1] Golden State Warriors (15-2), Previous 2: Golden State has won 11-in-a-row with only two of those games coming within single digits, including a 149-106 shellacking of the Los Angeles Lakers on Thanksgiving Eve. They've also won the last five home games by an average of 20.6 points. If the Warriors can keep this going, they may challenge their own 73-win record from a year before, though, a championship will greatly surpass another regular season record.
Week 7: vs Atlanta, vs Houston, vs Phoenix
2] Cleveland Cavaliers (13-2), Previous 3: Kevin Love had a huge showing as the Cavaliers put away the Portland Trail Blazers before Kyrie exploding as the Cavs demolished the Mavericks, while LeBron continues to be LeBron. A tough week lies ahead as the Clippers come to town and the squad takes a trip up to Canada. Cleveland, however, has had the luxury of playing 10 of 15 at home.
Week 7: @ Milwaukee, vs Clippers, @ Chicago*
3] San Antonio Spurs (14-3), Previous 4: Pop has the Spurs streaking again, having won nine in a row, while holding a 10-0 road record (in contract, the Spurs are 4-3 at home). Once the schedule balances out, you can expect the Spurs to continue their recent success en route to another, very surprising, 65-win season.
Week 7: vs Orlando, @ Dallas*, vs Washington
4] Los Angeles Clippers (14-4), Previous 1: Questions are hovering all around Lob City about peaking too early, while others are saying that the Clippers are who everyone thought they were. Back to back loses against Detroit and Indiana really sting as the Clippers lose two in a row for the first time all year, and they weren't even close against the Pacers. Must be as a result of hanging out with Tony Romo. Week 7 is busy with a date in Cleveland a rematch against the pesky Pacers.
Week 7: @ Brooklyn, @ Cleveland, @ New Orleans*, vs Indiana
5] Toronto Raptors (10-6), Previous 8: Toronto bounced back well after losing four of five with a 13-point win in Houston and a six point victory in Milwaukee. DeRozan continues to score over 30 points per evening while attempting as many threes as one would expect from an Adonal Foyle. Four home games coming up should help the Raptors pad their wins to secure the second slot in the East.
Week 7: vs Philadelphia, vs Memphis, vs Lakers, vs Atlanta*
6] Memphis Grizzlies (11-6), Previous 5: A split with Miami, with each team losing at home, cost the Grizzlies a perfect week, but one can't argue with the results as they have recovered well from a horrendous start, winning eight of the last ten. All this while the Grizzlies are battling injuries early on. If they can get healthy, challenging for a top three slot may not be out of the question.
Week 7: vs Charlotte, @ Toronto, vs Orlando, vs Lakers
7] Houston Rockets (11-6), Previous 6: Houston took no mercy against the Blazers, dropping 130 on a skidding Portland side behind 38 from James Harden. Eric Gordon chipped in with 26 off the bench, hitting 6-9 from three, while Clint Capela exploded for a surprising 21 on 9-12. What's impressive about D'Antoni's start is that 11 of the 17 games have been on the road, with more of the same coming up.
Week 7: @ Utah, @ Golden State, @ Denver*
8] Chicago Bulls (10-6) Previous 7: Going 4-2 off a six game road trip, with all but one being against the Western conference isn't a bad thing, namely when the losses were against the Clippers and the high-altitude Denver Nuggets. Chicago has only played five of its 16 at home, going 4-1 and will be welcoming any home games they can get.
Week 7: vs Lakers, vs Cleveland, @ Dallas*
9] Oklahoma City Thunder (10-8), Previous 15: The roller coaster in a post-Durant Oklahoma City continues, as Westbrook has secured seven triple-doubles just 18 games into the campaign. Continuity has been key for the Thunder as they have used the same starting unit for every game thus far, and need to put together a win streak to keep up in the loaded West.
Week 7: @ New York, vs Washington, vs New Orleans
10] Boston Celtics (9-7), Previous 10: Boston went toe to toe with the San Antonio Spurs, ultimately dropping the game by six points, thus ending a three game win streak put together by the boys in green. Al Horford and Jae Crowder need to stay healthy if Brad Stevens wants the Celts to have a puncher's shot in the East.
Week 7: @ Miami, vs Detroit, vs Sacramento, @Philadelphia*
11] Atlanta Hawks (10-7), Previous 9: In the midst of a five game road trip, Atlanta was only able to score 68 in Utah before the Lakers shellacked them by 15, while missing Julius Randle & D'Angelo Russell. The trip isn't getting any easier as the Warriors are next on the slate but they are almost home. Need to get back to playing the way they did during their 9-2 start.
Week 7: @ Golden State*, @ Phoenix, vs Detroit, @ Toronto*
12] Charlotte Hornets (9-7), Previous 12: Charlotte split a home-and-home with the Knicks, both games being real interesting, after a five point defeat at the hand of the surging Spurs (who probably should be #2 in the rankings). Belinelli is averaging 16.8 points per contest while connecting on 62.% from three over the past four.
Week 7: @ Memphis, vs Detroit*, vs Dallas, vs Minnesota
13] Utah Jazz (9-8), Previous 16: Utah recovered from a four skin with consecutive blow-outs against the Nuggets (108-83) and the Hawks (95-68). Staying healthy has been an issue for Utah and a lengthy home stand should help get them closer to the fourth slot, with eight of the next ten at home.
Week 7: @ Minnesota, vs Houston*, vs Miami, vs Denver
14] Indiana Pacers (9-9), Previous 17: Missing Paul George didn't seem to be much of an issue as the Pacers shell-shocked the Clippers, holding them to just 30 points in the second half, en route to a 91-70 victory. Glenn Robinson III had a superb night, scoring 17 on 7-9 shooting, while Myles Turner continues his spectacular play as the Pacers look to erase early season woes and get back into the home court fight in the East.
Week 7: @ Portland, @ Clippers
15] New York Knicks (8-8), Previous 15: New York has been a tale of two teams, as they are a solid 7-2 at home, while a struggling 1-6 on the road. Coming off a split against the Hornets, New York has three of four at home, a good chance to pad wins and try to get back into the playoff picture for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign when they made the conference semi-finals.
Week 7: vs Oklahoma City, @ Minnesota, vs Minnesota, vs Sacramento
16] Los Angeles Lakers (9-9), Previous 14: An early season blow-out win over Golden State may have been the reason why the Warriors were ready for a home-and-home against the purple and gold, winning both games by huge margins (149-106 & 109-85). The Lakers bounced back well with a 15-point victory over the Hawks just in time to get ready for a four game road trip. In fact, 12 of the next 15 for the Lakers will be on the road. A make-or-break time for the squad.
17] Detroit Pistons (8-10), Previous 23: Like Golden State, Detroit remembered the embarrassment they faced against the Clippers at Staples, and used that to fuel a 108-97 home victory after Thanksgiving. A split week, the Pistons lost to the high scoring Rockets by three while dropping a big game in Oklahoma City on the second night of a back-to-back.
Week 7: @ Charlotte, @ Boston*, @ Atlanta, vs Orlando
18] Milwaukee Bucks (7-8), Previous 19: Giannis continues to show why he's known as the Greek Freak as the Bucks remain hovering around .500, despite nine of the 15 games being played at home. The last four games have been decided by a combined 23 points, with the Bucks winning two and dropping another two.
1] Los Angeles Clippers: 13-2 (1) The Clippers dropped their second game of the year, at home, again, against a gritty Memphis squad that seemingly couldn't miss. The defense has taken a bit of a dip, but going 4-1 since the last ranking, with solid victories against the Raptors and Bulls. Wesley Johnson missing off the bench was a bigger thorn than initially thought. Doc still has the Clippers as the league's best defense. JJ Redick is also starting to get his stroke back.
Week 6: @ Dallas, @ Detroit, @ Indiana
2] Golden State Warriors: 12-2 (3) After an average 4-2 start, the Warriors have started to click, having won the last eight, with only two of those victories coming in single digits. All this has coincides with Klay slowly getting back into a groove, clicking perfectly in his role in between Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
Week 6: vs Lakers, @ Lakers, vs Minnesota*
3] Cleveland Cavaliers: 10-2 (2) Cleveland dropped a game in Indiana while LeBron ended up with the classic DNP-Old Age, but the Cavs are still the cream of the crop and should run away with the East, taking another regular season title and should be the front runners for LeBron's umpteenth finals appearance.
Week 6: vs Portland, vs Dallas, @ Philadelphia
4] San Antonio Spurs: 11-3 (4) Despite being without Tim Duncan, the Spurs are remaining among the league's elite, a testament to the coaching prowess of Gregg Popovich. Improvements from Kawhi Leonard, and the addition of Pau Gasol have really paid dividends early on.
Week 6: @ Charlotte @ Boston, @ Washington*
5] Memphis Grizzlies: 9-5 (17) Memphis is getting back to playing Memphis basketball while Chandler Parson's is bringing in the offensive spark that the Grizz have been missing for a while. Fizdale is doing a solid job during his debut campaign.
6] Houston Rockets: 9-5 (13) 7] Chicago Bulls: 9-6 (11) 8] Toronto Raptors: 8-6 (6) 9] Atlanta Hawks: 9-5 (5) 10] Portland Trail Blazers: 8-8 (7)
11] Boston Celtics: 8-6 (12) 12] Charlotte Hornets: 8-5 (8) 13] New York Knicks: 7-7 (23) 14] Los Angeles Lakers: 8-7 (15) 15] Oklahoma City Thunder: 8-7 (10)
The final week of the regular season is upon us, and it seems like yesterday the Stanford Cardinal were thought to be playoff contenders, Josh Rosen and Christian McCaffrey were assumed to be front runners in the Heisman race and Arizona had hopes of being a dark horse in the division. My, how time passed and expectations fluctuated.
1] Colorado Buffaloes: 9-2 (7-1), Previous: 1 Colorado had the Air Raid offense come to town, and held it to just 24-points as they ran away from the Washington State Cougars. With Oregon beating Utah, Colorado now needs a win over the Utes in order to ensure it's first divisional title, as USC has completed it's conference slate. Colorado leads the rivalry 31-28-3 all time, though the Utes have won four-in-a-row and six of the last 7.
2] USC Trojans: 8-3 (7-2), Previous: 3 Hard to believe the Trojans started out 1-3, but have since went on a tear, thanks to Sam Darnold taking over as the starting Quarter-Back. They beat Colorado to give themselves a shot, and were able to go into Washington and put a big hole in the Huskies playoff hopes. A rivalry game against Notre Dame is on slate to end the year, which just won't help the Trojans as much as the Irish are a meager 4-7, including losses to North Carolina State & Duke. No doubt the Trojans will be glued on the Buffalo game.
3] Washington Huskies: 8-3 (7-1), Previous: 5 Washington took out the upset loss to the Trojans out on the Sun Devils with a 44-18 victory, 15 of the Arizona State points coming in the fourth quarter with the Huskies leading 30-3 at the end of three. Washington's lack of a decent out of conference will hurt them when it comes to the playoff committee, but a win over Washington State in the Apple Cup, and a blow-out win in the P-12 Title game should give them a nudge into the final four.
4] Stanford Cardinal: 8-3 (6-3), Previous: 6 Stanford started out with high hopes and a 3-0 record, but then lost to both Washington schools and Colorado, thus ending any hopes of a playoff finish. Since then, the Cardinal have been on quite a tear, winning four in a row by an average of 18.5 points and have a date with the 3-8 Conference USA Rice Owls left to end the year, which should be an easy victory. A good bowl game is the lone goal for David Shaw, and expect a thumping victory over the Owls.
5] Washington State Cougars: 8-3 (7-1), Previous: 2 Washington State had the air taken out of its balloon, unable to capitalize on a good late season win against the Buffs, losing by two scores before the Apple Cup game against the Huskies, which, in all reality, is a playoff game as the winner will take the division while the loser waits and hopes for a decent bowl decision. They should really avoid FCS schools as well.
6] Utah Utes: 8-3 (5-3), Previous: 4 Well, Utah's loss to an abysmal Oregon side ended any chance of their first appearance in the Pac-12 title game and held the door wide open for the Trojans to get in, if they can upset the Buffaloes in a Rocky Mountain Show Down.
7] Oregon State Beavers: 3-8 (2-6), Previous: 9 Oregon State went into the Old Pueblo and won by three-plus scores, securing three wins for the first time in a couple of seasons, and has the Civil War coming up. Oregon State trails the all-time series 46-63 and hasn't won since 2007, hoping to end that route with neither side being, or able to be, bowl eligible.
8] Oregon Ducks: 4-7 (2-6), Previous: 11 The Ducks went into Utah, and came out with a two point victory on an impressive last second catch, somewhat salvaging an otherwise horrendous campaign. With the season all but done, the Ducks will probably go all out and look to thump the Beavers back into obscurity.
9] UCLA Bruins: 4-7 (2-6), Last Week: 6 Jim Mora has done a solid job getting recruits into Westwood, but he just can't seem to put together a season that isn't full of what-ifs. They weren't able to stay with the Trojans and have a date against Cal to end a bowl-less year, the first since 2010 when they went 4-8 under Rich Neuheisel.
10] Arizona State Sun Devils: 5-6 (2-6), Last Week: 8 Todd Graham and the Devils have had five straight opportunities to be eligible to go bowling. And they have failed each and every time. With the Territorial Cup on the horizon, ASU needs to get a victory against the Wildcats, and they did win it last year and three of the previous four.
11] California Golden Bears: 4-7 (2-6), Last Week: 10 Cal, like UCLA, needed a win over its rivals to have a shot at a bowl appearance, but lost to the Cardinal by two scores. At least they can say they will end the year playing in the Rose Bowl.
12] Arizona Wildcats: 2-9 (0-8), Last Week: 12 I'd rather not say anything here.