It seems like, this season more than ever, teams are really looking forward to the All-Star break. Postponements, a compacted schedule and the toll of following health and safety protocols on a daily basis have led to mental and physical fatigue from players and coaches across the league.
As we head into the break, the Utah Jazz show no signs of slowing. They lost a game this week to the Miami Heat, but that wasn't enough to knock them out of the top spot. Speaking of the Heat, it would be a cliché to say they're on fire, so I won't, but they've won six games in a row and are rapidly shooting up the Power Rankings. They weren't the biggest riser this week, however, as that honor goes to none other than the New York Knicks, who have won four of their last five games.
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On the other side we have the Orlando Magic, who fell eight spots after a rough week, and now find themselves among the league's bottom-dwellers. But that's the good thing about the Power Rankings -- it just takes one good week to make a rapid ascent. Here are the final NBA Power Rankings before the All-Star break, which begins on Friday.
*Keep in mind that our Power Rankings are based on the team's performance the previous week, not the entire season.
|The Jazz lost a game for the second consecutive week -- time to blow the whole thing up. Sarcasm aside, Utah played well in its road loss to the surging Heat, and probably could have pulled out the win were it not for a rough shooting performance from Donovan Mitchell. Mike Conley has been solid since returning from his hamstring injury, averaging 14.3 points and 6.7 assists on 46 percent 3-point shooting in three games this week, while Joe Ingles has been on fire, shooting 54 percent from deep in four games. Despite the loss, the Jazz remain the league's best team at the moment.||--||49-33|
|The Nets ran their winning streak to eight games before losing to the Mavs on Saturday without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Brooklyn has put up a solid 108.7 defensive rating over their last nine games, and if this team is going to play even moderate defense to go with its offensive firepower, it might be lights out for the rest of the East. James Harden averaged 26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for the week, while Bruce Brown has stepped up in Durant's absence with 18.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in the three games.||--||44-38|
|The Bucks extended their winning streak to five games with three more wins this week, including an impressive performance against the Clippers on Sunday. Giannis Antetokounmpo took over down the stretch in that game, and averaged 37 points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists for the week. Khris Middleton added 21.7 points on 47 percent 3-point shooting, while Jrue Holiday returned to the lineup on Sunday after a 10-game absence. Milwaukee has put together a nice run to close out the first half.||6||51-31|
|Not all losses are created equal. The Clippers' 28-point loss to the Grizzlies was a much tougher blow than the hard-fought battle with the Bucks on Sunday, but it still results in a 2-2 week. Kawhi Leonard averaged 26 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 39 percent 3-point shooting, but the Clippers' lack of shot creation in the final minutes of the Milwaukee game brought up shades of last season's playoff nightmare. It makes you wonder if the Clippers will be on the lookout for another ball-handler in the trade or buyout market.||1||42-40|
|A home loss to the Hornets was the only blemish on the Suns' record this week, with wins over the Blazers, Bulls and Wolves. Devin Booker dropped a season-high 43 points in Sunday's win over Minnesota, while Chris Paul averaged 11.8 points and 12.3 assists for the week. Phoenix continues to show its defensive toughness, putting up a stingy 105 defensive rating for the week.||1||64-18|
|LeBron James' teams don't lose four games in a row very often, and the Lakers responded with impressive wins over the Blazers and Warriors to close out the week. LeBron has struggled from 3-point range after a torrid start to the season, but still averaged 24.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and seven assists this week, while Dennis Schroder returned to give the Lakers a much-needed offensive boost, averaging 17 points and four assists in their two wins. The All-Star break can't come soon enough for the Lakers, who need to rest and regroup with Anthony Davis expected to miss at least another three weeks.||1||33-49|
|After starting off the week with big wins over the Raptors and Mavericks, the 76ers were reminded how important Tobias Harris is to their offense in an overtime loss to the Cavs. Joel Embiid, who had a relatively rough week with 38 percent field goal shooting, scored 42 in the loss to Cleveland, while Ben Simmons added 24. They just didn't get enough help from the supporting cast with Harris out of the mix. Luckily for Philly, Harris' absence isn't expected to be very long.||1||51-31|
|Here they come. We knew it was only a matter of time, but the Heat are making their move with six straight wins -- including a big one over the league's top-ranked Jazz this week -- to pull to .500 for the first time since they were 4-4. Even more impressive, Miami has been winning without its full complement of players, as Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler have all been out at various times. Butler averaged 25 points, nine assists and 7.3 rebounds in three games this week, while Bam Adebayo remains an anchor on both ends, putting up 18.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists.||7||53-29|
|The Warriors won three straight games for the first time all season, and then were completely embarrassed by the Lakers on national TV on Sunday. Draymond Green dished out a career-high 19 assists in the win over Charlotte, and averaged 10 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in three wins this week before being forced to leave early against the Lakers with an ankle injury. Despite being in a "shooting slump," Stephen Curry averaged 26.5 points and 7.5 assists for the week.||3||53-29|
|The Mavs lost to the 76ers without Kristaps Porzingis, but beat the Celtics and Nets to make it seven wins in their last nine games. Luka Doncic has been great, as usual, but Jalen Brunson -- averaging 16.5 points on 53 percent 3-point shooting this week -- has really stepped up as the primary playmaker with Doncic on the bench. Porzingis returned in Saturday's win over the Nets, putting up 18 points and three blocks.||4||52-30|
|Despite losing to the Wizards after "the fast break heard 'round the world," the Nuggets had a good week with wins over the Blazers and Thunder despite being without Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and JaMychal Green for all three games. PJ Dozier returned on Saturday to give them slightly more depth, but it's going to be hard to truly judge Denver until it has a full roster. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were unstoppable this week, each averaging 28 points on better than 50 percent shooting from 3-point range.||2||48-34|
|Overachievers for the past couple of weeks, the Blazers might finally be running out of gas. They lost tough road games to the Suns, Nuggets and Lakers this week, as Damian Lillard did his best to will his team to victory with 28 points and nine assists per game. Portland simply couldn't get stops against three good teams, and its offense couldn't keep pace.||6||27-55|
|If the playoffs started today, the Knicks would have home-court advantage in the first round. This is not a drill, people. They're also just a game and a half ahead of the 10th seed, but there's been enough pessimism in New York for the past decade -- let's just enjoy this. Derrick Rose was solid filling in as a starter for the injured Elfrid Payton, averaging 16.3 points and 7.5 assists on 58 percent 3-point shooting this week, while Julius Randle continues his All-Star season, putting up 24.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists over the four games.||8||37-45|
|Toronto lost to the 76ers and Heat to start the week before having its coaching staff decimated by health and safety protocols. Pascal Siakam was also held out of Friday's win over the Rockets before Sunday's matchup with the Bulls was postponed due to not having enough available players. This is a rough bump in the road for a team that looked like it was starting to put things together. On the bright side, Kyle Lowry was phenomenal in two games this week after returning from a thumb injury, averaging 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists on 8-for-12 3-point shooting.||7||48-34|
|Following nine days off and four postponed games, the Spurs returned to the court this week, still without several key players. They lost a close game to the Thunder, then held on to beat the Pelicans behind Dejounte Murray, who averaged 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game on 40 percent 3-point shooting. DeMar DeRozan was dominant in Saturday's win over New Orleans, putting up 32 points and 11 assists in his first game back since the death of his father.||5||34-48|
|A blowout loss to the Hawks may have been a wake-up call of sorts, as the Celtics played with much better purpose in wins over the Pacers and Wizards to close out the week. Kemba Walker has returned to form, averaging 24.7 points on 39 percent 3-point shooting in three games this week, while Jayson Tatum finally broke out of his shooting funk with a 12-for-22 performance, including the game-winner, in Sunday's win over Washington. Brad Stevens said the final four games before the All-Star break were "pivotal" for his team -- two down, two to go.||5||51-31|
|Charlotte picked up one of its biggest wins of the season against the Suns on Wednesday, and Malik Monk's and-one with 1.4 seconds left gave them a miracle win over Sacramento on Sunday after trailing by eight with 34 seconds left. Terry Rozier cooled off, but Monk stepped up, averaging 23.8 points on 38.9 percent 3-point shooting this week, while LaMelo Ball averaged 21.8 points, 7.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds. PJ Washington went off for a career-high 42 points in the win over the Kings, including a clutch 3-pointer with 17 seconds left.||--||43-39|
|It seems like the Grizzlies go 2-2 every week, which would explain their .500 record. They stunned the Clippers with a 28-point win on Thursday, but L.A. got its revenge the following night. Memphis also lost to the Mavs and crushed the Rockets by 49 points on Sunday to cap off an eventful week. Jonas Valanciunas put up 13.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game while Ja Morant continues to struggle from the field. Justise Winslow got loose in the blowout win over Houston, scoring 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting in 21 minutes.||1||56-26|
|The Pacers had nearly a week off due to postponed games, and they returned with close losses to to the Warriors, Celtics and Knicks. Domantas Sabonis averaged 20.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game, but overall the offense struggled to keep pace. Malcolm Brogdon missed Saturday's loss in New York with right knee soreness, and TJ McConnell gave an iron-man effort in his place, putting up 17 points, 12 assists and six rebounds in 46 minutes.||3||25-57|
|The Wizards navigated a rare five-game week with aplomb, beating the Lakers and Nuggets before nearly toppling the Celtics on Sunday. They also took down the Wolves and lost to the Clippers, so all in all things are looking up for Washington after a dismal start. Russell Westbrook is starting to find his bearings, averaging 22.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and nine assists this week, while Bradley Beal was nearly unguardable while putting up 34.8 points and 5.6 assists per game on 52 percent shooting.||2||35-47|
|The Bulls beat the Rockets and won an overtime game against the Wolves before losing to the Suns on Friday, then Sunday's game against the Raptors was postponed due to health and safety protocols. Zach LaVine celebrated his All-Star selection with 26.7 points per game on scorching 59 percent 3-point shooting, while Coby White added 21 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The Bulls are in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff jumble from No. 4 to No. 12.||2||46-36|
|After losing 10 straight games, Cleveland rattled off consecutive wins over the Hawks, Rockets and 76ers behind 26.7 points per game from Collin Sexton on 39 percent 3-point shooting. Jarrett Allen has been a monster since getting the full-time starting role, putting up 17.7 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks per game this week. Rookie Isaac Okoro was instrumental in the win over Philly on Saturday, posting 15 points, eight rebounds and three steals.||7||44-38|
|Defense continues to be a serious issue for the Pelicans, who beat the Pistons this week before losing to the Bucks and the short-handed Spurs. Zion Williamson averaged nearly 30 points and 10 rebounds per game this week on 61 percent shooting while Brandon Ingram added 26.3 per game, but none of that matters if they're going to allow over 120 points per 100 possessions.||5||36-46|
|The Hawks absolutely destroyed the Celtics, but teams with playoff aspirations can't lose to the Cavs and Thunder. Trae Young is mired in another shooting slump, going just 37 percent from the field this week, while John Collins continued his excellent season with averages of 21.5 points and eight rebounds on 47 percent 3-point shooting. Danilo Gallinari put on one of the best shooting displays you'll ever see in the win over Boston, going 10 for 12 from 3-point range en route to 38 points in 33 minutes. Unfortunately for Atlanta, he's missed 10 straight 3s since that game.||--||43-39|
|OKC beat the Hawks and the short-handed Spurs this week, while losing to the Heat and Nuggets. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his tremendous season with 26.5 points and 4.8 assists per game this week on 48 percent 3-point shooting, but he just doesn't have enough consistent help offensively with Al Horford in and out of the lineup. Still, this team remains competitive on a near-nightly basis, which has resulted in more wins than many expected.||--||24-58|
|The Kings snapped their nine-game losing streak with a win over the Pistons on Friday and were on the verge of winning two in a row when disaster struck. Sacramento coughed up an eight-point lead with 34 seconds remaining in Sunday's matchup with the Hornets, and eventually lost on Malik Monk's and-one with 1.4 seconds left. The Kings have been losing a lot lately, but this last one could be even more painful than the blowouts.||--||30-52|
|The Pistons are splitting their point guard duties between second-round pick Saben Lee and Dennis Smith Jr., who begged to go to the G League just to get some playing time before he was traded from the Knicks. The results have been expected, with three losses in four games this week. Jerami Grant put up 22.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in three games, while Smith has started to find his footing with averages of 12.3 points and 4.5 assists on 40 percent 3-point shooting as the starter.||--||23-59|
|Rough week for the Magic, who lost to the Pistons and were unable to keep pace with potent Nets and Jazz offenses. Scoring has been a struggle all season long for Orlando, and a 98 offensive rating this week just isn't going to cut it. All-Star Nikola Vucevic continues to do all he can, averaging 27.3 points and 9.7 rebounds on 45.5 percent 3-point shooting this week, but unless Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross catch fire, they're going to have a tough time winning.||8||22-60|
|Things are starting to get ugly in Houston. The Rockets dropped all four games this week by double digits, including the eighth-worst home loss in NBA history -- a 49-point drubbing at the hands of the Grizzlies on Sunday. With Christian Wood injured, DeMarcus Cousins gone and Victor Oladipo in and out of the lineup, this team has struggled offensively for nearly the entirety of its 11-game losing streak, which has caused the defensive effort to wane.||1||20-62|
|The Chris Finch Era is off to an inauspicious start, as the Wolves dropped his first four games this week to the Bucks, Bulls, Wizards and Suns. Karl-Anthony Towns was solid, averaging 23.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, but he just has very little help with D'Angelo Russell injured and Malik Beasley serving a 12-game suspension. Rookie Anthony Edwards averaged 18.8 points per game this week, but shot just 35 percent from the field.||--||46-36|