The Sixers followed up their finest hour with a dud and a heartbreaker. How does that affect their standing in this week's power rankings?
Here we go:
1. Milwaukee Bucks (29-5)
They dropped their Christmas Day matchup against the Sixers, but then cruised in the next two. This is the best team in the NBA.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (26-7)
The Lakers have come down to earth with a four-game losing streak as their schedule has gotten tougher. Their hold on the No. 2 spot is quite tenuous, despite a nice win over the Mavs Sunday.
3. Miami Heat (24-8)
It’s hard to know how long the Heat can rely on so many young, inexperienced players, but right now, the kids aren’t flinching. They’ve won five straight with four of those wins coming against playoff teams.
4. Dallas Mavericks (21-11)
Luka Doncic is back from an ankle sprain and he’s still playing at an MVP level. The Mavericks won the first two games after he returned before dropping Sunday’s game to the Lakers.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (23-11)
They’ve certainly had the Lakers’ number, but health and consistency are concerns. Some teams are off to better starts, but this team is far too talented to drop them much lower than this.
6. Sixers (23-12)
The Sixers are easily the most maddeningly inconsistent team in the NBA. After taking down the top team in the league, they laid an absolute egg in Orlando. They were a couple late-game miscues away from an impressive road win in Miami. This week will be an interesting character test for the Sixers, who travel to Indiana Tuesday and Houston Friday.
7. Boston Celtics (22-8)
Since they’ve lost to the Sixers twice, they’re at No. 7, but Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are playing at an All-Star level. Boston has leveled off since its 10-1 start, but this a good basketball team.
8. Denver Nuggets (23-9)
Since their loss in Philadelphia, the Nuggets have ripped off nine of their last 10. Nikola Jokic has returned to form, averaging 23 points, 10.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists while shooting 54.3 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from three in that span.
9. Toronto Raptors (22-11)
After the shorthanded Raptors got crushed by the Celtics on Christmas, they returned the favor a few days later. A loss to the Thunder stings, but you have to be impressed with the job Nick Nurse has done, all things considered.
10. Indiana Pacers (21-12)
All-Star Victor Oladipo is nearing a return. What the Pacers have been doing without him has been impressive. Their shrewdest offseason move looks like acquiring T.J. Warren to replace the offense of Bojan Bogdanovic.
11. Houston Rockets (22-11)
The James Harden-Russell Westbrook duo was met with skepticism, but it’s been an intriguing fit. They’ve had their share of ups and downs but it could be crazy enough to work.
12. Utah Jazz (20-12)
The Jazz have righted the ship, having won seven of their last eight. Joe Ingles has been starting in place of the injured Mike Conley and is playing at a high level during that stretch (18.5 points per game, 57.1 percent from three).
13. Oklahoma City Thunder (17-15)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is becoming a star. He’s averaged 26.4 points a game over his last five.
14. Brooklyn Nets (16-15)
Spencer Dinwiddie is keeping the beat-up Nets afloat and possibly earning himself an All-Star nod.
15. Portland Trail Blazers (14-19)
It’s been a disappointing season, but the Blazers should get healthier and they still have Damian Lillard.
16. Orlando Magic (14-18)
Did their win over the Sixers say more about the Magic or the Sixers not being ready to play? Going with the latter.
17. San Antonio Spurs (13-18)
After a brutal start, there’s still a chance Gregg Popovich extends the Spurs’ playoff streak to 22 seasons.
18. Memphis Grizzlies (13-21)
Is there a more fun player to watch than rookie Ja Morant? He has the Grizzlies off a better start than most anticipated.
19. Chicago Bulls (13-20)
The Bulls have been a bit disappointing, but they’ve won three of their last four. Zach LaVine is putting together a compelling All-Star campaign.
20. Charlotte Hornets (13-22)
Devonte’ Graham’s surprise breakout season continues. The Hornets have lost four straight but just got impressive rookie P.J. Washington back in the lineup after a five-game absence.
21. Sacramento Kings (12-21)
The Kings just can’t seem to get healthy and have now lost seven straight.
22. Phoenix Suns (12-20)
Monty Williams had them off to a strong start, but they’ve lost eight of their last nine.
23. Detroit Pistons (12-21)
Blake Griffin looks like a shell of himself and the Pistons’ future looks murky.
24. New Orleans Pelicans (11-23)
Don’t look now, but the Pelicans have won five of their last six. People freaked out about the Zion Williamson news this past week, but it seems pretty positive for the No. 1 overall pick.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-22)
The Cavs have also gone on a surprising spurt, winning four of five.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-20)
The good news: The Timberwolves snapped an 11-game losing streak. The bad news: They lost to the Cavs two night later.
27. Golden State Warriors (9-25)
Damion Lee had a big impact over the past week. Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman have helped. It’s like a City 6 reunion out there.
28. Washington Wizards (9-22)
The Wizards aren’t very good, but they’ve also been crushed by injuries.
29. New York Knicks (9-24)
The Knicks are still Knicks-ing.
30. Atlanta Hawks (6-27)
Trae Young is very good. That’s it.
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