2023-24 NBA Power Rankings: Kyrie Irving delivers gift to Celtics

The Boston Celtics are back on top, and they have — hold onto your Sam Adams, Celtics’ fans — Kyrie Irving to thank for it.

The Denver Nuggets relied on their closing power to carry them to victory one times too many last week, falling 107-105 to the Dallas Mavericks on a sweeping 21-foot left-handed hook by the right-handed Irving at the buzzer. That, combined with a 4-0 week by the Celtics that included a second walloping of the Phoenix Suns, flipped the order of the top two teams in the FOX Sports NBA power rankings for the second time in as many weeks.

The Toronto Raptors were within two with 83 seconds left last week before the Nuggets’ muzzled them and scored the game’s final five points. Two nights later they waited until five minutes were left to pull away from the Miami Heat. They began their late charge against Dallas with slightly over four minutes left, erasing a nine-point deficit to set up Jamal Murray for a potential game-winning 14-foot jumper. But Murray missed and Irving, who once upon a time pledged allegiance to the Boston faithful and then skipped town to join the Brooklyn Nets, scored over the fingertips of Nikola Jokic for the win.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Oklahoma City Thunder also traded places in the top five, the Bucks rising to No. 3. Both had 2-1 weeks. The rankings committee deemed that Milwaukee’s wins over the Suns and Philadelphia 76ers offset its loss in Sacramento more than the Thunder getting by the Mavs and Memphis Grizzlies after losing to the Indiana Pacers at home.

Biggest rises: New York Knicks, who went 3-0 and appear to have regained their stride and the New Orleans Pelicans, who stumbled out of February but have gone 6-1 so far in March. Biggest slides: the two Los Angeles teams. The Lakers went 0-2 last week and the Clippers have now lost four of their last five, including an embarrassing 110-93 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

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NBA Power Rankings

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

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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