We tend to call everything that happens before the NBA All-Star break the "first half" of the season, but in reality that's far from the truth. Most teams have already hit or are nearing the 60-game mark, so the portion of the schedule that takes place after the All-Star break would be more aptly characterized as the "stretch run" than the "second half."
That being said, teams and players could certainly use the week of rest. It's been a trying year with injuries and COVID, so they should all look forward to getting away for a while and/or enjoying this weekend's festivities in Cleveland.
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One team that's going to be living the sweet life over the break is the Phoenix Suns, who have continued to dominate the league and remain in the No. 1 spot in this week's Power Rankings. While other contenders made huge moves before the trade deadline to increase their championship odds, the Suns just keep plugging away with their tried and true formula of execution on both ends.
Their counterpart in the other conference, the East-leading Chicago Bulls, also had a great week despite losing one of their All-Stars, Zach LaVine, to a knee injury. That's because their other All-Star, DeMar DeRozan, has reached nuclear levels of scoring and efficiency, doing something that even the legendary Wilt Chamberlain failed to do as an NBA player. DeRozan's hot streak allowed the Bulls to jump eight spots this week to No. 3 in the rankings.
Speaking of jumps, the Boston Celtics have steadily been climbing and find themselves at No. 6 this week. They would have been even higher were it not for a baffling loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. The Dallas Mavericks also moved up two spots to enter the top five behind some outlandish scoring performances from Luka Doncic. On the other side we have the Golden State Warriors, who dropped four spots after a rough week, and the Milwaukee Bucks, who were sent a message in a rematch of last year's Finals against the Suns.
Here are the latest NBA Power Rankings before a much-needed break for the All-Star festivities.
*Please keep in mind that our Power Rankings are based on the team's performance the previous week, not the entire season.
|The Suns won four more games this week, none more impressive than their drubbing of the Bucks in a rematch of last year's NBA Finals. It's rare to see the Suns in the loss column these days, as they've now won 20 of their last 22 games and haven't dropped two in a row since December. Devin Booker cooled off this week, but still averaged 23.3 points per game, while Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Chris Paul and Cam Johnson all averaged double figures. Phoenix goes into the All-Star break as the undisputed best team in the NBA.||--||64-18|
|Memphis saw its winning streak hit six games after victories over the Pistons, Hornets and Pelicans, but it dropped a home game to the suddenly red-hot Blazers on Wednesday to put an end to that. Still, the Grizzlies made up some ground on the struggling Warriors, and are now just a game and a half out of the No. 2 spot in the West heading into the All-Star break. Ja Morant tied a career high with 44 points in the loss to Portland, while Brandon Clarke has played well of late, averaging 15 points and 8.3 rebounds in 25 minutes per game this week.||--||56-26|
|The Bulls didn't face the world's most difficult schedule this week, but they also won three of their four games without Zach LaVine. Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan is out here breaking records set by Wilt Chamberlain. No, really. DeRozan became the first player in NBA history to score at least 35 points while shooting at least 50 percent from the field in seven consecutive games. The Bulls needed every one of them too, so it's not like he was racking up points in garbage time. A phenomenal season from DeRozan just keeps getting better.||8||46-36|
|Wins over the Pelicans and Nets brought the Heat's winning streak to five games before a loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combined to average over 46 points and 20 rebounds per game this week, while Kyle Lowry added 13.3 points, seven assists and six rebounds on 50 percent 3-point shooting. Those three and Omer Yurtseven were the only players to score more than six points in a poor offensive effort against Dallas.||1||53-29|
|The Mavs produced one of the more shocking moments of the trade deadline when they traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards, and they followed that up by splitting with the Clippers and picking up a strong road win over the Heat. Luka Doncic went absolutely berserk against the Clippers, scoring a career-high 51 points in the win and 45 in the loss. Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans both made their Mavs debuts against Miami, with Bertans going 3 for 7 from 3-point range in 13 minutes.||2||52-30|
|The Celtics were cruising their way up the Power Rankings with wins over the Nuggets, Hawks and 76ers to start the week, then they hit a massive speed bump in the form of a one-point loss to the lowly Pistons on Wednesday. These things happen, however, and Boston has still won 11 of its last 13 games. New addition Derrick White has fit in seamlessly, averaging 12.3 points, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals this week.||4||51-31|
|Steve Kerr wanted to go into the All-Star break on a high note -- instead they enter in the most gut-wrenching way possible, losing at home on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Nuggets guard Monte Morris after losing an eight-point lead over the final three minutes of the game. That's four losses in five games for Golden State, which has missed Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala while allowing 118 points per 100 possessions over that stretch. Steph Curry averaged 29.3 points and 6.5 assists for the week, while making 34 percent of his 3-pointers.||4||53-29|
|The new era of Philly basketball will have to be put on hold for the time being, as James Harden won't make his debut until after the All-Star break. In the meantime, the Sixers beat the Thunder and Cavs to start the week before an eye-popping 48-point home loss to the Celtics. Joel Embiid did the heavy lifting as usual, averaging 28 points, 14 rebounds, 6.7 assists and two blocks this week, though he shot just 39 percent from the field.||--||51-31|
|After being blown out by the Suns in a rematch of last year's Finals to start the week, Milwaukee lost to the Blazers at home without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who returned the next night to put up 50 points and 14 rebounds in a win over the Pacers. Jrue Holiday had a strong week, averaging 19.3 points and six assists on 54 percent 3-point shooting, while Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis both struggled mightily from 3-point range, shooting a combined 5 for 32.||5||51-31|
|The Nuggets lost to the Celtics to start the week, but then picked up wins over the Raptors, Magic and Warriors, the latter coming on a game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Monte Morris off a dish from Nikola Jokic. Denver has now won five out of its last six games, led by 28 points, 15.8 rebounds and eight assists per game from Jokic this week. The Nuggets have been able to piece enough together on both ends to keep winning despite their significant injury issues.||2||48-34|
|The Cavs beat the Pacers to start the week before dropping games to the 76ers and Hawks. The normally stout defense had a couple of slip-ups while incorporating new addition Caris LeVert into the fold. He averaged 14 points and 4.3 assists on 40 percent shooting in his first three games with Cleveland, while Darius Garland put up 28.5 points per game in the two losses, but had more turnovers than assists.||5||44-38|
|The Raptors came down to Earth (slightly) this week, losing to the Nuggets and Pelicans, but also picked up victories over the Rockets and Wolves to make it nine wins in their last 11 games. Pascal Siakam went off for a season-high 35 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on 16-for-22 shooting in the loss to Denver, while Gary Trent Jr. averaged 22.3 points per game this week on 37 percent 3-point shooting.||3||48-34|
|The Jazz ran their winning streak to six games with victories over the Magic and Rockets to start the week, but they allowed a 12-point lead to disappear in less than four minutes down the stretch in Wednesday's loss to the Lakers. Donovan Mitchell has been on a tear since coming back from a concussion, averaging 30.3 points this week on 42 percent 3-point shooting. Rudy Gobert returned to the lineup after a nine-game absence due to a calf injury, but was ejected against the Rockets and scored just five points in the loss to the Lakers.||--||49-33|
|The Hawks lost to the Spurs and Celtics to start the week, but bounced back to beat the Cavs and Magic. Trae Young averaged 27.8 points and nine assists on 44 percent 3-point shooting, while Bogdan Bogdanovic added 20.5 points per game on 47 percent 3-point shooting. Danilo Gallinari has filled in for John Collins as the starting power forward, and he put up 14.3 points per game this week while making 47 percent of his 3s.||--||43-39|
|The Wolves beat the Pacers and Hornets this week, while losing to the Bulls and Raptors. The defense, which has been part of their resurgence this season, was a little shaky this week against some strong offensive opponents. Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with 26.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game on 44 percent 3-point shooting, while Anthony Edwards added 20.8 points per game despite missing the entire second half in Tuesday's win over Charlotte due to a sprained ankle.||--||46-36|
|The Clippers will be perfectly content if they never see Luka Doncic again, as the All-Star scored 51 and 45 points, respectively, in consecutive matchups this week. The Clippers were able to win one of those, however, and they followed that up with a convincing win over the Warriors before losing to the Suns. The injury bug has been particularly fond of the Clippers this season, and that continued with Norman Powell suffering a broken bone in his foot. Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann have stepped up as the key offensive contributors with Powell, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard all out.||1||42-40|
|There's no telling when Ben Simmons will make his Brooklyn debut or when Kevin Durant will return, but at least things are finally heading in the right direction. The Nets' losing streak reached 11 games with losses to the Wizards and Heat to start the week, but they rattled off back-to-back wins over the Kings and Knicks, both without Kyrie Irving, to build some momentum. Newly acquired Seth Curry led the team with 21.5 points and 5.5 assists per game in the two wins.||2||44-38|
|Isn't basketball a funny thing? The Blazers go into full tank mode by trading CJ McCollum and Norman Powell, lose Nassir Little for the season with a shoulder injury, and then somehow rattle off four straight wins, including road victories over the Bucks and Grizzlies to close out the week. Go figure. Anfernee Simons looks ready to take McCollum's place as Portland's No. 2 scoring option when Lillard is healthy, averaging 30.3 points and 6.7 assists this week on scorching 18-for-38 3-point shooting, and Josh Hart has looked great since coming over from New Orleans, putting up 24 points per game on 52 percent 3-point shooting.||2||27-55|
|Even when the Lakers win, they find a way to lose. After looking pretty good in a close loss to the Warriors with the weight of the trade deadline off everyone's shoulders, the Lakers pulled out an impressive win over the Jazz on Wednesday. Unfortunately, it was impressive because it came mostly without Anthony Davis, who left the game with a nasty looking ankle sprain that could keep him out for an extended period. It's a shame, since the Lakers have looked good in their last two games, but hopefully the All-Star break will give Davis the rest he needs to recuperate.||2||33-49|
|The Wizards were able to pick up a couple wins this week, but also lost relatively winnable games against the Kings and Pacers. Kyle Kuzma has stepped up as the Wizards' best player after Bradley Beal's season-ending injury, averaging 21.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists this week on 37 percent 3-point shooting. A host of role players has stepped up as Washington awaits the debut of Kristaps Porzingis.||4||35-47|
|It was a good week for the Spurs, who beat the Hawks, Pelicans and Thunder with their only loss coming on the road to the Bulls. All-Star Dejounte Murray was at it again, averaging 25 points, 11.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game this week while committing just five total turnovers in the four games. Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and Lonnie Walker IV have all benefited from extra opportunity from the Spurs trading away Derrick White before the deadline.||5||34-48|
|The Pelicans only had one win this week, but it was a 30-point thrashing of a hot Raptors team. The New Orleans defense, which had been trending in the right direction recently, allowed over 120 points in losses to the Spurs and Grizzlies. CJ McCollum averaged 26 points, seven rebounds and 5.5 assists for the week on nearly 21 field goal attempts per game, while he continues to figure out the work-share alongside Brandon Ingram, who put up 16.3 points on 14 shots per game.||6||36-46|
|The Charlotte offense exploded in a win over Detroit to start the week, but the Hornets followed that up with consecutive losses to the Grizzlies and Wolves, making it eight losses in their last nine games. For a team with so many weapons, the offense has been brutal during the rough stretch outside of the Pistons game, while their defense has actually been decent. Montrezl Harrell came over before the trade deadline, and has averaged 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in his first three games.||5||43-39|
|The Knicks started off the week with an impressive win over the Warriors, but suffered bad losses to the Blazers, Thunder and a shell of a Nets team after leading by as many as 28 points. The Knicks became the first team in 25 years to lose three games in which they held at least a 20-point lead in the same month. Julius Randle has been producing through the Knicks' recent struggles, putting up 29.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game this week.||2||37-45|
|The Kings looked as if they might go undefeated with Domantas Sabonis after a win over the Wizards on Saturday, but things came crashing down with a 25-point beatdown at the hands of the star-less Nets, and that was followed by a loss to the Bulls on Wednesday. Sabonis averaged 15.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists for the week, while De'Aaron Fox seems to like his new teammate, putting up 28.3 points and 5.3 assists on 51 percent shooting this week.||2||30-52|
|Things haven't been going great for the new-look Pacers, but they were able to pick up a win over the Wizards on Wednesday to snap a seven-game losing streak. Deadline acquisition Tyrese Haliburton has looked every bit like the future franchise point guard they hope he will be, leading the team with 20.8 points and 11 assists per game this week while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range.||2||25-57|
|Detroit lost to the Grizzlies, Hornets and Wizards to start the week, then somehow managed to beat one of the hottest teams in the NBA in Wednesday's win over the Celtics. Jerami Grant, Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey all broke the 20-point barrier in the win, with Grant hitting the go-ahead basket in the closing seconds and Isaiah Stewart coming up with a key block down the stretch.||3||23-59|
|OKC went 1-3 this week, with its only win coming against the struggling Knicks in overtime. Rookie Josh Giddey continues to become the youngest in NBA history to do everything triple-double related, collecting three straight to close out the week against the Bulls, Knicks and Spurs. Giddey also scored a career-high 28 points in his first game at MSG in the Thunder win. He's certainly been a bright spot in another rebuilding season for Oklahoma City.||1||24-58|
|The Rockets lost handily to the Raptors and Jazz before nearly pulling off a shocking upset over the Suns on Wednesday without the services of Kevin Porter Jr. or Christian Wood. Eric Gordon had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but his attempt went wide left and Houston had to settle for a moral victory. Rookie Jalen Green had an efficient week, averaging 16 points on 47 percent 3-point shooting, and he'll enter Saturday's Slam Dunk Contest as the betting favorite.||--||20-62|
|Orlando lost to four pretty good teams this week, and none of the games were particularly close. Wendell Carter Jr. led the team in scoring and rebounding over the four games, averaging a double-double of 17.8 points and 10.5 rebounds. Cole Anthony added 16.8 points per game this week on 47 percent 3-point shooting.||5||22-60|