1. Golden State Warriors (41-7, 1st in Western Conference)
The Warriors’ only loss in 12 games came against the Miami Heat last Monday. Dion Waiters sank a game-winning 3 with 0.6 seconds left on the clock to upset the team with the best record in the NBA. Golden State eked out a win in Portland without two-time MVP Steph Curry after demolishing the Clippers at home to close out the weekend. With three games against teams that are under .500 this week, the Warriors should have another lengthy winning streak by the end of this week.
2. San Antonio Spurs (36-11, 2nd in Western Conference)
The Spurs lost back-to-back games for only the second time this season, and both losses came against teams that are way behind in the standings. San Antonio would have dropped a few spots in this week’s power rankings if not for how the Cavs and the rest of the contenders also struggling. With three games at home this week, the Spurs will look to bounce back and continue their winning tradition two weeks before the All-Star break.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (32-14, 1st in Eastern Conference)
Nothing new here. LeBron James is still complaining, and the Cavs are still trying to regain their groove. LeBron has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the lack of a “playmaker” on the team despite his team sitting comfortably in the top spot and having an All-Star point guard in Kyrie Irving. The Cavs ended the week on a good note by shutting down MVP front-runner Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder. This will be a good week for LeBron and his team to figure out internal issues with the Wolves, Mavs and Knicks on the schedule.
4. Boston Celtics (29-18, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
The Boston Celtics leapfrogged over the Raptors for the No. 2 spot in the East; something that hasn’t happened since the Big-Three era in 2011. Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics are averaging an absurd 120 points in their last three games, which all resulted in wins. The Celtics face a critical test Wednesday against Toronto. A win will likely widen the gap between the two in the standings, but a loss would give the Raptors the ultimate tie-breaker if both teams enter playoffs with the same record. Boston will be an interesting team to keep an eye out on as the trade deadline approaches. Will they finally trade their treasure chest of draft picks and assets for that final piece of the puzzle?
5. Houston Rockets (35-16, 3rd in Eastern Conference)
The Rockets went 1-3 last week to finish their disappointing Eastern Conference road trip. Take away the monster triple-double against the Sixers, and James Harden has struggled mightily. Shooting at a dismal 33.3 percent in the Rockets’ three losses, while also turning the ball over almost nine times a game, is not helping Harden’s case as the MVP and certainly not helping the Rockets win games. The Rockets will have the luxury heading into the All-Star break with six of their next seven games at home.