The Warriors are gaining steam after notching three wins in a row last week, though they’re still a ways to go from the team’s top teams. It seems the Celtics and Bucks aren’t going anywhere from their perches at No. 1 and 2, respectively, after both teams turned in solid weeks. The Jazz took a tumble after their winless week, and the 76ers and Nets are making their way up the rankings.
See how upsets affected the top 10 teams and where every franchise stands after Thanksgiving weekend.
1. Boston Celtics
Previous ranking: 1
Half of the Celtics‘ losses this season have been against the Bulls. A double-digit defeat last Monday in Chicago ended Boston’s nine-game winning streak, but it wasn’t long before a new one began. The C’s returned to TD Garden and beat the Mavericks, Kings and Wizards to maintain their firm hold on the NBA’s best record, aided by their No. 1 net rating and league-high 120.4 ppg scoring average. Boston’s homestand continues Monday against Charlotte and then with two in a row versus Miami before the Celtics begin a six-game road trip.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Previous ranking: 2
Milwaukee lost what looked like the easiest game on its schedule last week. Across a four-game homestand, the Bucks beat the Trail Blazers, Cavaliers and Mavericks, but it was the Bulls who pulled off the upset over their Central Division rival. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30-plus points in each contest and anchored the league’s No. 1 defense along with blocks leader Brook Lopez. Milwaukee has played the bulk of its schedule so far at Fiserv Forum and posted an 11–2 record, but it won’t play back-to-back games at home again until after Christmas.
3. Phoenix Suns
Previous ranking: 4
The Suns are the hottest team in the NBA after a 3–0 week stretched their winning streak to a league-high four games. Phoenix beat the Lakers, Pistons and Jazz at home to improve their record at Footprint Center to 11–1, the best mark in the league. With Chris Paul still sidelined, Deandre Ayton turned in a few big outings (including a 20–20 game) and Cameron Payne posted his first double double of the season. The Suns play in Sacramento on Monday and are back in Arizona for a pair of home games later in the week.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Previous ranking: 6
There’s no shame in losing to the Bucks. That was the only mark against Cleveland last week, which otherwise handled business with Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland leading the way. The Cavaliers downed the Hawks, Trail Blazers and Pistons, and were on the receiving end of a 38-point Antetokounmpo game. Cleveland heads north of the border to Toronto on Monday for the first time since the season opener.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
Previous ranking: 9
Ja Morant returned from a one-game absence last week after he suffered an ankle injury the week before. Following a loss to the Kings in his first game back, the Grizzlies drubbed the Pelicans and outlasted the Knicks behind Morant’s triple double. Now, Memphis just needs Desmond Bane (toe) up and running to have its starting five at full strength. The schedule picks back up Wednesday in Minnesota for the second meeting of the season between these two teams that battled in the first round back in April.
6. Denver Nuggets
Previous ranking: 8
Denver dropped a tight game on its home floor to the Pistons and rebounded with two road victories. On the heels of that upset, Nikola Jokić led his team to an overtime win against the Thunder behind a season-high 39 points, and the Nuggets handled a shorthanded Clippers team a few nights later. Denver’s depth and top-end talent with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. healthy have the Nuggets playing like a contender, though their bottom-10 defense remains a point of concern.
7. New Orleans Pelicans
Previous ranking: 11
The Warriors sat their stars against New Orleans, which responded with a 45-point shellacking of the defending champs. Two nights later the Pelicans were once again on the right side of a blowout win, this time against the Spurs behind Zion Williamson’s season-best 32 points. The fun ended Friday in Memphis when the Grizzlies stomped them. New Orleans is working its way up the Western Conference standings and quietly has the fourth-best net rating in the league. The Pelicans return home Monday to host the Thunder, though they’ll be without C.J. McCollum (COVID-19) for the third straight game.
8. Portland Trail Blazers
Previous ranking: 5
It’s been tough sledding for the Trail Blazers without Damian Lillard as they dropped three of four last week on the road. It took 44 points from Jerami Grant at Madison Square Garden to knock off the Knicks in overtime. Otherwise, Portland lost to Milwaukee, Cleveland and Brooklyn, and quickly slid in the standings. The Blazers return home Tuesday to host the Clippers before they hit the road again.
9. Atlanta Hawks
Previous ranking: 7
Atlanta put an end to Sacramento’s winning streak last week and didn’t do much else well. The Hawks lost to the Cavaliers and Heat, though the most embarrassing outcome was the Rockets’ pulling off a fourth-quarter comeback to spoil 83 combined points from Dejounte Murray and Trae Young. The 1–3 week set Atlanta back a few spots in the Eastern Conference ahead of a Monday-night contest against Philadelphia.
10. Utah Jazz
Previous ranking: 3
The West is so tight that one bad week dropped the Jazz from first place to play-in range. Utah went winless across a four-game schedule that included road games against the Clippers, Suns and Warriors, and a visit from the Pistons. The loss to Detroit is the only inexplicable outcome, especially considering Utah hit 18 threes. The week could have been salvaged in Phoenix over the weekend, but the Jazz lost by one. They begin a six-game homestand Monday against the Bulls.
11. Philadelphia 76ers
Previous ranking: 17
Without Joel Embiid, James Harden or Tyrese Maxey, the 76ers posted a 3–1 record last week. They upset the Nets in Ben Simmons’s highly anticipated return to Philadelphia, dropped a game to the Hornets and then beat the Magic twice in Orlando—the second win was a 30-point rout, and the team scored a season-best 133 points. With the stars out, it’s been the Shake Milton show, and Paul Reed has shined as well. Doc Rivers will need more of that in the days ahead against the Hawks, Cavaliers and Grizzlies, especially if Embiid isn’t back this week.
12. Dallas Mavericks
Previous ranking: 10
The gantlet schedule the Mavericks faced last week did them in. Dallas went on the road to Boston, Toronto and Milwaukee, and returned to Texas winless. Outside of Luka Dončić, who went for 42 against the Celtics and still leads the league in scoring, the offense has struggled since its electric start. Dallas has been significantly better at home (8–3) than on the road (1–7) and plays host to Golden State at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday for a Western Conference finals rematch.
13. Los Angeles Clippers
Previous ranking: 14
L.A. held up well last week without Kawhi Leonard (ankle) or Paul George (hamstring). The Clippers went 2–2, with the losses coming on the road against the Warriors and at home to the Nuggets, while both victories came at home, versus the Jazz and Pacers. Ivica Zubac nearly pulled off a 30–30 game against Indiana—he had to settle for 31 points and 29 rebounds. Though the Clippers offense still leaves much to be desired, those issues will largely be alleviated when their stars come back. As usual, Tyronn Lue’s defense has been stellar, and the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Kings will test it this week.
14. Sacramento Kings
Previous ranking: 13
The Beam Team finally lost, but not to any slouches. Sacramento notched its seventh consecutive win to begin its three-game road trip in Memphis and then fell to Atlanta and Boston. The Kings’ electric offense was limited to 106 and 104 points by the Hawks and Celtics, respectively, the lowest scoring outputs of the season for the NBA’s second-best offense. They’ll look to return to their high-scoring ways Monday at home in a surprisingly compelling game against the Suns.
15. Golden State Warriors
Previous ranking: 19
Don’t look now, but the Warriors are back above .500 for the first time since October. It was a great week for Golden State, even though it began with a 45-point beating in New Orleans while the team’s core players sat out. With Steph Curry & Co. back in the lineup, the Dubs ripped off wins against the Clippers, Jazz and Timberwolves—all by double digits. Golden State’s return to form will be put to the test on national television twice this week, when they take on the Mavericks on the road and then host the Bulls.
16. Brooklyn Nets
Previous ranking: 18
It wasn’t a great look for a healthy Nets team to lose to a shorthanded 76ers squad in Simmons’s return to Philadelphia. Beyond that, Brooklyn lost to the Pacers on the road but beat the Raptors and Trail Blazers. The victory against Portland kickstarted a run of seven straight games at Barclays Center for the Nets against a somewhat soft schedule. This stretch could be an opportunity for the Nets to make up ground in the East, especially with Simmons playing well, Kyrie Irving back and Kevin Durant doing Kevin Durant things.
17. Indiana Pacers
Previous ranking: 15
The Pacers stood pat last week and split their four-game schedule. They beat the Magic handily, took down the Nets and lost to the Timberwolves and Clippers. Sunday’s game in Los Angeles began a seven-game road trip for the Pacers. Even by Tyrese Haliburton’s high standards as the league leader in assists, he’s been on a tear distributing the ball with 14 or more assists in four of the last five games. He’s the engine of Indiana’s top-10 offense, though Rick Carlisle has also gotten welcome contributions from the likes of Jalen Smith and Myles Turner.
18. Toronto Raptors
Previous ranking: 16
The Raptors are getting by without their stars. Last week they lost to the Nets and beat the Mavericks without Pascal Siakam (adductor) and Scottie Barnes (knee), both of whom could return from injury this week. Toronto has hovered right around .500 all year, having not won or lost more than two games in a row at any point. With Cleveland, New Orleans and Brooklyn on deck, coach Nick Nurse will hope he has his star forwards back in the lineup.
19. Washington Wizards
Previous ranking: 12
The road was not kind to Washington last week, which went 0–3 away from the nation’s capital. The Wizards drew the Heat twice and lost both times and then fell to the Celtics, who were without Jayson Tatum. For the most part, Washington’s offense has been what’s held it back, but the defense allowed a season-high 130 points against Boston, and with Kyle Kuzma (back) out, the team fell short. The Wizards return home Monday to play Minnesota and then hit the road again.
20. Miami Heat
Previous ranking: 22
With Jimmy Butler still out with a knee injury, Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebyao guided the Heat to a 3–0 week. The team returned to Miami after going 0–4 on a road trip to beat the Wizards in back-to-back games after losing to them the week prior in Washington. A Sunday-night victory in Atlanta behind a Tyler Herro triple double stretched the win streak to three games, which matches a season high. Miami will face Boston twice on the road this week in a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals.
21. Minnesota Timberwolves
Previous ranking: 20
Just when it looked like things were going well in the Twin Cities, the Timberwolves lost to the Hornets and got thumped by the Warriors by 33. Before that, Minnesota was winners of five in a row, against quality competition—just last week the T-Wolves downed the Pacers and Heat to extend their streak. Now they’re back to .500 heading into a Monday-night matchup with the Wizards.
22. Los Angeles Lakers
Previous ranking: 23
The Lakers scored two more victories last week with a boost from LeBron James, who returned to the lineup for the first time in two weeks and got to work quickly with a season-high 39 points. Anthony Davis continued his tear with 37 points and 21 boards against Phoenix, though it wasn’t enough to carry L.A. to a win. With back-to-back wins against San Antonio, Los Angeles has won five of its last six games. A few more this week against a schedule of Indiana, Portland, Milwaukee and Washington would legitimize this strong stretch against questionable competition.
23. Chicago Bulls
Previous ranking: 25
The Bulls turned a four-game losing streak into a two-game winning streak after they upset the Bucks and Celtics, the top two teams in the East. Naturally, DeMar DeRozan paced the team in scoring in both contests to net Chicago a pair of much-needed victories. The Thunder downed the Bulls in overtime in their next game, the second of six in a row on the road. The trip continues out West this week against Utah, Phoenix, Golden State and Sacramento.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder
Previous ranking: 21
OKC’s struggles continued last week, to no fault of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. His Most Improved Player campaign continued with 30 or more points in each game, but the Thunder managed only one victory, against the Bulls in overtime. Oklahoma City dropped its other three games versus the Knicks, Nuggets (also in overtime) and Rockets and is now 1–4 over its last five heading into a Monday-night bout with the Pelicans.
25. New York Knicks
Previous ranking: 24
The blitz of the Knicks’ defense continued across three games last week. Against the Thunder, the offense overcame yet another spotty defensive outing thanks to Jalen Brunson’s season-best 34 points. The same couldn’t be said against the Trail Blazers or Grizzlies at home—both teams eclipsed 120 points, and New York couldn’t keep up despite two more 30-plus-point games by Brunson.
26. Charlotte Hornets
Previous ranking: 28
Charlotte won back-to-back games last week for the first time all season, and those victories put a halt to a dismal stretch of basketball. The Hornets had won just one of their last 12 games before they beat the 76ers and Timberwolves in tight contests. Injuries to LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward are still affecting this team as one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league last season has regressed to the worst offense in the NBA.
27. Houston Rockets
Previous ranking: 29
Houston had a long layoff before Friday’s game against Atlanta, and the extra rest was well worth it. The Rockets weathered an onslaught from Young and Murray and stormed back in the fourth quarter to beat the Hawks. Houston then scored a 13-point victory against the Thunder the next night, its largest win of the season. Four upcoming road games against the Nuggets (twice), Suns and Warriors might put an early end to this surprising winning streak.
28. Detroit Pistons
Previous ranking: 30
The Pistons played spoiler to two of the league’s top teams last week. After seven consecutive losses, Detroit finally eked out a victory in Denver and then upset the Jazz as Bojan Bogdanović scored 23 in his return to Salt Lake City. The two-game run ran dry in a loss to Phoenix, and then the Pistons fell on their home floor to Cleveland without most of its starting five available. Still, both games were competitive. That’s all coach Dwane Casey can ask out of this team, especially while it’s still without Cade Cunningham.
29. Orlando Magic
Previous ranking: 26
The Magic went 0–3 last week, but they did have something to celebrate when Rookie of the Year favorite Paolo Banchero returned from a seven-game absence. There’s still a long list of names on Orlando’s injury report, but Banchero’s coming off it is a massive boost to this struggling team. It wasn’t enough for a win in either game against Philadelphia, though, and the Magic lost to Indiana earlier in the week without him. The upcoming schedule against the Nets, Hawks, Cavaliers and Raptors is also rather unforgiving.
30. San Antonio Spurs
Previous ranking: 27
San Antonio’s losing streak sits at eight games after another winless week as the Spurs were routed by the Pelicans and lost twice to the Lakers. Their closest margin of defeat on their current run of losses is 11 points, and they own the worst net rating and defense in the league by a wide margin. After entering the month with a 5–2 record, the Spurs are now firmly back in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.
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