The latest NBA power rankings of 2018 come as the season is heading furiously towards the latest edition of the playoffs. As it stands, one team has already qualified for the postseason and it’s not the Golden State Warriors or Cleveland Cavaliers, despite the fact that they lead the list of favorites for the NBA title. It’s not even the Houston Rockets, who have been beyond impressive this season. The distinction belongs to a team north of the border who has stayed among the best of the best in the rankings.
As ESPN reported recently, the Houston Rockets (49-13) are still holding onto the top spot in their weekly power rankings. No team in the league has been hotter over the last 21 games or so of the season. Houston has rattled off an impressive 17-game winning streak with no signs of slowing down, although an impending matchup against another top-three team looms.
Back in the 2007-08 season, the same franchise put up a stretch of 22 wins. However, they’ll have an interesting battle with another team in the top three of the rankings on Friday night. That’s when James Harden, “CP3,” and the Rockets travel to Toronto to take on the only team that’s clinched a playoff berth so far, the Raptors.
With a 47-17 record, Toronto is on a six-game winning streak and is 9-1 over their past 10 games. At home, they’ve lost just five times this season, and they’ve dominated the Eastern Conference with a 31-8 record. Toronto could be the most “under the radar” No. 1 seed in the history of the league as the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers continue drawing the attention.
However, the Raptors properly sit just behind Houston and Golden State at No. 3 in the rankings. They also know they’ll be in the postseason and continue to have a great shot at home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. A win in Friday’s big home game against Houston may not move the Raptors up any further in the top three, but could be a measuring stick for their chances of capturing a franchise-first NBA title.
NBA Power Rankings 2018 (Week 21):
- Houston Rockets (No. 1) 49-13
- Golden State Warriors (No. 2) 49-14
- Toronto Raptors (No. 3) 45-17
- Boston Celtics (No. 4) 44-20
- Portland Trail Blazers (No. 7) 37-26
- Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 5) 36-26
- New Orleans Pelicans (No. 16) 36-26
- San Antonio Spurs (No. 6) 36-27
- Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 13) 37-28
- Philadelphia 76ers (No. 10) 34-28
Several teams have made strong statements in the past week or so to really surge in the rankings. That may have been helped by the Timberwolves losing their star Jimmy Butler, but the Pelicans are making a case despite being down All-Star DeMarcus Cousins. They’ve jumped from the No. 16 spot all the way into the top 10 this week. Behind Anthony Davis and his MVP-worthy performance, this team has won 10-straight games. Davis’ recent injury looks like it could cause a minor speed bump for the team as they continue their playoff aspirations.
Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers have been constantly mentioned in rumors involving other star players. Despite these rumors never bringing another top star to Portland, Lillard, McCollum, and the squad there continue to look like a playoff team. Portland’s eight-game winning streak is behind the impressive streaks put up by Houston and New Orleans. However, the Blazers are looking legitimate at the right time of the season as they are surprisingly the third-best team in the Western Conference, just ahead of New Orleans.
The Oklahoma City Thunder also surged into the top 10 this week after being down at No. 13 previously. OKC was 3-1 over the past week leading to the move, but unfortunately, they’ve now dropped two-straight. That could see them fall out of the top 10 again for next week.