NBA

Oklahoma City Thunder coming together to climb NBA power rankings

Jay Asser 01:58 22/03/2018
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The Thunder have built up a cushion between themselves and the ninth spot in the standings.

A pair of lengthy winning streaks came to an end this past week as the Toronto Raptors saw their run of 11 consecutive victories snapped, while the Houston buzz saw claimed another victim to halt Portland at 13 straight.

Golden State and Boston, meanwhile, have been treading water as many of their key players have been sidelined due to injury, which has all but taken them out of contention for the top seed in their respective conferences.

The team that makes the most sizeable jump in our power rankings this week is Oklahoma City, who have started to figure it out and were the ones to end Toronto’s streak – that too at Air Canada Centre where the Raptors are 29-6 this season.

1. Houston Rockets
Record: 57-14 | Last week: 1

Wrap your head around this: Houston are 23-1 over the past 24 games. And the lone loss in that span came to Toronto on the road.

2. Toronto Raptors
Record: 53-18 | Last week: 3

They continue to be the only team in the league in the top five of both offensive and defensive efficiency. Plus they’ve won 12 of their last 13.

3. Golden State Warriors
Record: 53-18 | Last week: 2

They’ve dropped four of their last six, but have been without Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, so being fully healthy is the priority.

4. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 44-27 | Last week: 5

It took the Rockets to end Portland’s impressive 13-game winning streak, which shot them up to third in the West.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 43-30 | Last week: 13

The late collapse to Boston was embarrassing, but big-picture wise, they showed real promise with six straight wins before that.

6. Boston Celtics
Record: 48-23 | Last week: 4

They look more like the Maine Red Claws than the Celtics, but Brad Stevens still has his team fighting tooth and nail every night.

7. Utah Jazz
Record: 40-31 | Last week: 10

Even with the disappointing loss to bottom-feeders Atlanta, Utah have won 21 of their past 24 and found their rhythm.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 41-29 | Last week: 6

The return of Kevin Love provides a boost and allows the Cavaliers to get a better idea of how they can fit together before the playoffs.

9. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 41-30 | Last week: 7

They’re in the midst of playing five games in six days, which will be followed by a murderers’ row featuring Houston, Portland, Cleveland and Oklahoma City. Yikes.

10. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 39-30 | Last week: 12

Joel Embiid is rolling and the Sixers look like a team no favourite wants to face in the first round of the playoffs.

Embiid

11. Indiana Pacers
Record: 41-30 | Last week: 8

Five of their next seven are on the road, where the Pacers have been a .500 team this season.

12. Washington Wizards
Record: 40-30 | Last week: 11

The win over banged-up Boston was far from impressive, but Washington are managing without John Wall.

13. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 41-30 | Last week: 9

Kawhi Leonard is still not back yet, but the Spurs have responded with four straight wins after dropping five of six.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 41-31 | Last week: 15

Andrew Wiggins has been shooting more efficiently in Jimmy Butler’s absence, but it’s not like he’s gone to another level.

15. Miami Heat
Record: 38-33 | Last week: 19

Goran Dragic has been hot of late, averaging 23.2 points on 53.2 per cent shooting overall and 50.0 per cent on 3-pointers over the past five games.

16. Denver Nuggets
Record: 38-33 | Last week: 14

They’re two games back of the eight spot in the West and without Gary Harris for the moment after he went down with a knee injury.

17. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 37-33 | Last week: 17

Inconsistencies have plagued them all season and they just can’t seem to string together wins.

18. Los Angeles Clippers
Record: 37-33 | Last week: 16

Four straight losses, albeit to some of the best teams the West has to offer, have set them back in the playoff race.

19. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 31-39 | Last week: 19

Julius Randle has been playing some inspired basketball, averaging 26.0 points and 11.6 rebounds over his past five games.

Randle

20. Detroit Pistons
Record: 32-39 | Last week: 21

It’s hard to get excited about the Pistons when their past three wins have come against Phoenix, Sacramento and Chicago.

21. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 30-41 | Last week: 20

No team has a worse defensive rating than the Hornets over the last 10 games, with Charlotte allowing 116.6 points over 100 possessions.

22. Sacramento Kings
Record: 23-49 | Last week: 23

They’ve been playing playoff teams tough of late, with rookie guard De’Aaron Fox having flashes of brilliance.

23. Chicago Bulls
Record: 24-46 | Last week: 25

Chicago aren’t exactly helping their cause as their 4-5 record so far in March is harming their lottery odds.

24. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 23-48 | Last week: 27

Cleveland likely have one eye on Brooklyn, who are two games from third-to-last and three games from 10th.

25. New York Knicks
Record: 26-45 | Last week: 28

Tim Hardaway has raised his scoring over the past month and taken charge as the Knicks’ primary threat.

26. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 21-50 | Last week: 22

Atlanta must be thrilled to see the continued development of Taurean Prince, who has scored at least 22 points in four of his past five.

Prince

27. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 22-49 |Last week: 26

The main reason they were exciting to watch even as they were losing, Dennis Smith Jr, is now out with a sprained ankle.

28. Orlando Magic
Record: 21-50 | Last week: 24

They’ve been woeful offensively over the past five games, fielding an offensive rating of just 93.8 points.

29. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 19-51 | Last week: 30

Not only did they finally end their 19-game skid, but Memphis beat a playoff hopeful in Denver to feel what it’s like to win again.

30. Phoenix Suns
Record: 19-53 | Last week: 29

The losses keep piling up as they’ve now dropped 24 of their past 26 to sit in pole position for the best lottery odds.

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