NBA power rankings: 76ers jump to top spot


We have a new top team in our NBA rankings this week. It is impossible to deny what the Philadelphia 76ers have been doing lately. They extended their winning streak to eight and have the best defense in the league since the All-Star break. Defense is a common theme among the top teams in my power rankings. Philadelphia rose because of it, and Phoenix fell due to a lack of it.


We also have a new team in the top 10 as Dallas has won its way in with the league’s lone 4-0 SU and ATS week. The Mavericks are there due to a defense that has suddenly shown up, but two games against the Cavaliers will do that for you.


The biggest move is a tanking team that drops seven spots, but I won’t ruin it for you. Let’s get to our penultimate power rankings.


1. Philadelphia 76ers (2)

Week recap: 3-0 SU/ 2-1 ATS


Another undefeated week for Philadelphia is enough to unseat Phoenix at the top of this list. The 76ers are now 8-0 SU/6-2 ATS over the last eight games with a league-leading + 18.1 net rating over that stretch. Just like the 2017-18 Philadelphia team that won 16 straight heading into the postseason, this team is peaking at the right time.


2. Phoenix Suns (1)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/2-2 ATS


There is not much shame in losing to the Hawks or Lakers, but those losses paired with yet another poor week on defense (121.2, 27th) move the Suns out of the top spot. Phoenix is now 18th in defensive efficiency since the All-Star break. I’ve been waiting for this defensive regression, but is it real?


3. Los Angeles Clippers (4)

Week recap: 2-1 SU/1-2 ATS


Los Angeles is winning but not covering. Offensively, this team regressed somewhat last week, averaging just 111.4 points per 100 possessions. However, the defense continues to operate at a high level, as the Clippers posted the fifth-best defensive rating in the league last week (103.4). Serge Ibaka could be back this week — a big deal for a team pretty much at full strength now.


4. Milwaukee Bucks (5)

Week recap: 3-1 SU/1-3 ATS


It was a winning week for the Bucks, but they are clearly power-rated too highly by the betting market. Their fickle perimeter defense showed up yet again last week. San Antonio and Houston combined to go 41 of 79 (51.9%) from deep in the final two games last week, and all four opponents shot at least 38.1% from beyond the arc.


5. Denver Nuggets (3)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/1-2 ATS


It almost feels unfair to knock Denver considering the injuries this team is dealing with, but I have a job to do. Losses to the Jazz and Nets are not really shocking, but this defense really showed its limitations in those two games by allowing 1.279 points per possession.


6. New York Knicks (6)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/1-2 ATS


New York’s red-hot, and clearly unsustainable, offensive surge has finally died down. The Knicks dropped two of three games last week and averaged just 1.020 points per possession. New York is not this bad on offense, but it is also not the team that posted a 121.3 offensive rating in the 10 previous games.


7. Utah Jazz (8)

Week recap: 3-1 SU/2-2 ATS


The Jazz regained some of their flow on offense and posted the fifth-best offensive rating in the league last week (122.3). However, they got bad news as Donovan Mitchell has been ruled out for the rest of the regular season and Mike Conley still cannot shake the hamstring injury that has kept him out for two weeks. Will those two be available for the start of the postseason?


8. Atlanta Hawks (9)

Week recap: 2-1 SU/1-2 ATS


Big wins over Phoenix and Washington have Atlanta nipping at the heels of New York for home court in the first round of the postseason. The offense has been jamming and led the league in efficiency (127.4), but the important thing for the Hawks last week was their injury report, as De’Andre Hunter finally returned to the floor.


9. Brooklyn Nets (7)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/1-2 ATS


The offense has been inconsistent and the defense has been poor for Brooklyn, which is now in a 1-4 SU and ATS slide. The defense was always going to be a problem, but managing only 1.069 points per possession against Dallas is an issue. The continuity concerns are growing, but there is hope James Harden will be on the floor for at least one regular-season game.


10. Dallas Mavericks (11)

Week recap: 4-0 SU/4-0 ATS


Forgive me if I am not throwing a party for Dallas after an undefeated week, but two wins over Cleveland do not really do it for me. The Mavericks deserve credit for beating Brooklyn, and their victory over Miami gives them the honor of leaping the Heat. The Mavericks had the fourth-best defensive rating in the league last week (104.6), but who really believes in that?


11. Miami Heat (10)

Week recap: 2-1 SU/2-1 ATS


Miami averaged 121.7 points per 100 possessions last week. If the Heat are starting to find their offense, that will be a problem for the league. But they have to get a defense that posted the sixth-worst rating last week (121.8) back in check.


12. Portland Trail Blazers (14)

Week recap: 4-0 SU/2-2 ATS


Perhaps I treated the Trail Blazers too harshly. They put together an undefeated week in which they outscored their opponents by 17.1 points per 100 possessions, the best net rating in the league. Their defensive rating (108.4) was eighth best, something that will regress.


13. Washington Wizards (12)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/2-1-1 ATS


Congratulations to Russell Westbrook for breaking Oscar Robertson’s NBA record for most career triple-doubles, but the night ended in a loss for Washington. Now the Wizards have to get through at least one more game without Bradley Beal, but at full strength this team is still heavily favored to grab one of those two play-in seeds.


14. Memphis Grizzlies (15)

Week recap: 3-1 SU/2-2 ATS


After an insane April with an extremely efficient offense, the Grizzlies have reverted to an average team playing average hoops. Sure, they won three of four games last week, but they outscored their opposition by just 1.8 points per 100 possessions. At least they clinched a play-in berth.


15. Golden State Warriors (17)

Week recap: 3-1 SU/3-1 ATS


There really is no glory in beating Oklahoma City, but the Warriors did cover 14- and 13-point spreads in those wins, so they jump a couple of spots. Other than that, it is the same old story for Golden State: Pray Steph Curry is hot and play quality defense.


16. Boston Celtics (13)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/1-2 ATS


Offense has not been the problem for a Celtics team that averaged 117.2 points per 100 possessions last week. It has been a defense that ranked 17th (114.9). Jaylen Brown is out for the season, too, meaning this goose is likely cooked.


17. Los Angeles Lakers (16)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/2-1 ATS


Los Angeles deserves credit for beating Phoenix and covering against Portland, but that loss to the Trail Blazers has the Lakers firmly in the seventh seed with four games left. LeBron James will reportedly return Wednesday. Will that be enough time for this team to climb out of the play-in tournament?


18. New Orleans Pelicans (19)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/4-0 ATS


New Orleans deserves credit for covering its four games last week despite injuries to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, but the offense has bottomed out with a 106.8 rating. The Pelicans were statistically alive for the final play-in game as of Tuesday, but that win for San Antonio over Milwaukee hurts.


19. Charlotte Hornets (20)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/1-3 ATS


The Hornets still await the return of Miles Bridges from medical protocols, but they are treading water just fine without him. Charlotte managed just 108.5 points per 100 possessions last week, and that has been part of a larger offensive slump that stretches over eight games (109.5).


20. Indiana Pacers (21)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/2-1-1 ATS


Indiana was perfectly average last week, going 2-2 SU with a + 0.4 net rating. The defense allowed just 109.9 points per 100 possessions, the 10th-best rating in the league last week, but the offense put out a 110.4 rating. The Pacers have dropped two games to their most likely opponent in the play-in, Washington, in the last week. However, the injury to Beal might allow them to still host the Wizards next week.


21. San Antonio Spurs (22)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/2-2 ATS


The Spurs ended the week with an impressive win over Milwaukee. They posted a 149.4 offensive rating and drilled 16 of 26 perimeter shots in the win. San Antonio has yet to clinch a play-in spot but might stumble into one with the injuries in New Orleans.


22. Minnesota Timberwolves (23)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/2-1 ATS


Minnesota continues to show fight despite being mathematically eliminated from the postseason. The offense is performing admirably, averaging 121.4 points per 100 possessions last week and posting a + 5.4 net rating despite dropping two of three.


23. Sacramento Kings (24)

Week recap: 3-1 SU/2-2 ATS


The Kings did it with defense last week, limiting their four opponents to a combined 99.5 points per 100 possessions. They played Oklahoma City twice and scored only 108.2 points on offense, so I will let you guess whether this is sustainable.


24. Chicago Bulls (25)

Week recap: 3-0 SU/3-0 ATS


Zach LaVine returned, and suddenly the Bulls ripped off three dominant wins by an average of 18.3 points. Chicago was really done in by LaVine’s absence, and while the Bulls are still alive in the race for the final play-in seed, they are all but eliminated.


25. Toronto Raptors (18)

Week recap: 0-3 SU/1-1-1 ATS


Sorry, but I have no idea what Toronto is doing on a given night. The front office is in full tank mode, regularly resting key contributors like Kyle Lowry, and now Pascal Siakam is likely done for the season. The Raptors ranked 24th in offensive efficiency and were outscored by 4.9 points per 100 possessions. A bet-against team the rest of the way.


26. Detroit Pistons (26)

Week recap: 1-3 SU/2-2 ATS


The Pistons’ young core might have some trouble on offense, as they managed just a 107.0 offensive rating last week, but their defense is solid. Detroit finished the week 11th in defensive efficiency (111.0) and covered two of its contests. It is a plucky young bunch.


27. Houston Rockets (29)

Week recap: 0-4 SU/3-1 ATS


Houston is awful on defense. The Rockets allowed their opponents to average 127.7 points per 100 possessions, and they were outscored by 10.3 points per 100 possessions as a result. However, they posted the ninth-best offensive rating last week (117.4), and Overs are 6-2 in their last eight games.


28. Cleveland Cavaliers (27)

Week recap: 0-5 SU/0-4-1 ATS


The next three teams have something in common: They have essentially quit. Darius Garland is out indefinitely, and Isaiah Hartenstein and Cedi Osman are dealing with injuries. Cleveland posted a net rating (-22.2) just 0.5 points better than Oklahoma City last week. That should tell you something.


29. Orlando Magic (28)

Week recap: 0-3 SU/0-3 ATS


Orlando has nothing to offer on defense. The Magic allowed 120.8 points per 100 possessions last week, but unlike Houston, there is zero offensive output. Will they cover another game this season?


30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30)

Week recap: 0-4 SU/1-3 ATS


All eyes should be on Oklahoma City this week to see if the Thunder will surpass their win total, and for nothing else. Their -22.7 net rating is not an anomaly. This team is just as bad as every number indicates.


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