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Power Rankings

NBA Power Rankings: Week 21

by Tommy Beer
Updated On: March 9, 2020, 4:36 pm ET

After beating the Bucks and Clippers in back-to-back games this weekend, the Lakers snatch the top overall spot from Milwaukee in this week's updated NBA Power Rankings. 

Follow Tommy Beer on Twitter: @TommyBeer

1. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 49-13

What a weekend for LeBron and the Lakers. On Friday, they beat the Bucks and followed that up with a victory over the Clippers on Sunday afternoon. Over that two-game stretch, versus Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James tallied 65 points, 15 rebounds, 17 assists, three steals, two blocks and two wins. At this time last week, it appeared Giannis had the 2020 MVP award sewn up. Af the moment, it's no longer a sure thing. 

2. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 53-11

Not only have the Bucks lose two consecutive contests for the first time all season, but Milwaukee is also dealing with an injury to their franchise cornerstone. Giannis Antetokounmpo injured his knee in the second half of Friday's loss to the Lakers. An MRI revealed that Giannis has a minor joint capsule sprain in his left knee. He sat out Sunday's loss to the Suns and won't play Monday vs. the Nuggets either. Hopefully, we get some good news regarding his status moving forward.

3. LA Clippers
Record: 43-20

The Clippers had their six-game winning streak snapped Sunday by the Lakers. It was the first time this season that the Clips lost a game while playing at full strength. They are now 10-1 when their entire roster is healthy. 

4. Toronto Raptors
Record: 45-18

The Raps got back on the right track this week, winning each of the three games they played. And Norman Powell was a big reason why. During this current three-game winning streak, Powell is averaging 31.3 points, 3.7 assists, 4.0 made treys, and 2.3 steals, while shooting 56.1% from the field, 46.2% from downtown and 90% from the FT stripe. 

5. Boston Celtics
Record: 42-21

After losing to the Nuggets on Sunday, the Celtics have now lost four of their last five games, with their only win coming against the Cavs. And things won't get any easier for Boston over the next few weeks. They play at Indiana on Tuesday, which begins a stretch of seven of nine games on the road.

6. Denver Nuggets
Record: 42-21

This Nuggets team has had some inexplicably awful losses in 2019-20, and Saturday's loss to the Cavs was extremely frustrating for Denver fans. What's worse, it's Denver's second defeat to Cleveland, who has the worst record in the Eastern Conference this season. Denver is in a dogfight for playoff position out West, and it's hard to imagine those two defeats don't come back to bite them.    

7. Utah Jazz
Record: 41-22

This winter has been an absolute rollercoaster for Jazz fans. After losing five straight games at the start of February, Utah won four in a row heading into the All-Star break. However, the Jazz lost each of their first four games coming out of the break. Yet, Utah is currently riding a five-game winning streak, including a perfect 4-0 road trip that wrapped up Saturday in Detroit. 

8. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 40-24

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed his first game of the season (and the first game of his career) on Sunday due to a right hip contusion he suffered in Friday's victory over the Knicks. However, both Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder stepped up for OKC, leading them to a win over the Celtics in Boston. Schroder is on pace to become just the second bench player in the last 40 years to average at least 19 points and four assists per game. 

9. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 39-26

Coming into Sunday night, Kristaps Porzingis had been red-hot, averaging 30.0 points, 12.2 rebounds, 4.6 tripled and 3.6 blocks over the Mavs previous five contests. However, he came back down to earth in a loss to the Pacers, shooting just 3-of-17 from the floor for nine points in 38 minutes. 

10. Miami Heat
Record: 41-23

The Heat ended a four-game home losing streak by holding the Wizards to just 89 points on Sunday. However, Jimmy Butler left Sunday's game with a left toe injury and was unable to return. Still, Butler downplayed the severity of the injury afterward, telling reporters that he is not dealing with a long-term issue and he will not need an MRI.

11. Houston Rockets
Record: 39-24

Okay, so the loss to the Knicks on Monday was disappointing, but letdowns happen, even to great teams. The Rockets then got blown out by the Clippers on Thursday, but that's understandable considering LA is a juggernaut when at full strength. However, back-to-back losses to the Hornets and the Magic over the weekend are alarming, even to the most optimistic of Houston supporters.  

12. Indiana Pacers
Record: 38-25

The Pacers haven't gotten much out of Victor Oladipo, as he's appeared in only 12 games this season as he works his way back from a ruptured quadriceps tendon in his right leg. However, he showed how valuable he could be in Sunday's much-needed victory over the Mavs, as 'Dipo scored the game's final six points in a three-point win. The Pacers defense did the rest, holding the Mavericks scoreless over the final 3:14 of the fourth quarter. 

13. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 32-32

The Grizzlies lost each of their first five games coming out of the All-Star break, and their once secure hold on the eighth and final playoff spot out West was loosening. However, Memphis has bounced back in a big way, winning four of their last five, including Saturday's blowout victory at home over the Hawks. Jonas Valanciunas has been a beast down low for the Grizz. Over their last six games, he's averaging 16.7 points and 17.2 rebounds in 29 minutes. 

14. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 38-26

The bruised and battered Sixers lost three of four on the four-game road trip they wrapped up Saturday night in Golden State. However, they don't play again until Wednesday, with five of their next six contests at home. The question is when will Joel Embiid, who has missed five consecutive games because of a sprained left shoulder, re-join them. Josh Richardson (concussion) is also out of action, and Ben Simmons remains sidelined as well. 

15. Sacramento Kings
Record: 28-36

Sacramento had won seven of their first nine games since coming back from the All-Star break, before falling to the Raptors at home on Sunday night. The defeat dropped them four games back of Memphis, and into a tie with the Pelicans for ninth place in the Western Conference. 

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16. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 29-34

This season, Nets have $68 million tied up in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, yet are still in the postseason picture. On Tuesday, Kenny Atkinson's Nets beat the Celtics in Boston in overtime with Chris Chiozza playing clutch minutes. On Friday, his team scored 139 points to blow out the Spurs, as eight players scored in double-figures. On Saturday morning, he and the team "parted ways." We still don't have all the details behind this shocking decision, but it's tough to imagine a basketball lifer turning down the chance to guide an underdog team in the playoffs this year and then coach a healthy KD and Kyrie next season. 

17. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 28-36

After falling five games behind the Grizzlies, the Pels badly needed a victory Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis. And they got it, thanks to a well-balanced attack. Jrue Holiday led the way, flirting with a triple-double by tallying 37 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Zion Williamson chipped in 23 points (on 9-for-15 shooting), and Lonzo Ball added 18 points and eight assists. The Pelicans play another crucial contest on Wednesday night when they travel to Sacramento to take on the ninth-seeded Kings. 

18. Orlando Magic
Record: 29-35

Orlando had lost three in a row heading into the weekend and seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. However, they thumped the Wolves in Minnesota on Friday and then traveled to Houston and beat the Rockets by 20 points. They will look to build off that momentum Tuesday when they take on the Grizz in Memphis. 

19. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 28-37

The Blazers registered an impressive, lopsided road victory in Orlando on Monday, and then welcomed Damian Lillard (strained right groin) back to action in a win over the Wizards. However, Portland ended the week on a down note, losing to both the Suns and Kings in back-to-back games this past weekend. On a positive note, we found out that Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) is targeting a March 15th return. 

20. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 26-36

The Spurs have made the playoffs in 22 straight years. And haven't had a losing season since 1996-97. After a disheartening overtime loss to the Cavs on Sunday, it looks almost certain that this incredible run will finally come to an end in 2020. 

21. Phoenix Suns
Record: 26-38

Facing a Milwaukee squad playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee), the Suns absolutely torched the Bucks on Sunday night, scoring 140 points. Devin Booker poured in 36 points, and Ricky Rubio exploded for 25 points, 13 assists and 13 rebounds. Rubio is the first Suns player with at least a dozen points, assists and rebounds in a game since Steve Nash in 2005. 

22. Washington Wizards
Record: 23-40

The Wizards have lost three of four, and rookie Rui Hachimura struggled mightily over the weekend. He was 0-for-6 from the floor on Friday and went 0-for-8 from the field in Sunday's loss to the Heat. He and his teammates will look to bounce back Tuesday night when they host the Knicks. 

23. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 22-41

The Hornets lost the first three games of their homestand, before knocking off the Rockets Saturday afternoon.  Terry Rozier led the way in the win over Houston, scoring a team-high 24 points to go along with three rebounds, six assists, one steal and six 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Over his last six games, Scary Terry is averaging 20.0 points, 4.7 dimes and 3.3 triples, while shooting 45% from the floor, 51% from downtown and 95% from the FT line. 

24. Chicago Bulls
Record: 21-43

Zach LaVine (left quad soreness) missed his fourth straight game on Sunday but is inching closer to a return. He participated in 20 minutes of contact at practice on Saturday (his first contact since sustaining the injury), and coach Jim Boylen was hopeful he'd be cleared this past weekend. Chicago hosts the Cavs on Tuesday night, and if LaVine can get in a full practice on Monday, he may be medically cleared for a return. 

25. New York Knicks
Record: 20-44

Three straight impressive performances from Elfrid Payton last week. Over this three-game stretch, Payton averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 7.7 assists (vs. just 1.7 turnovers) in 29.7 minutes, while shooting 61.1% from the floor and 83.3% from the charity stripe. 

26. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 19-45

Credit to the Cavs for competing and pulling off two straight shocking wins this weekend. They beat the Nuggets by a bucket on Saturday night, and then gravely damaged the Spurs playoff hopes by beating San Antonio in overtime on Sunday. 

27. Detroit Pistons
Record: 20-45

The Pistons are just 1-11 in their last 12 games, but Christian Wood can't be blamed for defeats. Wood is averaging 22.0 points (on 54% shooting), 10.2 rebounds, 2.0 dimes and 1.6 triples during this 12-game stretch. 

28. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 19-46

Cam Reddish was forced out of Saturday's loss to Memphis due to lower-leg cramping but had been playing very well prior to that contest. Over Atlanta's first seven games following the All-Star break, Reddish was averaging 17.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.3 made triples in 31.0 minutes, while shooting 50% from the floor, 40% from downtown and 85% from the charity stripe. 

29. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 19-44

The Wolves have won just four games over the last two months, and we may not see Karl-Anthony Towns (left wrist) again this season. On Friday, Minnesota announced that the team will continue to pursue a non-operative strategy as part of his recovery and that Towns and the team plan to evaluate his healing in two weeks and work towards an optimal return to play procedure.

30. Golden State Warriors
Record: 15-49

After sitting out 58 straight contests, Stephen Curry only got in one game before heading back to the sidelines. Steph sat out Saturday's surprising victory over the Sixers (it was Golden State's first home win since Jan. 1) after being diagnosed with the flu. Fortunately, the team announced they had identified the probable source and that Curry has no specific risk factors for COVID-19, as it's merely the seasonal flu.