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NBA power rankings: Sixers move up despite loss to Brooklyn Nets; Milwaukee Bucks still No. 1

The Sixers moved up two spots to return to the top five.

The Sixers' Al Horford (right) and Nuggets' Paul Millsap diving for a loose ball during a game last week at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers' Al Horford (right) and Nuggets' Paul Millsap diving for a loose ball during a game last week at the Wells Fargo Center.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

For the third straight week, the Milwaukee Bucks are No. 1 in The Inquirer’s NBA power rankings, but the 76ers are closing fast on their Christmas Day opponent.

Despite Sunday’s loss at Brooklyn, the Sixers moved up this week two spots after beating Denver, winning at Boston, and defeating New Orleans. That was Boston’s first home loss of the season. The Sixers are the NBA’s only unbeaten team at home (14-0).

The Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers remained Nos. 1 and 2. Milwaukee has won 18 in a row and hasn’t lost in five weeks. The Bucks will be tested with guard Eric Bledsoe expected out because of injury for a few weeks. Still, Milwaukee has shown great depth.

The most remarkable part of the Lakers’ record is that they are 14-1 on the road, with 14 consecutive wins.

Dallas, which dropped two spots to No. 7, will certainly be tested as MVP candidate Luka Doncic is out with a sprained ankle. He is expected to miss Friday’s game against the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Records are through Sunday, and last week’s rankings are in parentheses.

The contenders

1. Milwaukee 24-3 (1)

2. LA Lakers 24-3 (2)

3. LA Clippers 20-8 (3)

4. Sixers 20-8 (6)

5. Boston 17-7 (4)

6. Miami 19-7 (7)

7. Dallas 17-8 (5)

8. Toronto 17-8 (9)

9. Indiana 18-9 (10)

10. Denver 17-8 (12)

The next 10

The Western Conference, long acknowledged as being stronger than the East, has only six teams with a winning record, which should make the race for those final two playoff spots interesting. Then again, the Eastern Conference has only seven teams with a winning record.

One Western Conference team looking to steal a playoff spot is San Antonio, and what a week it was for the Spurs.

They set an NBA record by playing four straight overtime games. The Spurs won three, and the only loss was to Cleveland, a team that had lost eight straight, included a 47-point setback in Philadelphia.

11. Houston 17-9 (8)

12. Brooklyn 14-12 (11)

13. Utah 15-11 (13)

14. San Antonio 10-15 (19)

15. Sacramento 12-14 (20)

16. Oklahoma City 11-14 (14)

17. Portland 10-16 (18)

18. Phoenix 11-14 (17)

19. Minnesota 10-15 (16)

20. Detroit 11-15 (21)

Wait till next year

Memphis, with rookie point guard Ja Morant having returned from injury, is starting to play better. Chicago has a lot of young talent but has yet to put it together, although the Bulls are coming off a win over the Los Angeles Clippers (minus Kawhi Leonard).

New Orleans is riding a 12-game losing streak, but as shown during their loss to Sixers, the Pelicans are still playing hard. They have lost seven of the 12 games in the streak by eight points or fewer, including the 116-109 loss to the Sixers.

21. Orlando 12-14 (15)

22. Charlotte 12-17 (23)

23. Chicago 10-18 (22)

24. Memphis 9-17 (26)

25. Washington 7-17 (24)

26. Atlanta 6-21 (25)

27. New York 6-21 (29)

28. Golden State 5-23 (27)

29. Cleveland 6-20 (30)

30. New Orleans 6-21 (28)