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NBA

NBA Power Rankings: How far did the Toronto Raptors fall after a winless week?

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Giannis Antetokounmpo [NBA Getty Images]

We're through the first quarter of season as team's true identities have started to show.

We've seen two teams dominate the league as the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers sit atop their respective conferences, while there has been some clear parity amongst the rest of the NBA.

There has been a lot of shuffling around in the Power Rankings in this week's top-10, including a new team entering the top-tier for the first time!

Take a look and see where your favourite team ranks through Week 8 of the NBA season.

10. Indiana Pacers

Last week's ranking: 11th

Record: 15-8

Last week: 3-1 (win at MEM, win at OKC, loss at DET, win at NYK)

This week: vs. LAC, vs. BOS, at ATL, vs. CHA

After starting the season 0-3 the Pacers have only lost back-to-back games once. They've won eight of their last 10 games and are starting to hit the stride that was expected of this team heading into this season.

While they haven't had any extremely impressive wins, they're beating the teams they're supposed to beat.

Malcolm Brogdon's team-high 19.0 points and 7.7 assists per game leads the way while Domantas Sabonis has been a monster averaging 18.4 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.

Players like TJ Warren and Jeremy Lamb have helped keep their offence afloat while centre Myles Turner continues to hold down the paint for one of the best defensive teams in the league.

With Victor Oladipo making progress to return some time this season, the Pacers are doing exactly what they need to do to remain competitive until their All-Star point guard is back in the lineup.

9. Toronto Raptors

Last week's ranking: 3rd

Record: 15-7

Last week: 0-3 (loss vs. MIA, loss vs. HOU, loss at PHI)

This week: at CHI, vs. LAC, vs. BKN

The Raptors entered the week on a seven-game winning streak and proceeded to drop three-consecutive games.

They started by suffering their first home loss of the season when Jimmy Butler took over in overtime to lead the Heat past Toronto. They followed that with another close home loss as head coach Nick Nurse tried an intriguing defence against prolific scorer James Harden and though they were able to hold him to just 23 points, the Rockets supporting cast made the Raptors pay.

In their final game of the week against the 76ers, they let Philly jump out to a big lead and despite a late push, couldn't complete the comeback.

Pascal Siakam had a forgettable week after getting out to an MVP-calibre start to the season. Siakam averaged 18.3 points over the three losses, but shot 38.9% from the field and 14.3% from 3-point range and Toronto couldn't overcome those type of shooting woes from their go-to guy.

Just as the Raptors began to get fully healthy with Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka both returning to the lineup, Fred VanVleet left the contest against the Sixers with a knee contusion. It doesn't appear as anything serious, but something to monitor for this coming week.

They'll continue on the road for one game against Chicago before hosting Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers for the former Finals MVP's ring night - a game they've had circled on their calendar since the offseason.

8. Philadelphia 76ers

Last week's ranking: 10th

Record: 17-7

Last week: 3-1 (win vs. UTA, loss at WAS, win vs. CLE, win vs. TOR)

This week: vs. DEN, at BOS, vs. NOP, at BKN

The 76ers suffered an unexpected loss in the middle of the week but picked up two quality wins over teams like the Jazz and Raptors.

We saw a different side of All-Star guard Ben Simmons in the team's blowout win over the Cavaliers, as the Aussie went for a career-high 34 points while knocking down the second 3-pointer of his career.

Simmons carried that momentum into the victory over the Raptors, going for a near-triple-double of 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

With Josh Richardson still out with a hamstring injury and Joel Embiid in and out of the lineup battling a variety of injuries, it's been hard for this team to put together a consistent rotation. Thanks to their perfect 12-0 home record, the 76ers have still managed to maintain one of the best records in the league.

7. Houston Rockets

Last week's ranking: 9th

Record: 15-7

Last week: 2-1 (loss at SAS, win at TOR, win at PHX)

This week: vs. SAC, at CLE, at ORL, vs. DET

In a bizarre loss to the Spurs to start the week, the Rockets bounced back with two solid road wins over the Raptors and Suns.

It wasn't an ordinary week from Houston by any means, though, as they picked up their two victories without the typical scoring clinic from James Harden.

When Toronto elected to double-team Harden every time he crossed halfcourt, it forced the ball out of the All-Star guards' hands forcing the rest of the team to make plays. The Rockets supporting cast stepped up to the task, as Ben McLemore went for a season-high 28 points on eight 3-pointers while PJ Tucker and Danuel House combined for eight 3s and 34 points.

Harden scored 34 points against the Suns, but a second-consecutive triple-double from Russell Westbrook and another 27-point outburst from McLemore played key roles in a win.

In what is generally seen as a one-man show in Houston, it's a great sign that they're starting to see some production from players not named Harden, Westbrook and Clint Capela.

6. Miami Heat

Last week's ranking: 8th

Record: 17-6

Last week: 3-1 (win at TOR, loss at BOS, win vs. WAS, win vs. CHI)

This week: vs. ATL, vs. LAL, at DAL

Their only blemish of the week came from the back end of a back-to-back in Boston after going to overtime with the Raptors the day before. On top of that, head coach Erik Spoelstra missed the contest due to the birth of his child.

Aside from that one loss, the Heat continued to add to their early season success with three wins. Jimmy Butler has been on another level as a playmaker, recording two triple-doubles this past week. He also dished out a team-high seven assists in their win over Chicago, including the dime that set up a clutch shot by rookie Tyler Herro.

After the Bulls still found a way to send that game into overtime, the rookie Herro took over for 11 points in the extra period to lead Miami to a win.

Herro and undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn, have played a key role in Miami's hot start to the season, while Bam Adebayo's Most Improved Player of the Year campaign has taken off. The third-year big man is averaging 14.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and over one steal and block per game. With another double-double against the Bulls, the Heat advanced to a remarkable 12-1 on the season when Adebayo records a double-double.

5. LA Clippers

Last week's ranking: 4th

Record: 17-7

Last week: 2-1 (win vs. POR, loss at MIL, win at WAS)

This week: at IND, at TOR, at MIN, at CHI

The Clippers picked up two wins this week but neither could mask the magnitude of their one loss.

In what many people deemed as a potential NBA Finals matchup against the Bucks, LA was handled with ease en route to a 28-point loss.

After the loss, head coach Doc Rivers admitted the the Clippers have not done their best to get the most out of their two newly acquired superstars. "We have not maximized (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George) offensively yet. We keep looking at our offensive numbers, and I've been saying it: It's fool's gold," he preached to the media.

Leonard and George responded accordingly, seeming to find offence much easier against a bad defensive team like the Wizards. The dynamic duo combined for 61 points in a win, setting the tone for what is a big week ahead.

LA hits the road for four consecutive games this week, including a marquee matchup against Leonard's former team where the Finals MVP will receive his 2019 championship ring. The Raptors made things difficult for their former teammate last time around but the Clippers still pulled out a win - can they sweep the season series versus Toronto?

4. Dallas Mavericks

Last week's ranking: 6th

Record: 16-7

Last week: 3-1 (win at NOP, win vs. MIN, win vs. NOP, loss vs. SAC)

This week: at DET, vs. MIA

The Mavericks ended the week with a loss but they still moved up in the rankings as they've won nine of their last 11 games.

Dallas has been one of the best surprises to the start of the season behind the play of MVP candidate Luka Doncic.

Doncic hasn't slowed down in the slightest, as he passed Michael Jordan in the history books with 19-consecutive games with at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

The only player in NBA history with a longer streak is Oscar Robertson, who has achieved the feat on four separate occasions and holds the record with 29-straight games reaching those marks.

The Slovenian superstar has this team in third place in the Western Conference as the Mavericks look like a true playoff team. According to hoopstats, their bench is fourth in the NBA in scoring as players like Seth Curry, Justin Jackson, Jalen Brunson, J.J. Barea and Maxi Kleber have really provided a boost during this successful start and if Kristaps Porzingis can consistently hit his groove, this team will be a tough out come May.

3. Boston Celtics

Last week's ranking: 5th

Record: 14-5

Last week: 2-0 (win vs. MIA, win vs. DEN)

This week: vs. CLE, at IND, vs. PHI

This was a statement week for the Celtics.

This team has been much better than their preseason expectations and they picked up two more quality home wins, remaining unbeaten at the TD Garden with a perfect 9-0 record.

Boston handled a worn down Miami Heat squad and then destroyed one of the top teams in the Western Conference in the Denver Nuggets.

Behind the play of their two young wings and their All-Star point guard, the Celtics have been rolling. Kemba Walker (21.8 points), Jayson Tatum (21.2 points) and Jaylen Brown (20.0 points) are all averaging 20 or more points per game and their offence looks like a well-oiled machine.

On the other end of the floor, they've played well beyond their talent-level and have one of the best defences in the league in terms of defensive rating and opponent points per game.

And in even better news for the Celtics, Gordon Hayward is ahead of schedule and just about ready to return from a broken hand injury that's sidelined him since the start of November. He's officially listed as questionable for their game against the Cavaliers to start the week, as things are looking up in Boston.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Last week's ranking: 2nd

Record: 21-3

Last week: 4-0 (win at DEN, win at UTA, win at POR, win vs. MIN)

This week: at ORL, at MIA, at ATL

The Lakers capped off a perfect week with an exclamation point as Anthony Davis went for 50 points in a win over the Timberwolves.

It only took 29 shots, as Davis went 20-for-29 from the field while stuffing the stat sheet with seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block in his first 50-point game in a Lakers uniform.

This performance was on brand for Davis, who scored 39 points in their win over the Blazers while going for 25-plus in the other two victories. The Brow is really starting to take over as the go-to guy on this Lakers' squad, though LeBron James hasn't fallen off in the slightest. In Year 17, The King is looking like he's in his prime averaging over 25 points to go with a league-leading 10.8 assists per game.

Los Angeles is running through teams with one of the best defences in the NBA and a high-powered offence behind two legitimate MVP candidates.

They'll hit the road for three games next week in what is a five-game roadstand that will be capped off by a head-to-head clash with the Bucks in Milwaukee in two weeks.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Last week's ranking: 1st

Record: 20-3

Last week: 3-0 (win vs. NYK, win at DET, win vs. LAC)

This week: vs. ORL, vs. NOP, at MEM, vs. CLE

It was yet another perfect week for the Bucks.

The hottest team in the NBA has extended their win streak to 14 games with their final victory coming in a statement win over the LA Clippers.

In what was supposed to be one of the best battles of the early regular season schedule, the Bucks used their game against the Clippers to send a loud message to the rest of the league.

They dominated LA by 28 points and didn't even need any sort of freakish performance from MVP candidate Giannis Antetokoumpo, who posted 27 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in just 26 minutes of playing time.

The Bucks' bench stepped up against the best second unit in the NBA, which is an encouraging sign for a team who isn't exactly known for their depth.

Milwaukee is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league with an NBA-best net rating of 12.9. They rank second and first in offensive and defensive rating, respectively, and have an easier schedule ahead of them this week. It's not unrealistic in the slightest to think the Bucks will stretch this streak to 18 come this time next week.

Rest of the NBA

11. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have fallen out of the top-10 of our power rankings for the first time this season.

After going 1-3 with losses to the Lakers, Celtics and Nets, it's gut-check time for Denver in needing to get their season trending back in the right direction. They were using their depth to find ways to win games despite All-Star centre Nikola Jokic not playing to his full potential.

Jokic is averaging just 16.1 points - the lowest mark since his rookie season - while shooting career-lows from the field and 3-point range. His rebounding and assist averages are down from last season and all-in-all, he's just not controlling games the way he did for the Nuggets last season.

If Denver is going to get back to the title contender they were intended to be heading into this season, they're going to need more from their star big man.

12. Brooklyn Nets

13. Utah Jazz

The Jazz's underwhelming start to the season continued this week with losses in big games against the 76ers and Lakers.

They responded well with a bounce-back win over the Grizzlies, but Utah hasn't impressed the way that this roster is constructed to. Mike Conley Jr.'s struggles could speak to that as he's only averaging 13.9 points per game while shooting a career-worst 36.9% from the field.

He missed the final two games of the week due to a hamstring injury and in the win over Memphis, Joe Ingles stepped into the starting lineup with a solid performance of 12 points and 10 assists. The Jazz's offence has been lackluster as they rank 23rd in the league in offensive rating and while their stout defence usually picks them up, they're outside the top-10 in defensive rating.

Depsite the woes, Utah still stands in at a modest 13-10.

14. Orlando Magic

The Magic lost their All-Star centre Nikola Vucevic to an ankle injury a few weeks back, then had key reserve forward Al-Farouq Aminu suffer a season-ending meniscus injury.

While you would think that would - and should - derail any momentum, Orlando has now won three games in a row and five of their last six. They're back to .500 and right in the Eastern Conference playoff race but will have to keep pushing without two key pieces.

Evan Fournier has been terrific averaging 24.3 points per game shooting 48.9% from the field and 43.3% from 3-point range since Vucevic's injury. Markelle Fultz has also been a plesant surprise for the Magic this season while Aaron Gordon has begun to pick things up and Jonathan Isaac looks a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Orlando has tough times ahead of them, though, with their next three games coming against the Bucks, Lakers and Rockets.

15. Portland Trail Blazers

16. Minnesota Timberwolves

17. Phoenix Suns

18. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs were a disappointing 4-12 in the month of December which included a brutal eight-game win streak. They've started December on a much better note, going 2-0 this past week with a 22-point comeback win over the Rockets and a last-second victory over the Kings - both of which came in overtime.

Despite their early season issues, San Antonio still finds itself just 1.5 games out of the playoff picture in the West. With a North American sports record tying 22-consecutive playoff appearances, it's postseason or bust for the Spurs.

Last season, San Antonio ended November two games under .500 at 10-12. They went 11-5 in December to turn their season around and eventually made the playoffs. Can they do the same thing this season?

19. Detroit Pistons

20. Oklahoma City Thunder

21. Sacramento Kings

22. Charlotte Hornets

23. Washington Wizards

24. Chicago Bulls

25. New Orleans Pelicans

26. Atlanta Hawks

27. Memphis Grizzlies

28. Golden State Warriors

29. Cleveland Cavaliers

30. New York Knicks

It was a very hectic week for the Knicks who have fired head coach David Fizdale after getting out to a 4-18 start this season and a 21-83 record during his tenure.

While there is no clear direction for this franchise at the moment, they have replaced Fizdale with interim head coach Mike Miller.

In Miller's first game at the helm, New York nearly pulled off an upset win over the Pacers at Madison Square Garden. With a chance to send the game into overtime, Julius Randle stepped to the free throw line but couldn't convert both attempts, falling by one point.

It's decision time as the Knicks need to figure out what is next for the future of the franchise.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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