NBA Power Rankings: Bucks just keep on winning to stay on top LeBron James to be re-evaluated in three weeks with foot tendon issue Thunder forward Kenrich Williams out for season due to wrist injury With 18 games to play, Clippers still trying to figure out who they are Report: Timberwolves hear talk but have no plans to trade Karl-Anthony Towns

The NBA Power Rankings are a day late this week due to unforeseen obstacles in the Helin family. However, nothing changes as the Bucks and Celtics remain at the top and Denver is still a team that can be beaten in the West even with Kevin Duran makes his return.

1. Bucks (45-17, #1 last week) Winners 16 times in a row and the basis of the series is the defense (the best in the NBA in this segment). They also have an insane net rating of 11.4 over those 16 games. Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t miss a single moment with a sprained wrist – short of counting the All-Star Game as time, and no one should – and just one game with a knee injury that sustains offense (only 13th in the league for the series, but good enough) . The streak extension means more than a big showdown with the 76ers on Saturday, they have one more game against a Magic team that has been playing better lately (5-5 in the last 10), they sleep on games and can be frustrated and the Celtics stay on heels.

small icon 2. Celtics (45-18, LV 2). Boston is due to present their preferred starting line-up – Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jason Tatum, Al Horford, Robert Williams III for a whopping two games after the All-Star break (wins over the Pacers and 76ers) before Brown was eliminated against the Knicks. What speaks to the depth and versatility of this team is that they aim for the best record in the league despite the hiccups, and that depth provides the versatility that will make them such a dangerous playoff team. Tough week with the Nets, Knicks and Cavaliers on the schedule.

Nuggets small icon 3. Nuggets (44-19, LW 5). Nikola Jokic may be the MVP leader, but despite some recent news, he’s not running away with the bounty – but his Nuggets are running away with the West. Denver is five games ahead of the Grizzlies and four in the losing column with 19 games. Returning to the MVP race, this top seed is one of the things – along with the average triple-double and its ongoing insane on/off rates – that Jokic needs to overcome some voters’ doubts about his third consecutive MVP candidacy. An interesting showdown with the Grizzlies on Friday, a potential showdown in the Western Conference Finals.

Small icon 4. Seventy 66ers (40-21, LM 3). Although Jokic may be the leader, Joel Embiid has a very strong MVP case – 33 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, plus elite defense. This season he will play not much less games and minutes than Jokic. Aside from the MVP nominee, if you’re looking for reasons to be confident this team is heading into the playoffs, look at their +11.9 net rating (and a 20-13 record) in clutch games this season, the fifth-best net league ranking (despite recent close losses to the Celtics and the Heat). We’re in for a tough test this week with the Mavericks and Bucks, both games on the road (part of a five-game trip).

Little grizzly icon 5. Grizzlies (38-23, HB 6) The Grizzlies have had three wins in a row, all of which are comfortable wins, which is why they are back in the top five in this NBA strength rankings. However, in the playoffs, their net rating of -12.2 in clutch, 25th in the league, worries them. This number is more than just a crime that can get stagnant in a slow-motion half-court setting; The Grizzlies’ defense was also in 10th place in those clutch minutes. It’s worth watching how the Grizzlies perform in tight games in the final weeks of the season. Hard testing away this week in Denver, then both teams from Los Angeles.

Little nyx icon 6. Knicks (37-27, LV 10) Seven winners in a row, including a quality home win against the Celtics on Monday night – New York looks to be moving towards at least the fifth seed in the East, and four seeds are out of the question (that’s just 1.5 games ). the back of the cavaliers). Whoever is hosting, the first-round fight with Cleveland seems to be the direction everything is pointing. Jalen Brunson remains hot, averaging 27.1 points per game on 53.8% shooting in his last 10 games, shooting 43.4% of 3 and 5.9 assists per night. Big road showdown over the weekend against the Heat and then again against the Celtics.

Little cavaliers icon 7. Cavaliers (39-26, LW 4). The Clevelands are the team with the easiest schedule in the NBA until the end of the road, which is a huge advantage in containing the Knicks and keeping the 4th seed. The Cavaliers are coming 1-3 after the All-Star break, although it’s a good sign they played the Celtics at point-blank range on Wednesday night thanks to 44 points from Donovan Mitchell (The Cavs play the Celtics again on Monday, this time at home.) They also have a couple of games ahead of them against the Heat, but in 10 days that schedule will begin to soften and the Cavs could stay home in the first round of the playoffs (probably against the Knicks).

Little kings icon 8. Kings (36-25, DX 8). Mike Brown looks like the man who could win the Coach of the Year award by taking this Kings roster to third place in the West – a team destined for a first-round playoff series. Unless they stumble along the way – and they really do have the toughest schedule left in the West (based on their opponent’s win percentage). They still have a 4.5-game lead over the fifth-place Warriors and should be able to hold them back the rest of the way. Also on postseason awards, De’Aaron Fox seems to be the favorite for the league’s new Clutch Player award. An interesting test against the Clippers on Friday night.

small sun icon 9. Sans (34-29, DW 11). Kevin Durant made his Suns debut on Wednesday, and everything went as smoothly as possible, 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting (versus what was left of the Hornets, but still). Duran’s presence seemed to Devin Booker the best matches Chris Paul more of a general and distributor than a shooter (which is good), and this provides opportunities for Deandre Ayton. Just one game, but a good start. Fun challenge on Sunday against the Mavericks.

Small Mavericks Icon 10. Mavericks (32-31, LV 9). So far they are 1-4 with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in the line. As expected, the Mavs’ offense is in the top three in the league this stretch, but it can’t hide a last 10 defense. This was evident in a 27-point lead over the Lakers when LeBron James And Anthony Davis got to their places without much resistance and earned money. It’s also clear in this game that the Mavs were terrible at clutching, despite Doncic and Irving’s pedigree. They have some time to figure out the chemistry of this team and Max ClayA quick return should help the defense a bit, but the Mavs just need to beat their opponents to win.

Small heating icon 11. Heat (33-30, DW 7). For all the talk of injuries and roster holes, the main reason the Heat have fallen this season is because they just can’t throw 3s for inexplicable reasons. Last season they shot from deep at 37.9% at 35.8 attempts per game, this season they are at 33.2% at almost the same number (34.9 attempts per game). It’s all over the place: Tyler Herro fell from 39.9% to 36.8%, Max Strus from 41% to 33.5%, Caleb Martin 41.3% to 36.3%, Gabe Vincent 36.8% to 31.8%, and Duncan Robinson increased from 37.2% to 32.5% shooting out of rotation. They need that footage, big week ahead with games against the Knicks and two games against the Hawks.

Small warrior icon 12. Warriors (32-30, LW 14). The Warriors went 5-4 impressively (three wins in a row) without Stephen Curryand this is with Andrew Wiggins And Draymond Green missed time there also. This pushed them towards the fifth seed in the West as the teams around them are dropping. According to reports, Curry is close to making his comeback, but a date has yet to be set (at least not publicly). Everyone is waiting for these Warriors to flip the switch – especially defensively – and if it does, it’s best to do it soon after Curry returns because they don’t have much time to build chemistry.

Small Clippers icon13. Clippers (33-31, LV 13). They are 0-3 since added Russell Westbrook, but he’s not the problem – he’s not perfect, but he’s averaged 16 effective shooting and 9.3 assists per game since arriving in LA. However, his presence at the spot changes the Clippers’ pace and attacking style, which translates into losses and turnovers (plus, he doesn’t help their defense much). With 18 games left, it’s hard to tell who the Clippers are, those are the same questions we’ve been having all season. Things won’t get any easier with the Warriors, Kings, and Grizzlies this week.

small web icon 14. Grids (34-28, LW 12). Losers four in a row and 8 out of 10, it’s no wonder the wheels came off after the Irving-Durant trade (and despite the list being filled with solid role players). The Nets need to quickly find chemistry and their foothold if they’re going to hold off the Heat (or maybe the Hawks) for the No. 6 seed and avoid the game. If you’re looking for a bright spot, this is the game. Mikal Bridges, who has averaged 23.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game since arriving in Brooklyn. The Nets are ahead 6 of 7 on the road (starting Friday in Boston).

Little Predator Icon 15. Raptors (31-32, LW 18). Raptors 5-2 since arrival Jacob Poeltl, with an improvement in defense behind him that finally gave the team solid defense under the rim (he had six blocks against the Magic the following week). However, the offense has dropped and because of this, the team has a negative net rating during this time. The Raptors need a few wins to stay in place in the postseason and try to climb into the top eight, but they’ll have to make it on the road in the next five games, including two in Washington against the Wizards.

Small hawk icon 16. Hawks (31-31, DX 17). Quin Snyder lost his first game as head coach of the Hawks (to the Wizards), but Atlanta had a couple of days off, which gives Snyder time to practice and make some adjustments to his offensive sets or defense plans, although he will have not so much. time to do it earlier…


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