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NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Toronto Raptors enter the top five, Houston Rockets inch closer to top spot

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The Rockets near the top spot in this week's rankings [NBA Illustrations]

Here is a look at the NBA Power Rankings through Week 24 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 Sunday, March 31.

10. San Antonio Spurs

Last week : 10th

Current record : 44-33

Last week : 1-2 (loss at Hornets, win vs. Cavaliers, loss vs. Kings)

This week : vs. Hawks, at Nuggets, at Wizards, at Cavaliers

After rattling off nine consecutive wins to start the month of March, the Spurs have plateaued.

They've dropped four of their last six games including two contests against teams outside of the playoff picture in their respective conferences this week.

Luckily for them the Oklahoma City Thunder have lost six of their last eight, so San Antonio still sits in as the No. 7 seed, avoiding the Warriors in the first round.

They have three games against weaker Eastern Conference teams in the coming week with their potential first round opponent, the Nuggets, in the mix.

This gives them a good chance to get things trending back in the right direction while also providing an opportunity to send a message to Denver, should they see each other in the playoffs.

9. Denver Nuggets

Last week : 8th

Current record : 51-25

Last week : 2-2 (win at Pistons, loss at Rockets, win at Thunder, loss vs. Wizards)

This week : at Warriors, vs. Spurs, vs. Blazers, at Blazers

It was a rollercoaster week for the Nuggets who went from quality win, to brutal loss, to quality win, back to another brutal loss.

They defeated the Pistons by a slim three-point margin behind a 33-point outburst from Jamal Murray but were destroyed by the Rockets, raising questions about how competitive they might be in the postseason.

Denver bounced back with a huge road win over a struggling Thunder team on yet another big game from Murray, who scored a game-high 27 points.

To close the week, they dropped just their seventh home game of the season when the Wizards came into the Pepsi Center and knocked the Nuggets off of the No. 1 seed in the West.

Now, their upcoming contest against the Warriors holds even more value as they try and even the season-series at two games apiece to prevent Golden State from taking the tiebreaker.

The Nuggets play four game against Western Conference playoff teams this upcoming week, and while it's tough to put too much value on these end of the season games, we should learn a little bit about Denver's chances moving forward.

8. LA Clippers

Last week : 7th

Current record : 47-31

Last week : 3-1 (win at Timberwolves, loss at Bucks, win vs. Cavaliers, win vs. Grizzlies)

This week : vs. Rockets, at Lakers, at Warriors

The Clippers had their six-game win streak snapped by the Bucks but they got right back on track with a pair of wins to end the week.

LA has now won eight of their last 10 games and sit in the No. 6 seed in the West with four games remaining - a position that may not have seemed fathomable at the beginning of the season.

It's a team effort every night.

They have six players averaging double figures with Lou Williams (20.3 points per game) and Danilo Gallinari (19.8 ppg) generally switch off who leads the team in scoring each night.

The Clippers play with an attitude and intensity that no team would want to see in the first round.

They'll face two of the best teams in the conference this week when they host the Rockets and travel to Oracle Arena to take on the Warriors.

7. Utah Jazz

Last week : 9th

Current record : 46-30

Last week : 3-0 (win vs. Suns, win vs. Lakers, win vs. Wizards)

This week : vs. Hornets, at Suns, vs. Kings, at Lakers

The Jazz put forth a 3-0 week with wins over the Suns, Lakers and Wizards.

Utah is making the most of a light schedule, winning nine of its last 10 games to enter the week within two games of a top-4 spot in the West.

During their perfect week, the Jazz were led by Rudy Gobert's 20.7 points and 12.7 rebounds while Donovan Mitchell averaged 18.7 points on 42.9% shooting from deep and playmaker Joe Ingles averaged 10.3 assists to go along with his 14.3 points on 44.4% shooting from beyond the arc.

The upcoming week features four more games against opponents under-.500, meaning the Jazz have four more opportunites to take care of business to vie for home court in the first round of the postseason.

6. Golden State Warriors

Last week : 4th

Current record : 52-24

Last week : 2-1 (win at Grizzlies, loss at Timberwolves, win vs. Hornets)

This week : vs. Nuggets, at Lakers, vs. Cavaliers, vs. Clippers

The Warriors were a few whistles away from a perfect 3-0 week but with things going against them in a controversial ending in Minnesota, they finished 2-1.

Nevertheless, Golden State dominated the Grizzlies and obliterated the Hornets and with the Nuggets going 2-2 on the week, the Warriors remain in first place in the West by a game.

That will be put to the test immediately as the Warriors and Nuggets face off on Tuesday. The Warriors lead that season series 2-1 so a win would give them the tiebreaker over the team that is competing to take their No. 1 spot.

As the season winds down we're inching closer and closer to where the Warriors are at their best - the playoffs. And with a fully healthy roster, Golden State will look to secure that top seed this week so they can try and get these guys a bit of rest before the postseason begins.

5. Portland Trail Blazers

Last week : 5th

Current record : 48-28

Last week : 3-1 (win vs. Nets, win at Bulls, win at Hawks, loss at Pistons)

This week : at Timberwolves, at Grizzlies, vs. Nuggets, at Nuggets

Portland finished a four-game week that began with a devastating leg injury to starting centre Jusuf Nurkic with a record of 3-1 - the loss on Saturday ended the team's seven-game win streak.

The Blazers deserve plenty of credit for overcoming adversity this season; in addition to Nurkic, prolific shooting guard CJ McCollum didn't travel with the team for its four-game road trip as he continues to recover from a knee injury.

With All-Star guard Damian Lillard leading the way and McCollum set to return soon, Enes Kanter can help fill the void left on the interior, but long-term depth and Nurkic's absence could prove to be too much for this team to overcome in order to make noise in the postseason.

4. Toronto Raptors

Last week : 6th

Current record : 54-23

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

This week : vs. Magic, at Nets, at Hornets, vs. Heat

No Kawhi, No OG, No Pascal? No problems. Next man up.

Toronto took care of business last week, going 3-0 with two convincing wins over Chicago and a big road win over New York.

While Siakam missed the final game of the week, Anunoby and Leonard sat for the final two games of the week as the Raptors benefitted from contributions across the board. Led by 23 points from both Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet eight players scored at least eight points to close the week in Chicago.

With five regular season games remaining, Toronto's main priority appears to continue to improve in health in order to be best prepared to make a deep postseason run.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

Last week : 2nd

Current record : 49-27

Last week : 2-1 (loss at Magic, win vs. Nets, win at Timberwolves)

This week : at Mavericks, at Hawks, vs. Bucks, at Bulls

A week that began with a rout at the hands of the Magic while Ben Simmons sat ended with an emotionally-charged road win in Minnesota without Joel Embiid, who will be sidelined for two more games.

Before being held out, Embiid made his mark in a mid-week win over the Nets with a dominant 39-point, 13-rebound, six-assist performance.

Starting in his place on Saturday was Australian rookie Jonah Bolden, who finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists as the Sixers earned a road win in Minnesota while Jimmy Butler was showered with boos from a passionate Target Center crowd.

Bolden's ability to contribute will be paramount to Philly's success as it will need to be able to rely on its second unit during the postseason.

2. Houston Rockets

Last week : 3rd

Current record : 49-28

Last week : 2-1 (loss at Bucks, win vs. Nuggets, win vs. Kings)

This week: at Kings, at Clippers, vs. Knicks, vs. Suns

Houston's three-game week began with a missed opportunity in Milwaukee but the team responded with a statement win over Denver and a win over Sacramento which was fueled by yet another monster performance from James Harden.

As time goes on, Harden's case to repeat as MVP gets stronger and stronger; this Rockets team will go as far as he can lead it, and performances like his 50-point triple-double against the Kings are strong enough to take this team very far.

With five regular-season games remaining, Houston begins this upcoming week on the West Coast looking to maintain its hold on a top-four seed in the conference.

This week Rockets look to build enough of a lead over the Jazz in the standings to ensure they will open up the playoffs at the Toyota Center.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Last week : 1st

Current record : 57-20

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

This week : at Nets, at 76ers, vs. Nets, vs. Hawks

The Bucks were not going to be deducted for their overtime loss to the Hawks in which four of their five starters, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, did not play.

This team has proven their dominance time and time again this season and we saw more of the same to start this past week.

They ran the Rockets out of the Fiserv Forum, outscoring Houston 28-2 on fast break points. Eric Bledsoe, among others, held James Harden to just 23 points while scoring 23 points himself to lead the Bucks to victory.

Then they handled the Clippers, one of the toughest teams in the NBA, by double-digits on 39 points from Khris Middleton and 34 points from Antetokounmpo.

With five games to go, the Bucks will be able to rest their guys for the playoffs as they will finish the season with the league's top record.

Rest of the NBA

11. Boston Celtics

12. Brookyln Nets

13. Detroit Pistons

14. Miami Heat

15. Orlando Magic

16. Oklahoma City Thunder

17. Indiana Pacers

18. Charlotte Hornets

19. Atlanta Hawks

20. Sacramento Kings

21. Memphis Grizzlies

22. Washington Wizards

23. Minnesota Timberwolves

24. Los Angeles Lakers

25. New Orleans Pelicans

26. Dallas Mavericks

27. Chicago Bulls

28. Cleveland Cavaliers

29. Phoenix Suns

30. New York Knicks

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