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NBA Power Rankings: Week 17

Monday, February 5, 2018


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1. Houston Rockets:
The Rockets have won four straight and are 11-2 since January 8th. Their two most recent wins were at San Antonio on Thursday and then a thorough thrashing of the Cavs on national TV Saturday night in Cleveland. The potent tag-team of James Harden and Chris Paul has been firing on all cylinders.


2. Golden State Warriors:
The Warriors lost two of the three games they played last week and seem to be running on fumes. “It's painfully obvious that our guys are mentally fried right now," said coach Steve Kerr on Saturday. "Guys are dying to get to the All-Star break. We're limping to the finish line of the All-Star break. But we've got to fight through it to the break and then we need to get the hell away from each other and go sit on a beach and relax and then we'll be in great shape."

 

3. Boston Celtics:
Kyrie Irving (right quad contusion) missed his third straight game Sunday vs. Portland. However, the Celtics beat the Blazers on an Al Horford buzzer-beater and, fortunately, the C’s are calling Irving day-to-day. "He feels a lot better," coach Brad Stevens said of Irving on Sunday before the Portland game. "He had a pretty good workout this morning." Boston’s next game is Tuesday in Toronto.


4. Toronto Raptors:
Despite the fact that none of the Raptors starting five scored more than 13 points, Toronto still managed to beat the Grizzlies by 15 on Sunday, 101-86. The Raps three point guards, Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet each scored in double-figures, with Wright tallying a team-high 15 points off the bench. Both Toronto backups could start at point guard for multiple teams in the league.

 

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5. Minnesota Timberwolves:
Minnesota has won 12 straight games at home. It’s the franchise’s longest home winning streak since the Wolves won 14 straight back in 2003-04. Jimmy Butler is averaging 26.8 points (on 51.5 percent shooting), 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 dimes, and 1.0 steal over Minnesota’s last four games.


6. San Antonio Spurs:
The Spurs are just 4-5 over their last nine games and are about to embark on a brutal six-game road trip. Then, after three games at home, San Antonio hits the road again in early March, traveling to Golden State, OKC and Houston in succession.


7. Oklahoma City Thunder:
Last week at this time, the Thunder were riding high on a league-leading eight-game win streak. However, OKC dropped back down to earth, losing all four games they played last week, including a disappointing loss to the Lakers at home on Sunday.


8. Washington Wizards:
When it was announced John Wall would miss 6-8 weeks after undergoing knee surgery, it was assumed the Wizards would struggle without their playmaking point guard. However, Washington is a perfect 4-0 in the four games Wall has missed. They’ve also given some interesting, curious quotes about playing without Wall. After Saturday’s win over Orlando, Bradley told reporters: “We weren't playing our style of basketball early in the season, and over the course of the last four games, we've figured it out. We're moving the ball and playing really well."

 

9. Milwaukee Bucks:
With their win over the Nets on Super Bowl Sunday, the Bucks improved to 5-1 in the six games since they fired Jason Kidd and replaced him with Joe Prunty. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo twisted his right ankle with seven minutes remaining in the victory over the Brooklyn. Fortunately, Antetokounmpo said he could have returned to Sunday's game if necessary. "I’ve twisted it twice in the last five games but I just gotta play through it." The Bucks next game is Tuesday vs. New York.


10. Cleveland Cavs:
Where do we begin with Cleveland? If Saturday’s embarrassing blowout to Houston wasn’t rock bottom, it’s scary to think what rock bottom will look like. The Cavs are just 6-12 over their last 18 games. They have lost eight straight games on national TV and, since beating the Celtics on opening night, Cleveland is 0-8 versus the top seven teams in the league. They’ve allowed 120-plus points six times over the last month. Will a trade at the deadline resuscitate their season?


11. Portland Trail Blazers:
Portland had won four in a row before losing a heartbreaker to the Celtics in Boston on Sunday afternoon. The Blazers had scored at least 100 points in 17 straight games before the Celts held them to 96.


12. Denver Nuggets:
The Nuggets have won five of their previous seven, and their last two victories were dramatic wins over the Thunder and the Warriors. The trio of Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray are all playing at very high level. Denver is a team that the top seeds out West would likely prefer to avoid in the first round.


13. Miami Heat:
Dating back to January 17th of last season, when the Heat began a 13-game winning streak, the Heat are 59-34. That’s the fifth-best record in the league over that timespan.


14. Indiana Pacers:
The Pacers have won four of their last five games and six straight at home. Banking these mid-season victories are essential, as the Eastern Conference playoff picture could be crowded come April. Currently, the five through nine seeds in the East are separated by just 3.5 games.


15. Philadelphia 76ers:
The Sixers have lost four of their last five games, with all four losses coming on the road. However, the schedule lightens up for Philly going forward. Philadelphia will play each of their next five games at home and don’t play another road game until after the All-Star break.


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