- Brooklyn Nets
Previous Ranking: 2 (Up 1)
Brooklyn signed recently bought out forward Blake Griffin during the All Star break to help improve their depth. Although Griffin is clearly no longer in his prime, he should be able to provide some solid bench scoring to an already lethal offensive team. The Nets came back and beat a healthy Celtics team in their first game back and look to be the favorites to win the Championship at the moment.
- Utah Jazz
Previous Ranking: 1 (Down 1)
After a small skid before the All Star break, Utah came back and easily beat a bad Houston Rockets team. Utah has the easiest second half schedule in the league, and should have a very good shot at clinching the number 1 seed in the West down the stretch.
- Phoenix Suns
Previous Ranking: 3 (Same)
Devin Booker has continued to prove why he deserved his All Star spot, as he had another great performance against the Portland Trail Blazers. Booker had 35 points on 12-21 shooting and 3-5 from three. He also dished out 8 assists and helped the Suns beat the Blazers 127-121 and remain the 2 seed in the West for the time being.
- Philadelphia 76ers
Previous Ranking: 4 (Same)
Joel Embiid went down with a scary knee injury that looked like it may take him out for the rest of the season. Fortunately for the MVP candidate, it was revealed that it was only a bone bruise after an MRI scan, and Embiid will only miss around two weeks. Philly dodged a huge bullet, as losing Embiid for an extended period of time would have put a dent in their Championship aspirations.
- Los Angeles Lakers
Previous Ranking: 5 (Same)
Lakers star power forward Anthony Davis is still recovering from his injury, as coach Frank Vogel said he will miss at least two more weeks. The Lakers are being cautious with AD, as they know it is more important to have him healthy in the playoffs than rush him back for regular season games. Obviously the Lakers would like to try to move up in the standings, but the longer Davis is out, the harder it will be for the Lakers to catch the Suns and the Jazz.
- Los Angeles Clippers
Previous Ranking: 6 (Same)
The Clippers were able to snap their three game losing streak with a blowout win over the Golden State Warriors in their first game back from the All Star break. It was an all around team effort, with Kawhi Leonard leading the way with 28 points and 9 rebounds. This is a major bounce back win that could get the Clippers back on track.
- Milwaukee Bucks
Previous Ranking: 7 (Same)
After winning the All Star game MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo has quietly tried to enter the regular season MVP race. Giannis has had back to back triple doubles, helping the Bucks win their first two games coming back from the break. If Giannis is able to pull it off, he would be one of only 4 players to win three MVPs in a row, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Larry Bird.
- Denver Nuggets
Previous Ranking: 9 (Up 1)
The Nuggets have won 5 of their last 6 games and seem to be making a second half push for a high seed out West. The Nuggets have been inconsistent for most of the season, but have seemed to hit their stride. Nikola Jokic could become a frontrunner for the MVP award, with Embiid out and the Nuggets record quickly improving.
- Portland Trail Blazers
Previous Ranking: 8 (Down 1)
Carmelo Anthony has had a great start to the month of March so far. Anthony has had three 20 point games off the bench, including one in the win against the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday night. With Melo and several others producing, Portland continues to look more and more dangerous as they continue to get more healthy.
- Miami Heat
Previous Ranking: 13 (Up 3)
The Heat are on fire and have gone 9-1 in their last ten games. The team seems to have gotten their mojo back from last year and went over .500 for the first time this season with a win over the Orlando Magic. Miami should be able to improve on that record, as they have a fairly weak schedule for the upcoming week.
- San Antonio Spurs
Previous Ranking: 10 (Down 1)
The biggest news coming out of San Antonio this week is that they are going to move LaMarcus Aldridge. The veteran big man’s play has declined from last year, but could still be a solid piece for some teams needing bench help. Whether the Spurs can find a trade, or have to buyout his contract, it looks like Aldridge will be on a new team soon.
- Dallas Mavericks
Previous Ranking: 11 (Down 1)
The Mavs were able to win two out of their three games in the shortened week, with their only loss in a game where both Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic sat out for rest. The Mavs have played below expectations for most of this year, but are still in the playoff hunt. Dallas has a tough stretch of games next week, playing the Clippers and Blazers twice, but after that have a much easier schedule, which should help them clinch a playoff spot.
- Boston Celtics
Previous Ranking: 14 (Up 1)
Despite getting a healthy Marcus Smart back, the Celtics were still no match for the Kevin Durant-less Nets. Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker both struggled as they combined for only 24 points on 10-35 shooting. Despite this, the Celtics have the second easiest remaining schedule and should be able to move up the standings in the East.
- Golden State Warriors
Previous Ranking: 12 (Down 2)
The Warriors came out flat against the Clippers coming out of the All Star break, and suffered their fourth consecutive loss. The Warriors lost 130-104, which would cause Steph Curry to get frustrated and yell at the players during a timeout. Curry himself didn’t play well, as he only had 14 points on 6-16 shooting. Curry will need to play better if the Warriors have any shot making a serious playoff run.
- New York Knicks
Previous Ranking: 15 (Same)
Second year wing RJ Barrett has continued to quietly put together a great season, as he scored a career high 32 points in a win against OKC this week. Barrett’s efficiency and scoring have increased significantly this season and have been a major part of the Knicks success this year.
- Memphis Grizzlies
Previous Ranking: 17 (Up 1)
Jonas Valanciunas had a dominant game against the Wizards this week. Valanciunas scored a season high 29 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to help the Grizzlies get a 127-112 win over the Wizards. The Grizzlies have been able to stay around .500 the whole season and should be able to make the play-in tournament if they stay the course through the rest of the season.
- Charlotte Hornets
Previous Ranking: 18 (Up 1)
Rookie LaMelo Ball had another great performance this week against the shorthanded Raptors. LaMelo had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in the 114-104 win. Ball and Gordan Hayward’s arrival in Charlotte has made them serious playoff contenders, as Ball is seemingly running away with the ROTY award.
- Atlanta Hawks
Previous Ranking: 21 (Up 3)
In a close, down to the wire game, the Hawks would find themselves being saved by Tony Snell against the Raptors. Snell would hit the game-winning three pointer to give the Hawks a 121-120 win. The Hawks are currently on a four game winning streak, and if they can stay consistent for the first time this season, they could be looking at a playoff spot.
- Toronto Raptors
Previous Ranking: 16 (Down 3)
The Raptors have been the next team to be crushed by the Health and Safety protocols this season. Toronto is missing both Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet due to the protocols, which is obviously a major blow to the squad. Both are expected to miss the game against Chicago this Sunday as well.
- Indiana Pacers
Previous Ranking: 19 (Down 1)
The Pacers were able to stop the bleeding for a little bit this week with a win over the Suns. More importantly though, is the fact that they were able to get guard Caris LeVert back, who had missed most of the season recovering from a surgery removing a potentially deadly mass in his kidney. LeVert coming back should help the Pacers tremendously, as his scoring ability will help take some of the burden off of Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon.
- Chicago Bulls
Previous Ranking: 20 (Down 1)
Chicago lost both of their games this week and have dropped out of the top 8 seeds in the East. Things might get worse for the Bulls as well, as they have a pretty difficult month of basketball ahead of them. Chicago will get to find out if they are truly a playoff team, or just a pretender in this stretch.
- New Orleans Pelicans
Previous Ranking: 22 (Same)
After suffering a blowout loss to the Timberwolves, the Pelicans would bounce back and blow out the Cavs. Zion Williamson would score 23 points while Brandon Ingram added 28 of his own. The Pelicans held the Cavs to only 82 points, which was a major reason they were able to pull off this blowout win.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Previous Ranking: 24 (Up 1)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to have his breakout season, with another great performance against the Mavericks. SGA scored a game high 32 points on 11-22 shooting in the 116-108 win. He also dished out six assists and is looking like a great 2-way guard for the future.
- Washington Wizards
Previous Ranking: 23 (Down 1)
After going on a solid winning streak to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Wizards have lost three in a row and are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference Standings again. Russell Westbrook had a great game against the Bucks, posting a 42 point triple double. Despite Westbrook’s efforts, the Wizards would still fall to the Bucks 125-119.
- Sacramento Kings
Previous Ranking: 25 (Same)
The Kings came back from the All Star break with a win over the Houston Rockets, in which they saw four of their five starters score 20 points or more. De’Aaron Fox led the way with 30 points himself, while Richaun Holmes, Buddy Hield, and Harrison Barnes all had 20 points apiece.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
Previous Ranking: 26 (Same)
The Cavaliers scoring woes have continued in the second half of the season, as they were only able to muster up 82 points in a loss against the Pelicans. Cleveland has struggled to score all season, and it becomes very difficult to win games when you can’t even break 100 points. They have an undersized backcourt as well, so their defense is not elite by any means, so they will have to find a way to score if they want to win consistently.
- Orlando Magic
Previous Ranking: 27 (Same)
The Magic’s front office has said they have no intention of trading Nikola Vucevic or other key pieces at the deadline. Although they could be trying to increase the price to get these players, it seems like Orlando wants to run it back with a team that is clearly not a championship contending squad. The front office has refused to rebuild over the past few years and have been stuck in the mediocrity zone where they make the playoffs only to get bounced in the first round and not have a lottery pick.
- Detroit Pistons
Previous Ranking: 28 (Same)
Small forward Jerami Grant continues to make his case for Most Improved Player this season, with a 32 point, 8 rebound game against the Hornets. Grant is also a highly valued piece right now and could get the Pistons a lot of assets if they do decide to move him when his value is sky high.
- Houston Rockets
Previous Ranking: 29 (Same)
When will the Rockets win another game? They have lost 15 in a row and haven’t won a game since February 4th. They have essentially been a free win for their opponents as they have fully committed to the rebuild. Houston has four games this week, as they will look to get their first win in over a month.
- Minnesota Timberwolves
Previous Ranking: 30 (Same)
Despite the complete collapse of the Rockets, the Timberwolves still find themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference. This may be the best for them, as it increases their odds of keeping their first round draft pick which is top 3 protected. If it falls out of the top three, they will lose a pick they desperately need and the Warriors will get it.
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