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NBA Power Rankings: Celtics Finally Lose, but Remain on Top

Celtics streak snapped but hang onto top spot

Credit: Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The first quarter of the season is officially coming to a close, as we are starting how each conference might shake out. We finally saw the Celtics lose a game after 16 in a row, the Cavs win nine-straight, and the Warriors somehow lose to the Sacramento Kings.

Other News and Notes: Paul Millsap is out indefinitely, the 76ers crack the top ten, the Memphis Grizzles fire head coach David Fizdale, and the OKC Thunder keep on struggling.

 Last Week’s Rankings

Team 30-11

30.) Chicago Bulls (28) (3-15)  29.) Atlanta Hawks (30) (4-16)  28.) Dallas Mavericks (29) (5-15)  27.) Sacramento Kings (27) (5-14)  26.) Brooklyn Nets (26) (7-12)  25.) Phoenix Suns (25) (7-14)  24.) Memphis Grizzlies (12) (7-12)  23.) Los Angeles Lakers (23) (7-10)  22.) Charlotte Hornets (24) (6-9)  21.) Los Angeles Clippers (22) (5-10)  20.) Orlando Magic (16) (8-12)  19.) Miami Heat (21) (10-9)  18.) Utah Jazz (19) (9-11)  17.) Oklahoma City Thunder (14) (8-11)  16.) New York Knicks (17) (10-9)  15.) Indiana Pacers (20) (11-9)  14.) Milwaukee Bucks (13) (9-9)  13.) New Orleans Pelicans (19) (11-9)  12.) Washington Wizards (10) (10-9)  11.) Denver Nuggets (8) (11-8)

Top Ten

10.) Portland Trailblazers (11) (12-8)

The Portland Trailblazers continue to hover around the 12-to-10 range, and have once again cracked the top ten. The Blazers are 7-2 in their last nine and continue to make their case as a potential playoff team in the crowded Western Conference. With a tough two-game stretch against Houston and Golden State coming up, the Blazers have their work cut out for them if they want to stay in the top ten. (Update) The Trailblazers beat the New York Knicks 103 to 91 on Monday night (13-8 record).

9.) Philadelphia 76ers (15) (11-7)

Is this when we finally start to “trust the process” in Philadelphia? Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are quickly becoming one of the best young duos in the NBA, leading the Sixers to their first top ten appearance all year. This week, the 76ers have four games against Eastern Conference opponents; lets see if they have what it takes to climb up the rankings even further. (Update) The 76ers lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91 on Monday night (11-8 record).

8.) Minnesota Timberwolves (7) (12-8)

Where is the defense? This is the question most Timberwolves fans are wondering after the first quarter of the season has come and gone. Head coach Tom Thibodeau was supposed to be the coach that brought the young Timberwolves to the next level, but many of the defensive woes that plagued the Wolves last year have again reared their ugly head. A look ahead shows us a string of tough games for the struggling and banged up Timberwolves, will they continue to drop further? (Update) Timberwolves lost to the Wizards 92-89 Tuesday night (12-9 record).

7.) Detroit Pistons (6) (12-6)

The Pistons continue to be one of the best stories of the NBA season thus far. They split their weekly record at 1-1, losing to the streaking Cavs and beating the struggling Oklahoma City Thunder. The next two weeks the Pistons only play one team under .500, so we’ll see if they can maintain their top ten status and remain among the leagues biggest surprises. (Update) The Pistons take down top ranked Boston Celtics on Monday night 118-108 (13-6 record).

6.) Cleveland Cavaliers (9) (12-7)

The Cleveland Cavaliers now have the NBA’s current longest winning streak, winning nine-straight, including wins Monday and Tuesday against Philadelphia and Miami respectively. LeBron James continues to play like a man possessed and has injected life into an otherwise slumping squad. Things may be getting even better with the potential return of point guard Isaiah Thomas right around the corner (mid December). Fun Stat; LeBron James was ejected for the first time in his career on Tuesday night in his 1082nd career game. (Updated record 14-7.)

5.) Toronto Raptors (4) (12-7)

After a season-best fourth place ranking, the Raptors have fallen a spot due to a 1-2 week against opponents ranked lower than them. Luckily for the Raptors, they have more games coming up against bottom-12 ranked teams and don’t play another top ten team until December 21st. Will the Raptors hold off the Cavaliers and stay in the top five for another week?

4.) San Antonio Spurs (5) (12-7)

Tony Parker finally made his season debut Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks, playing a total of 14 minutes. That combined with the news that Kawhi Leonard is competing in 5-on-5 drills is a great sign of things to come for the San Antonio Spurs. Their upcoming schedule has its fair share of bottom dwellers with a few sprinkles of top ten teams (Detroit and Boston). Updated record 13-7.

3.) Golden State Warriors (2) (15-5)

The Warriors have stumbled as of late, losing big to a struggling Thunder team trying to find their identity, and the Sacramento Kings (not a typo) who remain one of the leagues bottom feeders. Kevin Durant continues to be hampered by an ankle injury, which has caused him to miss four out of the last five games. Despite his injury, look for the Warriors to get back on track this week with their slate of favorable games. Updated record 15-6.

2.) Houston Rockets (3) (15-4)

The return of Chris Paul has had better than expected results, as the Rockets have beaten their opponents by an average of 18 points in his return to action. This is bad news for the rest of the league, as one of the NBA’s top teams just got better. Look for the Rockets to continue to roll through their opponents and challenge the Celtics for the number one spot.

1.) Boston Celtics (1) (18-3)

The Celtics finally lost to the Miami Heat after an NBA-best 16-game winning streak, but ended up finishing the week on a high note beating the Magic and surging Indiana Pacers. However, this winning streak was short lived with a Monday night loss to the Detroit Pistons. Looking ahead, the Celtics have only a few games against top ten teams. Look for them to resume their winning ways and hold onto the top spot for at least the next week. Updated record 18-4.

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