The Golden State Warriors have reclaimed top spot in the TSN.ca NBA Power Rankings, ahead of the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors.
The Houston Rockets, the previous number one, have hit a rough patch and drop from one to six. The Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic are among the other teams falling this week.
As for the climbers, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets are two of the teams making big moves in the right direction.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (29-8)
THIS WEEK: 1 LAST WEEK: 2
There have been few slip-ups, but going 14-2 over the past 16 games is impressive when considering that Steph Curry missed three-and-a-half weeks with a sprained ankle. Steph announced his return by scoring 38 points in 26 minutes against Memphis.
Key Injuries: None.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS (25-12)
THIS WEEK: 2 LAST WEEK: 3
The Spurs have won six of the past eight, but they are still easing SF Kawhi Leonard back into the flow, alternating games and monitoring his minutes – he played a season-high 28 minutes at Detroit Saturday.
Key Injuries: F Rudy Gay (heel).
TORONTO RAPTORS (25-10)
THIS WEEK: 3 LAST WEEK: 5
This might seem a lofty perch for the Raptors, but the numbers support it. They have the third-best scoring differential, are 14-3 in the past 17 games and star SG DeMar DeRozan appears to have developed a competent three-point stroke (a career-best 34.9% from beyond the arc).
Key Injuries: None.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (24-12)
THIS WEEK: 4 LAST WEEK: 4
The Cavs had been humming along, but have lost four of their past five games, with all four losses coming on the road. After Tuesday’s home date with Portland, the Cavs are back on the road for five more, but they are also getting PG Isaiah Thomas into the lineup for the first time this season.
Key Injuries: PG Derrick Rose (ankle), SG Iman Shumpert (knee).
BOSTON CELTICS (30-10)
THIS WEEK: 5 LAST WEEK: 6
After a blistering 22-4 start, the Celtics needed to win their last three games to go 8-6 in the past 14 games. A little bit of treading water.
Key Injuries: SF Gordon Hayward (ankle).
HOUSTON ROCKETS (26-9)
THIS WEEK: 6 LAST WEEK: 1
Snapped a five-game losing streak with a double-OT win against the Lakers on New Years Eve, but also lost SG James Harden for at least a couple of weeks.
Key Injuries: SG James Harden (hamstring), SF Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder).
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (20-17)
THIS WEEK: 7 LAST WEEK: 7
Had won six in a row before back-to-back home losses against Milwaukee and Dallas. At least they are starting to look more like a capable team.
Key Injuries: None.
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (24-14)
THIS WEEK: 8 LAST WEEK: 12
Seven wins in the past eight games, with the only loss a respectable six-point defeat at Milwaukee, is a sign that the T-Wolves have finally turned the corner. They have the talent to keep climbing.
Key Injuries: PG Jeff Teague (knee).
WASHINGTON WIZARDS (21-16)
THIS WEEK: 9 LAST WEEK: 10
Four wins in the past five games is a good sign, and it’s interesting to see PG John Wall taking on a little lighter role as he returns from injury. Not quite as many minutes and fewer shots, though that might be a reflection of his 41.4% from the field, his lowest since his rookie year.
Key Injuries: None.
DENVER NUGGETS (19-17)
THIS WEEK: 10 LAST WEEK: 18
Consistency remains elusive for the Nuggets, but they keep chipping away and second-year guard Jamal Murray is heating up, averaging 20.8 points per game, while shooting 43.5% on threes, in the last 10 games.
Key Injuries: PF Paul Millsap (wrist).
DETROIT PISTONS (20-15)
THIS WEEK: 11 LAST WEEK: 14
Six wins in the past eight games lifts the Pistons out of their early December slump, though backcourt injuries could pose a problem.
Key Injuries: SG Avery Bradley (thigh), PG Reggie Jackson (ankle).
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (19-17)
THIS WEEK: 12 LAST WEEK: 9
With Damian Lillard out, opportunity knocks for Shabazz Napier, and the fourth-year pro has put up 17 points per game over the past seven.
Key Injuries: PG Damian Lillard (hamstring).
NEW YORK KNICKS (18-18)
THIS WEEK: 13 LAST WEEK: 13
There are ups and downs with the Knicks, who just ended a four-game losing streak with a win at New Orleans, but perhaps this can be expected when Michael Beasley and Enes Kanter are some of the most relied-upon supporting cast behind star Kristaps Porzingis.
Key Injuries: SF Tim Hardaway (leg).
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (18-18)
THIS WEEK: 14 LAST WEEK: 17
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are good enough to drag the rest of this bunch to the middle of the pack, but they probably need more help to take it any higher.
Key Injuries: SF Solomon Hill (hamstring).
INDIANA PACERS (19-18)
THIS WEEK: 15 LAST WEEK: 8
The Pacers have lost four straight, the last three without leading scorer Victor Oladipo, who is nursing a knee injury.
Key Injuries: SG Victor Oladipo (knee).
MILWAUKEE BUCKS (19-16)
THIS WEEK: 16 LAST WEEK: 15
The Bucks seem to have the top of the pyramid worked out, with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe leading the way, but there is work to be done to fill out the rest of the rotation.
Key Injuries: SF Jabari Parker (knee), PF Mirza Teletovic (knee).
MIAMI HEAT (19-17)
THIS WEEK: 17 LAST WEEK: 20
8-4 in the past dozen games, the Heat are battling through injuries with a balanced approach – SG Josh Richardson is their top scorer in that span, averaging 16.9 points per game.
Key Injuries: SF Rodney McGruder (leg), C Hassan Whiteside (knee), SF Justice Winslow (knee), SG Dion Waiters (ankle), SF James Johnson (ankle).
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (17-19)
THIS WEEK: 18 LAST WEEK: 16
Four wins in the past 14 games shows what we already knew about The Process – it requires lots of patience.
Key Injuries: PG Markelle Fultz (shoulder), C Joel Embiid (hand).
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (16-19)
THIS WEEK: 19 LAST WEEK: 21
Suddenly coming on, with five wins in the past six games, the Clippers are watching SG Lou Williams fill it up – he’s averaging 25.9 points per game in his past 16 contests.
Key Injuries: SF Danilo Gallinari (glute), PG Patrick Beverley (knee), SG Austin Rivers (concussion).
UTAH JAZZ (16-21)
THIS WEEK: 20 LAST WEEK: 11
The Jazz have won just three of their past 13 games, but those wins have come against Boston, San Antonio and Cleveland. Weird.
Key Injuries: C Rudy Gobert (knee).
CHARLOTTE HORNETS (13-23)
THIS WEEK: 21 LAST WEEK: 22
The Hornets have a little something when Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard are on their games, but they desperately need help and one of the logical support players to bank on, Nicolas Batum, is hitting a career-low 28.2% from beyond the arc.
Key Injuries: C Cody Zeller (knee).
DALLAS MAVERICKS (13-25)
THIS WEEK: 22 LAST WEEK: 25
Signs of life from Dallas, as the Mavericks have won four in a row, including the last three on the road.
Key Injuries: SG Seth Curry (shin), PF Nerlens Noel (thumb).
BROOKLYN NETS (14-23)
THIS WEEK: 23 LAST WEEK: 19
The Nets are a respectable 3-4 in the past seven games, with one of those losses coming in OT. Injuries have left them in a tough spot, though, as SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is their top scoring threat.
Key Injuries: SG D’Angelo Russell (knee), PG Jeremy Lin (knee).
CHICAGO BULLS (13-24)
THIS WEEK: 24 LAST WEEK: 27
A different team with PF Nikola Mirotic in the lineup, the Bulls have won 10 of the past 14games.
Key Injuries: SG Zach LaVine (knee), PG Cameron Payne (foot).
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (12-25)
THIS WEEK: 25 LAST WEEK: 28
Three wins in the past five games is a huge step up from their horrible preceding slump that saw them win just two of 21 games.
Key Injuries: PG Mike Conley (Achilles), SF Chandler Parsons (knee).
ATLANTA HAWKS (10-26)
THIS WEEK: 26 LAST WEEK: 30
The Hawks have won three of four, and are a nearly-respectable 7-11 in the past 18 games.
Key Injuries: C Mike Muscala (ankle), C Dewayne Dedmon (tibia), PG Dennis Schroder (quad).
PHOENIX SUNS (14-24)
THIS WEEK: 27 LAST WEEK: 29
Five wins in the past eight games is lifting the Suns out of a bad place. Getting scoring guard Devin Booker back from injury helps.
Key Injuries: SG Brandon Knight (knee).
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (11-25)
THIS WEEK: 28 LAST WEEK: 23
One win in the past 11 games is a lean stretch for the Lakers, who somehow beat the Rockets for the only win in that span.
Key Injuries: C Brook Lopez (ankle), PG Lonzo Ball (shoulder).
SACRAMENTO KINGS (12-24)
THIS WEEK: 29 LAST WEEK: 26
The Kings have lost four of five, with the win coming against Cleveland, and they’re being led offensively by 36-year-old PF Zach Randolph, who is averaging 15.1 points per game, and his 50.2% from the field is his best since 2010-2011.
Key Injuries: PG De’Aaron Fox (quad).
ORLANDO MAGIC (12-26)
THIS WEEK: 30 LAST WEEK: 24
One win in the past dozen games has the Magic sliding towards the basement. They are not deep enough to handle the injuries that have been hitting them over the past few weeks.
Key Injuries: SG Terrence Ross (knee), C Nikola Vucevic (hand).
Scott Cullen can be reached at email@example.com