Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks refuse to budge from the No. 1 overall spot, but the LA Clippers jump back inside the top-5 in this week's updated NBA Power Rankings.
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1. Milwaukee Bucks
What is there left to say about Giannis Antetokounmpo at this point? The soon-to-be back-to-back MVP erupted for 41 points, 20 rebounds and six assists in 35 minutes Sunday's 93-85 win over the Hornets. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, he's the first player in NBA history to tally at least 40 points, 20 boards and five dimes in 35 minutes or less. And the Bucks remain on pace to become just the third team in NBA history to win 70+ games.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis (right knee) sat out Sunday's game in New Orleans, which was the second night of a back-to-back for the Lakers. But LeBron James took over for LA, scoring 34 points, dishing out 13 dimes and ripping down 12 rebounds in a 122-114 win over the Pels. Incredibly, it was his fifth 30-point triple-double in this, his 17th NBA season.
3. Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum closed out the month of February on an absolute heater, averaging 34.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.5 dimes and 4.7 made triples over Boston's past six games. Jaylen Brown has been red hot as well. Remarkably, Brown and Tatum have scored a combined 50 points in each of the Celtics' last five consecutive contests.
4. LA Clippers
The Clippers won all four games they played last week, including victories over the Grizzlies, Sixers and a 132-103 demolition of the Nuggets. They are now a perfect 7-0 this season when they have their roster fully healthy and everybody available. The Clips have had plenty of ups and down in 2019-20, but they will be a force to be reckoned with if they can stay healthy this spring.
5. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors rash of recent injuries finally caught up with them last week, as they lost all three games they played. Marc Gasol (left hamstring tightness) has missed 13th straight games, while Fred VanVleet (left shoulder pain) and Serge Ibaka (sore right knee) sat out Friday's loss to the Hornets and Sunday's beatdown in Denver.
6. Houston Rockets
We were amazed when Russell Westbrook averaged 32.5 points with a 57.1 True Shooting percentage in January. Well, somehow, Russ topped those numbers in February, averaging 33.4 with a 59.4 TS%. He has now scored at least 20+ points in 30 straight games.
7. Denver Nuggets
After an embarrassing blowout defeat in LA to the Clippers on Friday, the Nuggets bounced back with a 15-point win over Toronto on Sunday. Nikola Jokic led the way, as he notched his 12th triple-double of the season (and 40th trip-dub of his career), scoring 23 points (8-of-11 FGs, 7-of-9 FTs) grabbing 18 rebounds and handing out 11 assists. He also authored arguably the most impressive single play of the season.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC snapped a five-game winning streak when they got demolished by the Bucks in Milwaukee, 133-86, on Friday. However, the Thunder still have the second-best record in the NBA dating back to late November. They'll look to get back on track Tuesday with another tough matchup vs. the Clippers.
9. Miami Heat
The Heat had an awful start to last week, losing to the Cavs on Monday and the Timberwolves on Wednesday. At that point, they were just 2-7 over their previous nine games. However, Miami was able to bounce back and close out the week, and the month of February, with a pair of wins over the Mavs and Nets in a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.
10. Dallas Mavericks
No Luka? No problem. Luka Doncic (left thumb sprain) did not play on Sunday against the Wolves, and coach Rick Carlisle said Doncic's status is unclear for Monday's game against Chicago. However, Kristaps Porzingis put the Mavs on his back and whipped the Wolves on Sunday, as KP racked up 38 points, 13 rebounds, six 3-pointers, five blocks, four assists and one steal. Dating back to late January, over his last 11 games, KP is averaging 27.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks, while shooting 50% from the floor, 40% from 3PT territory and 83% from the FT stripe.
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11. Philadelphia 76ers
Playing without Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and taking on a healthy Clippers squad in LA on Sunday, it was assumed the Sixers would get run out of the building. But Shake Milton had other ideas. Milton kept Philly close throughout, as he exploded for a career-high 39 points on 14-of-20 shooting, and tacked on seven 3-pointers, three boards, five dimes, one steal and two turnovers in 40 minutes.
12. Utah Jazz
The Jazz had lost all four games they'd played since the All-Star break, before snapping the four-game losing streak Friday vs. the Wizards. Utah embarks on a four-game East Coast road trip starting Monday. However, three of those four games are against the Knicks, Pistons and Cavs.
13. Indiana Pacers
Is Domantas Sabonis getting enough credit for his phenomenal all-around play this season? He's currently averaging 18.4 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists, while shooting 54.1% from the floor. The only players over the last 30 years to average at least 18/12/4 while shooting over 50% from the floor for a full season are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Garnett and Charles Barkley.
14. New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson scored a career-high 35 points Sunday night vs. the Lakers, shooting 12-of-16 from the floor and 11-of-13 from the FT stripe, to go along with seven rebounds and six turnovers. Over the Pels' last seven games, Zion is averaging 29.1 points and 6.0 rebounds, while shooting 61% from the field.
15. Memphis Grizzlies
Heading into Saturday night, the injury-plagued Grizzlies had lost each of the five games they had played since the All-Star break. As a result, their grip on the final playoff spot out West was slipping. Worse yet, they were hosting a Lakers team riding an 18-game road win streak against Western Conference teams (Per Elias, that was the longest streak against intra-conference opponents all-time). However, Ja Morant exploded for 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting, 14 helpers, six rebounds, and four 3-pointers in 34 minutes to propel Memphis to a badly-needed victory.
16. Orlando Magic
Orlando had won each of their first three games last week, before falling to the Spurs in San Antonio on Saturday night. The Magic host the Blazers on Monday, but then embark on a challenging four-game road sojourn, beginning Wednesday in Miami and ending with trips to Houston and Memphis.
17. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have lost four games in a row and find themselves seven games under .500. Yet, they still have a three-game lead over the Wiz for the eighth seed in the East. However, Saturday's loss to the Heat started a stretch where nine of Brooklyn's 14 games are against opponents currently in playoff position, including Tuesday's trip to Boston.
18. Sacramento Kings
The Kings announced on Sunday that Richaun Holmes (right shoulder labral tear) is making progress and is on track with his reconditioning plan. In recent days he has initiated his basketball-specific court progression and is moving into full contact activity with the hope of returning to team practice later this week.
19. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are in a very unfamiliar situation: fighting for their playoff lives. They are three games behind the eighth-seeded Grizzlies and are dealing with significant injuries in their frontcourt. LaMarcus Aldridge has missed each of San Antonio's previous two contests due to right shoulder soreness. And, on Saturday, Jakob Poeltl started in place of LMA but logged just four minutes before limping to the locker room due to a bruised right knee.
20. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard (right groin) did not play on Saturday against the Hawks and also told reporters that he would not join Blazers in Orlando for Monday's game. It will be the sixth straight game he has missed due to the groin strain. C.J. McCollum is averaging 31.8 points, 5.4 boards, 9.0 dimes and 4.0 made 3-pointers in the five games Dame has missed, but Blazers are just 1-4 in those contests.
21. Phoenix Suns
The Suns got terrible news last week when an MRI reportedly revealed a torn meniscus in Kelly Oubre's right knee. We haven't had an official report from the team, as Oubre is in the process of seeking a second opinion from a knee specialist. However, Phoenix reportedly plans to make a waiver claim for Jordan McRae.
22. Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal poured in 34 more points (to go along with eight assists, five steals and just one turnover) in Sunday's win over the Warriors. In the process, he set a Wizards franchise record by scoring 25+ points in 18 straight games. During this 18-game stretch, Beal is averaging 36.4 points while shooting 49% from the floor, 39.5% from downtown and 85.7% from the charity stripe.
23. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets beat the Knicks on Wednesday, then shocked the Raptors on Friday, and even gave the Bucks a run for their money on Sunday afternoon, before Giannis Antetokounmpo shut them down late in the game. The schedule doesn't get any ear for Charlotte, as they host the Nuggets, Spurs and Rockets this week.
24. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are trending in the right direction, having won two straight games and four of the six games they've played since the All-Star break, with Trae Young leading the way. Over the final 11 games played in February, Ice Trae averaged 33.0 points, 10.9 dimes, 3.6 made treys and 3.2 rebounds.
25. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have lost ten of their last 11 games and are enter March 20 games below .500. Yet, incredibly, they are just six games back of the eighth-seeded Nets and seven games behind the seventh-seeded Magic. In addition, Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) returned to action on Saturday, and Chicago hopes to get Lauri Markkanen (right pelvic stress reaction) and Otto Porter (foot) back soon as well.
26. Detroit Pistons
Detroit jumped out to an 18-1 lead and was up 27-6 on the Kings in Sacramento on Sunday, only to get fall to the Kings. The Pistons have now lost eight of their last nine games.
27. New York Knicks
Not only did the Knicks end a six-game losing skid on Saturday, but they were also led by their young core. RJ Barrett (19 years old) scored 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Kevin Knox (20 years old) snapped out a nasty slump with 12 points, six rebounds and two made 3-pointers. Mitchell Robinson (21 years old) poured in a career-high 23 points, snatched ten rebounds and blocked two shots.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves
After getting blown out by the Mavs on Sunday, the Wolves have now lost 20 of their last 22 games. One sliver of hope has been flashes of impressive play from Naz Reid. The big man grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds on Sunday to go along with nine points and two assists. He's scored at least nine points in seven of his last ten games.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers
Andre Drummond (left calf) returned from a two-game absence on Saturday night and finally showed Cavs fans what he is capable of, as he racked up 27 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, four steals and one blocked shot in 36 minutes.
30. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors lost by 14 points to the Wizards on Sunday. It was their ninth straight defeat at the new Chase Center. Fortunately for Golden State, Stephen Curry (broken hand) is inching his way back. Coach Steve Kerr said that Curry likely wouldn't play Tuesday, but that Thursday's game vs. the Raptors was a possibility.