It’s been a relatively quiet week in basketball.
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference (Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors) and the top two teams in the Western Conference (Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets) solidified their positions atop the NBA. The Celtics and Warriors each hold a 3.5 game lead over the Raptors and Rockets.
The next team in each conference, Cleveland Cavaliers in the East and San Antonio Spurs in the West, have streaking teams right behind them. The Miami Heat are on a seven-game winning streak and are one game behind Cleveland and the Minnesota Timberwolves are also one game behind the Spurs.
Boston and Miami have the league’s longest win streaks at seven. The Orlando Magic have the longest losing streak, also at seven.
Stephen Curry injured his ankle again but returned after missing two games.
As always, we’ll look at the Power Six rankings, Game of the Week, Playoff Picture, Stat of the Week, Rookie Watch and MVP Update.
1. Golden State Warriors. Last week: 1st.
Head and shoulders above everyone except maybe the Celtics.
2. Boston Celtics. Last week: 2nd.
Back on a winning streak, looks like Boston is here to stay.
3. Toronto Raptors. Last week: 3rd.
Lost to the Warriors 127-125 on Saturday. Most teams would consider that a victory.
4. Houston Rockets. Last week: 5th.
5. San Antonio Spurs. Last week: 4th.
Kawhi Leonard returned again, for how long remains unknown. Have alternated wins and losses in their past eight games.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers. Last week: 6th.
Gave up 127 and 133 points in losses to the Timberwolves and Raptors then blew a 22-point lead to the Indiana Pacers. You may be wondering why Minnesota isn’t here considering they beat Cleveland by 28 last week, have a better record and have won five straight. I offer one response: LeBron James.
Game of the Week
The Oklahoma City Thunder travel to Quicken Loans Arena to face the Cleveland Cavaliers at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. It will be a match-up between two talented, yet under-performing, squads who have likely not reached their potential yet. The Thunder are currently the fifth seed in the West and the Cavaliers are the third seed in the East. Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas have a combined 35 All-star appearances. I still haven’t gotten used to George and Anthony in orange and blue and Thomas in wine and gold.
- Boston Celtics
- Toronto Raptors (3.5 GB)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (7 GB)
- Miami Heat (8 GB)
- Washington Wizards (8.5 GB)
- Detroit Pistons (10.5 GB)
- Indiana Pacers (10.5 GB)
- Milwaukee Bucks (11 GB)
In the hunt: Philadelphia 76ers (12.5 GB), New York Knicks (14.5 GB).
- Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets (3.5 GB)
- San Antonio Spurs (6 GB)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (6.5 GB)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (11.5 GB)
- New Orleans Pelicans (12 GB)
- Portland Trail Blazers (12.5 GB)
- Denver Nuggets (12.5 GB)
In the hunt: Los Angeles Clippers (13 GB), Utah Jazz (17 GB).
Stat of the Week: Leading Rebounders (per game)
- Andre Drummond, DET, 15.0
- DeAndre Jordan, LAC, 14.9
- DeMarcus Cousins, NO, 12.5
- Dwight Howard, CHA, 12.3
- Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN, 12.0
Rookie Watch: OG Anunoby
The former Indiana Hoosier and 23rd overall pick by the Toronto Raptors has made quite a name for himself in the early goings of his NBA career. The 6-foot-8 forward missed time in his sophomore year of college due to a knee injury and fell in the draft. Now he may be the steal of the draft. He has flashed potential as a 3-and-D wing with his improved shooting. He is averaging 6.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.1 blocks in 21.7 minutes per game.
It’s hard to predict the MVP at this point in the season especially after injuries to players like Stephen Curry and James Harden throughout the year. If Harden didn’t get hurt he’d probably be first, but I still have Curry in the number one slot even though he’s missed a few games as well. This race should become more clear as the season progresses. DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis also deserve consideration.