There was little movement at the top of the standings over the last week as the best teams in the league more or less took care of business.
The Nets’ winning streak finally ended but their bigger concern is Kevin Durant, who suffered an MCL sprain in Sunday’s game and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Elsewhere in New York, the Knicks keep piling up victories. And in the West, the gap between the Nuggets and Grizzlies and the rest of the conference is growing. The Clippers and Suns both extended their losing streaks to six with injuries ailing both teams.
Here’s where all 30 NBA teams stand as teams begin to cross the midway point of the season.
1. Boston Celtics
Previous ranking: 1
The Celtics rebounded from an embarrassing loss to an undermanned Thunder team by blowing out the Mavericks and beating the Spurs to close out their road trip. Two nights after a 33-point loss in Oklahoma City, Boston drubbed Dallas by 29 behind a Jayson Tatum triple-double. The five-point victory in San Antonio was less dominant, but it was a win nonetheless. The C’s now head back to TD Garden to host the Bulls and Pelicans before hitting the road once again.
2. Brooklyn Nets
Previous ranking: 2
The Nets lost for the first time in exactly a month last Wednesday. They promptly began a new winning streak over the weekend after their 12-game run was snapped by the Bulls, but they will have to build on that without Kevin Durant for at least the next two weeks. He left Sunday’s game against the Heat—a one-point win—early with what was revealed to be an MCL sprain. This news follows a week where Durant went for 44 points in Chicago and 33 to beat the Pelicans. More responsibility will fall to Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons with the team’s top scorer out and a marquee game Thursday against the Celtics.
3. Denver Nuggets
Previous ranking: 3
The Nuggets added two more wins to their tally last week and are bearing down on the Celtics for the best record in basketball. Denver didn’t need much magic out of Nikola Jokić to get past the Clippers, who they beat by 31, but he shined the next night against the Cavaliers, who were without Donovan Mitchell, and posted his league-leading 10th triple-double in a 13-point victory. Home games against the Lakers and Suns and then a trip to Los Angeles to play the Clippers are ahead for the West’s No. 1 seed.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Previous ranking: 4
Winners of six in a row, the Grizzlies have drawn even with the Nuggets atop the conference. They added three more victories last week against the Hornets, Magic and Jazz, and won over the weekend without Ja Morant or Steven Adams. Desmond Bane had his best game since returning from injury against Utah, finishing with 24 points, six boards and nine assists—the kind of All-Star numbers he was posting with ease before he went down in November. Memphis gets San Antonio at home twice this week, a team that took it to overtime earlier this season.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
Previous ranking: 5
Giannis Antetokounmpo joined in on the league-wide scoring craze with a 50-point game of his own last week. He went for 55, a career-high, in a win against the Wizards and finished with a 30-20-10 game the next night to beat the Raptors on the road. The wheels fell off over the weekend, against the Hornets of all teams, who blitzed the Bucks for 51 points in the first quarter and never looked back in a 29-point victory. Antetokounmpo finished with a season-low nine points in 22 minutes in the losing effort. Milwaukee is on the road four times this week against New York, Atlanta and Miami (twice).
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
Previous ranking: 6
The Cavs got the best of the struggling Suns twice last week, first by two points in Cleveland and then by 14 in Phoenix. After Mitchell’s historic 71-point night, he cooled off with 20- and 22-point outings and took a well-earned rest against Denver. The Cavaliers lost by 13 on the road without him and have three more away games coming up to conclude their six-game West Coast trip.
7. Philadelphia 76ers
Previous ranking: 8
With Joel Embiid (foot) sidelined, Philadelphia won two of three games powered by the play of James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Harden made a clutch block in overtime in a tight win against the Pacers and triple-doubled in a victory over the Pistons. Maxey led the way with 23 points in Detroit and scored a team-high 26 efforts in a home loss to the Bulls. The 76ers have two more games at Wells Fargo Center this week before they head West.
8. New Orleans Pelicans
Previous ranking: 7
Just before Brandon Ingram is expected to return from a month-long absence, Zion Williamson went down with a hamstring injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for several weeks. With neither All-Star active, the Pelicans won only one game in three tries last week and are now 1–4 over their last five. After beating the Rockets, they lost a tight game to the Nets at home. New Orleans then kicked off its five-game road trip with a loss in Dallas with CJ McCollum (rest) out as well.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Previous ranking: 9
A blowout loss at home ended the Mavericks’ season-long, seven-game winning streak. Boston decimated Dallas by nearly 30 points at American Airlines Center and Luka Dončić, the league’s leading scorer, finished with just 23 points. The Mavs bounced back a few nights later against the Pelicans with a 10-point victory at home but they lost to the Thunder on the road without Dončić (ankle) for the second game of a back-to-back Sunday.
10. Indiana Pacers
Previous ranking: 10
Indiana had a chance to gain some ground on Philadelphia last week with Embiid out for a head-to-head matchup, but it fell just short in overtime. The Pacers rebounded over the weekend with wins against the Trail Blazers and Hornets as Tyrese Haliburton racked up more assists, totaling at least a dozen in each game to build on his league-leading average. Indiana faces New York at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday with the Knicks less than a game back.
11. New York Knicks
Previous ranking: 15
The Knicks picked up two clutch victories last week to stretch their streak to four in a row and counter the effects of a five-game losing streak in late December. Jalen Brunson went for a career-high 38 points at Madison Square Garden to sink the Spurs and a few nights later Julius Randle scored 32 to beat the Raptors in Canada, a first for the Knicks since 2015. RJ Barrett (finger) has yet to play in January and he’s doubtful to suit up against the Bucks on Monday.
12. Sacramento Kings
Previous ranking: 11
The Kings lost both games last week by five combined points. Despite four starters finishing with 20-plus points, the Hawks completed the season sweep of Sacramento with a three-point win. And over the weekend, the Lakers took a two-point lead late on a pair of free throws and De’Aaron Fox missed a three-point try from just inside halfcourt. The Kings have games against the Magic, Rockets (twice) and Spurs, three of the worst teams in the league, in the coming days.
13. Miami Heat
Previous ranking: 14
The Heat were on the wrong side of some close scores last week. They lost by three to the LeBron James-less Lakers and by one to the Nets at home. The one decision that went their way was in Phoenix against the rudderless Suns, who they downed by eight behind 26 points from Victor Oladipo off the bench in a game that Tyler Herro (back) missed. Miami is on national television twice this week, once against Oklahoma City and once against Milwaukee, which it hosts twice in the span of three days.
14. Los Angeles Clippers
Previous ranking: 12
The Clippers are sliding down the standings following a second consecutive winless week. They have now dropped six in a row after losses to the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Hawks. Los Angeles put up a fight against Atlanta, falling by four, but the final scores against Denver and Minnesota were not nearly as close. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both missed Friday’s game, though Leonard returned Sunday to score 29 while George (hamstring) was out again.
15. Portland Trail Blazers
Previous ranking: 13
The Trail Blazers went winless on the road last week to fall below .500 for the first time this season. The offense was largely limited in losses to the Timberwolves, Pacers and Raptors and Portland is now holding onto the final play-in spot in the Western Conference. The Blazers return to the Moda Center to host the Magic, Cavaliers and Mavericks (twice) over the next several days.
16. Golden State Warriors
Previous ranking: 17
The Warriors suffered two rare losses on their home floor last week. Golden State was 17–2 at the Chase Center before dropping a game to Detroit on a buzzer-beater and losing to Orlando over the weekend. Klay Thompson (knee) was a late scratch against the Magic, though the Dubs got Andrew Wiggins back and Andre Iguodola made his season debut in that game. The Warriors host the Suns on Tuesday before they embark on a five-game road trip that begins Friday in San Antonio, where Steph Curry could reportedly rejoin the team.
17. Los Angeles Lakers
Previous ranking: 23
The Lakers added three more wins last week to extend their streak to five, a new season-high. Without LeBron James, Dennis Schröder went for a game-high 32 points in Miami to beat the Heat. James was back in the lineup over the weekend and led the team with 25 points in a victory against the Hawks and 37 in a tight win over the Kings thanks to a pair of last-second Schröder free throws. Once again on the verge of a .500 record, Los Angeles has a tough road ahead with Denver, Dallas and Philadelphia on the schedule.
18. Atlanta Hawks
Previous ranking: 19
Atlanta ended its four-game skid last Wednesday in Sacramento. It was a somewhat rare road win for a team that had been struggling, and four starters finished with 20-plus points in a three-point victory. The Hawks couldn’t keep up with the Lakers, who handed them a 16-point loss, a few nights later. Trae Young went for 30 points to get past the Clippers and put a bookend on the California road trip. Atlanta is off until Wednesday when it hosts Milwaukee on national television.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves
Previous ranking: 21
The T-Wolves are one game under .500 after stretching their winning streak to four games, one short of a season-high. Anthony Edwards led the way with 32 points to beat the Trail Blazers, Rudy Gobert took over with a 20-20 game in a win over the Clippers and D’Angelo Russell went for 22 points in a road win against the Rockets. Karl-Anthony Towns, who last played in late November, is reportedly still weeks away from returning from his calf strain to a team that is trending upward after a six-game losing streak to end December.
20. Phoenix Suns
Previous ranking: 16
Things are grim in Phoenix. After a 15–6 start, the Suns are 5–15 since the calendar flipped to December. With Devin Booker (groin) still on the shelf, they’re in the midst of a six-game skid with a daunting schedule ahead. Phoenix lost twice to Cleveland, by two and four points, both games it desperately needed to stop the bleeding, and also fell to Miami at home last week. Paul left the game against the Heat early with hip soreness and missed Sunday’s game against the Cavaliers, which meant both All-Star guards were out of the lineup. Phoenix is now 2–10 without Booker this season, who hasn’t played since Christmas.
21. Chicago Bulls
Previous ranking: 22
The Bulls followed up two consecutive narrow losses with three straight wins, each by eight or more points. Chicago ended Brooklyn’s 12-game winning streak, got past Philadelphia on the road behind 41 points from Zach LaVine and then beat the Jazz, this time with 36 from LaVine. Poor play by teams near the Bulls in the standings has allowed them to creep up to ninth in the East with a 7–3 mark over their last 10 games. Next up is a game against Boston, which Chicago has already beaten twice this season.
22. Utah Jazz
Previous ranking: 18
A dominant win in Houston interrupted a long string of Jazz losses. It took a career night from Lauri Markkanen for them to record their first victory since before Christmas, but a 49-point effort was enough to spearhead the win. Utah got right back to losing over the weekend, dropping games against Chicago and Memphis. This recent skid has the Jazz out of the play-in tournament entirely, though they return to Salt Lake City this week where things have gone much smoother than on the road.
23. Oklahoma City Thunder
Previous ranking: 25
The Thunder continue to stand tall on their home floor. They picked up wins over the weekend against the Wizards and Mavericks to improve to 13–9 at Paycom Center. Who else but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led OKC in scoring with a pair of 30-point outings in both games. SGA shined earlier in the week in Orlando, but he was the lone bright spot in an 11-point loss. The Thunder, who embark on a four-game East Coast road trip this week, are just 1.5 games out of the final play-in tournament spot.
24. Washington Wizards
Previous ranking: 20
Last week was a light one for Washington with just two games played. It dropped them both, ending its winning streak at five. The Wizards welcomed back Bradley Beal (hamstring) against the Bucks, but he left after just 13 minutes and did not return in the 10-point loss. He was out Friday as well against the Thunder for a 17-point defeat. After splitting a four-game road trip, Washington returns to the nation’s capital, where it is 10–7 so far this season, for three games this week.
25. Orlando Magic
Previous ranking: 26
Paolo Banchero powered the Magic to two more wins last week to continue their ascent in the East. The No. 1 pick went for a team-high 25 points in double-digit victories over the Thunder at home and Warriors on the road and he finished with 30 in a loss to the Grizzlies at the Amway Center. Winning at the Chase Center has been a rarity for road teams this year, but Banchero and Franz Wagner led the way against an undermanned Golden State team to kick off a five-game West Coast road trip.
26. Toronto Raptors
Previous ranking: 24
After enduring two slim losses on their home floor, the Raptors redeemed themselves Sunday with a win. First came a low-scoring affair against the Bucks, which they dropped in overtime, and then the Knicks eked out a four-point victory at Scotiabank Arena. Toronto then picked up its first win of 2023 against Portland behind 27 points out of Pascal Siakam. The Raptors wrap up a six-game homestand this week.
27. San Antonio Spurs
Previous ranking: 27
San Antonio was shockingly competitive last week given its injury report. Devin Vassell (knee) is out indefinitely and missed all three games last week, while Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl were both unavailable against Boston. Down three starters, the Spurs nearly upset the Celtics on Saturday a day after defeating the Pistons by double digits. San Antonio pushed New York to the brink a few days prior but couldn’t complete the season sweep. The upcoming schedule is daunting: A two-game set in Memphis and then back home to host the Warriors and Kings this weekend.
28. Charlotte Hornets
Previous ranking: 29
The Hornets came away with just one win in three tries against a tough schedule last week, but what a win it was. Behind Terry Rozier’s 39 points, Charlotte beat Milwaukee by 29 on the road. LaMelo Ball added 23 points and 12 assists in a contest that the Hornets dominated from the first quarter on. Beyond that surprising result, Charlotte lost at home to Memphis and fell on the road in Indiana. Next up is a trip to Canada for a two-game set against Toronto.
29. Detroit Pistons
Previous ranking: 30
The Pistons became the fastest team to 30 losses and then turned around and upset the defending champs, on the road, no less. Saddiq Bey drained a three at the buzzer to sink the Warriors in a game where Bojan Bogandovic totaled 29 points and rookie center Jalen Duren double-doubled. The Pistons lost next time out to the Spurs to wrap up their five-game road trip and dropped their first game back at Little Caesars Arena over the weekend to the 76ers. Detroit gets another shot at Philadelphia on the road Monday, and then begins a homestand.
30. Houston Rockets
Previous ranking: 28
After logging its seventh consecutive loss on Sunday, Houston is now alone at the bottom of the standings. The Rockets’ 29th-ranked offense couldn’t keep them in games against the Pelicans and Jazz, both of which they dropped by double digits. And they couldn’t hold onto a lead entering the fourth quarter Sunday against the Timberwolves, which added another loss to the counter. Houston heads to California on Wednesday to begin a four-game road trip that starts in Sacramento.