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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick and A.J. Neuharth-Keusch break down just how good the 76ers' young center has been so far this season. USA TODAY Sports

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In case, for whatever reason, you still needed convincing that the Boston Celtics are no fluke, Thursday night's down-to-the-wire win over Golden State — the 14th in a row after starting the season 0-2 — should have done the trick.

Plus, Warriors coach Steve Kerr already anointed the Celtics "the team of the future" in the East, and Stephen Curry joked that while the Celtics need to get past Cleveland to make it to the NBA Finals, he heard the "weather's great" in Boston in June. 

With five weeks down, here's how we view the league's current power structure. Voters, listed at the bottom of this page, include NBA reporters from across the USA TODAY Network.

1. Boston Celtics (15-2) | Last week: 1

Kyrie Irving has garnered the headlines and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have exceeded expectations, but the Celtics' most valuable player during this 15-game winning streak may just be Al Horford.

2. Golden State Warriors (13-4) | Last week: 2

The Warriors, down 22 points at halftime, looked cooked Saturday night against Philadelphia. Then you realized they're the Warriors. They outscored the Sixers 47-15 in the third quarter, marking the franchise's most lopsided quarter in over 40 years.

3. Houston Rockets (13-4) | Last week: 3

In Thursday night's win over Phoenix, the Rockets became the first team since 1991 to put up 90 points in a half. As if you needed a stat to prove how dominant this offense is. 

4. Toronto Raptors (11-5) | Last week: 7

The Raptors, riding a four-game winning streak, rank fifth in the NBA in three-pointers attempted (31.4 per game) after finishing 22nd last season (24.3 per game).

5. Detroit Pistons (11-5) | Last week: 4

The Pistons — who dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season but bounced back with a three-point win over Minnesota on Sunday thanks to stellar play from Reggie Jackson — have their work cut out for them over the next few weeks, with Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Golden State on tap. 

6. San Antonio Spurs (10-6) | Last week: 5

With Tuesday's victory over Dallas, Gregg Popovich reached 500 road wins faster than any coach in NBA history, needing just 835 games to do so.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves (10-6) | Last week: 10

Despite some of the early-season woes, the T'Wolves find themselves in third place in the West and off to a 10-6 start for the first time since 2005. 

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (9-7) | Last week: 17

The current four-game winning streak is an encouraging sign, but the Cavs still rank last in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 110 points per 100 possessions.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (9-7) | Last week: 13

The Blazers boast the No. 2 defense in the league (98.5 points allowed per 100 possessions). They also rank in the top five in opponent field goal percentage (43.1%), three-point percentage (33%) and three-pointers made (8.3 per game). 

10. Washington Wizards (9-7) | Last week: 8

John Wall missed Sunday's loss to Toronto with soreness in his surgically-repaired left knee — an ailment coach Scott Brooks called "nothing serious." Still, the Wizards can only do so much without their All-Star point guard running the show.

11. Denver Nuggets (9-7) | Last week: 6

Not only did the Nuggets drop 146 points on New Orleans on Friday night, they did so on 62.9% shooting and with six players scoring in double figures. 

"If we're moving the ball like that and everybody touches it — and we're cutting, moving and finding the open guy and making shots — we could do that every night," said Jamal Murray. 

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12. Philadelphia 76ers (8-7) | Last week: 18

Otherworldly play from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons may make it easy to forget: There's a No. 1 overall pick on this team that hasn't played since Oct. 23. The Sixers announced some encouraging news on Markelle Fultz, saying that his shoulder soreness is "dissipating" and that he'll be re-evaluated in two to three weeks. 

13. Milwaukee Bucks (8-7) | Last week: 16

Saturday's 32-point loss to the lowly Mavericks, which snapped a four-game winning streak, was Milwaukee's worst of the season. What's more, it showed that this team still has plenty of issues to sort out, one of them being the bench, which ranks last in the NBA in scoring at 23.9 points per game. 

14. Oklahoma City Thunder (7-8) | Last week: 14

The Thunder, who bounced back from their four-game losing streak by winning three straight, relinquished a 23-point lead on Friday night in a loss against San Antonio. And so this rollercoaster ride of a season continues ...

15. Indiana Pacers (9-8) | Last week: 22

The Pacers have won four of their last five games, including a 22-point comeback win over Detroit on Friday. They've been the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the NBA during this stretch, knocking down 46% of their shots from distance. 

16. New Orleans Pelicans (8-8) | Last week: 12

Curious what coach Alvin Gentry thought of his team's performance after Friday night's 146-114 loss to Denver?

"It sucked. ... We didn't do anything right, and everything was terrible, coaching included. It was an embarrassment. We embarrassed our franchise, and that includes everyone."

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17. New York Knicks (8-7) | Last week: 15

Kristaps Porzingis, who came in at No. 4 in our NBA MVP power rankings last week, has struggled a bit in New York's past three games, shooting just 33.9% from the field. 

“He’s still a young player," coach Jeff Hornacek said after Friday's loss to Toronto. "We can’t expect him to (go off) every single night.”

18. Orlando Magic (8-8) | Last week: 11

The Magic, who have been one of the league's best three-point shooting teams this season, have gone the other direction during their four-game tailspain, shooting 33.1% from beyond the arc, which ranks 24th in NBA.

19. Memphis Grizzlies (7-8) | Last week: 9

As if things weren't bad enough for the Grizzlies, who have lost four straight and seven of their last nine, they must now go on without Mike Conley, who's out indefinitely with a sore left Achilles. 

20. Miami Heat (7-9) | Last week: 19

The Heat rank 26th in the NBA in offensive rating, scoring just 100.1 points per 100 possessions. They ranked eighth in the NBA (109.7 points per) during last season's 30-11 finish

21. Los Angeles Lakers (7-10) | Last week: 23

While his father was once again stealing headlines for his "feud" with President Trump, Lonzo Ball was putting together one of the best games of his otherwise shaky young career. The 20-year-old point guard recorded his second NBA triple-double on Sunday night, tallying 11 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in a win over Denver. 

22. Utah Jazz (7-10) | Last week: 21

A positive for the Jazz, who have lost seven of their last nine? Rodney Hood is playing some of the best basketball of his career since moving from the starting lineup to the second unit earlier this month, averaging 23 points, including two 30-plus point outings, while shooting 45.8% from beyond the arc.

23. Charlotte Hornets (6-9) | Last week: 24

The good? The Hornets snapped a six-game skid on Saturday against the Clippers, Kemba Walker has put up 73 points and made 11 of his 18 three-point attempts in his last two games and Nicolas Batum is back in the lineup. The bad? That six-game skid.

24. Los Angeles Clippers (5-10) | Last week: 20

After eight consecutive losses, we can't help but wonder: How much longer does coach Doc Rivers have?

25. Phoenix Suns (7-11) | Last week: 26

Hidden behind all that losing in Phoenix, fourth-year forward TJ Warren has quietly been one of the league's most improved players this season, averaging 18.6 points — without a three-point shot — on 51.1% shooting, as well as 5.9 rebounds. 

26. Brooklyn Nets (6-10) | Last week: 25

More bad news for the Nets, who announced Friday that D'Angelo Russell will be out indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The third-year guard has been Brooklyn's best player during his first year with the team, averaging 20.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds. 

27. Atlanta Hawks (3-13) | Last week: 28

Yeah. See below.

28. Sacramento Kings (4-12) | Last week: 27

The Kings just lost to the Hawks. Who have three wins. By 46 points. Enough said.

29. Dallas Mavericks (3-14) | Last week: 30

The Mavericks, who rank third in the NBA in both three-pointers made (11.9 per game) and attempted (33.5), tied a franchise record with 19 makes from beyond the arc in Saturday's win over Milwaukee. At least they have that going for them. 

30. Chicago Bulls (3-11) | Last week: 29

Look at the bright side, Bulls fans: Rookie Lauri Markkanen has been one of the best first-year players in the league. The 7-footer dropped a career-high 26 points and 13 rebounds in Sunday's loss to Phoenix.

This week’s voters: USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick, Jeff Zillgitt, Michael Singer and AJ Neuharth-Keusch; Detroit Free Press’ Vince Ellis; The Record’s Steve Popper; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Matt Velazquez; HoopsHype’s Raul Barrigon

 

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