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NBA Power Rankings: Can the 76ers Spoil the Party?

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In this edition of the NBA power rankings, not much has changed. The Warriors remain at the top by a thread, and the top ten is largely unchanged. However, as the Jazz and Lakers are improving and have gotten on the plus side of .500, the Rockets continue to fall down the rankings. The Timberwolves traded Jimmy Butler to a 76ers team that is trying to get back into Eastern Conference contention. So after a wild NBA week, here are the rankings:

1. Golden State Warriors (11-3) Previous Rank: 1

The Warriors hold the top spot, but this seems more of a result of reputation rather than results. Steph Curry is out, and the Dubs blistering offensive attack has faltered again. The Warriors have lost to the Bucks and the Clippers and suddenly stand just a half-game ahead of the Blazers. But as we have seen before, the regular season doesn’t matter to Golden State. Come playoff time, this is going to be the same old Warrior buzzsaw.

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2. Toronto Raptors (12-2) Previous Rank: 2

The Raptors remain at two, but the gap between them and the Warriors is rapidly decreasing. Kawhi plays? Win. Kawhi rest? Win. The Baby Dinosaurs have a Friday night showdown against the Celtics in Boston, and it will be interesting to see if the Raptors can solidify an early season hold on the Eastern Conference.

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3. Milwaukee Bucks (10-3) Previous Rank: 4

Milwaukee picked up a major win with a 134-111 win against the Warriors and followed that up three days later with a seven-point win over the Nuggets. The most impressive part? Both wins came on the road. The Bucks may have had the third best offseason behind the Celtics and Lakers when they acquired Mike Budenholzer, who has this team clicking. Did I forget to mention that Giannis Antetokounmpo is making a great case for MVP? The Bucks have it all.

4. Portland Trail Blazers (10-3) Previous Rank: 6

The Blazers beat the Celtics, Bucks, Clippers, and Lakers twice, and sit just a half game back of Golden State. Portland has their twin titans in the backcourt, and a bench that is contributing more and more in Blazer wins. Portland finishes the month by facing the Bucks, Warriors, Clippers, and Nuggets—with the Magic thrown in—so that will be the real measuring stick for a Blazer team eyeing the second seed in the West.

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5. Denver Nuggets (9-4) Previous Rank: 3

The Nuggets are on a three-game skid, including a home loss to the Nets. Denver is still 9-4, and they are doing this with no players averaging 20 points a game. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic continue to lead the nameless crew, and they expect Isaiah Thomas and Will Barton back later in the year. A problem for the Nuggets? Their big men don’t match up well with the West’s elite, and that bears watching as the Nuggets face more and more playoffs opponents.

6. Boston Celtics (7-6) Previous Rank: 5

When will the Celtics figure out their offense? They are getting into a habit of going down by double digits to their opponents early, and it has resulted in a 7-6 record. They need to figure out their offense somehow, even if it means benching a great player like Jaylen Brown or Gordon Hayward and letting them lead the second unit. One thing is for sure tho. The afro-less Kyrie Irving is producing at a level the Celtics haven’t seen since his days in Cleveland, and Jayson Tatum’s 27 against Portland might be a sign of good things to come.

7. Oklahoma City Thunder (8-5) Previous Rank: 10

Isn’t it hard to believe the Thunder started 0-4? Oklahoma City is 8-5 and doing it without Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson. They rank second in the league in defensive efficiency behind Boston, and they don’t even have Roberson there. The Thunder are rounding into form, and the subtraction of Carmelo Anthony combined with the addition of Dennis Schroder has made the Thunder a scary Western Conference team.

8. Philadelphia 76ers (9-6) Previous Rank: 9

The Sixers made the trade that everyone is talking about, acquiring Jimmy Butler in exchange for Dario Saric and Robert Covington plus filler. The Sixers needed another piece to contend in the East, and Butler combined with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid might be just the trio to do it. Things are looking up in the City of Brotherly Love, and wins over the Hornets and Pacers don’t hurt either.

9. Indiana Pacers (8-6) Previous Rank: 8

The Pacers are just behind the Sixers, both in the standings and the rankings. Tyreke Evans is turning into a monster acquisition, and the Pacers are building nicely off last season’s finish. Indiana is still in the second tier of Eastern Conference teams but will look to play spoiler in the postseason, seeing as they match up well with teams like Boston and have always given them problems.

10. Los Angeles Clippers (8-5) Previous Rank: 13

The Clippers are one of a few Western Conference surprises thus far and sit at fourth in the West. Largely a cast of role players, Doc Rivers has his bunch playing a winning brand of ball. Look no further than the last two games, home wins over the Bucks and Warriors. The Clippers might turn out to be buyers come to the trade deadline, and if not, they can become rich with draft assets by trading pieces like Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Avery Bradley.

Here are the rest of the rankings:

11. San Antonio Spurs (7-5) Previous Rank: 7

12. Charlotte Hornets (7-6) Previous Rank: 15

13. New Orleans Pelicans (7-6) Previous Rank: 12

14. Utah Jazz (7-6) Previous Rank: 16

15. Memphis Grizzlies (7-6) Previous Rank: 18

16. Sacramento Kings (8-6) Previous Rank: 14

17. Los Angeles Lakers (7-6) Previous Rank: 17

18. Houston Rockets (5-7) Previous Rank: 11

19. Detroit Pistons (6-6) Previous Rank: 20

20. Dallas Mavericks (5-8) Previous Rank: 29

21. Orlando Magic (6-8) Previous Rank: 22

22. Brooklyn Nets (6-8) Previous Rank: 21

23. Miami Heat (5-8) Previous Rank: 19

24. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-9) Previous Rank: 23

25. New York Knicks (4-10) Previous Rank: 25

26. Chicago Bulls (4-10) Previous Rank: 26

27. Washington Wizards (4-9) Previous Rank: 28

28. Atlanta Hawks (3-10) Previous Rank: 24

29. Phoenix Suns (2-11) Previous Rank: 27

30. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-11) Previous Rank: 30
Previous rankings: Preseason, Week 1, Week 2

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