The Celtics, Nuggets and Grizzlies all hit the 30-win mark as teams officially began the second half of the 2022–23 season. Elsewhere in the top 10, the Nets, playing without the injured Kevin Durant, dropped both games they played.
In the league’s expansive middle class, the Heat, Kings and Knicks all did well for themselves, while the Warriors saw Stephen Curry make his return. And a bit further down in the standings, the Raptors and Thunder both had productive weeks.
Here’s how the NBA stacks up 1–30 in the middle of January.
1. Boston Celtics
Previous ranking: 1
The Celtics extended their winning streak to seven games last week and became the first team in the league to reach 30 wins. At TD Garden, Boston beat Chicago by eight and New Orleans (still without its All-Star duo) by 11. Jaylen Brown went for a season-high 41 points against the Pelicans but missed the remainder of the week with a groin injury. Jayson Tatum led the way in an 11-point road win over the Nets and then dominated a two-game set in Charlotte, following a 33-point outing with his season-best 51-point outburst. The next time the Celtics take the court will be Thursday against the Warriors for another Finals rematch.
2. Denver Nuggets
Previous ranking: 3
Denver didn’t have any close calls during its six-game winning streak until Sunday against Orlando. With the game tied in the final seconds, Nikola Jokić added to his case for a third straight MVP award with a stepback, game-winning three-pointer. He also recorded a triple-double against the Magic, just as he did earlier in the week against the Lakers in a game the Nuggets won easily behind Jamal Murray’s season-high 34 points. Jokić was active for a blowout against the Suns and then took Friday off versus the Clippers; Denver held up just fine without him, winning by double digits yet again.
3. Memphis Grizzlies
Previous ranking: 4
Memphis has yet to lose in 2023. Its offense averaged more than 130 points per game across a 4–0 week, which was punctuated by a 30-point win over the Suns on Monday. After beating the Spurs twice at home, Ja Morant unleashed a ferocious poster dunk on the road in Indiana during an 18-point road win. The Grizzlies are now winners of 10 in a row and tied with the Nuggets for first place in the West. They host the Cavaliers on Wednesday and then have six straight on the road.
4. Brooklyn Nets
Previous ranking: 2
The Nets mercifully had just two games in eight days after Durant went down with an MCL sprain. They lost both. Brooklyn faded in the fourth quarter against Boston at the Barclays Center and lost by 11, then blew a fourth-quarter lead to Oklahoma City and ended up falling by 10. Kyrie Irving couldn’t get much going in either contest and the offense struggled without Durant, its leading scorer. The Nets were held under 100 points by the Celtics for the second time this season—and for the first time since their last matchup over a month ago.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
Previous ranking: 6
The Cavaliers won the seemingly more difficult games on their schedule last week and lost the two easier ones. Despite 46 points from Donovan Mitchell in his return to Salt Lake City, the Jazz won by two. Cleveland defeated Portland a few days later in Ricky Rubio’s season debut and then closed out the road trip with a loss in Minnesota, where Mitchell went head-to-head against Rudy Gobert for the first time since the two were traded. Darius Garland took over on Monday in a 10-point win against the Pelicans in which Mitchell (groin) sat for the fourth quarter.
6. Milwaukee Bucks
Previous ranking: 5
Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) was active for just one of Milwaukee’s four games last week. In the game he did play, he finished with a season-low seven points, though he added 18 rebounds and 10 assists. The Bucks still had enough to beat the Hawks that night, but they dropped two in a row in Miami with Antetokounmpo sidelined. Back in Wisconsin on Monday, Jrue Holiday finished with a season-best 35 points in a double-digit win against the Pacers. After Tuesday’s game against the Raptors, the Bucks don’t play again until Saturday in Cleveland.
7. Philadelphia 76ers
Previous ranking: 7
Joel Embiid (foot) returned from a three-game absence last Tuesday against the Pistons and the 76ers rolled. Embiid had 36, James Harden posted his second triple-double in a row and Philadelphia had a field day, scoring a season-high 147 points. Two nights later, the Sixers crashed back to Earth against the Thunder, letting up 133 in a 29-point defeat. Philadelphia began its five-game road trip with consecutive one-point wins against the Jazz and Lakers over the weekend. It has three more games out West this week before it returns to the Wells Fargo Center.
8. Sacramento Kings
Previous ranking: 12
The Kings lit the beam after every game last week, signifying four more wins. Sacramento rolled against lesser competition. First it beat the Magic by 25, then it dispatched the Rockets by 20 and then 25. And on the road in San Antonio, the Kings won by 13. Their offense, which leads the league in points per game, scored no fewer than 132 points in each contest. Harrison Barnes led the team in scoring three times and Domantas Sabonis put up a ridiculous 19-15-16 stat line in the second game against Houston. Sacramento gets another shot at the Lakers, who handed them their most recent loss, on Wednesday.
9. New Orleans Pelicans
Previous ranking: 8
The Pelicans split the four games on their schedule last week to wrap up their road trip. With Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones all still out, they beat the lottery teams they were up against and lost to the playoff contenders. C.J. McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas shined in victories against Washington and Detroit but neither had enough in them to beat Boston or Cleveland. New Orleans returns home Wednesday to host the Heat before it hits the road again for a two-game trip to Florida.
10. New York Knicks
Previous ranking: 11
Though the Knicks fell in overtime at home Monday, the duo of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle is making magic happen. Brunson poured in 34 to lead the team in back-to-back tight wins against the Pacers and Wizards, and Randle, who’s been a beast on the boards in January, scored 42 against the Pistons to complete the season sweep. It was R.J. Barrett leading New York on offense with 32 against the Raptors on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but Brunson’s pull-up three at the buzzer was off target. Up next is a trio of games against Eastern Conference foes who trail the Knicks, winners of seven of their last 10, in the standings.
11. Dallas Mavericks
Previous ranking: 9
Dallas has now lost four of five games after it dropped two in a row in Portland over the weekend, the second of which was without Luka Dončić. The Mavericks star finished with a season-low 15 points in limited minutes of the blowout on Saturday and sat out the second game on Sunday. Earlier in the week, he scored 43 in a loss to the Clippers, and it took 35 from Dončić and double overtime to put away the Lakers a few nights later for the only Dallas win all week. The Mavs are home for their next four with two nationally televised games versus the Hawks and Heat coming up.
12. Miami Heat
Previous ranking: 13
Powered by Jimmy Butler and Gabe Vincent, the Heat went 3–1 last week and are now just a game out of the No. 6 seed in the East. On a night when Miami connected on an NBA record 40 free throws without a miss, Butler’s and-one and ensuing free throw gave him 35 points and his team a one-point home win against the Thunder. Vincent scored a career-high 28 in a six-point win versus the Antetokounmpo-less Bucks and followed that up with 27 in a 16-point victory over Milwaukee. On the road Monday in Atlanta, the Heat’s three-game winning streak ran dry.
13. Indiana Pacers
Previous ranking: 10
Indiana gave up quite a bit of real estate in the Eastern Conference playoff race last week by going 0–4. Tyrese Haliburton left in the third quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Knicks after taking a hard fall and did not return. He’s set to be re-evaluated in two weeks after being diagnosed with a sprained elbow and mild knee bruise. Without the engine of their offense, the Pacers came up just short against the Hawks and then put up less of a fight against the Grizzlies and Bucks over the weekend. Monday’s game in Milwaukee was the first of four straight on the road for Indiana.
14. Portland Trail Blazers
Previous ranking: 15
Damian Lillard went on a tear last week, but it netted his team only two wins in four tries. He went for 30 in a three-point loss to the Magic then a season-high 50 against the Cavaliers. Even that wasn’t enough and Portland dropped its fifth in a row. Over the weekend, the Trail Blazers teed off on the Mavericks, lighting them up for 136 and 140 in convincing wins. Lillard went for 36 and 40 and Portland won back-to-back games for the first time in a month. The Blazers head to Denver on Tuesday barely hanging on to a half game lead for the final play-in spot in the conference.
15. Los Angeles Clippers
Previous ranking: 14
Kawhi Leonard played in all three games last week for L.A., which went 2–1 at home. With Paul George (hamstring) sidelined, Leonard scored an efficient 33 points in a 12-point win against Dallas and over the weekend he finished with 30 in a 21-point victory over Houston. The Clippers fell to the Nuggets for the third time this season by 12 points with Jokić out. Their five-game homestand concludes Tuesday against the 76ers and then they’re on the road for 10 of the next 11.
16. Golden State Warriors
Previous ranking: 16
In Steph Curry’s first game back in weeks, the Warriors fell by 12 at home to a Suns team that came in on a six-game skid. Everyone got involved in a 31-point blowout of the Spurs in the next game in front of a record crowd at the Alamodome—eight players finished with double-digits on the way to a season-high 144 points. Golden State got torched by Nikola Vučević and Chicago over the weekend but then beat Washington on Monday behind 41 from Curry, by far his best game of the week. Next up is a Finals rematch in Boston on Thursday.
17. Atlanta Hawks
Previous ranking: 18
Atlanta was missing two starters (Trae Young and Clint Capela) in its only loss last week, which came at home against Milwaukee. Young totaled 26 points and 11 assists in his return to the lineup on the road against the Pacers in a game the Hawks won on a John Collins tip-in at the buzzer. Onyeka Okongwu, starting in place of Capela, finished with 18 points and a career-best 20 boards. Atlanta led wire-to-wire in another road win over the weekend in Toronto and then the Hawks got past the Heat on Monday behind strong play from the duo of Dejounte Murray and Young. They can get above .500 for the first time in weeks with a win Wednesday in Dallas.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves
Previous ranking: 19
Last week began with an ugly loss to the Pistons, who beat the Timberwolves for the second time in two weeks, both times by double digits. Minnesota returned home over the weekend and beat the Suns and Cavaliers on back-to-back nights with Anthony Edwards leading the team with 31 and 26 points. The T-Wolves couldn’t close out the Jazz in the fourth quarter on Monday and ended up losing by one. With a chance to get back to .500, Minnesota is in Denver on Wednesday, a team it beat just a few weeks ago.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder
Previous ranking: 23
Oklahoma City is closing in on a play-in spot. The Thunder are 6–2 in 2023 and went 3–1 on their road trip last week. It was all Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, who traded turns leading the team in scoring. After a one-point loss to the Heat, OKC beat the 76ers by 19 behind 37 points from SGA and then knocked off the Bulls by 14 and Nets by 10 as Giddey led the way. The Thunder have the fourth-best net rating so far in January and have three games on the docket this week as they hone in on a .500 record.
20. Los Angeles Lakers
Previous ranking: 17
The Lakers lost all momentum from their five-game winning streak last week and a double-digit defeat Monday in Denver began a run of three losses in a row. Los Angeles lost by four in double overtime to Dallas and then by one against Philadelphia in a game where LeBron James joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only other member of the 38,000-point club. He added to his chase for the top spot with 48 points in a shootout Monday against the Rockets, which the Lakers won. Russell Westbrook had one of his best weeks of the season with 20-plus points in every game, which stretched his streak to five games in a row hitting that mark.
21. Utah Jazz
Previous ranking: 22
Utah just had its best week of basketball in quite some time. The Jazz went 3–1 with their lone loss coming by one point to the 76ers on an Embiid game-winner. Beyond that, they came in clutch with three wins by four points or fewer against the Cavaliers, Magic and Timberwolves. Jordan Clarkson came alive with a pair of 30-point games and rookie Walker Kessler impressed against Minnesota with 20 points and 21 boards. Utah has just two games in the week ahead and both are at home.
22. Chicago Bulls
Previous ranking: 21
The Bulls dropped three in a row last week but ended on a high note with a 14-point win against the Warriors. Vučević matched a career-high 43 points with DeMar DeRozan (quadriceps) sidelined. DeRozan, the team’s leading scorer, played limited minutes in a loss to the Celtics and sat for losses to the Wizards and Thunder as well. He’s expected to play against Detroit in Paris on Thursday when Chicago goes abroad.
23. Toronto Raptors
Previous ranking: 26
Things are looking up north of the border. The Raptors have won four of five after gutting out an overtime win Monday at Madison Square Garden. Fred VanVleet shrugged off a slump to finish with 33 points and five made threes in a two-point victory. Scottie Barnes’s 27 points weren’t enough to overcome an off shooting night from the rest of the team in a loss to the Hawks, but Toronto handled Charlotte in its two games prior behind back-to-back solid outings from Pascal Siakam. Next up is a date on the road with the Bucks on national television Tuesday.
24. Phoenix Suns
Previous ranking: 20
Phoenix pulled off an impressive upset on the road against Golden State without Devin Booker (groin) or Chris Paul (hip), but otherwise continued their freefall. The Suns have just two wins since Christmas and one so far in January. They added three losses to the tally last week against the Nuggets, Timberwolves and Grizzlies. Though they return home this week, things won’t get any easier without their All-Star backcourt.
25. Washington Wizards
Previous ranking: 24
The only win for the Wizards last week was courtesy of a Kyle Kuzma game-winning three against the Bulls. Washington lost its other three games across its homestand. New Orleans left Capital One Arena with a 20-point victory, New York escaped with a four-point win despite 40 from Kuzma, and Golden State recorded a rare road win by nine. The Wizards were trending slightly upward heading into January but have just one win over their last six games with a long run of road games approaching.
26. Orlando Magic
Previous ranking: 25
The Magic were on the wrong end of a blowout to start the week in Sacramento and then played their opponents tough the rest of the way. Orlando beat Portland by three behind Franz Wagner’s 29 points and then dropped games to the Jazz by four and Nuggets by three to finish up their road trip, which they went 2–3 on. The Magic have a long layoff until their next game when they host the Pelicans on Friday.
27. San Antonio Spurs
Previous ranking: 27
The Spurs’ league-worst defense outdid itself last week. San Antonio let up a new season-high 144 points to Golden State in a 31-point loss. It kept things close in two contests with Memphis, though that was more a credit to its offense than defense, and then Sacramento handed the Spurs their fifth straight loss Sunday. San Antonio, which has three wins since Christmas, is still well ahead of the Rockets for the worst record in the conference. And as the trade deadline approaches center Jakob Poeltl is reportedly drawing significant interest around the league.
28. Detroit Pistons
Previous ranking: 29
The Pistons picked up a rare win last week at the Timberwolves’ expense. Though they lost their other three games, all by double-digits, they got up for a 17-point blowout against Minnesota behind 31 from Saddiq Bey. Beyond that, Detroit was dreadful. The 76ers exploded for 147 points in a 31-point win, the Pelicans won by six and the Knicks left Little Caesars Arena with a 13-point victory. The Pistons have only one game scheduled for the coming week as they head to Paris to play the Bulls.
29. Charlotte Hornets
Previous ranking: 28
Charlotte went winless against a difficult slate to stretch its losing streak to five. It dropped a two-game set in Toronto and then a pair of games at home against Boston. The Hornets’ defense allowed 122 or more points in each game and only hit that mark as a team once. LaMelo Ball shined against the Raptors, setting season-highs in assists (14) the first game and points (32) the second, but it wasn’t enough. Charlotte’s next four games are on the road, where it is 6–18 this year.
30. Houston Rockets
Previous ranking: 30
The Rockets recorded their 11th straight loss Monday night, which ties the Spurs for the longest skid this season. Houston tacked on four more losses and only one was closer than 20 points. Sacramento dished out defeats of 20 and 25 points, the Clippers dispatched them by 21 and then the Lakers did so by eight. After four straight on the road, the Rockets return home, where the worst team in the NBA has performed marginally better than on the road. Charlotte is in Houston on Wednesday for a meeting of the last-place teams from the East and West.