NBA Power Rankings: Playoff Battles in both Conferences picking up steam as we reach the end of the season

Previous Power Rankings:  PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9Week 10Week 11Week 12Week 13Week 14Week 15Week 16Week 17, Week 18

  1. Phoenix Suns

Record: 45-18

Previous Ranking: 2 (Up 1)

The Suns picked up some huge wins over the Knicks, Clippers, and Jazz to close the gap between them and the Jazz for the first seed. Chris Paul has started to make a late MVP push, as he just broke into the top 5 on the MVP ladder on NBA.com. The Suns need to keep the momentum going from this week as they look to secure the number one seed out West.

  1. Brooklyn Nets

Record: 43-21

Previous Ranking: 3 (Up 1)

Kevin Durant scored a season high 42 points in a win over the Indiana Pacers this week. This is a great sign for the Nets as a healthy KD makes them that much harder to beat in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Nets are in a two team race with the Sixers for the one seed in the East, which will be imperative to get so they can avoid a potential matchup with Milwaukee in the second round.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 42-21

Previous Ranking: 5 (Up 2)

The Sixers picked up three crucial wins this week and are right on the heels of Brooklyn for the first seed in the East. Philadelphia has a relatively easy schedule for May, playing only two teams that currently have a record of .500 or above, so they should be able to keep the pressure on the Nets down the final stretch of the season.

  1. Utah Jazz

Record: 46-18

Previous Ranking: 4 (Same)

The Jazz dropped another crucial game to the Phoenix Suns this week losing 121-100. The gap between the two has shrunk even more, and now the Suns have the tiebreaker between the two, which could to prove to be a huge decider in which of these two teams ends up with the 1 seed in the West. The Jazz will look to try and hold on to the one seed, as they are still without their star guard Donovan Mitchell.

  1. Denver Nuggets

Record: 43-21

Previous Ranking: 7 (Up 2)

When the Nuggets lost Jamal Murray to an injury, many expected them to slide down the standings and potentially be in the play-in game. Nikola Jokic has had other ideas though, as he continues to solidify his MVP case night in and night out. Jokic had a 30 point, 14 rebound, 7 assist game against the Clippers last night to help the Nuggets keep their five game win streak alive. 

  1. Los Angeles Clippers

Record: 43-22

Previous Ranking: 1 (Down 5)

After reaching the number one spot on the previous week of power rankings, the Clippers have hit a bit of a rough patch, losing their last three games to the Pelicans, Suns, and Nuggets respectively. The Clippers dropped down to the fourth seed because of this, which could ultimately benefit them as they are currently slated to play the Mavericks instead of the healthy Lakers in the first round.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

Record: 39-24

Previous Ranking: 6 (Down 1)

The Bucks went 2-2 in the four games they played, as they were able to clinch their division this week. Milwaukee seems locked in at the three seed at the moment, but have two very important games against the Nets in this upcoming week. The Bucks will have to do so without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is out with an ankle injury.

  1. Dallas Mavericks

Record: 36-27

Previous Ranking: 8 (Same)

Luka Doncic had another fantastic performance this Saturday night to help the Mavericks escape with a 125-124 win over the Wizards. Doncic had a career high 20 assists to go along with his 31 points and 12 rebounds. It would be Dorian Finney-Smith however who hit the clutch go ahead three from the corner to ultimately get the Mavs the lead and the win.

  1. New York Knicks

Record: 35-28

Previous Ranking: 9 (Same)

The Knicks had a rather light week, as they went 1-1 in the two games they played. Julius Randle helped lead the way in their win over the Bulls, scoring 34 points and grabbing 7 boards, as well as hearing some MVP chants along the way. The Knicks will have their first game since Wednesday against the Rockets tonight. 

  1. Los Angeles Lakers

Record: 36-27

Previous Ranking: 12 (Up 2)

Although the Lakers lost two out of their three games this week, they finally have both LeBron James and Anthony Davis back. LeBron made his return in a game against the Kings this Friday, posting 16 points in a loss. His return should help them finish the season off with a strong month of May to help them stay out of the play-in tournament. 

  1. Atlanta Hawks

Record: 35-30

Previous Ranking: 10 (Down 1)

Trae Young returned to action this week after a small injury to his ankle. Since returning, Young has scored 30 plus points in back to back games and helped the Hawks keep the five seed over the surging Celtics. Atlanta will need Young to continue these performances if they want to hold on to the five seed or even grab the four seed.

  1. Boston Celtics

Record: 34-30

Previous Ranking: (Down 1)

In a game that seemed like a complete blowout and another embarrassing loss, the Celtics rallied behind Jayson Tatum and his 60 point performance to come back from a 32 point deficit and beat the Spurs 143-140. Tatum tied Larry Bird’s record for most points scored in a single game in Celtics franchise history as the Celtics hold on to the six seed for now.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers

Record: 35-28

Previous Ranking: 13 (Same)

When the Blazers needed it most, they were able to pull out a huge three game win streak this week to help them stay within striking distance of the six seed. Damian Lillard, who had been struggling the whole month of April, finally had a great performance in the win over the Nets, dropping 32 points and 9 assists on 54 percent shooting from the field.

  1. Miami Heat

Record: 34-30

Previous Ranking: 14 (Same)

Head coach Erik Spoelstra got his 600th career win with a win against the Spurs this week. He became the 27th coach to reach the milestone, and just the 6th to do so on just one team. The Heat are currently sitting at the seven seed and will look to make a late push to get out of the play-in game.

  1. Golden State Warriors

Record: 32-32

Previous Ranking: 16 (Up 1)

The Warriors split the four games they played this week, going 2-2 with wins over the Kings and Rockets. After struggling in the first half against the Rockets, Steph Curry erupted for 23 points in the third quarter, en route to a blowout win. The Warriors are almost a lock to be in the play-in tournament, and will be a team no one wants to face thanks to Curry.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

Record: 32-31

Previous Ranking: 15 (Down 1)

In a rather busy week, the Grizzlies went 2-3 in the five games they played. Memphis won one of the uglier games of the season, as they beat the Magic 92-75. Both teams struggled to shoot the ball, but it is a testament to the Grizzlies as they just find ways to win some games. Memphis is another team that seems locked in the play-in tournament and it would be nice to see if this young squad could find their way into the playoffs.

  1. Charlotte Hornets

Record: 31-32

Previous Ranking: 18 (Up 1)

Rookie LaMelo Ball made his return Saturday night against the Pistons, and his impact was felt immediately. LaMelo had some pretty average numbers, scoring 11 points to go along with 8 assists and 7 rebounds, but his play will certainly help the Hornets come playoff time. Ball will also be looking to challenge Anthony Edwards for the Rookie of the Year award in this final stretch of the season.

  1. San Antonio Spurs

Record: 31-31

Previous Ranking: 17 (Down 1)

The Spurs had a very uncharacteristic loss to the Celtics this week, where they blew a 32 point lead in an overtime loss. The Spurs will need to shake off this gut wrenching loss as the young squad looks to finish the season off strong before the play-in tournament. They will have to do so without guard Derrick White who is expected to miss the rest of the season.

  1. Washington Wizards

Record: 29-35

Previous Ranking: 19 (Same)

Washington has heated up at the perfect time and now has a three game lead over the Bulls and Raptors for the final spot to the play-in tournament. Russel Westbrook has continued to play extremely well posting a 42 point 10 rebound performance in a one point loss to the Mavericks. Despite this, Washington has quickly become a team that no one wants to face. 

  1. Indiana Pacers

Record: 30-33

Previous Ranking: 20 (Same)

The Pacers absolutely feasted on the Oklahoma City Thunder this Saturday, as they beat them 152-95. Domantas Sabonis had a triple double at half time and ended up finishing with 26 points, 19 rebounds, and 14 assists. This is a huge win that the Pacers will look to build off of as they try to hang onto a play-in spot in the final stretch of the season.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

Record: 29-35

Previous Ranking: 22 (Up 1)

The Pelicans picked up a huge win over the Timberwolves in overtime this week. Zion led the way with 37 points on 14-17 shooting while Lonzo Ball had a career high 33 points with 11 rebounds and 8 assists in the 140-136 win. The Pelicans have two huge games against the Warriors this week, and will need to win both of them to have a real shot at the play-in tournament. 

  1. Toronto Raptors

Record: 26-38

Previous Ranking: 21 (Down 1)

The Raptors seem like they are completely out of the picture when it comes to the play-in tourney. Washington is red hot and Toronto just lost three games in a row at the worst possible time. Barring some crazy turn of events, Toronto will find themselves in the lottery for the first time since 2013.

  1. Sacramento Kings

Record: 26-37

Previous Ranking: 24 (Up 1)

After an embarrassing 49 point loss to the Jazz, the Kings were able to pick up a surprise win over the Lakers and spoil LeBron James’s return. They did so without De’Aaron Fox, as rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton stepped up with a big performance. Haliburton scored 23 points and had 10 assists as the Kings stole a 110-106 win against LA.

  1. Chicago Bulls

Record: 26-38

Previous Ranking: 24 (Down 1)

After having a real shot at making the playoffs and trading for an All Star center in Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls have struggled and are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff race. Zach LaVine has been out since the middle of April, and the Bulls have struggled in his absence. Like Toronto, the Bulls went on a three game losing streak at the worst possible time, and will need a lot to go right to make the play-in games.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Record: 21-43

Previous Ranking: 25 (Same)

Kevin Love had an unusual outburst directed towards the refs in a loss to the Raptors this week. Love punched the ball in on the inbounds directly towards a Raptors player, which resulted in a wide open three point shot. Love has come out and apologized for the action, citing how non calls by the refs, coupled with injuries and other frustrations built up in the lead up to the moment, which has pretty much summed the Cavs whole season.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Record: 20-45

Previous Ranking: 28 (Up 2)

The Timberwolves have finally gotten healthy and have actually started to win games. The trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russel have provided a huge scoring boost that has resulted in them picking up a lot of wins recently. Minnesota will look to build off of this strong end to the season and build off of it going into next year.

  1. Detroit Pistons

Record: 19-45

Previous Ranking: 26 (Down 1)

Rookie Isaiah Stewart has continued to play some solid minutes for the young Pistons squad. Stewart had a decent performance against the Mavs, as he scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss. Stewart has shown that he could be a potential building block for the Pistons as they continue with this rebuild.

  1. Orlando Magic

Record: 20-44

Previous Ranking: 28 (Down 1)

Rookie Cole Anthony had another clutch time moment, as he hit the game winner over the Grizzlies with .1 seconds left on the clock. This is his second game winner this season, as he scored a career high 26 points in the 112-111 win. In his expanded role, Anthony has proven that he is a solid guard that the Magic could look to build around in the future.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder 

Record: 21-43

Previous Ranking: 29 (Same)

The Thunder currently boast the league’s worst point differential, and it certainly was not helped with their 152-95 loss to Indiana. The Thunder are still missing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and have lost a lot of games because of that. These losses will most likely help them, as they now have much better odds at landing a higher pick in the draft.

  1. Houston Rockets

Record: 16-48

Previous Ranking: 30 (Same)

Kevin Porter Jr. had his best game of his career against the Bucks, as he scored a career high 50 points to go along with his 11 assists. The Rockets would end up pulling out the win 143-136, as the Bucks had no answer for the young point guard. Porter Jr. has been one of the few bright spots on the tanking Houston Rockets and will most likely be a piece they build around for the future.

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