Follow Tommy Beer on Twitter: @TommyBeer
1. Toronto Raptors
After beating Milwaukee on Saturday and Indiana on Sunday, the Raptors became the first NBA team to win 30 games this season. In fact, no other squad has more than 27 victories. And Sunday’s win was notable because Toronto beat Indiana without the help of Kawhi Leonard, who was rested on the second leg of a back-to-back set. Impressively, they are 8-2 without Kawhi this season. However, the Raps did benefit from the return of Kyle Lowry (lower back pain). Lowry, who had missed six straight games and 10 of the past 11, tallied 12 points, eight assists, three rebounds, three steals, two 3-pointers. Lowry and Leonard haven’t played together since Dec. 9.
2. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have a league-high ten-game winning streak at home and have won five straight overall. The 26 wins they have currently complied is the team's most through a season’s first 37 games in the franchise’s history. Per the AP, this is also the latest they've been in first place in the conference since March 16, 1977. If Nikola Jokic continues to play as well as he has of late, he deserves recognition in the MVP conversation. Over the Nuggets last five games, Jokic is averaging 25.6 points, 11.2 boards, 9.0 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.7 steals and 1.6 treys, while shooting 59 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line.
Editor's Note: Looking for an edge when it comes to fantasy hoops? Our new NBA DFS Toolkit has a Lineup Optimizer, Customizable Projections, Next Man Up tool and more for FanDuel, DraftKings and Yahoo! And for season-long, the NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, Pickups of the Day and more.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks had a five-game winning streak snapped when they lost to the Raptors on Saturday night; however, the loss can’t be pinned on Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak poured in 43 points (on 16-of-25 shooting) ripped down 18 rebounds, and tacked on four assists, one steal and three 3-pointers.
4. Golden State Warriors
Shockingly, the Warriors have lost three straight home games, which is the longest home losing streak since Steve Kerr was hired as head coach. Golden State will look to end this skid when they host the Knicks on Tuesday in the Bay. Golden State has swept New York in the regular season series (2-0) in each of the last four seasons, dating back to 2014-15.
5. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers had won 13 of 15 before heading north of the border and losing to the Raptors on Sunday. Over the last five weeks, Indiana has lost only three games, and two of those three defeats came against the Raps. Remarkably, the Pacers have lost 11 straight games in Toronto, with their last win coming back in March of 2013. Something to keep in mind should these two squads face off in the postseason later this year.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers won all three games they played last week, but they ended up embroiled in a bit of controversy anyhow. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported over the weekend that Jimmy Butler “aggressively challenged coach Brett Brown on his role in the offense” and that “Butler has been vocal in his contesting of Brown and his system, including a recent film session in Portland that some witnesses considered ‘disrespectful’ and beyond normal player-coach discourse.” Butler, who has missed each of the Sixers last two games due to an upper repository infection, will likely address the issue for the first time shortly.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC was rolling, carrying the second-best record in the Western Conference into their Sunday night showdown with the undermanned Washington Wizards. Surprisingly, the Thunder laid an egg and got beat by badly by the Wiz, 116-98. Russell Westbrook (22 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists) registered his 12th triple-double of the season and the 116th of his career but shot just 9-of-23 from the field and committed eight turnovers.
8. Boston Celtics
The Celtics have won two straight contests, and Gordon Hayward is a major reason why. After struggling for much of the of 2018, Hayward has looked excellent in the two games Boston has played in 2019, averaging 25.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists, while shooting 60.6 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent from downtown.
9. Houston Rockets
The Rockets had their six-game win streak snapped in Portland on Saturday night. However, Houston has an opportunity to string together another winning surge starting this week. The Rockets play six of their next seven games at home, and their one road contest is vs. the Magic in Orlando. Incredibly, James Harden has scored at least 35 points, dished out five assists and knocked down five 3-pointers in nine straight games, which is an all-time NBA Record.
10. San Antonio Spurs
For the vast majority of coach Gregg Popovich’s terrific tenure in San Antonio, the Spurs success was predicated upon their dominant defense. However, San Antonio’s offense has been incredibly impressive of late. Over the last month, the Spurs are tied for the league's best record (12-3) and rank first in the NBA in Offensive Rating, averaging 117.4 points per 100 possessions. Their Net Rating (15.5) over this stretch is more than six points higher than every other team in the league.
11. LA Clippers
The Clips began a stretch in which they will play six of seven games at home by beating the Magic in Los Angeles on Sunday. The Clips hope to stockpile some wins in hopes of maintaining their spot in the top half of the Western Conference playoff picture.
12. Portland Trail Blazers
Monday’s home game vs. the Knicks marks the halfway point of Portland’s 2018-19 regular season. Per their game notes, the Trail Blazers were 22-19 through 41 games last season and are guaranteed their best record through 41 games since the 2014-15 season (30-11).
13. Los Angeles Lakers
Dating back to March of 2016, LeBron James has missed 16 games. Here are his team’s results in those 16 games LeBron has not played:
Loss, loss, loss, win, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss, loss.
Yeah, it turns out LeBron is an important factor in his squad’s success. He’ll miss at least the next two games, but reportedly has a chance to rejoin the Lakers Friday in Utah.
14. Utah Jazz
After scoring just two points in the first half, Donovan Mitchell caught first after halftime and poured in 24 points to carry the Jazz to a win in Detroit on Saturday night. Utah finishes up their current rod trip Monday in Milwaukee before heading home. Beginning Wednesday vs. Orlando, Utah will play eight of their next nine games at home.
15. Sacramento Kings
The Kings and Warriors combined for an NBA record 41 made 3-pointers on Saturday night. Buddy Hield knocked down a career-high eight triples on his way to scoring 32 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. Buddy has poured in over 20 points in four straight games and is averaging 27.3 points, 3.8 boards, 3.0 assists and just 1.5 turnovers during this four-game stretch.
16. Miami Heat
Prior to taking on the Hawks on Sunday, the Heat has won two straight and had jumped over .500 for the first time since late October. However, they had a major letdown in Atlanta, inexplicably getting blown out (106-82). Miami fell to 0-3 vs. Atlanta this season, which could come back to bite them as teams jockey for playoff positioning later in the year.
17. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have won three in a row and 12 of their last 15 games, which matches the team’s best 15-game stretch since the franchise moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn. Their win in Chicago on Sunday was their 10th victory on the road in 2018-19. The Nets didn’t win their 10th road game last season until March 28th.
18. Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker has been incredibly clutch all season for the Hornets, and he was at it again Sunday night in Phoenix. After struggling through the first three quarters, Kemba carried Charlotte to a much-needed victory by erupting for 18 points in the final frame, including 14 straight for the Hornets. Walker ended the night with 29 points, seven rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes
19. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies have been awful over the last month, losing12 of the 15 games they’ve played. It’s the Memphis offense that has been particularly pitiful. During this stretch, the Grizz are averaging fewer than 102 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 29th in the league. The Bulls have been the only team more inefficient offensively.
20. Dallas Mavericks
Dirk Nowitzki missed all 10 of his field goal attempts in 16 minutes in the Mavs loss to the Celtics on Friday. He was then rested vs. Philadelphia on Saturday, the second night of a back-to-back. He needs 192 points to pass Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Assuming he plays in 35 of Dallas' 43 remaining games, he’ll need to average 5.5 points per contest.
21. Minnesota Timberwolves
After beating the Lakers by 22 points on Sunday, the Timberwolves fired president and coach Tom Thibodeau. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Fred Hoiberg and Chauncey Billups have been discussed as possible candidates for GM or head coach, but the organization has not yet to reach out to either. Assistant coach Ryan Saunders (the son of Flip Saunders) will take over as Minnesota's interim coach.
22. New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans had lost six straight road games and were 4-16 in their first 20 road games of the season heading into the weekend. Fortunately, the Pelicans got to travel to Cleveland on Saturday night, which is where losing streaks go to die in 2018-19. New Orleans ended up crushing the Cavs 133-98.
23. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons have had a number of vexing losses this season, but Saturday’s loss to Utah may have been the most frustrating for coach Dwane Casey. After beating the Grizzlies in Memphis on Wednesday, Detroit has two full days off before hosting the Jazz on Saturday night. They got off to a great start, holding Utah to just 13 first-quarter points on their way to building an 18-point lead in the second quarter before squandering it all. Much of the damage was self-inflicted; after committing only four turnovers in the first half, they turned the ball over 14 times in the second.
24. Orlando Magic
The Magic played the first four games of the six-game road trip last week, losing three of four. Orlando heads to Sacramento on Monday and wraps up their trip Wednesday in Utah. However, once they return home, they have to take on the Celtics and Rockets on back-to-back nights.
25. Washington Wizards
The Wiz played arguably their best all-around game of the season on Sunday when they traveled to Oklahoma City and toppled the Thunder 116-98. It was the first time the Wizards beat the Thunder franchise since it was still based in Seattle.
26. Atlanta Hawks
Despite playing without Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince, the Hawks beat the Heat for the third time this season on Sunday. Bazemore is expected to miss at least one more week of action. Atlanta is 3-0 vs. Miami and 9-27 against the rest of the league.
27. New York Knicks
The Knicks had lost 13 of 14 before knocking off the LeBron-less Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday. New York closes out their daunting west coast road trip this week with back-to-back games in Portland and then Golden State. However, the schedule doesn’t get much easier for New York, as they head home to take on the Pacers and Sixers, before flying to London for a game with the Wizards. On the bright side, Kevin Knox was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December. Knox led East rookies in scoring (17.1 ppg), three-pointers (33), was second in rebounding (6.0 rpg), and led all rookies in minutes (34.9 mpg) in December.
28. Phoenix Suns
The Suns lost to the Hornets on Sunday, yet, more concerning, was Devin Booker leaving the game due to back spasms in the second quarter and being unable to return. Afterward, coach Igor Kokoskov said he didn't know about Booker's availability for Tuesday's game against Sacramento. The Suns are 0-6 on their current seven-game homestand.
29. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls lost all four games they played last week, falling 20 games below .500. And things won’t get any easier for Chicago in the near future, as they are about to embark on a brutal five-game west coast road trip that has them take in the Blazers, Warriors, Jazz, Lakers and Nuggets.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers
Not only are the Cavs, owners of the worst record in the league, losing, but they’re also doing so in unprecedented fashion. The Cavaliers have lost six straight games at home by a jaw-dropping total of 141 points. Each of their last five defeats has been by at least 20 points, which is a new NBA record. In fact, they are the first team in major pro sports history to lose four consecutive home games by 20-plus points.