Slump season is still in full effect as a few teams try to survive until the All-Star break. The NBA season is a war of attrition and teams like the Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets are just trying to hold their positions before getting a break and an opportunity to regroup. For others, this is the time of the year to capitalize on the slumps from the top and make some moves.
1. Golden State Warriors
last week 1
The Warriors five game winning streak came to an end against the Sacramento Kings, as Steph Curry missed a jumper and layup in the final ten seconds that could have tied the game. The Warriors are human after all and are capable of a letdown loss. Nobody else has played consistently enough to overtake them, so the Warriors keep the power rankings lead.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
last week 3
The “sky is falling” Cavaliers have won four of their last five with the lone loss coming in Dallas on the second night of a back-to-back without Kevin Love. Quietly, the team has looked dominant once again outside of that loss, handling the Nets, Thunder, Timberwolves, and Knicks with ease. They have three games left of a four game road trip where they’ll look to improve on their 12-10 road record.
3. San Antonio Spurs
last week 2
Like the Cavs, the Spurs have looked very good since their loss to the Mavericks, dismantling the Thunder, Sixers and Nuggets. The Spurs have had a home-heavy schedule lately and face a test against the always-tough Grizzlies in Memphis on Monday night.
4. Washington Wizards
last week 4
The Wizards have won seven games in a row, as well as 17 straight at home. They’ll put that on the line Monday night as they host an old rival in the Cleveland Cavaliers.
5. Boston Celtics
last week 5
If you aren’t watching what Isaiah Thomas is doing lately, you are missing one of the most entertaining runs of regular season basketball in the last few years. Thomas is pushing Westbrook in the scoring race and got a signature win over the Raptors in his fourth quarter showdown against Kyle Lowry.
6. Utah Jazz
last week 9
The Jazz have won seven of their last ten games and have moved up to the fourth seed in the Western Conference. With the Rockets sliding, the Jazz have an opportunity to make-up some ground and make a late season push to avoid the Warriors in the second round. That is, if they can stay healthy…
7. Indiana Pacers
last week 11
Whenever you have a lot of turnover, you’ll almost always struggle to start an NBA season. Chemistry and continuity is key, and it appears as though the Pacers have adjusted to playing with their new teammates. Winners of six straight, Indy is showing off the tremendous potential their roster possesses.
8. Atlanta Hawks
last week 7
The Hawks got a quality road win over the Rockets and took care of business against the Magic. Unfortunately for them, they fell victim to the Dion Waiters experience. The Hawks host the Jazz and Nuggets before heading on a West Coast trip that could influence the direction of the team moving forward.
9. Houston Rockets
last week 6
The Rockets have been a .500 team over their last ten games as the defense has suffered dramatically. Their schedule for the rest of February is fairly light, so they will have an opportunity to stop the bleeding and regain their defensive composure.
10. L.A. Clippers
last week 8
The Clippers have not had the best luck lately. Without Chris Paul, the team had to face the Warriors twice as well as the red-hot Celtics in their last five games. They competed well against the Warriors and Celtics, but ultimately lost both games.
11. Memphis Grizzlies
last week 10
The Grizzlies have won four of their last five games as they try to hold off the Thunder in the standings. With their lone loss coming to the Thunder, they lost a golden opportunity to create some separation between them and OKC.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
last week 13
The Thunder put an end to their three-game losing streak with wins over the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers. While they have only gone .500 over their last ten, Westbrook has shown no signs of slowing down and has been stellar in their last two games.
13. Miami Heat
last week 16
The Heat still haven’t lost and are riding one of the least likely ten game winning streaks I can recall. They’re just two games back of a playoff spot as the bottom quarter of the East playoff picture has struggled as of late.
14. Dallas Mavericks
last week not ranked
The Mavericks have won four straight games including wins over the Spurs, Cavaliers, and Trail Blazers. The team has won seven of their last ten and are showing Rick Carlisle can make magic out of anything.
15. Toronto Raptors
last week 12
The Raptors have lost eight of their last 11 and have fallen to fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The team has missed DeRozan and has responded to his absence by playing Kyle Lowry an ungodly amount of minutes. The team’s struggles may impact how they approach the trade deadline in a couple weeks.
16. Denver Nuggets
last week 14
The Nuggets still are a game up of Portland for eighth in the West, despite losing three of their last four. With Nikola Jokic back in the lineup, the Nuggets will now face a tough test as they travel East to take on the Hawks, Knicks, and Cavaliers, before returning home to host the Warriors.
17. Chicago Bulls
last week 15
The Bulls went .500 over the last week with the lone quality win coming against the Thunder. Jimmy Butler continues to carry this flawed roster and hold off the advances of Charlotte and Detroit, who will try to knock them out of the playoff picture.
18. Detroit Pistons
last week not ranked
Detroit appears to be turning things around as they ended their three-game losing streak with back to back wins before falling to a hot Pacers team. They’re back in playoff position and will look to overtake the Bulls as they face a very manageable month of February.
19. Portland Trail Blazers
last week 19
The Blazers have lost three of their last four and failed to make up any ground on the Denver Nuggets. While this team is incredibly flawed, they should still be considered the favourite to get the eighth seed in the West. They just need to finally stop disappointing.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
last week 18
The Wolves have lost three straight games, but their biggest loss is losing Zach LaVine to a season-ending ACL tear. While the news is a tough blow for the Wolves, it presents an opportunity for other young players to show what they have, or for Andrew Wiggins to show the assertiveness he’s lacked.