Despite having to overcome a ridiculous rash of injuries, the Raptors have won 11 consecutive contests and jump all the way up into the top-3 in this week's updated NBA Power Rankings.
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1. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks had their nine-game winning streak snapped Friday vs. the Nuggets, but bounced right back and whipped up on the Suns on Sunday. During this current ten-game stretch, the Bucks are outscoring their opponents by a whopping 13.2 points per 100 possessions.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Over the first 16 seasons of his illustrious NBA career, LeBron James never recorded more than ten triple-doubles prior to the All-Start break. Welp, in Saturday's victory over the Kings, King James tallied his 11th triple-double of the season, finishing with 15 points, ten rebounds and 11 assists in 34 minutes.
3. Toronto Raptors
Through their first 50 games last season, the Raptors were 36-14. As we know, they went on to win a title before losing Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard via free agency. Incredibly through their first 50 games this season, the Raps have the same record, despite losing Leonard and dealing with a ridiculous rash of injuries. The entire organization, from the front office down to the coach and players, deserve a ton of credit.
4. LA Clippers
Kawhi Leonard (lower back tightness), who was a late scratch Thursday, returned from a one-game absence on Saturday and racked up 31 points, six rebounds, four assists and four 3-pointers in just 24 minutes. Saturday was only the second time all season LA has had their entire 10-man rotation fully healthy. (The other time was Christmas Day against the Lakers.) Kawhi has now scored 30+ points in nine straight games, which is the longest streak of his career. The Clippers all-time franchise record is 11 consecutive contests, held by World B. Free.
5. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets played the Bucks, Jazz, Grizzlies and Pistons last week. Unpredictable as ever, they beat both the Bucks (in Milwaukee) and the Jazz, but lost to the Grizz and the Pistons. On Sunday, Denver was forced to play without Paul Millsap (left knee), Jamal Murray (left ankle) and Mason Plumlee (right foot), and Michael Porter Jr. (ankle).
6. Boston Celtics
Despite playing without injured PG Kemba Walker, the Celtics spanked the Sixers on Saturday, 116-95. Jaylen Brown scored a game-high 32 points to go along with nine rebounds, two steals and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes. Jayson Tatum chipped in 25 points. Boston has now won six of their last seven games.
7. Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo had an inefficient offensive game on Saturday, missing seven of his eight field-goal attempts for four points. However, he was still a game-high plus+14 for Miami in the Heat's 102-89 victory over Orlando. Bam's all-around production in that contest (stuffing the stat sheet with 14 rebounds, five assists, three steals and four blocks in 38 minutes) perfectly highlighted why he was named to his first All-Star team this season.
8. Houston Rockets
The Rockets registered a much-needed win over the Pelicans on Sunday afternoon; however, Russell Westbrook left the arena with his left thumb "heavily wrapped." Russ is listed as doubtful Tuesday's game vs. the Hornets. Houston is reportedly seriously shopping starting center Clint Capela.
9. Utah Jazz
Utah was red hot last Monday, but then lost all four games they played last week. On Saturday, Mike Conley replaced Royce O'Neal in the starting lineup. It's worth noting that the Jazz have outscored their opponents by 10.1 points per 100 possessions this season when Royce O'Neal is on the floor. In contrast, the Jazz have been outscored by their opponents by 5.0 points per 100 possessions this season when Mike Conley is on the floor.
10. Indiana Pacers
Remarkably, Saturday night's game vs. the Knicks was the first time all season the injury report was empty, and each Pacer player was available for the contest, including Victor Oladipo, who made his 2019-20 debut on Wednesday. Yet, somehow, Indiana lost to New York at home on Saturday evening.
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11. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC has been one of the league's most pleasant surprises this season, vastly exceeded expectations as they find themselves ten games above .500 now 50 games into the 2019-20 campaign. It will be fascinating to see if they are buyers or sellers at the deadline. According to ESPN's Zach Lowe, the Heat have expressed interest in Danilo Gallinari.
12. Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were both named to the 2020 All-Star team last week. They are the first pair of Philadelphia teammates to make the All-Star Game in consecutive seasons since Charles Barkley and Mo Cheeks in 1987 and 1988.
13. Dallas Mavericks
With Luka Doncic expected to miss at least five more games due to a right ankle sprain, the Mavs will try to tread water this week. Dallas is 3-3 without him in the lineup this season, including Saturday's victory over the Hawks, in which they played without Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis (knee/rest). However, KP isn't on the Mavs' injury report for Monday's game vs. Indiana and is expected to suit up.
14. Memphis Grizzlies
Prior to Saturday's loss to the Pelicans, Dillion Brooks had scored 20+ points in four straight games, which means the Grizz won all four contests, of course. Brooks has now scored at least 20 points 18 times this season, and Memphis is 17-1 in those 18 games.
15. Portland Trail Blazers
Hmmm, which Blazer should we highlight here? Over the Blazers' last six games, Damian Lillard is averaging a mind-boggling 48.8 points, 10.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 8.2 made 3-pointers while shooting 55% from the floor, 57% from downtown and 92% from the free-throw stripe.
16. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs won both games they played last week, including an impressive victory over the Jazz. However, the Spurs embark on a brutal eight-game "rodeo" road trip, beginning with a cruel back-to-back in LA vs. the Clippers and Lakers on Monday and Tuesday.
17. Brooklyn Nets
Kyrie Irving went down in what looked like a potentially serious injury on Saturday night. Fortunately, the Nets announced that an MRI done Sunday morning on Irving's right knee confirmed the initial diagnosis of a medial ligament sprain. Irving will be re-evaluated in a week. Kyrie will be miss at least three games, but it certainly wouldn't be surprising if Brooklyn decided to sit him out through the All-Star break. They are going to need him in the second half.
18. New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson logged a career-high 33 minutes on Sunday, finishing with 21 points and ten boards on 8-of-14 shooting. Zion has shot above 50% from the field in all six games he appeared in and has converted 61.5% of his FG attempts this season.
19. Orlando Magic
The Magic had four days off to prepare for the Heat, but still fell to Miami 102-89 on Saturday night. Orlando has lost seven of their last eight games and is now a half-game behind the Nets for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Capturing the seven seed is essential in the East because it allows you to avoid the Bucks in the first round.
20. Phoenix Suns
Folks in Phoenix were shocked that Devin Booker was left off the All-Star team when it was announced last week. Over the Suns' last five games, Book is averaging 32.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.6 made treys, while shooting 53.6% from the floor and 91.8% from the stripe.
21. Chicago Bulls
Sunday's loss to the Raptors was Chicago's third straight defeat. It was also the Bulls 21st game this season vs. teams with a winning record. Incredibly, Chicago has lost 20 of those 21 games.
22. Sacramento Kings
Buddy Hield has been bumped to the bench, but the stud SG has actually been more productive as a reserve. In the five games since being removed from the starting lineup, Heild is averaging 23.4 points (on 52.6% shooting) and 5.2 rebounds in 23.4 minutes.
23. Washington Wizards
While not on pace with Dame Lillard, Bradley Beal is on quite a heater of his own. Over Washington's last six games, Beal is averaging 38.2 points, 4.8 boards, 6.0 assists, and 3.2 treys, while shooting 56.3% from the field and 86% from the charity stripe.
24. Detroit Pistons
Derrick Rose had his remarkable streak of 14 straight games with 20+ points snapped on Sunday when he was forced to exit the Pistons win over the Nuggets after just 13 minutes due to a sore left groin. Rose has also been ruled out of Monday's game vs. Memphis.
25. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets have lost ten of their last 11 games; however, Miles Bridges has shown some solid progress of late. Bridges averaged 21.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 made treys in the three games Charlotte played last week.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves
The good news for Karl-Anthony Towns was that he tallied 32 points with 12 rebounds, three assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 36 minutes on Saturday. The bad news was he did so in a losing effort. Again. It was their 11th straight loss and, incredibly, the last time the Wolves won a game with KAT in the lineup was the night before Thanksgiving. Minnesota is 0-15 in the previous 15 games he has played.
27. New York Knicks
The Knicks pulled off one of the most surprising upsets of the week when they knocked off the Pacers in Indiana on Saturday night. Marcus Morris scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, including 10 of the Knicks' final 12, to power New York to a 92-85 victory. The question now is, will Morris still be a member of the 'Bockers after Thursday's trade deadline?
28. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs got blown out, 131-112, at home by a shorthanded Warriors squad on Saturday. It was Cleveland 10th straight defeat at home, and they have lost 15 of 18 overall. The Cavaliers hope to get off the snide when they host the Knicks on Monday night.
29. Atlanta Hawks
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Rockets are actively discussing several trade scenarios involving center Clint Capela. Per Woj, "Atlanta has been interested in acquiring a starting level center and has talked with Houston about Capela and Oklahoma City about Steven Adams."
30. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors announced over the weekend that Steph Curry (hand) will sit out each of the 11 games the team plays in February and will be re-evaluated in four weeks. Golden State is "hopeful" for a return in early March. Curry, who has been going through increased intensity shooting routines, is targeting the start of the month.