It was just one game, but it appears Joel Embiid is tired of being disrespected. The 76ers star been vocal about losing out on NBA MVP honors to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in each of the past two seasons. Then, on Thursday, Embiid was the odd man out when Eastern Conference All-Star starters were named. Perhaps releasing a bit of frustration, the big man dropped 47 points and 18 rebounds on Saturday as his Sixers beat Jokic's Nuggets to earn their seventh straight victory.
An extra prize for Embiid is that the win helped earn the 76ers the top spot in this week's NBA Power Rankings, dethroning the Boston Celtics, who fell prey to the Power Rankings Curse in a 1-3 week. The biggest risers this week were the Los Angeles Clippers, who moved into the top five and are finally starting to play like the preseason favorite many pegged them as.
Moving up five spots into the top 10 are the New York Knicks, who beat two of the Eastern Conference's best teams this week, while the steepest fallers were the Atlanta Hawks due to a couple losses and strong performances from the teams that were below them last week.
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With the trade deadline and the All-Star break rapidly approaching, here are this week's NBA Power Rankings.
*Please keep in mind that our NBA Power Rankings are based on weekly performance, not the whole season.
|Message received. The 76ers have announced themselves as legitimate title contenders with seven straight wins, including an impressive comeback performance against the Nuggets on Saturday during "rivalry week" (sure, we'll go with it). Joel Embiid was absolutely dominant against Nikola Jokic, notching 47 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and three steals before saying this is the best and deepest Sixers team he's been a part of.||2||49-25|
|Here come the Bucks, who won four straight games this week, including explosive scoring efforts of 141 and 150 points -- impressive for a team that's struggled offensively for most of the season. Khris Middleton still isn't playing much, but has looked more like his old self and has clearly made an impact, putting up 17 points in fewer than 15 minutes in Friday's win over Indiana.||6||53-21|
|Nikola Jokic capped off yet another triple-double with a game-winning floater to beat the Pelicans on Tuesday, but the Nuggets followed that up with consecutive losses to two of the East's best in the Bucks and 76ers. Denver's offense struggled this week, for a change, limping to just 107.8 points per 100 possessions.||1||50-24|
|The Power Rankings Curse is in full effect, as last week's No. 1 lost three straight games to start the week and likely would have lost a fourth were it not for a blatant foul by Jayson Tatum on LeBron James going uncalled in the final seconds against the Lakers. Marcus Smart missed all four games this week, while Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams took turns on the sideline, so we'll chalk up Boston's rough week to the absences.||3||52-23|
|The Clippers extended their winning streak to five games with victories over the Lakers, Spurs and Hawks to start the week, but then they did what the Clippers do and sat their whole team in a loss to Cleveland on Sunday. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George each averaged 28 points in their three games this week, while the Clippers outscored opponents by an insane 22.9 points per 100 possessions when those two were on the floor together.||7||39-36|
|The Cavs beat the Rockets and a shell of a Clippers team this week, while taking road losses to the Knicks and Thunder. Donovan Mitchell returned on Sunday after missing five of the previous six games, putting up 11 points in 20 minutes. No stranger to orchestrating the offense, Darius Garland averaged 23.8 points and 9.5 assists this week on 48 percent 3-point shooting.||1||48-28|
|A 33-point win over the Grizzlies got the Kings' week off to a beaming start, but they followed that up by dropping games to the Raptors and Wolves. The offense was uncharacteristically inefficient in the losses, managing just 106.8 points per 100 possessions.||3||45-29|
|The Grizzlies' losing streak reached five after dropping games to the Kings, Warriors and Wolves to start the week, and it looked like it might be six after falling behind by 19 to the Pacers at home on Sunday. But Ja Morant (27 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (28 points, eight rebounds, five LEGITIMATE blocks) aided the comeback to stop the bleeding.||3||47-27|
|Despite the best efforts of Kyrie Irving, who averaged 34 points and 8.3 assists this week on 45 percent 3-point shooting, the Nets continue to struggle without Kevin Durant. They were able to come up with a win over the Knicks on Saturday, however, behind 21 fourth-quarter points from Irving.||3||40-35|
|The Knicks picked up impressive wins over the Cavs and Celtics to start the week before losing to the Nets on Saturday. Julius Randle is on one of his hot streaks, averaging 30.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in the three games on 45 percent 3-point shooting.||5||42-33|
|The Heat extended their winning streak to three games with victories over the Celtics (without Jimmy Butler) and the Magic to start the week, but suffered a disappointing road loss to the Hornets on Sunday. Butler averaged 28.5 points in the last two games on 21-for-31 shooting, while Bam Adebayo put up 22.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game for the week.||--||40-35|
|The Wolves beat three of the best teams in the Western Conference this week, and they also lost to the Rockets. Go figure. The defense was the story, allowing just 105.9 points per 100 possessions in the four games -- not exactly a coincidence with Rudy Gobert returning to the lineup. On the other end, Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell have both been on fire, combining to average over 54 points and 12 assists per game on 52 percent 3-point shooting.||1||38-37|
|The Suns were set up for an undefeated week, but they couldn't exorcise their demons against the Mavericks, even with Luka Doncic exiting early in the first quarter. Outside of that blip Phoenix has been playing better, with Chris Paul getting right back into the swing of things. He averaged 22.3 points this week on 60 percent shooting with an absurdly efficient 32-to-3 assist-to-turnover ratio.||1||39-35|
|The Warriors have been trying to build momentum all season, and they may have finally gotten the ball rolling with their first consecutive wins of 2023 over the Grizzlies and Raptors. Steve Kerr said that Steph Curry looked like he had his "pop" back after a masterful 35-point, 11-assist, seven-rebound performance against Toronto.||6||39-37|
|The Hawks lost to the Bulls and Clippers this week, with a solid road win over the Thunder in between. Trae Young averaged 28.3 points and 11.3 assists in the three games, but also committed 5.3 turnovers per game and shot just 23 percent from 3-point range.||6||37-38|
|OKC had two home games this week, losing to the Hawks before beating the Cavs. The defense, which has been strong of late, had an uncharacteristic blip in allowing 137 points to Atlanta, but it got back on track by holding Cleveland to 100 points on Friday.||6||37-38|
|Utah beat the Hornets and Mavs at home this week, with a road loss to Portland in between. Lauri Markkanen has an open-and-shut All-Star case, averaging 26 points and 6.7 rebounds this week on 52/50/83 shooting splits.||--||35-39|
|Despite the absence of Kristaps Porzingis, the Wizards rattled off wins over the Mavericks, Rockets and Pelicans for a perfect week. Kyle Kuzma always relishes extra offensive opportunity, putting up 24.3 points per game, while Daniel Gafford filled in admirably in the middle with averages of 13 points, nine rebounds and 3.3 blocks.||6||33-42|
|The Mavs showed some serious grit taking down the Suns on the road with Luka Doncic exiting the game after just three minutes. They couldn't keep the non-Luka magic going, however, in a loss to the Jazz on Saturday. Spencer Dinwiddie took the reins of the offense with Doncic out, averaging 35.5 points, 8.5 assists and five rebounds on 11-for-17 3-point shooting in the two games.||1||36-39|
|If you're looking at silver linings, you can ignore the Pelicans' 0-4 week and take the positive news that Brandon Ingram played for the first time since Thanksgiving, averaging 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in losses to the Wolves and Wizards. He also showed some rust, going 12 for 40 from the field and putting up more turnovers than assists, but New Orleans is ecstatic to see him back in the lineup.||4||37-37|
|The Raptors picked up solid road wins over the Kings and Blazers this week, with a loss to the Warriors in between. Precious Achiuwa has done an excellent job filling in, averaging 21 points and 9.7 rebounds on 70 percent shooting in the three games.||1||37-38|
|The Blazers beat the Spurs and Jazz to start the week, but failed to take advantage of a Raptors team on a back-to-back on Saturday in Portland. All Damian Lillard did was put up 60 points on 29 shots in the win over Utah, while averaging 42.3 for the week on 51 percent 3-point shooting.||1||32-42|
|Two steps forward, two steps back for the Bulls, who beat the Hawks and Magic this week but also lost to the undermanned Pacers and the struggling Hornets. Even in the losses, the defense looked good this week, allowing just 108.5 points per 100 possessions.||2||36-38|
|Thanks to the non-call heard round the world in an eventual overtime loss to the Celtics, the Lakers came away with only one win this week. Big picture-wise, Anthony Davis made his return to the court and looked just slightly rusty, averaging 18.5 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks on 43 percent shooting in two games.||5||37-38|
|The Pacers finally got a win without Tyrese Haliburton, beating the Bulls on Tuesday, but things went back down the tubes with consecutive losses to the Magic, Bucks and Grizzlies. On a positive note, Indiana locked up big man Myles Turner on what seems like a fair extension, ending rampant trade speculation (for now, at least).||--||33-42|
|Orlando kept up its inexplicable dominance in a win over the Celtics last Monday, while finishing 2-2 for the week. The huge news is that Jonathan Isaac took the court for the first time since the 2020 bubble and was relatively productive, averaging 6.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals in nine minutes per game.||--||32-43|
|You start to get healthy and boom, look what happens. The Hornets won consecutive games against the Bulls and Heat with a relatively full roster, as Gordon Hayward became the first player in franchise history to score at least 20 points without missing a single shot (field goals, 3-pointers and free throws) against Miami on Sunday.||--||25-51|
|A two-win week is always reason to celebrate for the Rockets, whose improbable victory over the Pistons on Saturday came without Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Alperen Sengun as an animated John Lucas coached from the sideline. Sengun continues to be the offensive engine, averaging 18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and eight assists on 63 percent shooting in three games this week.||2||18-57|
|The Pistons scored 130 points in back-to-back games this week, including a win over the Nets, but followed that up with a horrific loss to the Rockets without their three best offensive players. Detroit allowed 122 points per 100 possessions in the three games.||--||16-58|
|The Spurs lost all four games this week by at least nine points, but they took the Suns to overtime in a valiant effort on Saturday. Their net rating in the four games was an ugly minus-18.7.||2||19-56|