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Top 10 power rankings: The Rockets are at the top

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
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The Rockets remain at the top of the NBA power rankings for Week 18, but the Warriors will continue to chip at their heels.

Outside of Cleveland’s roster overhaul, most teams didn’t make a lot of moves before the trade deadline. A lot of teams are near the salary cap if they aren’t already over it, and many owners didn’t want to cough up the extra millions for a luxury tax bill.

The Bucks have been winning games left and right since Jason Kidd was excused of his coaching duties. Meanwhile, the Thunder have turned into the most unpredictable team in the league. Sometimes they look like a championship contender and other times they look like they need another year to gel.

With Boston in a bit of a rut, the Raptors have overtaken the Celtics for the leading record in the east. DeMar DeRozan is having another All-Star year, and Toronto’s defense is giving their opponents fits.

Last but not least, the Rockets and Warriors continue to jostle for the top spot in the NBA. Golden State can definitely hear the footsteps of Houston, and it is almost certain that these heavyweights are on a collision course for the conference finals.

Next: No. 10

. Washington Wizards. 10. 142. The Washington Wizards have seemed to figure things things out in the absence of <a rel=. 32-24

Next: No. 9

9. 89. After a disappointing start to the season, one thing became clear: Jason Kid had to go. Since his release, the Bucks have won eight out of ten games under Joe Prunty. Milwaukee’s schedule has definitely been easy during that time, but Milwaukee’s front office has to be impressed with the performance of the team. <p><a href=. 31-24. . Milwaukee Bucks

Next: No. 8

It’s hard to know what to make of this Thunder team. After winning eight consecutive games between Jan. 13 and Jan. 28, OKC went on to lose four straight. They broke their winning streak by dominating the Warriors in a blowout win, only to get blown out themselves by the Lakers in the following game. <p>OKC went 2-1 last week, and their win against the Warriors certainly carried a lot of weight. But they’re so up and down that it’s hard to know where to place them among the NBA’s elite. Their length and athleticism certainly gives them an edge defensively. Although, the Thunder are just 32-25 and are fifth in the west, which isn’t much of an improvement from their position a year ago.</p>. 32-25. . Oklahoma City Thunder. 8. 149

Next: No. 7

33-22. . Cleveland Cavaliers. 7. 156. The Cavs traded away half of their team in the hours before the NBA trade deadline. Cleveland’s GM Koby Altman described the old Cavs roster as one that was “marching a slow death,” according to <a href=

Next: No. 6

6. 86. The Wolves have ran into a slick spot, as they’ve won just four of their last ten games. Although, some of those hiccups can be forgiven. Four of Minnesota’s last six losses have come against Portland, Golden State, Toronto and Cleveland. <p>The Wolves went 1-2 last week, but they just as easily could’ve went 3-0. Minnesota lost by one point in Chicago after <a href=. 35-24. . Minnesota Timberwolves

Next: No. 5

29. Even without <a rel=. 35-22. . San Antonio Spurs. 5

Next: No. 4

18. After a red-hot start, the Celtics have struggled as of late. They tend to get behind early, <a href=. 40-18. . Boston Celtics. 4

Next: No. 3

81. The Toronto Raptors look better than they ever have. Their offense now focuses more on ball-movement and floor spacing, and their 39-16 record suggest that the change is working. Now that Boston is struggling, the Raptors have the first seed in the east and they have a league-leading 23-4 record at home. <p>The Raptors went 3-0 last week, and they’re on a five game winning streak.  Toronto’s 133-99 blowout against Cleveland back on Jan. 11 showed the NBA world just how dominant this team can be.</p> <p>Also, Dwane Casey deserves way more coach of the year consideration than he’s been getting. Toronto still has a lot to prove in the postseason, but they’re starting to look like a serious contender.</p>. 39-16. . Toronto Raptors. 3

Next: No. 2

The Golden State Warriors have coasted at times throughout this season. They turn the ball over a lot, they often have slow starts, and their energy on defense has been lackluster. Yet, the Warriors have the league’s best record and they rank sixth in defensive rating. <p>The Warriors went 2-1 last week, with their only loss coming against Oklahoma City. Golden State will send four players to the All-Star game for a second consecutive year.</p> <p>Even when they don’t give all of their effort, the Warriors can still defeat solid teams by double-digits. They’re still the 800 pound gorilla of the league and they will be the championship favorites until someone eliminates them.</p><div class=. 43-13. . Golden State Warriors. 2. 41

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Golden State Warriors 43-13

Last week: 2-1

The Golden State Warriors have coasted at times throughout this season. They turn the ball over a lot, they often have slow starts, and their energy on defense has been lackluster. Yet, the Warriors have the league’s best record and they rank sixth in defensive rating.

The Warriors went 2-1 last week, with their only loss coming against Oklahoma City. Golden State will send four players to the All-Star game for a second consecutive year.

Even when they don’t give all of their effort, the Warriors can still defeat solid teams by double-digits. They’re still the 800 pound gorilla of the league and they will be the championship favorites until someone eliminates them.

Next: No. 1

1. 169. If there is one team that can take out those pesky Warriors, it is the Houston Rockets. The Rockets went 4-0 last week, and they have the league’s second longest winning streak at eight. <p><a href=. 42-13. . Houston Rockets

Next: What is the Mount Rushmore for the Houston Rockets?

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