Maybe the biggest storylines in the NBA this week didn’t happen on the court. The Los Angeles Clippers, who are making their move in the Western Conference playoff race, got into a chippy altercation with the Houston Rockets after their game on Monday. Ben Simmons and Kyle Lowry appeared to agree to converse about a disagreement they had on the court in the locker rooms the same day. On Tuesday, Orlando’s Arron Afflalo took a swing at Minnesota’s Nemanja Bjelica. Things have calmed down a bit as of late, but the NBA was looking like it did in the 80’s for much of the week.
In other news, the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics are still the teams to beat even though the Rockets got an important win over the Warriors on Saturday. Oh, and James Harden is back.
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.
Lost to the Rockets but still the best team in the NBA.
2. Houston Rockets. Last week: 4th.
Huge win over the Warriors, Harden is back and Houston seems to be out of their funk.
3. Boston Celtics. Last week: 2nd.
Three game losing streak but still the best team in the Eastern Conference.
4. Toronto Raptors. Last week: 3rd.
Have lost three of five after a hot streak.
5. San Antonio Spurs. Last week: 5th.
Last week I said they have alternated wins and losses in their past eight games. Well that streak is now at 11.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves. Last week: unranked.
Newcomer alert! I thought it was time to give the Timberwolves some respect. Buried behind the Western Conference powers, Karl-Anthony Towns and Co. have won 30 of 48 games.
Dropped from rankings: Cleveland Cavaliers.
Game of the Week
The Boston Celtics head to the Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. on TNT. Maybe not a good matchup records-wise but a classic rivalry game nonetheless. The Lakers hope they are as competitive as the Celtics soon as their young nucleus of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball continues to improve.
- Boston Celtics
- Toronto Raptors (2 GB)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (6 GB)
- Miami Heat (6.5 GB)
- Washington Wizards (7.5 GB)
- Philadelphia 76ers (9.5 GB)
- Indiana Pacers (9.5 GB)
- Milwaukee Bucks (10 GB)
In the hunt: Detroit Pistons (10.5 GB), New York Knicks (13 GB).
- Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets (3.5 GB)
- San Antonio Spurs (7 GB)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (7.5 GB)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (10.5 GB)
- Portland Trail Blazers (11.5 GB)
- New Orleans Pelicans (12 GB)
- Los Angeles Clippers (13 GB)
In the hunt: Denver Nuggets (13.5), Utah Jazz (17.5).
Stat of the Week: Assist Leaders (per game)
- Russell Westbrook, OKC, 10.1
- John Wall, WSH, 9.3
- James Harden, HOU, 9.0
- LeBron James, CLE, 8.7
- Draymond Green, GS, 7.8
Rookie Watch: Jarrett Allen
The 19-year old former McDonald’s All-American and Texas Longhorn was drafted with the 22nd pick in the first round by the Brooklyn Nets. The 6-foot-11 forward has played in 17 minutes a game in 33 games this season. He’s averaging 6.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals and 0.8 blocks this year.
More of the same in the MVP race. Only change was Kyrie Irving and LeBron James switching places. DeMar DeRozan, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and/or DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant also deserve consideration.