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1.) Spurs (51-14) Previous rank: 1
The Spurs have won 10 out of their last 11 games and are currently just 0.5 games behind the Warriors for the No. 1 seed. They finished 3-1 in Week 20 with wins over the Rockets, Kings and a Warriors team that was missing all five of their studs, but they did drop a game to the Thunder. Their record of 51-14 is their third best record ever through 65 games, but they got some tough news when they learned that LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t have a timetable to return due to an occurrence of a minor heart arrhythmia. Kawhi Leonard is also on the shelf with a concussion, but he’s progressing rapidly through the protocol.
2.) Rockets (46-21) Previous rank:
The Rockets lost their first two games of the week against the Spurs and Jazz, but bounced back in impressive fashion with two wins over the Bulls and Cavaliers. James Harden has already broken his own NBA single-season record that he set last season with 386 turnovers, but who cares? The guy is averaging 29.1 points, 11.2 assists, 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 3.2 3-pointers on the season! In regards to his MVP case, Harden has contributed on 3,765 points for the Rockets this season — when LeBron James won his MVP in the 2009-10 season, he scored or assisted on 3,754 points (h/t ESPN’s Calvin Watkins). There are still 15 games left…
3.) Warriors (52-14) Previous rank: 2
The Warriors beat the Magic early in Week 20 before dropping three straight games to the Celtics, Wolves and Spurs. Sure, they were missing all five of their studs against the Spurs, but that game highlighted just how weak their depth is this season. The Warriors are just 28th in offensive efficiency this month and the last time they lost three regular-season games in a row was in November, 2013.
4.) Wizards (41-24) Previous rank: 5
After a pathetic start to the season, the Wizards have the best record in the NBA (25-8) since the new year and are currently riding a five-game winning streak which includes wins over the Suns, Nuggets, Kings and Blazers in Week 20. John Wall is still getting all the headlines, but Bradley Beal has been one of the best players in the NBA over the last 20 games. He’s averaging 26.3 points, 3.6 boards, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 3.3 treys on 55.0 percent from the field and 84.2 percent from the line in that span — Among the 101 players with at least 29 minutes per game over their last 20, Beal is first in true shooting percentage at 66.8. Insane. (h/t @MikeSGallagher).
5.) Cavaliers (43-22) Previous rank: 4
It was a brutal week for the defending champs as they dropped three games to the Heat, Pistons and Rockets with one win over the Magic. The Cavaliers are 29th in defensive efficiency this month and it’s not going to help that Andrew Bogut lasted one minute in his debut before a fractured tibia ended his season. The Cavaliers blew a 14-point third quarter lead against the Rockets and are now 0-9 this season in road games when playing on zero days of rest.
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6.) Jazz (41-25) Previous rank: 8
The Jazz won their first two games of the week against the Pelicans and Rockets before dropping a game to the Thunder. To be fair, they were missing their best defensive player in Rudy Gobert (leg) — Gobert has blocked a league-leading 162 shots this season and no player in the NBA defends more shots at the rim (10.5 per game) than Gobert, according to SportVU. He’s the reason why the Jazz have the third-ranked defense in the league.
7.) Celtics (42-25) Previous rank: 7
They may not deserve this ranking with a 5-7 record over their last 11 games, but their schedule has been tough to say the least. Eight of those games have been on the road, and they did pick up an impressive win at Golden State this week. They lost to the Nuggets and Clippers by a combined 34 points, but took out their anger on the Bulls in a 20-point win on Sunday.
8.) Clippers (40-26) Previous rank: 9
The Clippers did suffer one bad loss to the Wolves in Week 20, but won their other three games against the Celtics, Grizzlies and 76ers by a combined 42 points. They have a huge matchup against the Jazz on Monday, a team that is currently sitting ahead of them in 4th place with a 1.0 game lead.
9.) Thunder (37-29) Previous rank: 11
The Thunder dropped their first game of the week to the Blazers for their fourth straight loss, but finally got back on track with two wins over the Spurs and Jazz. Russell Westbrook dropped a career-high 58 points in the loss to Portland, and he picked up his 32nd triple-double of the season against the Jazz — that’s the second most triple-doubles ever in a campaign behind Oscar Robertson (41).
10.) Raptors (38-28) Previous rank: 6
The Raptors opened their week with a win over the Pelicans, only to lose their next two games against the Hawks and Heat. Toronto had just seven(!) assists in their loss to the Heat, just one more than their franchise low (h/t @JLew1050). The Raptors are shooting just 31 percent from 3-point range since the All-Star break which ranks 29th in the NBA, so I guess it’s safe to say they miss Kyle Lowry (wrist). On a side note, DeMar DeRozan has a career-high 36 25-point games in 2016-17, trailing only Vince Carter (52) for most in a season in franchise history.
11.) Heat (32-35) Previous rank: 13
The Heat won their first three games of the week against the Cavaliers, Hornets and Raptors, but lost by four points to the Pacers on Sunday night with Goran Dragic (eye) watching (kinda) from the sidelines. They have won 21 of their last 25 games and while they are in ninth place in the East, they are just 1.5 games behind the sixth-seeded Pacers. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is my choice for Coach of the Year for turning Dion Waiters into a legitimate weapon on offense.
12.) Hawks (37-29) Previous rank: 14
After opening their week with a loss to the Warriors, the Hawks won three straight games against the Nets, Raptors and Grizzlies. The Hawks have the longest playoff streak (9) in the East and second longest in the NBA, and it looks like they will make it 10 as they are sitting comfortably in 5th place with a 37-29 record. The sixth-seeded Pacers are currently 3.0 games behind them.
13.) Grizzlies (36-30) Previous rank: 10
The Grizzlies are spiraling with five losses in a row which includes defeats to the Nets, Clippers and Hawks in Week 20. “We’re just really bad right now,” coach David Fizdale said after their latest loss. He’s not lying, as the Grizzlies have had the worst defensive rating since the All-Star break — they were in the top five prior to the break.
14.) Bucks (32-33) Previous rank: 21
The Bucks have the longest active winning streak in the NBA with six straight wins. They beat the 76ers, Knicks, Pacers and Wolves in Week 20, and Khris Middleton has never looked better. As for Giannis Antetokounmpo, he’s on pace to be the fourth player ever with at least 20 percent of his team's points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. The others are Kevin Garnett, Larry Bird and David Robinson (h/t @Jkubatko).
15.) Pistons (33-33) Previous rank: 16
Other than a loss to the Pacers, it was a great week for the Pistons with three wins over the Bulls, Cavaliers and Knicks. They have reached .500 for the first time since Dec. 16 and have moved up to No. 7 in the East. Andre Drummond now has 85 games with 15+ points and 15+ rebounds over the last four seasons, 33 more than any other player in that span (h/t @Statmuse).