The Milwaukee Bucks are the defending champions and do not need to prove anything in the regular season. With 15 games left, and the top seed for the Eastern Conference still up for grabs, it looks like the Bucks have begun to make their move. They’ve won their last six games with three impressive wins over Miami, Chicago and Phoenix.
The Boston Celtics are the little engine that could. Written off as true contenders for much of the season, they’ve continued to grind their way up the standings. The calling card has been the defense, as they are first in defensive rating, but the offense has ticked up to 14th-best. Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can go for 40 points on any given night. They took care of Memphis by 13 points three games ago.
The Golden State Warriors continue to tumble down the rankings. They’ve lost nine of their last 12 games. Losing to the Lakers right now constitutes an automatic drop of three spots in the rankings. On the season, they are second in defensive rating, but over this recent stretch, they are 24th.
The Chicago Bulls also tumble as their record against the top teams is no bueno. Against MIA, PHI, MIL, BOS, CLE, PHX, GS, MEM, DAL and DEN, their record is a combined 5-17. While they have no problems scoring, the 21st defensive rating is an issue. They’ve lost five of the last six with the only win coming against the Pistons. Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee and Philadelphia all were victorious over Chicago.
The Portland Trail Blazers fall the furthest down the rankings, dropping seven spots. They’ve lost six straight and have the worst offensive and defensive ratings over that span. The 92.9 offensive rating is far below the second-worst at 102.6. They have scored fewer than 90 points in two of those games and went over 100 only once. All six of their opponents scored at least 120 points with two over 130. Anfernee Simons, who garners a usage rate of over 30%, missed two games. Here’s the starting lineup from Wednesday’s contest: Drew Eubanks, Elijah Hughes, Brandon Williams, Josh Hart and CJ Elleby. Well, okay then. I really should drop them lower. Maybe next week.
NBA Power Rankings: Week 24
|13||Golden State Warriors||12|
|17||Los Angeles Clippers||18|
|19||San Antonio Spurs||19|
|20||New Orleans Pelicans||21|
|22||New York Knicks||20|
|27||Los Angeles Lakers||24|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||29|
|30||Portland Trail Blazers||30|
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