We were going to discuss other teams besides the Golden State Warriors this week. Really, we were. Then Saturday happened.
What transpired that night in Oklahoma City was a continuation of Stephen Curry’s ridiculously insane season, as the reigning MVP tied an NBA record with 12 made 3-pointers and drilled a game-winning three from 32 feet to vanquish the Thunder in overtime. Curry’s heroics came in a game that had the feel of an upset, as Golden State struggled to keep pace with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for most of the night and appeared on its way to its sixth loss.
Yet even on a night when the Warriors seemed poised to lose, they still won, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the NBA or the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, whose 72-10 regular-season record is in serious jeopardy of being toppled by this transcendent bunch.
So where do the 29 normal teams stand as we turn toward the home stretch? Find out in our Week 18 NBA Power Rankings, which account for all games played through Sunday, Feb. 28.
1. Golden State Warriors (53-5): We’d like to take a moment to thank the NBA schedule makers, who have slated a Warriors-Thunder grudge match this Thursday at Oracle Arena. Fasten your seatbelts. Last week: 1
2. San Antonio Spurs (50-9): The Spurs haven’t lost since last Thursday and are on pace to have the best season in franchise history, but they’re still being completely overshadowed by Golden State. Sounds about right. Last week: 2
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-17): Cleveland lost two games to East opponents this week, then sat LeBron James in a blowout loss to the Wizards on Sunday. It’s all part of the plan, right? Last week: 3
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (41-18): Yes, the Thunder have lost four of five, but their near-win over the Warriors on Saturday should be all the proof you need that this team is a serious title contender. Last week: 4
5. Toronto Raptors (39-19): Don’t look now, LeBron, but the Raptors are just two games behind your Cavs, even after having their four-game winning streak snapped Sunday by the Pistons. Last week: 5
6. Los Angeles Clippers (38-20): The Clippers somehow lost to the Nuggets on Wednesday, despite holding them to 84 points, and are 3-3 in their last six games. That’s not going to cut it in the loaded West. Last week: 6
7. Memphis Grizzlies (34-24): The Grizzlies beat the Lakers twice this week, which is nothing to write home about, then lost to the horrendous Suns on Saturday. On the bright side, Tony Allen got some cool shoes. Last week: 8
8. Boston Celtics (35-25): Boston is prone to occasional lapses against bad opponents, as Monday’s loss to the Timberwolves can attest. But the C’s recovered nicely by beating the Heat on Saturday to maintain their hold on the East’s No. 3 seed. Last week: 7
9. Miami Heat (33-26): The Heat lost twice this week but snagged veteran Joe Johnson off waivers Saturday. Does he have enough left in the tank to make an impact in the crowded East? Last week: 9
10. Atlanta Hawks (33-27): The Hawks snapped a three-game skid this week with back-to-back wins over the Bulls and Hornets but still are behind the Heat in the No. 5 seed. Last week: 11
11. Dallas Mavericks (32-28): Dallas is doing everything it can to hold off the streaking Blazers, who now are tied with the Mavs for the West’s No. 6 seed. Last week: 13
12. Portland Trail Blazers (32-28): The Blazers are on absolute tear and have Damian Lillard to thank. He dropped three more 30-point games this week and now is fifth in the NBA in scoring. Last week: 15
13. Indiana Pacers (31-28): The Pacers aren’t doing the best job, well, keeping pace in the East. They’ve lost three of their last four and with a loss to the Cavs on Monday could drop to the No. 7 seed. Last week: 10
14. Charlotte Hornets (30-28): Charlotte is right in the middle of things in the East but scored 76 points Sunday night in a brutal loss to the Hawks. Last week: 14
15. Chicago Bulls (30-28): Derrick Rose is missing games again and the poor Bulls can’t win a game. But hey, Jimmy Butler’s recent MRI on his knee looked good! Last week: 12
16. Detroit Pistons (31-29): Tobias Harris appears to be fitting in quite nicely in Detroit, averaging 17 points over his first six games. Oh, and the Pistons have won four in a row. Last week: 18
17. Houston Rockets (29-30): In this week’s edition of the Rockets being a disaster, James Harden reportedly got Kevin McHale fired and tried running Dwight Howard out of town. Last week: 16
18. Utah Jazz (28-30): Losing to the red-hot Blazers and the Spurs can be forgiven, but a home loss to the Nets is a tough pill to swallow, especially since it dropped Utah out of a playoff spot. Last week: 17
19. Washington Wizards (28-30): The Wizards are hanging around in the East, and after Sunday’s win over the Cavs sit just two games out of the No. 7 spot. Last week: 19
20. Orlando Magic (26-32): Orlando hasn’t beaten a team besides the Sixers in nine days and is slipping further out of the East playoff picture. But sure, trading Harris was a good idea. Last week: 20
21. New York Knicks (25-36): What’s worse: The Knicks or this tweet from team president Phil Jackson? Last week: 21
22. Sacramento Kings (24-33): You’d throw basketballs at people, too, if you played for the Kings. Last week: 22
23. Milwaukee Bucks (24-35): Six-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo playing point guard is entertaining to watch, but unfortunately, the rest of the Bucks are not. Last week: 23
24. New Orleans Pelicans (23-35): Anthony Davis sat out with a sprained toe Saturday, less than one week after exploding for 59 points. Not surprisingly, the Pelicans lost to the Timberwolves. Last week: 24
25. Denver Nuggets (23-36): The Nuggets have dropped four of their last five games to fall below the Pelicans and into 12th in the West. Or move up in the lottery standings. However you want to look at it. Last week: 25
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-41): Karl-Anthony Towns dropped 28 and 30 points, respectively, in the Timberwolves’ two wins this week and should win Rookie of the Year. (Sorry, Kristaps Porzingis.) Last week: 26
27. Brooklyn Nets (17-42): The Nets waived Joe Johnson on Thursday and haven’t lost since. Was this all part of their master plan? Last week: 27
28. Phoenix Suns (15-44): The Suns’ master plan clearly involves losing at a terrific rate, which they failed to do Saturday by somehow beating the Grizzlies to stop a 13-game skid. Last week: 28
29. Los Angeles Lakers (11-49): The Lakers’ latest losing streak is up to eight games, so be sure to tune in to Monday’s showdown with Brooklyn to see if they can turn things around. But yeah, watch something else. Last week: 29
30. Philadelphia 76ers (8-51): Coincidentally, the Sixers also have an eight-game losing streak. Isn’t tanking fun? Last week: 30
Thumbnail photo via Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after hitting the game winning shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
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