The Sixers suffered their first three-game losing streak since early November, causing them to drop in our power rankings.
You can check out Week 1 of our rankings here.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (27-4) Last week: 2
Giannis Antetokounmpo made a career-high five three-pointers in an impressive win Thursday over the Lakers, and Milwaukee has won 21 of 22 games.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (24-6) Last week: 1
They lost to the Nuggets by 24 points Sunday in their first game of the season without LeBron James (thoracic muscle strain). Even after three straight losses, the Lakers are in this spot on the strength of all their early-season success.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (22-10) Last week: 3
The Clippers squandered a 15-point halftime lead to the Rockets and an 18-point second-quarter lead to the Thunder. That’s a little concerning, but likely just a small blip for a team constructed with the playoffs in mind.
4. Houston Rockets (20-9) Last week: 6
In Houston’s three wins this past week, James Harden scored 28 points twice, and 47 Saturday in Phoenix. His scoring average dropped to 38.8 points per game. Russell Westbrook actually came close to outscoring Harden over those three games, which isn’t a bad thing for the Rockets.
5. Miami Heat (21-8) Last week: 7
Bam Adebayo is a Most Improved Player candidate, Duncan Robinson was labeled “Hot!!!” in the pregame scouting tape playing in the Sixers’ locker room (and probably many other’s, too), and Jimmy Butler is running the show. After a dismal showing the first time they visited Philadelphia, Wednesday’s win over the Sixers was significant.
6. Dallas Mavericks (19-10) Last week: 5
Dallas somehow blew a 30-point advantage Sunday night in Toronto. Still, the Mavs earned quality wins over the Bucks and Sixers without Luka Doncic. Their bench is outscoring opponents by 4.5 points per game, which is best in the NBA.
7. Boston Celtics (20-7) Last week: 8
Jayson Tatum scored a career-high 39 points Sunday vs. Charlotte, including 22 in the fourth quarter, and he’s been a key reason why Boston is one of the better defensive teams in the league.
8. Denver Nuggets (20-8) Last week: 10
The Nuggets check off a lot of good boxes. They defend at a high level (No. 2 in defensive rating), share the ball (second in assist percentage), have a star (Nikola Jokic) and players that complement him well. Jokic seems to have finally broken out of his shooting slump — he’s hit 12 of 25 threes (48 percent) during the Nuggets’ six-game winning streak.
9. Sixers (21-10) Last week: 4
The volume and variety of problems the Sixers talked about after Friday’s loss indicated that, in their eyes, they have fundamental issues which need to be addressed. While it’s alarming on the surface to hear “effort” and “spirit” among those problems, the Sixers appear talented enough to be, simply through playing harder, much better than they were this past week. It will be interesting to see how they go about replacing the injured Matisse Thybulle, who’d been one of the brightest, most exciting parts of the first 31 games.
10. Toronto Raptors (20-8) Last week: 9
This ranking might be a bit harsh for the Raptors after their biggest comeback in franchise history and five wins in a row. The teams in this range are tightly bunched together, though, and Toronto has been hit by injuries to Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell that will make it very difficult to sustain this pace.
11. Indiana Pacers (20-10) Last week: 11
Like many teams before them, the Pacers were blown out by the Bucks, losing by 26 on Sunday. The rehabbing Victor Oladipo thinks the Pacers “could be really special,” but without him, they’re a tier below the elite teams.
12. Utah Jazz (18-11) Last week: 12
Utah has won five straight. The competition hasn’t been very tough during that stretch, so we’ll learn a little more Monday at Miami and Saturday against the Clippers.
13. Brooklyn Nets (16-13) Last week: 13
Without Kyrie Irving, the Nets have gone 12-6. Spencer Dinwiddie has been exceptional during that run, averaging 26.1 points and 7.2 assists.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder (15-14) Last week: 15
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 32 points Friday against the Suns and then did the same Sunday vs. his former team, the Clippers. Oklahoma City has shown a knack for coming back from large deficits.
15. Portland Trail Blazers (14-16) Last week: 18
Hassan Whiteside is feeling very good about himself at the moment. “I feel like I’m the best rim protector in the league. It’s not even close,” he said after posting 16 points, 22 rebounds and seven blocks in the the Blazers’ win Saturday vs. the Timberwolves, their fourth straight.
16. San Antonio Spurs (11-17) Last week: 20
The Spurs’ top two scorers, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, have combined to make 19 threes this season. San Antonio picked up a decent win Thursday vs. Brooklyn, led by Patty Mills’ 27 points.
17. Orlando Magic (12-17) Last week: 17
With five more appearances, Markelle Fultz will have played as many regular-season games as a member of the Magic as he did with the Sixers. He’s averaging 11.6 points, 4.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds for an Orlando team that’s lost six of seven.
18. Sacramento Kings (12-17) Last week: 14
De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley are back, but that hasn’t immediately led to wins.
19. Chicago Bulls (12-19) Last week: 23
The Bulls have turned things around recently and look like they’ll be in the mix for a playoff spot.
20. Phoenix Suns (11-18) Last week: 16
Deandre Ayton’s return to the Suns’ lineup didn’t last long. He sprained his right ankle Tuesday in his first game back from a 25-game suspension.
21. Memphis Grizzlies (11-19) Last week: 24
Ja Morant understandably gets most of the attention, but fellow rookie Brandon Clarke has been excellent and looks to be a steal with the 21st pick.
22. Detroit Pistons (11-19) Last week: 19
Detroit will likely be fielding plenty of calls before the trade deadline.
23. Charlotte Hornets (13-20) Last week: 22
Devonte’ Graham is shooting just 26.5 percent over his past six games. Charlotte is 1-4 since rookie P.J. Washington fractured his finger.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves (10-18) Last week: 21
There’s a chance the Timberwolves won't win a game in December. They’re 0-10 this month.
25. Washington Wizards (8-20) Last week: 26
Saturday’s loss in Philadelphia made an already bad situation worse as Washington lost two more key players in Isaiah Thomas (suspension) and Davis Bertans (right quad strain).
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-21) Last week: 28
After wins over the Hornets and Grizzlies, the Cavs look like they have a chance to surpass last season’s 19 wins. Not saying much, but it’s something.
27. Atlanta Hawks (6-24) Last week: 25
Trae Young is fourth in the league in scoring with 29 points per game and fourth in assists with 8.4, but the Hawks’ defense (113.9 defensive rating, 28th in the NBA) and three-point shooting (31.6 percent, worst in the league) have been poor.
28. New Orleans Pelicans (7-23) Last week: 27
Though they finally snapped a long losing streak by beating the Timberwolves on Wednesday, it’s been a brutal start to the season.
29. Golden State Warriors (6-24) Last week: 30
The Warriors’ win over the Pelicans on Friday was their first since Dec. 6, and D’Angelo Russell helped close the deal. Stephen Curry is making progress in his rehab. For the first time in the Steve Kerr era, the Warriors are in a position where they have to search for positives.
30. New York Knicks (7-23) Last week: 29
They don’t have the worst record in the NBA, but they sure seem to be the most dysfunctional franchise.
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