NBA Power Rankings: Christmas 2018

By: Brandon Rosenthal | December 24, 2018

Christmas – It’s that magical time of year where kids are opening presents, families and loved ones are spending time together … and basketball junkies are glued to the TV watching the NBA, ignoring their families for most the day! My favorite! In the NBA world, the Christmas day games are known as the unofficial start of the NBA season. Though the season officially begins in October (now earlier than ever), teams don’t really get going until Christmas. Players that were injured in the last season or off-season usually target this day as their return (Demarcus Cousins), and players that just signed contracts are eligible to be traded (we are all on red-alert for a Woj or Shams bomb).

So here we are, Christmas Day. The NBA scheduled five games for us all, and included some of the NBA’s biggest stars. Let’s quickly break down the Christmas Day games, in order of importance. Then we will get into the power rankings.


1. LA Lakers @ Golden State Warriors

12/25, 5:00 PM (PST), ESPN

The Los Angeles Lakers (19-14) make the journey to northern California to play the Golden State Warriors (23-11). The Warriors have been dealing with some injury and chemistry problems, but still have a stacked roster … oh and they’ve won 8/10 games. As for the Lakers, they are playing well as of late, but losers of two straight. This is a big game for the Lakers, who are playing .500 ball in their last 10 games. They have openly said that beating the Warriors is their “Christmas Wish”, so maybe Curry will be distracting by his new “we didn’t go to the moon” theory, or maybe Durant will get so worked up on Twitter that the Lakers win. This should be a fantastic game, and it’s in prime-time.


2. Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics

12/25, 2:30 PM (PST), ABC

The Boston Celtics (19-13) face-off against the Philadelphia 76ers (22-12) for the second time this season. Boston has not had the breakout season everyone expected, but the C’s are playing much better basketball lately, winning seven out of their last 10 games. The 76ers are looking to avenge the opening night loss, and this time they have Jimmy Butler. This should be a great, entertaining game … and this might come into play come playoff seeding time. I expect a couple of technicals during this game, probably initiated by Philly. I also expect some awesome post-game tweets by Embiid … the only thing we all need this Christmas.


3. Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets

12/25, 12:00 PM (PST), ABC

The Houston Rockets (17-15) play host to the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-11) in the “we used to have Melo” bowl. The Rockets have almost fully recovered from their awful start, and now hold the 8th spot in the West. James Harden broke the internet with his now-famous “double back-step” … which was obviously a travel. Though I am grateful for the memes that have spawned from that event. This game will have plenty of fireworks and some defense, mainly on the Thunder’s side. This could be a potential playoff match-up, if we’re lucky.


4. Milwaukee Bucks @ New York Knicks

12/25, 9:00 PM (PST), ABC

The Milwaukee Bucks (22-10) and their unicorn Giannis Antetokounmpo open up Christmas Day by traveling to New York and taking on the New York Knicks (9-25). Unfortunately for us all, Knicks unicorn Kristaps Porzingis is still out, which does damper the excitement for this game. We still get Giannis, who is clearly something special. While the Bucks are playing the Knicks, who are putrid, Giannis is playing for the NYC fans and the MSG crowd, so we might get something special.


5. Utah Jazz @ Portland Trailblazers

12/25, 7:30 PM (PST), ESPN

In the last game of the day, and the last game of interest, the struggling Utah Jazz (16-18) travel to Oregon to take on the Portland Trailblazers (19-14). The Blazers have been playing much better basketball lately, and now find themselves in the 5th spot. The Jazz are not meeting their preseason expectations, and some of that is due to the new rule changes. The Jazz like to play very psychical, and the new rules prevent teams from playing like that (in order to keep the pace up). This could be an exciting game, but a game this late on Christmas usually results in people sleeping through it. #foodcoma


NBA Power Rankings

Tier 1: “We’re the Best … So Far”

These teams are all at the top, or have recently been at the top of their conferences. The Raps have the best record in the NBA, and have a fantastic record without Kawhi Leonard as well. The Bucks are right on their trail, as Giannis is having an MVP-like year. The Nuggets have been at the top for most of the season in the West, but the Warriors are rolling as of late, and are in prime position to takeover.

1 Toronto Raptors
25-10, 1st in East
Last 10: 5-5
Opening Day: 5⬆️


2 Milwaukee Bucks
22-10, 2nd in East
Last 10: 7-3
Opening Day: 9 ⬆️


3 Golden State Warriors
23-11, 2nd in West
Last 10: 8-2
Opening Day: 1 ⬇️


4 Oklahoma City Thunder
21-11, 3rd in West
Last 10: 6-4
Opening Day: 10 ⬆️


5 Denver Nuggets
21-10, 1st in West
Last 10: 7-3
Opening Day: 11 ⬆️


Tier 2: “We are damn good, most of the time.”

These teams have the potential to join Tier 1, but are too flawed, too often. The Celtics have bounced back from their poor start, but still have to catch Philly and the red-hot Pacers. The two LA teams have cooled off a bit. The Lakers are .500 in their last 10, but still find themselves in the 4th spot … for now. The Clippers are not cool, they are cold, losing 7 of 10, and in danger of falling deeper into the West, while the Blazers are quietly making their way up the ranks.

6. Philadelphia 76ers
22-12, 4th in East
Last 10: 6-4
Opening Day: 4 ⬇️


7. Indiana Pacers
22-12, 3rd in East
Last 10: 8-2
Opening Day: 8 ⬆️


8. Boston Celtics
19-13, 5th in East
Last 10: 7-3
Opening Day: 2 ⬇️


9. Los Angeles Lakers
19-14, 4th in West
Last 10: 5-5
Opening Day: 6 ⬇️


10. Los Angeles Clippers
19-14, 6th in West
Last 10: 3-7
Opening Day: 20 ⬆️


11. Portland Trailblazers
19-14, 5th in West
Last 10: 6-4
Opening Day: 15 ⬆️


Tier 3: “We should NOT be this bad.”

The Rockets have picked it up lately, but their poor start was inexcusable. Still, they are in the 8th seed, and looking to move up fast.

12 Houston Rockets
17-15, 8th in West
Last 10: 6-4
Opening Day: 3 ⬇️


Tier 4: “There is no way we thought we’d be THIS good.”

The Sacramento Kings have been a pleasant surprise, and they are hanging around! After a hot-start, the Kings still are in the playoff mix, which is impressive. The Grizzlies have cooled off after a very impressive start, but they have the talent to compete for playoff spot all season. The Mavs are in the middle of a losing streak, but have been impressive all season long. Rookie Luka Doncic is a BALLER.

13. Sacramento Kings
18-15, 7th in West
Last 10: 6-4
Opening Day: 29 ⬆️


14. Memphis Grizzlies
17-16, 10th in West
Last 10: 3-7
Opening Day: 22 ⬇️


15. Dallas Mavericks
15-17, 12th in West
Last 10: 3-7
Opening Day: 19 ⬇️


Tier 5: “We told our fans that we could make the playoffs. Did we lie? No. We could.

These teams are all on the fringe of a playoff berth. Most teams have underachieved and their fan base is wondering what the hell is going on. The Spurs, Heat and Hornets, are right where they are supposed to be, despite the efforts of Kemba Walker. The Nets have played good basketball, and are winners of 8 out of 10! The rest of this tier is full of underachievers, mainly the Pelicans and Wizards. No team with Anthony Davis should be this low in the rankings. Oh, and the Jazz and Pistons are in here *yawn*.

16. San Antonio Spurs
18-16, 9th in West
Last 10: 7-3
Opening Day: 16 ⬆️


17. Charlotte Hornets
16-16, 6th in East
Last 10: 5-5
Opening Day: 21 ⬆️


18. Miami Heat
16-16, 7th in East
Last 10: 7-3
Opening Day: 14 ⬇️


19. Detroit Pistons
15-16, 8th in East
Last 10: 7-3
Opening Day: 18 ⬇️


20. Utah Jazz
16-18, 11th in West
Last 10: 5-5
Opening Day: 7 ⬇️


21. Brooklyn Nets
16-18, 9th in East
Last 10: 8-2
Opening Day: 23 ⬆️


22. New Orleans Pelicans
15-19, 14th in West
Last 10: 3-7
Opening Day: 12 ⬇️


23. Minnesota Timberwolves
15-18, 13th in West
Last 10: 4-6
Opening Day: 16 ⬇️


24. Washington Wizards
13-21, 11th in East
Last 10: 3-7
Opening Day: 12 ⬇️


Tier 6: “Google Zion Williamson and set your calendars for June, 2019.”

This tier is already looking towards next season, which is a good thing for most teams here, but not great for their fans. Hopefully one of these teams end up with Zion.


25. Orlando Magic
14-18, 10th in East
Last 10: 3-7
Opening Day: 28 ⬆️


26. Atlanta Hawks
9-23, 12th in East
Last 10: 4-6
Opening Day: 30 ⬆️


27. Chicago Bulls
9-25, 13th in East
Last 10: 4-6
Opening Day: 27 ↕️


28. New York Knicks
9-25, 14th in East
Last 10: 1-9
Opening Day: 26 ⬇️


29. Cleveland Cavaliers
8-26, 15th in East
Last 10: 3-7
Opening Day: 24 ⬇️


30. Phoenix Suns
8-26, 15th in West
Last 10: 4-6
Opening Day: 25 ⬇️


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Author: Brandon Rosenthal

I’m a sports fanatic, podcaster, and sports blogger. Sports is a passion of mine and I enjoy connecting with other sports fans out there. You can follow me on twitter or here on Wordpress.

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