Sport NBA Power Rankings: Bucks, 76ers battle for top spot as Suns fall; can Anthony Davis save Lakers from play-in?

18:31  10 may  2021
18:31  10 may  2021 Source:   cbssports.com

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  Steve Kerr comments on viral video of Klay Thompson Combining the injuries with the difficulties of the pandemic, and the return of the fans, was probably enough to put Thompson in a tough spot emotionally. Even though he hasn’t been playing, he has still been very involved with the Warriors.Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily.

Can you believe it? We're in the final week of the NBA regular season in a year that has concurrently felt breathtakingly fast and mind-numbingly slow. Each team has either three, four or five games remaining, with an all-out extravaganza taking place on Sunday featuring all 30 teams in action. It's the send-off this peculiar season deserves, and there will be no shortage of drama all week long.

  NBA Power Rankings: Bucks, 76ers battle for top spot as Suns fall; can Anthony Davis save Lakers from play-in? © Provided by CBS Sports

As for the Power Rankings, the Phoenix Suns' short-lived reign as No. 1 came to a rapidly unceremonious end, and the Milwaukee Bucks narrowly edged out the Philadelphia 76ers to wear this week's crown. Also moving up were the Utah Jazz -- no strangers to the top of the rankings -- with a perfect week.

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The Dallas Mavericks joined the 76ers and Jazz as this week's biggest risers, with an undefeated week putting them in the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference ... for now, at least. The Los Angeles Lakers also moved up a couple of spots behind the brilliant play of Anthony Davis, who is trying to keep his team afloat while they await the return of LeBron James.

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With one eventful week left in the NBA regular season, here are the latest Power Rankings.

*Keep in mind that our Power Rankings are based on the team's performance the previous week, not the entire season.

Biggest Movers
4 76ers
5 Nuggets
1 Bucks The Bucks picked up their second straight win over the Nets, which has to give them confidence, and took down the red-hot Wizards before putting up 141 points in a win over the depleted Rockets. They have moved ever closer to Brooklyn for the No. 2 seed in the East, a spot that would mean home-court advantage in a potential second-round matchup. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton all averaged over 23 points per game this week, as Milwaukee looks to finish the regular season on a high note. 2 43-24
2 76ers The 76ers took care of business against four sub-par opponents this week to extend their winning streak to eight games and all but assure themselves the No. 1 seed in the East, a particularly important position for a team that dominates at home. Joel Embiid averaged 28 points in 28 minutes per game this week, while Doc Rivers praised the team's depth, saying they could go with an 11-man rotation come playoff time. Philly has been able to keep the starters' minutes down in recent weeks, which means they should be rested and dangerous for the start of the postseason. 4 47-21
3 Jazz It was a strong (and important) week for the Jazz, who won all four games to give themselves some breathing room in the race with the Suns for the NBA's best record. Bojan Bogdanovic has been lights out, averaging 29.3 points on 62/54/90 shooting splits for the week. Rudy Gobert added 15.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and two blocks per game as Utah awaits the return of Donovan Mitchell. 4 50-18
4 Suns Well, it was a short-lived run at the top for the Suns, who lost to the Hawks and Lakers this week with wins over the Cavs and Knicks. Phoenix gave up a whopping 121.2 points per 100 possessions this week, obviously something that will need to tighten up by playoff time. The Suns are two games back of the Jazz for the No. 1 seed in the West with four games left. 3 48-20
5 Clippers The Clippers beat the Raptors and blew out the Lakers to start the week, before dropping a close one to the Knicks on Sunday. Kawhi Leonard took only 13 combined shots in the first two games of the week, but made up for it with 26 field goal attempts in the loss to New York, though he only made nine of them. The Clippers and Nuggets will jostle for the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds in the West over the final week of the regular season. -- 45-23
6 Nets The Nets went 1-2 this week with a win over the Nuggets and losses to the Bucks and Mavs, but help could be on the way soon as James Harden is "very, very confident" that he'll be back before the playoffs. Kyrie Irving was simply outstanding this week, averaging 38 points on 17-for-32 3-point shooting in the three games. Kevin Durant added 28.3 points per game, but more importantly averaged nearly 40 minutes per game with no visible signs of wear and tear. Brooklyn is a half-game up on the Bucks for the No. 2 seed in the East. 2 44-24
7 Nuggets Not having their second-best player (and some other key pieces) seemed to catch up to the Nuggets this week, as they dropped three out of four games against stout opponents. Nikola Jokic struggled from the 3-point line, but still averaged 29.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists for the week, while Michael Porter Jr. added 23.8 points per game on 47 percent 3-point shooting. Austin Rivers has been a pleasant surprise filling in for the injured Monte Morris and Will Barton, averaging 14.5 points per game this week on 54 percent 3-point shooting. 5 44-24
8 Mavericks Luka Doncic and the Mavericks picked a great time to have a 4-0 week, moving into fifth place in the Western Conference in the process. Doncic put up 21.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists in just under 28 minutes per game this week, while Tim Hardaway Jr. took advantage of the extra shot attempts with Kristaps Porzingis out of the lineup, averaging 26 points on scorching 24-for-46 3-point shooting. 4 40-28
9 Trail Blazers The Blazers stayed hot this week, winning three of four games, including a pivotal victory over the Lakers that could help them avoid the play-in tournament. Damian Lillard has regained his MVP form from earlier this season, averaging 33.3 points and eight assists on 54 percent 3-point shooting this week. Portland has now won seven of its last eight games, with the league's second-best net rating over that stretch. 1 39-29
10 Knicks The Knicks were blown out by the Nuggets and Suns this week, but bounced back for an impressive road win over the Clippers on Sunday. Derrick Rose averaged 20.3 points and 4.8 assists this week on 57 percent 3-point shooting, to make up for Julius Randle's off-week shooting the ball. The Knicks are fourth in the East, but need to perform in the final week of the regular season to maintain home-court advantage in the first round with the Hawks and Heat nipping at their heels. 2 38-30
11 Heat The Heat started off the week with a loss to the Mavs, but finished up with a win over the Celtics that could keep themselves out of the play-in tournament. Jimmy Butler averaged 25.5 points, 8.5 assists and eight rebounds in two games this week, while Tyler Herro returned from a six-game absence to average 19.5 points on 8-for-11 3-point shooting in the final two games of the week. Overall the Heat are playing well, winners of seven of their last 10, as they look to regain their playoff form from last year. 2 37-31
12 Hawks The Hawks picked up impressive wins over the Blazers and Suns before losing a barnburner to the Pacers on Thursday, as they continue to jar for playoff positioning. Bogdan Bogdanovic has been one of the keys to their second-half surge, averaging 23 points on 57 percent 3-point shooting in three games this week. Trae Young struggled from distance, but averaged 22.3 points and 11 assists, while Danilo Gallinari put up nearly 20 points per game on 53 percent 3-point shooting. 1 37-31
13 Lakers Anthony Davis really does not want to be in the play-in game. He scored 36 points in a pivotal loss to the Blazers and followed that up with a 42-point effort to beat the Suns. Portland now has the tiebreaker and a one-game lead on the Lakers for the No. 6 spot, and both have four games remaining. LeBron James is expected to be back at some point during what will be an unusually significant last week of the regular season for the Lakers. 2 38-30
14 Warriors Golden State went 3-1 this week, including a split of a two-game set with the Pelicans that could have play-in implications. Steph Curry continues to be an absolute madman on the court, averaging 40.3 points this week while hitting 46 percent of his 18 (!) 3-point attempts per game. The Warriors' final four games are at home, which bodes well for their changes of securing the No. 8 seed -- but they start off the week with the Jazz and Suns. 1 35-33
15 Wizards Three more wins this week for the blazing-hot Wizards, whose only loss came by a single point to the Bucks. They've moved into the No. 9 spot in the East, with a chance to move up in the final week of the regular season. Bradley Beal averaged an absurd 36.5 points per game this week on 42 percent 3-point shooting before exiting late in Saturday's win over the Pacers with a hamstring strain that will keep him out at least one game. Russell Westbrook continues to put up mind-boggling numbers, averaging 22.3 points, 18.3 assists and 17.3 rebounds for the week. That's video game stuff right there. 3 32-36
16 Pelicans Bad luck struck the Pelicans this week, as they lost both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram for their last two games as they desperately try to climb to the No. 10 spot in the West. The remaining Pels nearly stunned the 76ers on Friday, then managed to beat the Hornets on Sunday, led by Eric Bledsoe's 24 points and 11 assists, to keep hope alive. Lonzo Ball averaged 17.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists for the week, while Jaxson Hayes and Willy Hernangomez played well filling in for Steven Adams, who has missed six of the team's last eight games. -- 31-37
17 Celtics The Celtics went 1-2 this week, including an ugly blowout loss to the Bulls, and they've now lost six of their last 10 games. Jaylen Brown missed all three games this week, with Kemba Walker returning to provide 27.7 points per game on 50 percent 3-point shooting. Jayson Tatum struggled from deep, making just 24 percent of his 3-pointers, while Even Fournier has begun to get his bearings with Boston, averaging 21.7 points this week on 60 percent from deep. 3 35-33
18 Spurs The Spurs lost three of four games this week, leaving the door open for the Pelicans or Kings to sneak into the No. 10 spot. It's still highly unlikely for San Antonio to miss out on the postseason, but it has has dropped six of its last seven games, with the Bucks, Nets, Knicks and Suns (twice) on tap for the final week. DeMar DeRozan led the way with 18.3 points per game this week during a significant offensive drought for the Spurs. 1 32-35
19 Grizzlies Losing to the Pistons when you're chasing a playoff spot is never a good thing, but a 2-2 week left Memphis in strong position to secure a play-in berth. Jaren Jackson Jr. is starting to work his way back into shape, averaging 17 points and almost 24 minutes in three games this week. Ja Morant led the team with 19.3 points per game, but the Grizzlies continue to spread out the offense with six players averaging double figures. -- 34-33
20 Kings The Kings keep chugging along, winning three of four games this week without De'Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Harrison Barnes. The loss to the Spurs was painful, though, since they're the team Sacramento is chasing for the final play-in spot. Terence Davis, who came over just before the trade deadline from the Raptors, stepped up with a team-leading 17.5 points per game this week, while Delon Wright, another deadline acquisition, averaged 17 points, 7.8 rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Whether they make the postseason or not, the Kings deserve credit for fighting until the end when it would have been easy to pack it in. 1 30-38
21 Bulls The Bulls went 3-1 this week to keep their faint play-in hopes alive, and received a much-needed boost with the return of Zach LaVine, who averaged 22.7 points on 41 percent 3-point shooting in the Bulls' final three games of the week -- all Chicago wins. Nikola Vucevic did his part as well, averaging 25.3 points, 14.7 rebounds and five assists on 40 percent 3-point shooting for the week. Chicago is 2.5 games back of the No. 10 Pacers entering the final week of the regular season. 4 29-39
22 Hornets The Hornets beat the Pistons and Magic this week while falling to the Bulls and the short-handed Pelicans. They have a play-in spot virtually locked up as they await the return of Miles Bridges and potentially Gordon Hayward. Terry Rozier led the team with 25.3 points per game this week, including 43 in Sunday's loss to the Pelicans. PJ Washington averaged 20.3 points and nine rebounds per game on 60 percent 3-point shooting, while LaMelo Ball put up 19 points, 6.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. 2 33-35
23 Pacers Amid reported friction between head coach Nate Bjorkgren and his players, the Pacers went 1-3 this week in some wild games. Disregarding an anomalous 93-point effort in a loss to the Kings, Indiana averaged 135 points in the other three games this week, with Caris LeVert leading the way with 28.3 points per game on 45 percent 3-point shooting. Domantas Sabonis has been a monster since returning from injury, putting up 27.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game this week on 68 percent field goals. 1 31-36
24 Raptors The Raptors lost to the Clippers, Wizards and Grizzlies this week to effectively end any hopes of a play-in spot, which they seem to be OK with given their pattern of resting good players. Pascal Siakam, one of the few Raptor regulars to play all three games this week, averaged 28.7 points and seven rebounds, while Fred VanVleet added 24.5 points and nine assists per game. 1 27-41
25 Timberwolves The Wolves lost to the Grizzlies and Heat to start the week, then easily handled the Magic on Sunday. Minnesota put up an impressive 121.4 offensive rating for the week, as the trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards has looked promising ... on that end, at least. Edwards had perhaps the best week of his young career, scoring a career-high 42 points on 22 shots in a loss to the Grizzlies, and making 50 percent of his 3-pointers over the three games. 1 21-47
26 Magic Orlando was able to beat the Pistons in a tank-off on Monday, but lost its next three games convincingly. Dwayne Bacon led the team in scoring this week with 18.8 points per game, which tells you everything you need to know about the current state of the Orlando Magic. Mo Bamba has impressed as the starting center, averaging 10.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in three games without Wendell Carter Jr. to close out the week. -- 21-47
27 Pistons The Pistons played five games this week, but only won one of them -- a solid showing against the Grizzlies. Hamidou Diallo scored a career-high 35 points in a loss to Charlotte, but only played in one other game this week, while Saddiq Bey continued his strong rookie season. Sekou Doumbouya has also had some tantalizing stretches as he absorbs extra playing time from missing Pistons. -- 20-49
28 Rockets The depleted Rockets produced the expected results against the 76ers, Bucks and Jazz this week, though they kept things close in the last two games. Kenyon Martin Jr. has taken advantage of the extra playing time, averaging 25.3 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game this week on 55 percent 3-point shooting. Armoni Brooks also impressed with 18 points per game on 47 percent 3-point shooting. Houston is hoping these type of performances from young players can help build some momentum toward next season. -- 16-52
29 Cavaliers The Cavs surprisingly took the Suns to overtime, but were blown out three times after that for an 0-4 week. The offseason can't get here fast enough for Cleveland, which has now lost 10 games in a row. Collin Sexton has run the offense in Darius Garland's absence, averaging 23.8 points per game this week, while rookie Isaac Okoro put up 16.5 points per game on 43 percent 3-point shooting. 1 21-47
30 Thunder Welp. Four more games, four more losses for the Thunder, who dropped their last three games by an average of nearly 30 points. That's now 24 losses in their last 26 games, a tank-job of epic proportions after an unexpectedly solid start to the year. This is valuable time for the development of players like Darius Bazley and Theo Maledon, but it would help to be in more than one close game per week. Oh well, the lottery balls will be plentiful. 1 21-48

Klay Thompson unlikely to be ready for start of season .
The Warriors will take a cautious approach with Thompson's return.Warriors GM Bob Myers said Monday that he is skeptical Thompson will be ready to play for the season opener, adding that it will not even have been a year since Thompson suffered the injury.

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