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HomeBasketballNBANBA Power Rankings: Budding rivalry out West?

NBA Power Rankings: Budding rivalry out West?

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There’s nothing better in the NBA than a good personal rivalry and it looks like we may have a budding one on our hands.

In a hard-fought, hotly-contested Jan. 20 matchup between Northwest Division foes Oklahoma City and Minnesota, the Thunder squeaked by the Timberwolves, 102-97, to inch closer to the top of the division.

Minnesota star Anthony Edwards following the loss said it’s difficult to guard OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with some of the foul calls SGA receives.

“You can’t touch (Gilgeous-Alexander) at any of the time of the game,” Edwards said.

Gilgeous-Alexander in the game went 12-13 from the line on his way to a game-high 35 points, and OKC as a team hit 30 of 35 foul shots. The Wolves in the game shot 21-29 on free throws, and Edwards went 6 for 10, including missing three straight late with a chance to tie the game. In the fourth quarter, though, Minnesota shot 13 free throws to OKC’s 12.

The game left Minnesota with a one-game lead over OKC and Denver in the Northwest. The Thunder is 8-2 vs. the division, while the Wolves sit at 5-2. The defending champion Nuggets are a surprising 2-4 against Northwest foes, with 10 games left inside the division.

It’s the most interesting division in the NBA this season, with three teams that have legitimate shots to represent the West in the NBA Finals. SGA hasn’t yet responded to Edwards, but the two will see each other on Jan. 29 when OKC and Minnesota meet for the final time this regular season. Minnesota and Denver meet three more times this regular season, all after March 19. Oklahoma City and Denver meet once more on Jan. 31.

The race for the Northwest title is likely to coincide with the race for the No. 1 seed out West. Hopefully Edwards likes to talk while he runs.

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

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