NBA Power Rankings: Celtics make sure Warriors know who the hottest team is
In this week's Power Rankings, the Celtics finally claim the top spot while the Cavs begin to bounce back
There's always this weird sense of excitement that comes with the start of the NBA season. Even though it happens every year we always have this joy like a kid who was just gifted a brand new toy. Can the Celtics beat the Warriors? Will LeBron James and the Cavaliers make the NBA Finals again, but this time without Kyrie Irving? Every fresh and new storyline is exciting and interesting to hoop fans.
However, as the season goes on normalcy eventually sets in. Yes, it was fun and exciting when the Pistons got off to a great start, but now they've set expectations. The Pacers have been spunky all season, but now it's what they're supposed to do. It's what makes talking about some of these teams on a week-to-week basis difficult. How do we, as fans of basketball, keep narratives fresh and new? It's very easy to become jaded.
This is where the bench guys shine. The stars will always have the spotlight, but bench players typically go through up-and-down moments throughout a season. They shine brightly for a brief few seconds, capture fans hearts, and then fade back into just a role. They keep every night fresh. There has to be something to bridge the gap between Joel Embiid mega star moments, Lonzo Ball narratives, or whatever is going on with LeBron's Instagram. Moments like Spencer Dinwiddie randomly scoring 25 points. Shabazz Napier helping knock off the Magic with five 3-pointers. Stars might run the league, but it's those role guys that help it not get boring.
On this Thanksgiving week, I'm thankful for those guys that make a random game in November worth it.
|1||Celtics||Boston's win streak is up to 15 games and it's entirely because of their defense. They're swallowing teams alive and they're one of the few teams this season that was able to survive a (third-quarter) punch from the Warriors. There's a legitimate chance they reach 20 straight wins.||1||9-8|
|2||Warriors||Before the Boston loss, Golden State had won seven straight games by double digits. Stephen Curry responded to a rough shooting night against Boston with 35 points against the Sixers and 39 on a back-to-back in Brooklyn.||1||12-6|
|3||Rockets||Chris Paul is back, James Harden is averaging 31 points a game, and Houston dropped 90 in the first half against Phoenix. Everything is coming up Rockets.||--||8-7|
|4||Raptors||The Raptors are smacking teams around right now and have won their last four games by an average of 14.3 points. They're committing to the new offense and it's resulted in the third best offense in the NBA.||9||13-4|
|5||Timberwolves||Minnesota just keeps getting better as the season goes on. They aren't perfect yet, but as the season goes on the Wolves are going to just keep growing into a bigger threat. They'll be terrifying if the defense ever comes around.||3||7-10|
|6||Spurs||That early-season losing streak feels so long ago doesn't it? When in doubt, count on the Spurs to figure something out. While Rudy Gay's 3-point percentage has dipped to 35 percent he's still leading all bench players in net rating.||1||8-8|
|7||Pistons||This could have been a disaster week for Detroit, but they saved it with a fourth-quarter comeback against the Timberwolves. Sometimes being a good team isn't about winning every game outright, but surviving those difficult stretches that send others off the rails.||3||8-6|
|8||76ers||Holy wow, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are fun. Philadelphia is struggling to put together consistent wins, as most young teams do, but their flashes of what they can be has fans of #TheProcess excited.||2||12-7|
|9||Trail Blazers||The biggest surprise about the Blazers this season has to be the emergence of Shabazz Napier. The former first round pick has gone from probably out of the league to one of Portland's best rotation players. He played a huge role in their win over the Magic with five 3-pointers.||3||11-5|
|10||Bucks||Milwaukee acquired Eric Bledsoe and immediately ripped off a win streak before it came to a screeching halt against a bad Dallas team. It's a small sample size, but Bledsoe already has the second-highest on-court net rating on the Bucks.||9||12-4|
|11||Cavaliers||Slowly but surely the Cavs are pulling it together. They've won four in a row and six of their last nine. Moving Dwyane Wade to the bench was the perfect role for him and the Cavs are starting to get back to outscoring teams. They still can't defend and there's concern that all their old problems will re-appear once Derrick Rose returns.||6||2-13|
|12||Nuggets||Nikola Jokic and Mike Malone managed to get themselves thrown out of the Lakers game at the exact same time. That is actually impressive. On the plus side, Jamal Murray is dropping buckets right now, scoring 31 against New Orleans and 32 against Orlando.||6||10-7|
|13||Wizards||Washington will occasionally show signs of consistency, but they don't have it completely together yet. They have a rough patch of games coming up that will test them.||5||5-11|
|14||Knicks||The Knicks have a role right now. Beat up on bad teams and lose to the good ones. It's not the most exciting life, but considering the way the last few seasons have gone for them, this is still a much better and more watchable team.||3||4-13|
|15||Pelicans||Rondo has finally debuted for the Pelicans and they're bringing him along slowly. The Pelicans were planning on him being a starter going into the season, before the injury, and it looks like they're going to stick with that.||1||10-7|
|16||Pacers||Look at the Pacers. They play hard and fast which is catching a lot of teams off guard right now. More importantly? Domantas Sabonis is making the front office look real good right now for trading him.||8||11-6|
|17||Grizzlies||The Grizzlies are without Mike Conley for a bit. While that is a bummer for Memphis, he has been struggling individually so far. Mario Chalmers individually is having an awful season. Team-wise he has an on court net rating 7.1. The NBA makes very little sense sometimes.||12||11-5|
|18||Thunder||OKC has yet to pick up a significant win. It blew a 23-point lead to the Spurs on national TV, but it's winning games against bad teams right now. If the Thunder can weather the storm and figure out their issues in the clutch, then they can still be really good.||3||10-6|
|19||Heat||The Heat are a bad offensive team and an average defensive one. There is nothing particularly exceptional or horrible about them right now.||4||6-10|
|20||Magic||Orlando is regressing more into what they were expected to be and that showed through on their West Coast road trip. It peaked when they were down 46 points to the Jazz. Orlando's offense looks great when it works, but when they stutter it can fall apart quickly.||11||9-8|
|21||Hornets||Will someone please help Kemba Walker? Nicolas Batum is back, but he's still trying to get back into the swing of things. Charlotte is going to need him, or really anyone, to take some of the load off Walker.||1||8-8|
|22||Jazz||Without Rudy Gobert the one thing the Jazz have been good at this season, defense, has quickly fallen off. It hasn't helped that they've seen injuries to Ricky Rubio and Joe Johnson as well. On the plus side, Derrick Favors is still awesome.||1||8-9|
|23||Suns||Devin Booker will continue to shine while Phoenix tries to figure out what they are. He's shooting 38 percent from 3-point range and showing improvements on defense. He's not a star yet, but he's definitely taking the right steps to become one.||4||3-13|
|24||Lakers||Lonzo Ball had himself a week. He got caught on video walking away from a fight his teammates were in and then notched a triple-double one game later. Nothing is ever boring with the Lakers.||2||9-7|
|25||Nets||The year of Spencer Dinwiddie is here! He's scored 20-plus points in a handful of games this season and has even started a few times. He also had a Twitter war with the NBA's official Twitter account and that was just fun.||--||7-10|
|26||Clippers||Patrick Beverley is expected to return Monday night against the Knicks and he can't come back soon enough. The Clippers are in an absolute free-fall right now and they don't appear to have any answers to solve this slump outside of injured players coming back. The defense has completely fallen apart.||10||11-5|
|27||Mavericks||Dallas inexplicably beat the pants off of the Bucks and it just left everybody really confused, but also intrigued.||1||7-9|
|28||Hawks||The Georgia Dome is being torn down. What does this have to do with the Hawks? They actually alternated games between there and the Alexander Memorial Coliseum while the team waited for Philips Arena to be built. Keep that one in your pocket for trivia night.||1||3-14|
|29||Kings||The Kings' four wins are even more impressive when you find out they have the worst offense in the NBA and the 28th ranked defense. What they choose to do with the vets at the trade deadline will be fascinating to watch, but at least the young guys are fun.||3||9-8|
|30||Bulls||Chicago won a game in which Kemba Walker scored 47 points. Let's use this section to once again say that the Hornets need to get Walker help. Zach Lavine should be doing full-contact practice soon which means the Bulls are getting close to seeing the full reward of the Jimmy Butler trade.||--||4-13|
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