1. Milwaukee Bucks
This week: MIL 123-111 SAC, IND 118-111 MIL
Last week’s rank: 1
Unfortunately for the Bucks they entered the All-Star break on a loss against Indiana. The Pacers seemingly had enough of losing to the Raptors, so they took their frustration out on Milwaukee. Fortunately for the Bucks, they shouldn’t lose too much sleep over the defeat as they are still by far the best team in the East. It would take a calamitous capitulation of historic proportion for this Milwaukee team not to finish the season as the one-seed.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
This week: LAL 125-100 PHX, DEN 116-120 LAL
Last week’s rank: 2
The Lakers enter the break on a three-game winning streak. They now sit four games clear of the second-seed Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference standings. The break has come at the perfect time for this team as it gives AD and LeBron James some much needed rest as they prepare their push for the postseason. Peaking at the right time is what championship seasons are about and the Lakers continue to get better as the season progresses.
3. Toronto Raptors
This week: TOR 137-126 MIN, BKN 101-91 TOR
Last week’s rank: 2
The winning streak comes to end at 15 wins in a row. The Raptors lost a disappointing game in Brooklyn, the Toronto players did look exhausted and they have earned some rest. This Raptors team has seemingly never had their full lineup healthy at any point of this season, and always having to fill gaps eats up a lot of the team’s energy. Toronto is in a great position with it unlikely that Miami will catch them in the standing which means the Raptors are pretty guaranteed a second-round encounter with the Celtics no matter what.
4. Utah Jazz
This week: HOU 113-114 UTA, DAL 119-123 UTA, UTA 116-101 MIA
Last week’s rank: 9
An undefeated week sees the Jazz soar up to the four-spot in this week’s power rankings. Very impressive wins over Houston, Dallas and Miami prove that the Jazz are back on track. There are only 1.5 games separating the second and fourth seed in the West, so there is much to separate those three teams, but as of right now the Jazz are playing the best. They’ve taken a four-game winning streak into the All-Star break which always helps boost morale.
5. Boston Celtics
This week: OKC 111-112 BOS, HOU 116-105 BOS, BOS 141-133 LAC
Last week’s rank: 6
The Boston Celtics continue their season as consistent as ever. Plenty of great wins with some tough losses sprinkled in there for good measure. A close win against a tough OKC teams shows the maturity this Celtics team has. Their leaders have stepped up in a big way to lead this young roster to only 1.5 games back of the Raptors. Boston are 8-2 in their last ten games and are peaking at the right time of the season.
6. Denver Nuggets
This week: DEN 127-120 SAS, DEN 116-120 LAL
Last week’s rank: 5
The Nuggets just cannot seem to close the gap on the Lakers. Denver had an opportunity to go within two games of the Lakers when they played each other, unfortunately the Lakers came out victorious. Even with their inability to touch the one-seed, this Nuggets team hasn’t really gone through any losing streaks yet this season. Consistency is very important for a team like the Nuggets and their coaching staff doesn’t get the credit they deserve for how well this team is playing.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
This week: CLE 92-133 LAC, PHI 110-103 LAC, BOS 141-133
Last week’s rank: 4
The Clippers have only won one game from their four-game road trip that they are currently on. That one win came against the Cleveland Cavaliers, so it doesn’t matter. In the other games along this road trip they have given up more than 140 points in two of them and lost a game in Philadelphia that they never looked like winning. It seems as though this Clippers team is afraid of their own greatness, and every time they look like making a run for the top seed, they drop games they should be winning with ease.
8. Miami Heat
This week: POR 115-109 MIA, GSW 101-113 MIA, UTA 116-101 MIS
Last week’s rank: 7
This was a tough week for the Heat, they’re going through some growing pains at the moment as they adjust to the new additions on their team. I would say it was a good win against the Warriors but they really should never lose a game like that anyway. Hopefully the Heat will be able to figure out how best to use all of their assets by the time the playoffs begin. They are 4-6 in their last ten games which is a sign that they might have peaked way too early this season.
9. Houston Rockets
This week: HOU 113-114 UTA, HOU 116-105 BOS
Last week’s rank: 10
Houston is adjusting pretty well to their new system of small ball. Their defense has been surprisingly strong, holding the Celtics to only 105 points in a good team win. They’re average 114.5 points against per games, which has been improving since the trade deadline. This Rockets team is tougher than most people think, and if they keep up their defensive work rate, they will be a real problem in playoffs. Also, Russell Westbrook is playing amazing, a great sight for all Rockets fans.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
This week: PHI 118-111 CHI, PHI 110-103 LAC
Last week’s rank: 14
What is Philadelphia’s deal? Every time they seem like a bad basketball team they go and beat a team like the Clippers. Their hope had just about gone, the team seemed on the verge of anarchy (thank you to Jimmy Butler) and then they pull off an amazing team performance at home against one of the best teams in the league. The win isn’t even the most impressive part, the way they played was amazing to watch, they were an entire unit working complelty cohesively. Hopefully that trend continues!
11. Oklahoma City Thunder
12. Indiana Pacers
13. Memphis Grizzlies
14. Brooklyn Nets
Riley Fussell is a Journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto Canada. Riley is originally from a small town on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada, he is a passionate writer that takes interest in nearly all sports, but especially Basketball. Riley played Basketball all through high school and being from the west coast he was able to watch two games nearly every night. He is a big fan of the Toronto Raptors even though Damian Lillard is his favourite player to watch.