2023-24 NBA Power Rankings: Cavs hold steady while Knicks, Clippers slip

2023-24 NBA Power Rankings: Cavs hold steady while Knicks, Clippers slip

Playing defense, much less winning with it, is supposed to be a quaint notion in the NBA these days. That news apparently bypassed the shores of the Cuyahoga River.

The Cleveland Cavaliers retained their No. 1 spot in the FOX Sports NBA power rankings for a second week by continuing to squeeze the life out of opposing offenses and running their latest winning streak to nine games. The Cavaliers have now won 17 of their last 18 overall, the one blip being a loss in Milwaukee, which they rectified two nights later on the same floor. Last week they held their four opponents to an average of 101 points while going 4-0, including a 3-0 road trip. Only one of the four was competitive, the Cavs waiting until midway through the fourth quarter to pull away from the Wizards in Washington.

The other two teams who recently surged into the top five couldn’t quite keep pace.  The second-ranked Clippers slipped to third by falling victim to the classic first-game-at-home-after-a-long-road-swing trap and the New Orleans Pelicans, who never trailed and led by 17 at the end of the first quarter. The third-ranked New York Knicks, despite adding reinforcements at the trade deadline, suffered their first back-to-back losses since December — at home, no less — and slipped to fifth. 

Moving up were the Boston Celtics, thanks to a 3-0 week, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, who recovered from an overtime loss in Chicago with a convincing win in Milwaukee. 

[2023-24 NBA MVP race: Jalen Brunson headlines shakeup at the top]

The greatest surges came from two high-profile teams — the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors — who had slid into mid-rankings territory. The Mavs jumped from 15th to 8th with a 4-0 week that included an undefeated run through Philadelphia, Brooklyn and New York and then completed by a demolition of the Thunder in Dallas. 

The Warriors also went 4-0 — including a 3-0 road trip — with some Steph Curry magic for a last-second win over the Phoenix Suns upon their return to the Bay Area. Since the tragic loss of assistant coach Dejan Milojevic — preceded by a 3-7 stretch that had dropped them as far as 25th — Golden State has gone 7-3 and won six of its last seven, two of the three losses coming in overtime. All of which was good enough to catapult them back into the top 10.

NBA Power Rankings

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers: =
  2. Boston Celtics: -1
  3. LA Clippers: -1
  4. Minnesota Timberwolves: +1
  5. New York Knicks: -2
  6. Oklahoma City Thunder: =
  7. Denver Nuggets: =
  8. Dallas Mavericks: +7
  9. Los Angeles Lakers: +4
  10. Golden State Warriors: +13
  11. Philadelphia 76ers: -2
  12. Phoenix Suns: -1
  13. Milwaukee Bucks: -3
  14. New Orleans Pelicans: =
  15. Indiana Pacers: -3
  16. Sacramento Kings: -8
  17. Orlando Magic: -1
  18. Utah Jazz: -1
  19. Miami Heat: =
  20. Chicago Bulls: +1
  21. Brooklyn Nets: -2
  22. Atlanta Hawks: =
  23. Houston Rockets: -3
  24. Toronto Raptors: +1
  25. Detroit Pistons: +3
  26. Portland Trail Blazers: +3
  27. Charlotte Hornets: +3
  28. Washington Wizards: -2
  29. Memphis Grizzlies: -5
  30. San Antonio Spurs: -3

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has written two books, “Rebound,” on NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with young onset Parkinson’s, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds.” He also has a daily podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher.” Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

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