Winners of seven straight games, the Boston Celtics jump all the way up to No.1 in the updated NBA Power Rankings. The other major mover this week is Phoenix, who has climbed into the top 12.
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1. Boston Celtics
No Kyrie? No Horford? No problem. The Celtics are currently riding a seven-game winning streaking, thanks to impressive play from new addition Kemba Walker, along with crucial contributions from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. However, late in the first half of Boston’s 135-115 beatdown of San Antonio on Saturday, Gordon Hayward broke his left hand. Hayward will miss at least a month and could be forced to undergo surgery. Tough break for Hayward, who looked great early on this season.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers were riding a seven-game winning streak of their own heading into Sunday night before falling to the Raptors. Anthony Davis tallied 27 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, four blocks, two 3-pointers in Sunday’s loss, but did tweak his right shoulder in the process. Asked about his ailing shoulder after the game, Davis said: “There’s never a play I don’t feel it. But I’m going to go out there and play, I try not to let it affect my game. I just play through it and then worry about taking care of it after the game.”
3. Milwaukee Bucks
It’s rare that the most talented and physically gifted player on the court also is the most dedicated. Watching the type of effort Giannis Antetokounmpo plays with every night, you’d think he was a guy on a two-way contract fighting for his NBA life. Nope, he’s the reigning MVP and is averaging a mind-boggling 29.7 points (on 58.5% shooting), 14.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 blocks in just 33.1 minutes a night.
4. LA Clippers
Paul George (shoulders) will not play on Monday vs. Toronto. However, PG-13 went through a full practice this weekend, and it seems he is on the verge of his return. The Clips play a back-to-back set on Wednesday and Thursday, and it looks like a real possibility we get our first glimpse of George in a Los Angeles uniform in one of these two contests.
5. Toronto Raptors
The Raps lost Kawhi Leonard over the summer. On Friday, they saw Kyle Lowry (thumb) and Serge Ibaka (sprained right ankle) sustain injuries that prevented them from playing in a road game Sunday night in LA against a Lakers team that had won seven straight. After LeBron and company took a double-digit lead versus the undermanned Raptors, it seemed certain the Lakers would make it eight straight. Yet, the gritty, gutty Raps rallied back to notch a 113-104 victory.
6. Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic looked a bit sluggish early on this season, but he made big plays in big moments for the Nuggets last week. After knocking down a game-winner to sink the SIxers on Friday night, Jokic pulled off last-second magic once again in a win over the Wolves on Sunday.
7. Utah Jazz
The Jazz notched two very impressive wins last week, beating the two Eastern Conference powerhouses. On Wednesday, they squeaked past the Sixers, and on Friday they knocked off the Bucks. Utah has not allowed more than 105 points in a single game this season.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons (right shoulder) did not play on Sunday against the Hornets, but a team spokesman said over the weekend that Big Ben has been making progress. Furkan Korkmaz has provided a nice little, surprising spark for the Sixers of late. Over Philly’s last five games, Korkmaz is averaging 13.8 points, 3.0 triples and 2.7 rebounds in 25.4 minutes.
9. Miami Heat
After a blazing start to the season, the Heat came back down to earth last week, getting blown out by the Nuggets in Denver and the Lakers in LA. However, they did register an impressive victory over the Suns in Phoenix on Thursday.
10. Houston Rockets
After stumbling out of the gates, Houston took advantage an easy stretch of the schedule last week, beating up on the Grizzlies, Warriors, and Bulls. Rockets have another winnable game on Monday in New Orleans, before heading home to take on the Clippers.
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11. Dallas Mavericks
After losing to his former team Friday night in Dallas, Kristaps Porzingis will look for revenge this Thursday, when the Mavs travel to New York to take on the dysfunctional Knicks at MSG. The Garden crowd will be extremely fired up to boo their once-beloved unicorn. The game will be nationally televised on TNT.
12. Phoenix Suns
While a handful of losing teams have blamed roster turnover and unfamiliarity on a lack of early-season success, the Suns have seemingly debunked that theory. Four of the six players that have logged over 200 minutes for Phoenix in 2019-20 weren’t on the team last season. Who would have thought that three weeks into this season the Suns would have as many wins as the Nets and Warriors combined? (Especially after No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton got suspended.) Head coach Monty Williams deserves a ton of credit for getting the Suns performance thus far.
13. Indiana Pacers
Despite losing Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb and Goga Bitadze to injury, the Pacers won each of the final three games they played last week. Myles Turner (ankle) was able to get through some 4-on-4 work over the weekend, so he may return to action Tuesday night vs. OKC.
14. San Antonio Spurs
After winning three straight to start the season, the Spurs have lost four of their last six contests, including a blowout loss to the Celtics at home on Saturday. After a home game vs. the Grizz on Monday, San Antonio will play six of their next seven on the road.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves lost three of four last week, with their only win coming Friday, in overtime, against a shorthanded Warriors squad. On the bright side, Andrew Wiggins has posted solid numbers this season, averaging 24.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 46% from the floor.
16. Portland Trail Blazers
Portland had lost four in a row before outlasting the Hawks in overtime on Sunday. Now, the Blazers scuffling have to embark on a brutally tough stretch of the schedule. They play six of their next seven on the road, including trips to Houston, Milwaukee, and San Antonio. Their one home game is against the Raptors.
17. Brooklyn Nets
It was assumed the Nets would have a logjam at center this season with both DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen fighting for playing time. However, Nicolas Claxton has made the situation even more complicated through his impressive early-season play. Over the weekend, Spencer Dinwiddie called Claxton “the second-most talented player on this team. [First] is KD, either the first or second most talented scorer of all-time. But Nic’s got game. He’s got a chance [to be great].” Coach Kenny Atkinson also said he has to find a way to get Claxton more minutes.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC is just two games below .500, and has been competitive in nearly every game they’ve played this season. Unfortunately for the Thunder, each of their next five opponents is at least two games above .500. They play the Pacers, Sixers and the Lakers (twice).
19. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks received awful news last week when the league announced that John Collins had been suspended for 25 games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2. Collins is working with the player’s union to appeal the suspension, but it’s doubtful it gets overturned.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers
Collin Sexton looked fantastic offensively on Sunday night, powering the Cavs to a whipping of the Knicks at MSG. Sexton converted ten of his16 FG attempts and poured in a season-high 31 points with five 3-pointers, three assists, two rebounds and one steal in 30 minutes. His shot selection can be frustrating, but Sexton is making over 42% of his 3-pointers this season.
21. Sacramento Kings
After playing horribly during their 0-5 start to the season, the Kings have righted the ship. Sacramento has now won three of their last four and will look to build on that momentum this week, as three of their next four games are at home.
22. Detroit Pistons
Blake Griffin (knee, hamstring) practiced on Sunday and told reporters that he plans on playing Monday night vs. the Timberwolves. Last season, Griffin became just the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 7.5 boards, 5.4 assists and 2.5 made 3-pointers per game.
23. Charlotte Hornets
Who needs Kemba Walker when you’ve got Devonte’ Graham!? The former Kentucky Wildcat has exploded out of the gates this season, and remained red-hot this weekend. Graham is one of only three players averaging at least 17 points, seven dimes, 3.5 rebounds and three made triples per game. The other two are James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
24. Orlando Magic
The Magic have yet to win a road game this season (0-4). In fact, their only victories have been home games vs. the Cavs, Grizzlies and lowly Knicks.
25. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls did hold Lauri Markkanen out of the contact portion of Monday’s practice due to a sore oblique, but Markkanen will play on Tuesday vs. the Knicks. Unfortunately, Otto Porter Jr. (left foot sprain) has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s matchup against New York.
26. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pels have been unable to string together wins, but their 2-7 record can’t be pinned on Brandon Ingram. Through New Orleans’ first nine games, Ingram is 25.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.9 dimes and 2.6 trifectas, while shooting 53.7% from the floor and 46.9% from downtown.
27. Washington Wizards
It’s not just that the Wiz have lost five of their last six games, it’s that they have been noncompetitive recently. Washington’s past three losses have all been by at least 13 points.
28. Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green has missed each of the Warriors’ last five games due to a left index finger injury but told reporters after Monday’s shootaround that he plans to play Monday night vs. the Jazz.
29. Memphis Grizzlies
After logging 26 minutes in Friday’s loss to Orlando, Ja Morant sat out Saturday’s game, which was the second night of the first back-to-back of the season. Coming into the season, coach Taylor Jenkins and the Grizzlies made it known that limiting Morant’s minutes early on would be a priority. Morant is currently averaging 27.5 minutes per game.
30. New York Knicks
Things have gone from bad to worse for New York. The Knicks were embarrassed Sunday night by the Cavs. After the game, GM Scott Perry and president Steve Mills took the unusual step of addressing the media. Then, on Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Mills “had started to lay the internal groundwork for the eventual dismissal of coach David Fizdale.”