What a week it was in the NBA. In an epic Christmas Day clash that saw the Warriors and Cavaliers face for the first time since the NBA finals, the defending champs took it out my a single point. It seems a formality that the Cavaliers take back the number one spot after proving themselves yet again.
The Spurs and Rockets continue to win basketball games and are seemingly a top five lock for the foreseeable future. The top 10 teams are a class above the rest, it is the middle section that things chop and change. The Knicks, Wizards, and Kings are all winning games, making their case to be pushed up the Rankings. It’s the opposite for the Portland Trail Blazers, who even with one of the best backcourts in the league, are in freefall. See how far they’ve dropped and how all other 29 teams have fared in this week's Power Rankings.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (23-7)
Week 9 Ranking: 3rd
It was always known that Christmas Day would be a crucial day in deciding this week's Power Rankings and it was exactly that. As Kyrie Irving spun on Klay Thompson and drained the game winner to beat the Golden State Warriors for the fourth straight time, the top spot was decided. First place on the power rankings ladder should be safe for the Cavs until they head to Oracle Arena to face the Warriors on January 16th. The Cavs will now play three of their next four games at home, starting by hosting the Boston Celtics.
2. Golden State Warriors (28-5)
Week 9 Ranking: 1st
The Warriors will again rue their fourth quarter against the Cavs. Out for revenge, the Warriors held a 14 point lead in the final term only to again stumble and fall. Watching those two teams battle it out made it very clear that barring injury, history will be made and we’ll see the same two teams in the finals for the third straight year, for the first time in NBA history. The Warriors have an easier assignment this week with six straight home games. The Warriors 42-17 first quarter against Toronto Raptors showed they were out for blood, however getting outscored by 15 in the other three-quarters wasn’t equally as impressive.
3. San Antonio Spurs (26-6)
Week 9 Ranking: 4th
It’s been a good week for the Spurs. The week started with a gift in Houston, Patty Mills drained a three to give them the victory, before a loss to the Clippers saw them head to Portland for their last game of a three-game road trip. The Spurs ended their week on Christmas Day against the Chicago Bulls. The struggling LaMarcus Aldridge finally got it going, making his first eight shots in the first quarter. Aldridge finished with 31 points on 15-20 shooting from the field while Kawhi Leonard chipped in with a quiet 25 points. The Spurs will keep doing what they do, winning without much fuss. Three home games await the Spurs this week, most notably against the in form Raptors.
4. Houston Rockets (24-9)
Week 9 Ranking: 2nd
The Rockets haven’t done a huge amount wrong to fall two places down the ranking. Their 115-109 road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies wasn’t a massive cause for concern because the Grizzlies probably won’t play that well again for another 30 games. Granted the Rockets defense wasn’t anything to write home about, but the Grizzlies still shot over 50 percent from the field and from beyond the arc. Their two wins this week came against the Phoenix Suns, probably why we saw a move down the Power Rankings ladder.
5. Toronto Raptors (22-9)
Week 9 Ranking: 5th
It’s unfortunate for the Raptors that they have this team in an era where LeBron and crew are dominating in the East and Durant, Steph and Co are dominating in the West. The Raps have reached an impasse. They can beat 25 teams comfortably. There is a good matchup between the Spurs and Rockets, and they will always lose a best of 7 game series to either the Warriors or Cavs, It’s just that simple. The Raptors are 0-3 against the Warriors and Cavs this season. In their two games against the Cavs, it hasn’t been close, with Cleveland always sensing they can pull away at any moment. A four-game road trip that includes games against the Warriors and Spurs will tell us all we need to know. Pushing for DeMarcus Cousins wouldn’t be the worst idea for the Raptors.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (20-12)
Week 9 Ranking: 8th
This is a big week upcoming for the Thunder, sitting at 20-12 things are looking good, however, with upcoming games against the Grizz, Clippers, Hornets, and Bucks things could go in either direction with all four games looking close matchup wise. Russell Westbrook who has just recorded his 15th triple-double for the season should note the importance of this week, watch for a few stat-stuffing performances. Just to remind you, Russ is still averaging a triple-double, whilst still averaging 31.7 points per game. What a year we have ahead of us.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (20-14)
Week 9 Ranking: 9th
The Rankings could’ve done either way between the Grizzlies, Clippers, and Jazz. The Griz were a look for the seventh spot before losing two straight games. It was their first time they’ve lost consecutive games by a double-digit margin for the season. As they play six of seven games on the road, Friday’s home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder will prove to be vital.
8. L.A. Clippers (22-12)
Week 9 Ranking: 7th
Another week and with it more problems for the cursed Clippers. After three straight losses to the Mavericks, Lakers and Nuggets, yes that's not a typo, the Clippers welcomed back superstar Chris Paul into the lineup to face the New Orleans Pelicans. They didn’t look much better with Paul back in the lineup going down 102-98 despite Paul’s 21 points and DeAndre Jordan’s 25 rebounds. The Clippers will now finish their three-game road trip with a back-to-back against the Rockets and Thunder before going back to Staples Center to host the Grizzlies. The Clips need wins now or they first falling out of the top 10, a feat that five weeks ago seemed unimaginable.
9. Utah Jazz (18-13)
Week 9 Ranking: 6th
This young Jazz team looked like they were playing for their Christmas break losing three straight games prior to the holidays. Two straight home losses to the Kings and Raptors followed a 30-point blowout against the Golden State Warriors. The Jazz steadied the ship at Staples Center against the Lakers, toughing out a narrow 102-100 win. Joe Ingles was the unlikely star swishing home a three-pointer that gave the Jazz the win. This week sees two home games at Salt Lake City against the Suns and Sixers before embarking on a five-game road trip.
10. Boston Celtics (19-13)
Week 9 Ranking: 10th
The Celtics have now won four of their last five matches including an 119-114 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day. 5 foot 9 point guard Isaiah Thomas is leading the Celtics averaging 27 points per game. The Celtics now face the ultimate test, a game in Quicken Loans Arena facing the Cleveland Cavaliers, a four-game homestand awaits.
11. Charlotte Hornets (17-14)
Week 9 Ranking: 12th
The Hornets have put a four-game losing skid well and truly behind them winning four of their last five matches. Most recently came a 120-101 road win over the Orlando Magic, Six Hornet players scored in the double-digits. Charlotte will host the Miami Heat before three games against the Cavs, Bulls and Thunder mark an important week for the Hornets.
12. New York Knicks (16-15)
Week 9 Ranking: 16th
It’s been an up and down week for the Knicks in what has been an up and down season. Two wins at Madison Square Garden saw their home record improve to 11-4 before going down to the Celtics on Christmas despite staging a spirited comeback. What followed was an overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks after Carmelo Anthony was ejected from the game after only playing 10 minutes due to an altercation with Thabo Sefolosha. Anthony will want to make amends when the Knicks continue their road trip against the Pelicans and Rockets.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (15-15)
Week 9 Ranking: 11th
It’s hard to properly gauge where the Bucks are at as they’ve only played five different teams in their last nine games. Back-to-back losses to the Cavs was followed up with a split two-game series against the Wizards. An 119-94 win on the road against the Detroit Pistons showed signs of a serious team. The Bucks shot 57 percent from the field and Jabari Parker had the best game of his young career, shooting 13-18 from the field on his way to 31 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. The Bucks will finish their four-game road trip with back-to-back games the Timberwolves and Bulls before returning home to play Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.
14. Washington Wizards (15-16)
Week 9 Ranking: 14th
Things are suddenly turning around for the Wizards, they undoubtedly have the talent to be in the playoffs in the Eastern Conference however for one reason or another something has always gone wrong. Not to get ahead of ourselves but the Wizards have won six of their last eight games and are now only one game below .500. John Wall has made this team his own… finally, and with an 111-105 victory over the Indiana Pacers, Wall scored 36 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. The Wiz will now host the Nets before a two-game road trip against the Rockets and Mavericks.
15. Chicago Bulls (16-16)
Week 9 Ranking: 15th
The Bulls snapped December funk which saw them losing six out of seven games with consecutive wins for the first time since early December. Two much-needed home wins against the Pacers and Nets came this week, Jimmy Butler's 40 points propelled the Bulls to their 101-90 over the Brooklyn Nets. A rematch against the Pacers awaits before home games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets.
16. Atlanta Hawks (16-16)
Week 9 Ranking: 17th
The Hawks haven’t won or lost consecutive games for three weeks. Sitting at exactly.500 it’s hard to know what to make of them. Two close road wins over the Thunder and Nuggets was sandwiched between a 104-90 loss at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Hawks now play two home games against the Pistons and Spurs before an early four-game road trip in January.
17. Indiana Pacers (15-18)
Week 9 Ranking: 13th
The Pacers 111-105 defeat at the hands of the Wizards marked their fourth straight loss, getting to .500 is becoming more unlikely by the day for the Pacers. This loss came despite Paul George’s efforts, scoring 34 points. The Pacers will try and break out of their four-game losing skid this week when they face the Bulls, Magic, and Nets all on there home floor.
18. Detroit Pistons (15-18)
Week 9 Ranking: 19th
It was expected to be all sunshine and rainbows as the Pistons held an 11-11 record on the return of their star scorer and point guard Reggie Jackson. This has far from been the case as the Pistons took players only meeting after going down to the Pacers by 15 points. This meeting could be deemed as unsuccessful as the Pistons went out the next night to lose to the Bulls by 31. The Pistons have given up seven double-digit defeats in their last 11 matches alone. They will now face two road games against the Hawks and Heat before returning home to again take on the Pacers.
19. Sacramento Kings (14-18)
Week 9 Ranking: 25th
The Sacramento Kings are the movers of the week, winning an unexpected four straight games before going down to the Portland Trail Blazers on the road. Perhaps the most impressive of those victories was a 94-93 win over the Utah Jazz at Salt Lake City. Ty Lawson was the difference maker off the bench, shooting 7-11 from the field and scoring 19 points. The Kings have two days rest before hosting the Memphis Grizzlies.
20. Orlando Magic (15-19)
Week 9 Ranking: 21st
The Magic recorded consecutive wins for the first time since the first week of December with victories over the Lakers and Grizzlies. It was also the first time the Magic had recorded consecutive wins in double figures for the season. A disappointing 19 point loss at home to the Charlotte Hornets followed. The Magic will now play two games on the road against the Pacers and Knicks.
21. Denver Nuggets (14-18)
Week 9 Ranking 18th
It was a quiet week for the Nuggets with only three games. The week started with a disappointing late-game choke, losing 109-108 to the Atlanta Hawks. The Nuggets then beat a Clippers squad without their three leading scorers and a victory against the Timberwolves at home then followed. A home match against the Sixers gets the Nuggets week started before a trip to Oracle Arena to play the Golden State Warriors.
22. Minnesota Timberwolves (10-22)
Week 9 Ranking: 24th
The Timberwolves have lost three of their last four encounters, including a 109-105 loss to the Sacramento Kings, Zach LaVine exploded for a career-high 40 points shooting 13-21 from the field including seven threes. This week consists of two home games for the Timberwolves, against the Bucks and Blazers before a road trip to Philadelphia to take on Joel Embiid and the Sixers.
23. Miami Heat (10-21)
Week 9 Ranking: 22nd
Miami has the third worst scoring average in the NBA, only putting up an average of 98.4 points per game. This scoring has been led by Goran Dragic who is averaging 18.7 points this season. Dragic didn’t take the court in the Heat’s 106-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder due to a hamstring strain. Dragic is listed as day-by-day for their encounter against the Hornets. The Heat will now play back-to-back road games against the Hornets and Celtics in two nights before returning to South Beach to host the Pistons
24. Portland Trail Blazers (14-20)
Week 9 Ranking: 20th
The Blazers awful six-game losing streak was finally snapped with a 102-89 win over the Sacramento Kings. The Blazers actually decided it would be a good idea to play some defense and it worked. The Blazers held the Kings to only 39 percent shooting from the field. The Blazers will try and build on that momentum but it’s going to be tough. Three straight road games against the Spurs, Timberwolves and Warriors now await.
25. New Orleans Pelicans (13-21)
Week 9 Ranking: 26th
The Pelicans have put together two winning streaks of three wins and four wins respectively. Outside of these the Pelicans have only one six other individual games. The Pelicans came from behind in their most recent victory, beating the Clippers 102-98 while outscoring them 26-21 in the final quarter. The Pelicans start their week off hosting the Knicks before traveling to Quicken Loans Arena to play the Cleveland Cavaliers.
26. L.A. Lakers (12-22)
Week 9 Ranking: 23rd
Despite beating an undermanned Clippers team on Christmas Day the Lakers are still in freefall. The Lakers were in a rare winning position against the Jazz but somehow managed to lose that game 102-100. They have three straight home games this week to try and build some wins, first against the Mavericks before taking on the Raptors and Grizzlies in what are two tough assignments.
27. Dallas Mavericks (9-22)
Week 9 Ranking: 27th
The Mavericks rank dead last in points per game with only 94. Their defense is surprisingly good at sixth in the league only allowing 100 points per game. The Mavs pulled off undoubtedly their best two games of the season with back-to-back road wins against the Blazers and Clippers. Since then the Mavs have dropped two straight games to the Pelicans and then a fiery encounter against the Houston Rockets. They will now embark on a two-game road trip that spans only two days, first in Staples Center before a trip to Oracle Arena to face the Warriors.
28. Phoenix Suns (9-22)
Week 9 Ranking: 29th
The Suns are now losers of six games from their last seven with their only win coming at home against the Philadelphia 76’ers. On the bright side, they face the Raptors deep in their road trip on the second night of a road back-to-back. The Suns will then embark on a two-game road trip against the Jazz and the Clippers.
29. Brooklyn Nets (8-22)
Week 9 Ranking: 30th
Despite losing six of their last seven matches and having the worst defense in the league the Nets find themselves off the bottom of the Power Rankings ladder after a 120-118 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 26 points off the bench on 7-11 shooting from the field. The most exciting part of watching the Nets is waiting for Bogdanovic to go for 50 points on a night. It’ll happen, trust me.
30. Philadelphia 76’ers (7-23)
Week 9 Ranking: 28th
A familiar sight for Sixers fans, they again find themselves on the bottom of the Power Rankings ladder after reaching the lofty heights of 28th. Three straight losses against the Pelicans, Kings and Suns has been the cause of this. There is improvement for the Sixers as this time last season the Sixers had just picked up their second win of the season. This improvement is in a large part to Joel ‘Trust the process’ Embiid. Embiid is averaging 18.7 points and 7.4 rebounds in his first season in the league.