It’s getting to the point in the NBA season where each week can potentially swing playoff hopes, especially in a tight Western Conference.
The Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans have used the cramped spacing in the West to their advantage by rattling off win streaks to jump up to third and fourth in the conference, respectively.
Damian Lillard may not be in the same MVP conversation as Davis, but his sizzling form and clutch scoring have similarly led to a surge for the Trail Blazers.
Both New Orleans and Portland make a leap in our power rankings for this week, which are below:
1. Houston Rockets
Record: 50-13 | Last week: 1
A 16-game winning streak and the best record in the NBA is more than enough justification for the number one spot.
2. Golden State Warriors
Record: 50-14 | Last week: 2
The defending champions just keep humming along, though they haven’t truly hit the gas yet.
3. Toronto Raptors
Record: 46-17 | Last week: 3
After falling in their first game after the All-Star break, they’ve rattled off five straight wins and look impressive on both sides of the ball.
4. Boston Celtics
Record: 45-20 | Last week: 4
You can make a case the Celtics haven’t looked better this season than they do right now as their offence and bench have gone to another level.
5. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 39-26 | Last week: 8
Lillard is blazing hot right now and has put Portland on his back to lead them to an eight-game winning streak up to third in the West.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 37-26 | Last week: 5
Their up-and-down rollercoaster of a season continues as they look formidable one night and lacking the next.
7. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 37-26 | Last week: 16
Davis has barely slowed down and the offence as a whole has found its stride, resulting in nine straight wins.
8. Indiana Pacers
Record: 37-27 | Last week: 10
Aside from a couple losses to lottery sides, they’ve been impressive and have six of their next 10 at home where they’re 22-11.
9. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 37-27 | Last week: 7
They’ve uncharacteristically gone 2-8 in their past 10 games and are beginning to look old and slow.
10. Utah Jazz
Record: 34-30 | Last week: 15
Wins in 14 of their past 16 have put them in the playoff race and the schedule eases up going forward.
11. Washington Wizards
Record: 37-28 | Last week: 6
It was a rough week for the Wizards as they dropped three of four, including two losses to potential playoff match-ups.
12. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 35-28 | Last week: 12
They’re young so inconsistency is expected, but their talent is undeniable and makes them one of the better teams in the East.
13. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 37-29 | Last week: 13
They can’t quite string a run together and their claim they play better against good teams took a hit with losses to Houston and Portland this past week.
14. Denver Nuggets
Record: 35-29 | Last week: 14
Paul Millsap’s return has yet to make much of an impact, with the Nuggets 2-2 since getting the former All-Star back.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 38-28 | Last week: 9
They’re in the midst of a tough part of their schedule and things could go south in a hurry as only one game in the loss column separates them from ninth place.
16. Los Angeles Clippers
Record: 34-29 | Last week: 17
Their recent losses have been to strong teams and they’re otherwise taking care of business and close to breaking into the West’s top-eight.
17. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 34-30 | Last week: 11
During their poor stretch of five losses in six games, the offence has been anemic and it’s fair to wonder if they can make any noise in the playoffs.
18. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 28-35 | Last week: 21
Lonzo Ball is back and shooting better than ever, with the Lakers’ only loss in their past six games coming against red-hot Portland.
19. Miami Heat
Record: 34-31 | Last week: 18
They’re somewhat floating at an average level and are fortunate the teams behind them in standings aren’t posing much of a threat.
20. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 28-37 | Last week: 19
Just when it seemed like they were making their push, they followed up a five-game winning streak with a four-game drought.
21. Detroit Pistons
Record: 29-35 | Last week: 20
They’ve spiraled out of the playoff picture with nine losses in their past 10 and likely have too much ground to make up.
22. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 20-45 | Last week: 25
The fact that they notched two wins this past week doesn’t bode well for their lottery odds, but shows the fight of their young guys.
23. Sacramento Kings
Record: 20-44 | Last week: 26 up
Their young players are getting valuable minutes and opportunities in crunch time, which is at least a consolation prize if they don’t grab a top-five pick.
24. Orlando Magic
Record: 20-44 | Last week: 28 up
They won consecutive games this past week for just the second time this season since their improbable 8-4 start.
25. Chicago Bulls
Record: 21-42 | Last week: 23 down
Call it ‘giving minutes to the young guys’ or whatever you want, but It’s pretty clear they’re not trying to win games.
26. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 20-45 | Last week: 29 up
At least Dennis Smith is enjoyable to watch because there are few other bright spots on this roster.
27. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 20-45 | Last week: 24 down
It now feels like a long time ago when Brooklyn’s 2018 first-rounder, in Cleveland’s possession, looked like it could be outside the top-10.
28. New York Knicks
Record: 24-41 | Last week: 22 down
The losses keep piling up as they’ve now suffered defeats in 13 of their last 14.
29. Phoenix Suns
Record: 19-47 | Last week: 30 up
No wins this past week but Devin Booker continues to be fun and there’s another team that’s been worse.
30. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 18-45 | Last week: 27 down
Where else do you place a team that has dropped 14 straight and look completely lifeless?
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