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NBA

NBA Power Rankings: LA Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers are on the rise

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LeBron James [NBA Getty Images]

The standings in each conference are beginning to take shape as we're starting to see where teams truly belong.

The power rankings, however, continue to shuffle week after week based off of each team's performance that week.

In this week's rankings, the Clippers, 76ers and Heat all jumped up while the Celtics, Mavericks and Rockets all dropped down.

Take a look and see where your favourite team ranks through Week 9 of the NBA season!

10. Indiana Pacers

Last week's ranking: 10th

Record: 18-9

Last week: 3-1 (Loss at LAC, win vs. BOS, win at ATL, win vs. CHA)

This week: vs. Lakers, vs. Kings, at Bucks

The Pacers put together another good week but have stayed put at the No. 10 spot in this week's rankings.

Indiana has now won 10 of their last 13 games, continuing to trend in the right direction as we grow closer and closer to the highly anticipated return of All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, who has been out since last season with a ruptured quad.

While Oladipo still has no definitive return date, his teammates are holding things down in the meantime.

They had six different players score in double figures in their win over the Celtics, seven players in double figures in their win over the Hawks and five players in double figures in their win over the Hornets.

Malcolm Brogdon (19.1 points per game), TJ Warren (17.8 ppg), Domantas Sabonis (17.7 ppg), Jeremy Lamb (14.6 ppg) and Myles Turner (11.1 ppg) are all averaging double digits while Aaron Holiday (9.8 ppg) and Doug McDermott (9.5 ppg) are nearly there.

If that doesn't show what type of team effort the Pacers have used to get out to this 18-9 start without their star player, I'm not sure what will.

9. Toronto Raptors

Last week's ranking: 9th

Record: 17-8

Last week: 2-1 (win at CHI, loss vs. LAC, win at BKN)

This week: vs. CLE, at DET, vs. WAS, vs. DAL

After getting out to a 15-4 start, the Raptors hit a bit of a road block over the past five games leading up to this week.

With two much-needed wins over the Bulls and Nets, it appears things are trending back in the right direction as Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka ease themselves back into the rotation.

Rising star forward Pascal Siakam - who's struggles were the constant in the team's rough stretch - had a monster first half in the win over the Nets to have a bounce-back game of sorts.

He finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals, though he only had five points in the second half.

It was the first time centres Ibaka and Marc Gasol had a double-double in the same game and Norman Powell's heroics continued, filling in for the injured Fred VanVleet.

The Raptors have four games this week, with three coming at Scotiabank Arena, to keep the ball rolling off that win.

8. Houston Rockets

Last week's ranking: 7th

Record: 17-9

Last week: 2-2 (loss vs. SAC, win at CLE, win at ORL, loss vs. DET)

This week: vs. SAS, at LAC, at PHX

The Rockets fell to the Kings at the buzzer on a last-second shot from Nemanja Bejlica but back-to-back 50-point games from James Harden helped the team respond in a winning fashion.

With Russell Westbrook (rest) out of the lineup for the week's finale against the Pistons, Harden had a likely opportunity to join elite company in being one of four players in NBA history to score 50 points in three-straight games but a slow start had the All-Star guard come up short.

Harden's scoring hasn't slowed down in the slightest, as his 39.3 points per game is a full eight points more than the second-highest average in the league.

At this pace, it is in the realm of possibility that he could average over 40.0 points per game for the season - the first player to do so since Wilt Chamberlain in 1963.

7. Dallas Mavericks

Last week's ranking: 4th

Record: 17-8

Last week: 1-1 (win at DET, loss vs. MIA)

This week: at MIL, vs. BOS, at PHI, at TOR

The story of the week for the Mavericks comes from an unfortunate injury to star forward Luka Doncic, suffered in the first quarter of Dallas' game against the Miami Heat.

The Heat gained a massive lead shortly after Doncic was forced to leave the game, but Dallas wouldn't quit. Trailing by as much as 22 points, they were able to come back and force overtime, but couldn't come through with a win without their MVP candidate.

The news could be worse for the 21-year-old superstar, though, as his X-rays came back negative and he was diagnosed with a "moderate right ankle sprain."

Doncic "might be able to return in a couple of weeks," per ESPN's Tim MacMahon, but the Mavericks will be without their best player for a brutal stretch against four of the best teams in the Eastern Conference this week.

6. Boston Celtics

Last week's ranking: 3rd

Record: 17-7

Last week: 1-2 (win vs. CLE, loss at IND, loss vs. PHI)

This week: at DAL, vs. DET, vs. CHA

Boston had entered the week on a three-game winning streak and extended it to four after a win over the Cavaliers, but suffered two close losses to Eastern Conference foes in the Pacers and 76ers.

They played all three games without their defensive anchor in Marcus Smart, who missed time with a variety of minor injuries and ailments, but the lineup did receive a boost with the return of Gordon Hayward.

Hayward had a strong first outing with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists in the win over the Cavaliers but had his night cut short in the loss to the Pacers after taking a shot to the face. He was luckily able to avoid concussion protocol and was able to suit up against the 76ers.

He went for 19 points, five assists and four boards, but the Celtics' lack of an elite defensive centre - a void left behind from the departures of Al Horford and Aron Baynes - left them helpless against Joel Embiid who went for 38 points and 13 rebounds.

It's back to the drawing board for the C's, who take on a Luka Doncic-less Mavericks team to start the week before facing off against two teams outside of the playoff picture in the East.

5. Miami Heat

Last week's ranking: 6th

Record: 19-7

Last week: 2-1 (win vs. ATL, loss vs. LAL, win at DAL)

This week: at MEM, at PHI, vs. NYK

The Heat continue to shock the NBA world as the most surprising team of the 2019-20 season.

Yes, they came up just short against the Lakers and they almost allowed the Mavericks to complete a 22-point comeback without Luka Doncic, but their players are playing way above their expectations heading into the season.

Bam Adebayo is not only stating his case as the league's Most Improved Player, he's also building a strong resume to be an All-Star.

The 22-year-old centre recorded his first-career triple double in the win over the Hawks and then two games later, recorded his second-career triple-double in the team's win over the Mavericks.

It was expected in taking over the full-time starting role that we would see an uptick in points and rebounds per game from Adebayo. He's averaging a double-double with 15.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, but the biggest surprise comes from his 4.6 assists per game, with all of the aforementioned being career-highs.

He's taken a giant leap in all aspects of his offensive game, which pairs perfectly with his already elite defensive presence.

With the way that Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and their rookie duo of Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro are performing, this team is much more terrifying than anyone would have assumed.

4. Philadelphia 76ers

Last week's ranking: 8th

Record: 20-8

Last week: 3-1 (win vs. DEN, win at BOS, win vs. NOP, loss at BKN)

This week: vs. MIA, vs. DAL, vs. WAS

The 76ers have had their season riddled with minor injuries and absences from key rotational players but have still managed the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Joel Embiid was competing with a purpose this week, going for 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the Sixers win over the Nuggets, followed by a monster 38 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in a statement win over the Celtics.

He went for a strong 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in their win over the Pelicans, but Philly dropped their final game of the week against the Nets when their All-Star centre was forced to miss the game with an illness.

When Embiid is playing at this level, this team is nearly impossible to stop. Philly is also the only team in the NBA that has yet to be beaten at home, boasting a perfect 14-0 record heading into a big game where they host the Heat.

3. LA Clippers

Last week's ranking: 5th

Record: 20-8

Last week: 3-1 (win at IND, win at TOR, win at MIN, loss at CHI)

This week: vs. PHX, vs. HOU, at SAS, at OKC

The Clippers had a perfect 3-0 start to the week including a marquee win in Kawhi Leonard's first game back in Toronto since winning the 2019 NBA Finals.

Leonard was honoured with an incredible tribute video which included a remarkable reenactment of his legendary game-winning shot against the 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

He went on to have 23 points, six assists and five rebounds in a win, and that wasn't even close to the highlight of the week.

LA's dynamic duo of Leonard and George then combined for 88 points in a win over the Timberwolves two days later. George's 46 points and Leonard's 42 points were season-highs for both superstars and the Clippers finally seemed to unlock the maximum potential of this tandem.

It was the first time in franchise history that two players each scored 40 points in a game and this progress is a bad sign for the rest of the league. They dropped a tough one without Kawhi against the Bulls, but this team is starting to look like the threat we talked about all offseason long.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Last week's ranking: 2nd

Record: 24-3

Last week: 3-0 (win at ORL, win at MIA, win at ATL)

This week: at IND, at MIL, vs. DEN

LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been unstoppable and the Lakers 24-3 record shows that.

This past week, James averaged a near-triple-double of 28.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, 9.7 assists to go with 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks over three games while Davis posted 25.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.0 steals over that same span.

According to NBA stats, the Lakers' net rating of 9.1 is the second-best in the NBA behind - you guessed it - the Bucks. Los Angeles and Milwaukee are the only two teams in the league to rank in the top-five in both offensive and defensive rating which directly replicates their dominance they've asserted as the two best teams in the league.

LeBron certainly doesn't appear to be falling off any time soon, while A.D. looks like a legitimate candidate for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.

They take on a hot Pacers team to start the week before the clash that everyone has been waiting for between the two best teams in the NBA - the Lakers and Bucks.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Last week's ranking: 1st

Record: 24-3

Last week: 4-0 (win vs. ORL, win vs. NOP, win at MEM, win vs. CLE)

This week: vs. DAL, vs. LAL, at NYK, vs. IND

Can anybody stop this team?

The Bucks are on a tear and nothing can has been able to hold them back.

They handled the surging Magic to get the week started off right, then faced a tough challenge. In their first game of the season without Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee put their 15-game win streak on the line against the Pelicans and passed the test with flying colours.

A massive game for Eric Bledsoe and an all-around team effort from their supporting cast routed New Orleans to keep the streak alive. Antetokounmpo then had a 30-point double-double in a win over the Grizzlies and the Bucks rolled the Cavaliers to close out the week for their 18th win in a row.

But here's where things get a bit more difficult.

Bledsoe suffered a right fibula avulsion fracture in the team's win over the Grizzlies and will be sidelined for "at least two weeks."

Can Milwaukee keep this streak going without their star point guard? We'll find out shortly, as their toughest test of the season awaits them this week in the powerhouse clash between the Bucks and the Lakers.

Rest of the NBA

11. Denver Nuggets

Is it slightly disrespectful that the Nuggets are 17-8, in fourth place of the Western Conference and not in the top-10 of our Power Rankings? Yes, probably.

But none of the teams in the top-10 last week slipped up enough to lose their spot, so Denver will have to put together another quality week if they're going to re-enter that elite group.

The Nuggets went 3-1 this week and Nikola Jokic stepped up with a big triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the team's win over the Thunder.

Denver's star centre has still had trouble getting back to the player he was last season, averaging 16.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game - all of which are down from last year.

12. Utah Jazz

13. Sacramento Kings

14. Brooklyn Nets

15. Charlotte Hornets

Devonte' Graham needs to be on your radar.

If you had told me at the start of the season that the Hornets would reach the top-15 in these rankings, I would not have believed you. Their unassuming rising star guard has shot them up the ladder as the Hornets put together a solid 3-1 week.

Graham went for a career-high 40 points in their win over the Nets, including two massive shots down the stretch.

The Most Improved Player of the Year candidate is averaging 19.6 points and 7.4 assists per game. Graham ranks top-10 in the NBA in assists and James Harden is the only player in the league with more made 3-pointers than him.

16. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs have now played four overtime games in a row and they're 3-1 in those contests.

This past week, they went 1-1 in OT games, coming up short against the Cavaliers but winning a thriller in Mexico City against the Suns.

Head coach Gregg Popovich drew up a perfect play to set up Patty Mills for a game-winner against Phoenix, helping the team earn a big win over the current No. 8 seed in the West.

17. Phoenix Suns

18. Portland Trail Blazers

19. Detroit Pistons

20. Orlando Magic

21. Oklahoma City Thunder

22. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves had a strong start to the season but their success has come to a screeching hault with seven-consecutive losses.

They had another 0-3 week this week and can't seem to get their season back on track.

Karl-Anthony Towns has still continued his high level of play averaging 27.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists over the seven-game losing streak. Andrew Wiggins has also been solid, averaging 24.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in six of those seven games, though his 3-point shooting percentage has taken a dip.

The Timberwolves lack of depth is starting to shine through as this team went from three games over .500 to five games under that mark fast.

23. Memphis Grizzlies

24. Chicago Bulls

25. Washington Wizards

26. New York Knicks

27. New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans cannot get out of their own way.

This team has lost an NBA-worst 11 games in a row and has plummeted toward the bottom of the Western Conference standings. In what was supposed to be an uplifting season after trading Anthony Davis for a number of assets and draft picks, along with winning the lottery to earn the No. 1 pick to take Zion Williamson, everything has gone against the grain for New Orleans.

While it appears as though Williamson will return at some point this season, it has been reported that he'll be under a strict load management-type plan that prevents him from playing in both games of any back-to-backs.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers

29. Atlanta Hawks

30. Golden State Warriors

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

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