad. Without Gasol and Parker, the Spurs went into Cleveland and got an impressive road win.
3. Utah Jazz
last week 7
The Jazz have won six straight games, starting with their home win over the Cavs. While the rest of the competition over the streak isn’t as impressive, the Jazz are finally staying healthy and moving up in the standings.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
last week 2
The Cavs week started with a no-show performance in Oakland and ended with an overtime heartbreaking loss against the Spurs. The Cavs are trying to get healthy once again as Kyrie Irving has dealt with a nagging hamstring injury and Kevin Love a sore back. But there’s no denying the fact that this team has lost it’s identity over the last few weeks.
5. Houston Rockets
last week 6
Things haven’t been smooth for the Rockets lately. They are 3-4 over their last seven games and have an embarrassing loss to the remnants of the Miami Heat. This seems to be the week where great teams struggle, but with the 24-point win against the Grizzlies, it’s possible that they’re turning around.
6. Atlanta Hawks
last week 10
The Hawks are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference at the moment. They are 8-2 over their last team games. They are closer to the second seed in the East than the fifth, and if Toronto and Boston keep struggling, the Hawks just might be able to overtake them.
7. Toronto Raptors
last week 4
Losers of three straight games, the Raptors have some soul searching ahead of them. Perhaps this is just a great reminder of how valuable Patrick Patterson is. But even with his absence, this team is too talented to lose to the Sixers and Suns.
8. L.A. Clippers
last week 3
The loss of Chris Paul once again puts the Clippers into a tailspin. They had won seven straight games, but now have back to back losses to the Timberwolves and Nuggets. Until the Clippers get one of their stars back, expect them to plummet down the standings and rankings.
9. Boston Celtics
last week 8
Just when you think the Celtics might be able to make a move up the standings and capitalize on a struggling Raptors and Cavaliers, they go out and lose to the Knicks and Blazers. The Celtics still can’t rebound and their defense is poor. Until they fix that, it’s hard to take them seriously.
10. Washington Wizards
last week 12
There aren’t many ways to lose that are more painful than a tip-in at the buzzer. Marcus Morris broke the hearts of the Wizards with a putback over his brother. Leading into that game, the Wizards had won four straight games and seven of their last eight. The Wizards have officially turned their season around.
11. Charlotte Hornets
last week 16
Remember when the Hornets were good? Well it looks like that might be a thing again. The Hornets have won three straight games including a 35-point win over the Toronto Raptors.
12. Memphis Grizzlies
last week 9
This ranking is mostly based on reputation. After an impressive stretch with wins over the Warriors, Jazz and Rockets, the Grizzlies followed that up with losses to the Bulls, Wizards, and Rockets.
13. Indiana Pacers
last week 14
While the Pacers have lost their last two games, they are 7-3 over their last ten. The loss to the Jazz was understandable, but the loss to the Lakers showed some of the inconsistency that has plagued this team all season. They’re on the right path, but some growing pains still exist.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder
last week 11
It was my suspicion that the Thunder would slip as their schedule got tougher, but they simply haven’t been playing good basketball. They lost to the Timberwolves, barely beat the Kings, then lost to the Clippers (who played most of the game without Chris Paul) and the Warriors. While Westbrook has the team playing better than the teams 8-15 in the West, they clearly are a tier below the first six seeds in the West.
15. Detroit Pistons
last week not ranked
Maybe Stan Van Gundy has finally gotten through to his team. Reggie Jackson appears to be finding his groove and the Pistons have won three straight games. That streak includes impressive wins over the red hot Hawks and Wizards. Detroit sits just a game back of the eighth seed, but they undoubtedly have their sights set higher than that. They know from experience what awaits the eight seed in the playoffs.
16. Chicago Bulls
last week 15
Jimmy Butler has been rewarded for his fantastic season with a starting spot for the East All-Star team. Chicago is a very poorly constructed team that has been willed to success by Butler in a very competitive Eastern Conference. He’s been a top three player in the conference this season and deserving of the individual accolades he’s receiving.
17. Denver Nuggets
last week 18
The Nuggets have won four of their last six games, but their loss to the Timberwolves was a frustrating setback. They still are a half game up on Portland for the West’s eighth seed, but it’s hard to feel great about any team in the race for the final playoff spot.
18. Philadelphia 76ers
last week not ranked
TRUST THE PROCESS! The Sixers are playing fantastic basketball as of late thanks to Joel Embiid. The team has won 6 of their last 8 games, with their only losses coming in games Embiid has sat for rest. I didn’t expect to be writing about the Sixers this year, but you cannot ignore the success they’ve had lately.
19. Portland Trail Blazers
last week 17
The Blazers got an impressive road win over the Celtics in the Evan Turner revenge game. But outside of that, the team has struggled considerably lately. The Blazers had lost four straight heading into Boston and seem to just hope they fall backwards into a playoff spot.
20. Milwaukee Bucks
last week 13
Not only have the Bucks lost five straight games, three of those losses came to far inferior teams. If the Bucks want to make playoffs, they simply cannot lose to the Sixers, Magic, and Heat. To make things worse, Jabari Parker was benched for locker room conduct. The magic of this season appears to be slipping away from Milwaukee.