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NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Philadelphia 76ers enter the top-5, San Antonio Spurs take a big leap

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The 76ers make a jump into the top-5 in this week's rankings [NBA Getty Images]

Here is a look at the NBA Power Rankings through Week 23 of the 2018-19 NBA season.

Let's make one thing clear: These power rankings are a snapshot of where things stand now, not necessarily how they'll look at the end of the season. We're all about giving credit where it's due and, likewise, holding teams accountable for speed bumps encountered along the way.

All records and stats are through games played Monday, March 18.

10. Utah Jazz

Last week : 10th

Current record : 40-29

Last week : 3-1 (loss vs. Thunder, win at Suns, win vs. Timberwolves, win vs. Nets)

This week : at Wizards, at Knicks, at Hawks, at Bulls

The Jazz started the week with a loss to the Thunder, but bounced back in impressive fashion with dominant wins against the Suns, Timberwolves and Nets.

That's good news for them the rest of the way, as the Jazz have the easiest remaining schedule in the league. Other than the Nuggets and Clippers, the rest of their games are against opponents with losing records, such as the Suns (twice), Knicks, Hawks and Bulls.

Even after a disapointing week to start the month March, in which they lost to both the Pelicans and Grizzlies, the Jazz are still in the mix for homecourt advantage in the Western Conference.

9. Boston Celtics

Last week : 7th

Current record : 43-27

Last week : 2-1 (loss at Clippers, win vs. Kings, win vs. Hawks)

This week : vs. Nuggets, at 76ers, at Hornets, vs. Spurs

The Celtics couldn't close out their West Coast road swing as they fell to the Clippers to start the week, but they got right back on track when they returned to Boston.

Kyrie Irving led the way through wins over the Kings and Hawks, nearly dropping back-to-back triple-doubles. He posted a triple-double of 31 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds as the Celtics fought off the Kings for the second time in a week. Then he scored 30 points to go with 11 rebounds and nine assists to hold off a late comeback by Atlanta.

Boston will be put to the test this upcoming week as they host the Nuggets then travel to Philadelphia to go for the season sweep on the 76ers. They close the week on a away-and-home back-to-back with the second game going against the hottest team in the NBA in the Spurs.

They could possibly be without Gordon Hayward for the week, who is under the NBA's concussion protocol after leaving Saturday's game with a neck injury.

8. Denver Nuggets

Last week : 9th

Current record : 46-22

Last week : 3-0 (win vs. Timberwolves, win vs. Mavericks, win vs. Pacers)

This week : at Celtics, at Wizards, at Knicks, at Pacers

The Nuggets dropped two games a week ago which slid them down in the power rankings, but a perfect 3-0 week has them trending in the right direction.

They handled the Timberwolves early in the week when Jamal Murray bursted out for 30 points. The other two wins came by a total of three points and two buzzer beaters.

Denver edged the Dallas Mavericks in the final seconds when MVP-candidate Nikola Jokic's floater dropped in just as the buzzer went off to win by one.

The very next game, someone else had to play hero as Jokic was ejected earlier in the contest versus the Pacers. Queue forward Paul Millsap, who attacked the rim with seven seconds remaining, finishing over elite shot blocker Myles Turner to give the Nuggets another win.

Denver has a tough test to start their week, traveling to Boston to take on the Celtics who they beat earlier in the year by way of a 50-piece from Murray.

7. Portland Trail Blazers

Last week : 5th

Current record : 42-27

Last week : 2-1 (win at Clippers, win at Pelicans, loss at Spurs)

This week : vs. Pacers, vs. Mavericks, vs. Pistons

The past week could not have started better for the Blazers, who destroyed another potential Western Conference playoff team in the LA Clippers on the road.

CJ McCollum exploded for 35 points in the win and posted 23 points in their win over the Pelicans, but then things went south for Portland.

McCollum suffered a brutal injury in Saturday night's contest against the San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers lost the game and feared they could lose their other premier scorer for an extended period of time.

Luckily for McCollum and his team, the injury was not as serious as it seemed. He suffered a popliteus strain in his left knee and will be re-examined in one week, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

A sigh of relief for the Blazers who heavily rely on McCollum's scoring to be successful. They have games against two Eastern Conference playoff teams coming up this week and CJ sidelined, expect big numbers from Damian Lillard.

6. San Antonio Spurs

Last week : 12th

Current record : 41-29

Last week : 3-0 (win at Mavericks, win vs. Knicks, win vs. Blazers)

This week : vs. Warriors, vs. Heat, at Rockets, at Celtics

The Spurs are the hottest team in the NBA right now.

Having eight straight games, they have the longest current winning streak in the league. It's helped them move within a game of the Thunder in the Western Conference standings and within 1.5 games of the Blazers, giving them a realistic shot at making a run for homecourt advantage with 12 games to play.

The Spurs have picked up a number of impressive wins during this streak, too. Last week it was the Nuggets and Bucks, this week it was the Blazers.

Next up on the schedule? A home game against the Warriors, who are coming off of a week in which they blew out both the Thunder and Rockets on the road.

It should be a good one.

5. Toronto Raptors

Last week : 2nd

Current record : 49-21

Last week : 1-2 (loss at Cavaliers, win vs. Lakers, loss at Pistons)

This week : vs. Knicks, at Thunder, vs. Thunder, vs. Hornets

It was an off week for the Raptors who went 1-2 losing to a pair of Eastern Conference foes.

They started the week by dropping a road contest to the Cleveland Cavaliers who have the second-worst record in the NBA. In the very same contest, they lost their starting centre Serge Ibaka who was suspended for three games for a fight with Cavs' forward Marquese Chriss.

They bounced back in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers but couldn't avoid being swept by their former head coach Dwane Casey as the Pistons defeated the Raptors for the third time this season to close the week.

Star forward Kawhi Leonard did his thing throughout all three games, averaging 27.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting an impressive 54.2 percent from beyond the arc for the week.

Toronto finally got highly-valued backup point guard Fred VanVleet back in the lineup but starting point guard Kyle Lowry didn't play after Monday's contest as he nurses a minor ankle injury.

Lowry is expected to return to action sooner than later as the Raptors hope to have him for their home-and-home series with the Thunder this week.

4. Houston Rockets

Last week : 3rd

Current record : 44-26

Last week : 3-1 (win vs. Hornets, loss vs. Warriors, win vs. Suns, win vs. Timberwolves)

This week: at Hawks, at Grizzlies, vs. Spurs, at Pelicans

Don't let the one loss to the Warriors distract you from the fact that the Rockets have still won 10 of their last 11 games.

They walked over the Charlotte Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves and pulled away a close one against a young Phoenix Suns team that has been giving a ton of teams fits lately.

The two-point loss to the Kevin Durant-less Warriors does sting a bit, as Houston missed their chance to sweep the season series against their archrival 4-0. ut they still appear to be the best contender to knock Golden State out in the West for the second season in a row.

James Harden's supporting cast continues to improve each week leading into the playoffs and the Rockets have themselves with a mildly comfortable 1.5 games lead for the No. 3 seed.

The significance of that - home court advantage in the first round and avoiding the Warriors until another Western Conference showdown, should both teams reach that point.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

Last week : 6th

Current record : 45-25

Last week : 3-0 (win vs. Cavaliers, win vs. Kings, win at Bucks)

This week : at Hornets, vs. Celtics, at Hawks

The 76ers had a perfect 3-0 week capped off by one of their biggest wins of the season on the road in Milwaukee.

Philly has now won four consecutive games since the return of Joel Embiid, who hasn't missed a beat since coming back. He's doing it all for the Sixers averaging 27.8 points, 15.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.8 steals over the four victories.

He even scored 40 points in the win over the Bucks.

There is no ceiling for how far the 76ers can go this season as long as Embiid stays healthy.

2. Milwaukee Bucks

Last week : 1st

Current record : 52-19

Last week : 2-1 (win at Pelicans, win at Heat, loss vs. 76ers)

This week : vs. Lakers, at Cavaliers, vs. Heat, vs. Cavaliers

The Bucks were knocked off the top spot after a tough home loss to the 76ers to end the week.

Giannis Antetokounmpo played like a man possessed, scoring a career-high 52 points to go with 16 boards, seven assists, two steals and a block but it wasn't enough to get the win.

But the biggest and most unfortunate news of the week in Milwaukee came on Saturday night when it was discovered that Malcolm Brogdon suffered a minor plantar fascia tear in his right foot which will cause him to miss 6-8 weeks into the playoffs.

Brogdon was having a fantastic season averaging 15.6 points on 50-40-90 shooting. The Bucks will use the final 12 games of the season to figure out how they can get others to fit in and step up in his absence.

1. Golden State Warriors

Last week : 4th

Current record : 47-21

Last week : 2-0 (win at Rockets, win at Thunder)

This week : at Spurs, at Timberwolves, vs. Pacers, vs. Mavericks

The Warriors ended the week prior with a home loss to the Phoenix Suns, so a long look in the mirror was necessary before facing off against two of the top teams in the conference this past week.

Golden State responded in a way that you would expect as they picked up impressive road wins over arguably their two biggest threats to dethrone their title hopes.

DeMarcus Cousins had one of his best games in a Warriors uniform when he dropped 27 points to go with eight boards and seven assists, dominating Clint Capela, showing exactly why he'll be valuable to the pursuit of another championship.

Klay Thompson was red hot this past week too, averaging 26.5 points shooting a lights out 44.4 percent from 3-point range.

With him and Boogie getting in their groove to go with the play that Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have sustained all season, the back-to-back champions are starting to pull it all together just at the right time.

Rest of the NBA

11. LA Clippers

12. Indiana Pacers

13. Oklahoma City Thunder

14. Detroit Pistons

15. Brooklyn Nets

16. Miami Heat

17. Charlotte Hornets

18. Orlando Magic

19. Sacramento Kings

20. Washington Wizards

21. Los Angeles Lakers

22. Minnesota Timberwolves

23. Memphis Grizzlies

24. Atlanta Hawks

25. New Orleans Pelicans

26. Dallas Mavericks

27. Phoenix Suns

28. Chicago Bulls

29. New York Knicks

30. Cleveland Cavaliers

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