Suns No. 1 in NBA power rankings

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We have entered the homestretch! The NBA season has just four weeks left, and each game holds more weight in the seeding races shaking out in both conferences. This week we have a new member of the top five, but the real story is our team at the very bottom of this list. 

 

Oklahoma City sits just three wins from clinching the Over on its win total, but the front office is dedicated to tanking away the rest of the season, and the Thunder put together a winless week. Will this be an undeserving sweat for bettors with Over tickets in their pockets? As a result, the Thunder have the honor of holding the 30th spot in my power rankings.

 

1. Phoenix Suns (1)

Week recap: 4-1 SU/3-2 ATS

 

Phoenix is doing everything it can to grab the highest seed possible in the Western Conference, and the Suns took a big step toward that goal by beating Utah. The Suns were caught in a bad spot the next night against the Clippers but still managed to post a + 9.4 net rating over their five games. They hold a two-game lead in the Pacific Division with 18 games left but are still + 110 to win it at DraftKings.

 

2. Brooklyn Nets (2)

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

 

The sky was falling after a loss to the Lakers, but the Nets showed their ability in blowout wins over the Pelicans and Timberwolves. Kevin Durant is back, but James Harden is still sidelined and Kyrie Irving played just 51 minutes last week. Brooklyn allowed only 107.7 points per 100 possessions to its three opponents. Is that something to watch or an anomaly courtesy of a soft schedule?

 

3. Utah Jazz (3)

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

 

Donovan Mitchell averaged 40.5 points on 45.5% shooting in the first three games of the week and had a highlight moment when he forced overtime against Phoenix on April 7. The loss to Washington is pretty unacceptable for a team contending for a title, but Utah still posted the third-best net rating in the league at + 7.2 despite losing twice.

 

4. Philadelphia 76ers (4)

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

 

Philadelphia had a really odd blunder against New Orleans but looked downright dominant in its three wins last week. The 76ers led the league in defensive efficiency for the week by allowing just 97.0 points per 100 possessions, and Joel Embiid averaged 29.3 points and 7.6 rebounds on 54.7% shooting in their victories. If that combination of offense and defense finds its way into the postseason, this team will be deadly.

 

5. Los Angeles Clippers (8)

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

 

What a week for Los Angeles. The Clippers led the league in offensive efficiency by a wide margin (127.6) thanks to their league-leading 47.6 3-point shooting percentage. Los Angeles did get some bad news, though: Patrick Beverley will be out about four weeks with a broken hand. Serge Ibaka is still out, and Paul George will be dealing with his toe injury all season. Will injuries derail another seemingly promising campaign?

 

6. Denver Nuggets (6)

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

 

The jam-packed second-half schedule has taken many victims, but the latest is a massive blow to the Nuggets’ title contention. Jamal Murray will miss the rest of the year with a torn ACL, and shops like SuperBook Sports in Las Vegas have cut their odds to 100-1 to win the title. When Murray is off the floor this season, the Nuggets are outscored by 0.5 points every 100 possessions. However, in the lineups with him on the bench and Nikola Jokic with Aaron Gordon, Denver has a + 7.4 net rating.

 

7. Milwaukee Bucks (5)

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

 

A sore knee caused Giannis Antetokounmpo to miss every game all week, and what we saw was troublesome. On the season, the Bucks give up 116.6 points every 100 possessions in the minutes without him, and sure enough, they allowed their first three opponents to score 1.181 points per possession. The Bucks will improve when he returns, but last week confirmed my fears about this team.

 

8. Miami Heat (9)

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

 

The offense is still a massive issue. In a loss to the Suns at the end of the week, the Heat were held to only 0.867 points per possession. Their shooting looked like it had turned the corner, but they hit just 9 of 41 3-point attempts Tuesday. Until Miami learns to score efficiently, it will be in danger of losing the Eastern Conference crown.

 

9. Los Angeles Lakers (10)

Week recap: 3-2 SU/4-1 ATS

 

Frank Vogel deserves a ton of credit for keeping things together in Los Angeles. Since losing LeBron James, the Lakers are second in defensive rating (103.7), behind Philadelphia by just 0.3 points. Los Angeles is taking three more 3-point attempts per game in an effort to make up for the lack of shot creation, but this does not need to hold on much longer with Anthony Davis’ return on the horizon.

 

10. Boston Celtics (11)

Week recap: 4-1 SU/2-2-1 ATS

 

After an ugly loss at home to Philadelphia, the Celtics ripped off four straight wins, two as part of a trip along the West Coast. Over the final four games of the week, Boston allowed just 108.4 points per 100 possessions, a massive turnaround for a defense that has been insanely inconsistent. After beating the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, the Celtics hold the fifth seed in the East.

 

11. New York Knicks (14)

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

 

How can New York not jump this high? The Knicks’ 4-0 ATS week is part of a larger 6-0 ATS run, and they are 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 games. It should come as no surprise that New York finished the week second in defensive efficiency (104.2), but the offense should. The Knicks put up 1.104 points per possession against their opponents, something that has been missing from their arsenal all season.

 

12. Dallas Mavericks (7)

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

 

Instead of complaining about the play-in tournament, Dallas needs to focus on winning games. Losses to Houston and San Antonio are unacceptable but do show us why Dallas is not a serious contender in the West. The Mavericks averaged just 109.1 points every 100 possessions on offense last week, an anomaly that should correct itself given the offensive talent on this team.

 

13. Atlanta Hawks (15)

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

 

Atlanta is 16-5 since Nate McMillan took over as interim coach, and the Hawks put together another solid week despite numerous injuries. Their defense finished the week 14th in efficiency (112.5), but when you have an offense that scores 116.1 per 100 possessions, that average defensive rating can be overcome. Remember, John Collins, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are injured. This team could be even better, and that has to be scary for the Eastern Conference.

 

14. Memphis Grizzlies (13)

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

 

The Grizzlies blew a double-digit lead to New York on Friday and followed that with a loss in Indiana two days later. Their offense exploded for 119.4 points per 100 possessions last week, but that coincides with great shooting. Memphis shot 39.4% on 38.6 3-point attempts over the last five games, and I would bet that is not sustainable for the 22nd-ranked shooting team in the league.

 

 

15. Portland Trail Blazers (12)

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

 

The Trail Blazers’ four losses came by an average of 11.5 points per game, and this team has been largely healthy. Portland’s offense has suddenly become mediocre, averaging 111.6 points every 100 possessions, largely due to a teamwide shooting slump in which it shot 34.1% over the last five games. The Blazers take the second-most 3-point attempts in the league, and cold shooting can derail them easily.

 

16. New Orleans Pelicans (17)

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

 

New Orleans beating Philadelphia was wildly impressive. Zion Williamson dropped 37 points on 15-of-28 shooting and the Pelicans won comfortably at home to spark a three-game winning streak. Health has played a role in the recent swoon for New Orleans, and Williamson and Brandon Ingram being back on the floor helps this team immensely.

 

17. Charlotte Hornets (16)

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

 

After an ugly week, the Hornets bounced back with a boring week. They beat the Bucks without Giannis Antetokounmpo and lost to the Hawks and Lakers. Charlotte has more injuries to monitor in P.J. Washington and Terry Rozier, and that is the last thing this team needs. The Hornets are just five games ahead of Chicago for the final play-in game and need to tread water until healthy.

 

18. Indiana Pacers (18)

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

 

Indiana put together a winning week, but it was largely uneventful. Its three wins came against Minnesota, Orlando and Memphis. The Pacers lost by a combined 27 points to the Bulls and Clippers. Despite a winning week, the Pacers still posted a -1.4 net rating, which gives you an idea of their true colors.

 

19. Chicago Bulls (19)

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

 

Yes, Chicago beat the team above it in the rankings, but its losses were too much to jump a spot. After looking like they had turned things around as part of a 5-0 ATS run from last week, the Bulls failed to cover their last three games. They put up a 105.4 offensive rating, and since Nikola Vucevic was acquired, they are scoring just 108.6 points per 100 possessions. Why are they not better on offense with him in the fold?

 

20. San Antonio Spurs (21)

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

 

I wanted to leave San Antonio for dead, but the Spurs covered the last three games to show some fight. Their offense woke up and averaged 1.222 points per possession, but that is likely unsustainable for the 19th-ranked offensive team in the NBA.

 

21. Golden State Warriors (23)

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

 

Steph Curry topped Wilt Chamberlain as the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer, and he has been a massive piece of this four-game spurt. Curry averaged 41.0 points on 57.1% shooting from the floor and 50.9% from distance last week.

 

22. Washington Wizards (26)

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

 

Call me perplexed when it comes to evaluating this team. Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the week (21.0/13.3/14.2), and he led the Wizards to wins over the Warriors and Jazz. This is a fickle team, and it would not surprise me to see the Wizards put together a poor week.

 

23. Toronto Raptors (20)

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

 

Toronto continues to lose due to a lack of personnel. Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet have been in and out of the lineup for an extended period, but it is fair to assume this team will take a turn north in the standings when Lowry and VanVleet return consistently.

 

24. Sacramento Kings (22)

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

 

The streakiest team in the league turned in another winless week. Sacramento was outscored by 12.1 points every 100 possessions due to a defense that gave up 115.5 points per 100 possessions. This team is not trustworthy.

 

25. Detroit Pistons (24)

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

 

This is the part of the rankings where teams generally keep their spots since they are all so bad. The Pistons’ offense has been averaging 116.8 points every 100 possessions, but they’re allowing a 125.2 defensive rating.

 

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (25)

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

 

Minnesota finished last week with the worst defense in the league, allowing 125.3 points every 100 possessions to its four opponents. The Timberwolves paired that defense with an efficient attack that posted a 115.8 offensive rating, and that led to three straight Unders and four of five.

 

27. Cleveland Cavaliers (28)

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

 

The blowout of San Antonio allowed Cleveland to leap over the three bottom-dwellers. Cleveland was seventh in offensive efficiency last week, and the Cavs actually posted a positive net rating (+ 1.1).

 

28. Orlando Magic (27)

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

 

Orlando has been somewhat beat up, but Cole Anthony is back. The Magic had the second-worst offense in the league last week (101.8). Where are they finding shot creation on this roster?

 

29. Houston Rockets (30)

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

 

Houston has too many veterans not to show some fight, and bettors are seeing that. The Rockets beat the Mavericks and covered a tight game with the Suns. That was their second game in a week against Phoenix, and they lost by a combined nine points.

 

30. Oklahoma City Thunder (29)

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

 

Over the last 11 games, the Thunder are 1-10 SU and ATS, with the worst offense (98.2) and net rating in the league (-19.5). Lu Dort is back, so maybe win-total bettors will be able to rejoice at some point.

 

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