The first full week of NBA basketball since the All-star break is complete. This week had some crazy games; the Toronto Raptors inexcusably lost to the Charlotte Hornets, the Milwaukee Bucks demolished the surging Thunder and Houston’s small ball has continued to beat teams. The Lakers have continued to cruise through the west, while teams like the Nuggets, Clippers, Houston, Utah and OKC are fighting for the seeding from second to sixth. The Miami Heat have fallen out of this week’s top ten as they’re now 3-7 in their last ten games as they’re taking some time to get used to the new players.
- Milwaukee Bucks
This week: WAS 134-137 MIL, TOR 97-108 MIL, MIL 133-86 OKC, MEM MIL
Last week’s ranking: 1
The Milwaukee Bucks are still the best team in the league, what a shock. This week they played against the second-seeded Raptors, and the Bucks took care of business and left Toronto with the W. Milwaukee is playing with fire right now, sometimes when teams have the ability to coast down the stretch and still get the first they’re unable to get back into gear come the playoffs. Luckily for Bucks fans, Giannis doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to coast to anything. Antetokounmpo is playing every single game like the outright MVP of the league, and no one can really touch him.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
This week: LAL 114-112 BOS, LAL 118-109 NOP, GSW 86-116 LAL, LAL 88-105 MEM
Last week’s ranking: 2
This week started with a great team victory against the Boston Celtics. In the game against the Celtics, the Lakers were down for a good portion of the game, but they’re talent could only be held at bay for so long. In the fourth quarter the game had the feel that the Lakers were going to win even though they never had much of lead at any point. The rest of the games this week were routine wins against Zion and the Pelicans and the awful Golden State Warriors
3. Boston Celtics
This week: LAL 114-112 BOS, POR 106-118 BOS, UTA 103-114 BOS, BOS 110-111 HOU
Last week’s ranking: 4
The Boston Celtics leapfrog the Toronto Raptors into third place for this week’s power rankings. The reason for this is that while the Raptors were on their 15-game winnings streak, the Celtics were keeping pace. The Celtics are only one game back of the Raptors in the standings, they missed their chance to go level with them as they lost in overtime against the Rockets Saturday night. Jayson Tatum has been playing near his potential lately, and he’s proving to be one of the best player’s in the east. The Celtics as a whole have been playing great team defense as always, and that ability will be an major asset down the stretch and into the playoffs.
4. Toronto Raptors
This week: TOR 127-81 IND, TOR 97-108 MIL, TOR 96-99 CHA
Last week’s ranking: 3
One of the main reasons for the Raptors drop into fourth place is that god-awful loss to the god-awful Charlotte Hornets. The Raptors started this week with a demolishing of the Indiana Pacers, the game was honestly over in the first quarter. Milwaukee paid a midweek visit to Toronto and held the Raptors to only 97 points, emphasizing how large the gap is between the Bucks and the second seeded Raptors. Once Toronto has a chance to play fully healthy for a stretch of time, they’ll be a real threat in the playoffs, but more importantly, they need to get better in their half-court offense.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
This week: LAC 124-97 MEM, PHX 92-102 LAC, LAC 132-103 DEN
Last week’s ranking: 7
An undefeated week for the Clippers that included big wins over the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets. They beat the Nuggets by 29 points, Denver is supposed to be one of the best teams in the west, and the Clippers embarrassed them. Kawhi Leonard are finally starting to find some consistency, they’re now on a three-game win streak. The Clips are the best team in the west at home, with a 24-6 record, so getting into the second seed will really help in the post season.
6. Denver Nuggets
This week: DEN 128-116 MIN, DEN 115-98 DET, LAC 132-103 DEN
Last week’s ranking: 5
The Denver Nugget’s were doing great up until Friday night, when they got completely dismantled in front of 20,000 people at the Staples Center. The Clippers ran riot over the Nuggets, it was like Denver never showed up. They only had 18 assists in the game, which is far below their season’s average of 26, the team that played on Friday night is not a representation of this Denver team. The Nuggets this season have been a great team, they’re an incredibly well rounded that are currently sat in second place in the ultra competitive western conference.
7. Houston Rockets
This week: HOU 123-112 NYK, HOU 140-112 MEM, BOS 110-111 HOU
Last week’s ranking: 6
The Houston Rockets continue to surprise teams with their defense. It’s definitely going to be hard for people to come to the realization that the Houston Rockets hustle on defense. The reason they’ve been working so hard on that end of the floor lately is because they no longer have a genuine or rim protector. Due to their small lineup, they must make up for it by playing as a team and making sure they’re all on the same page. On the offensive end of the floor they’re as good as ever, continually creating shots for themselves and punishing teams. This Rocket’s team might actually pose a threat come the post season.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
This week: OKC 131-103 SAS, CHI 122-124 OKC, OKC 112-108 SAC, MIL 133-86 OKC
Last week’s ranking: 8
Aside from the blowout loss to the Bucks, the Thunder had a great week. At the start of this season it seemed like the Thunder had all the talent needed, but just couldn’t quite win close games, now, they can’t lose them. Two of their wins this week came by four points or less, even though they were against far inferior teams, it’s impressive to see their composure. OKC have been one of the best teams since the turn of the year and they now sit only 3.5 games back of the Denver Nuggets for second place.
9. Utah Jazz
This week: UTA 11-131 PHX, UTA 104-114 BOS, UTA 129-119 WAS
Last week’s ranking: 9
The Utah Jazz snapped their four-game losing streak in a big win against the Washington Wizards. While it’s always good to get back to winning ways, it’s still shocking that this team lost four in a row. All four loses came at home and only one of them was by less than ten points, shocking from a team like Utah. The Jazz are now .500 in their last ten games, but somehow remain in the hunt for the second seed as they’re only three games back of the Denver Nuggets.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
This week: PHI 129-112 ATL, CLE 108-94 PHI, PHI 115-106 NYK
Last week’s ranking: HM
The Philadelphia 76ers are now only half a game back of the Miami Heat in the standings. The 76ers have just remained consistent in their play. This Philadelphia team isn’t looking like the title contenders we all thought they’d be, but their size and skill allow them to have a chance at winning every single game they play. Ben Simmons suffered a back injury this week, hopefully he’s healthy in time for the playoffs as they will need his defense to insure the 76ers have a water-tight defense.
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.