NBA Power Rankings: 3/18-3/24


The NBA officially got more interesting this week with the news that Kyrie Irving is now going to be allowed to play home games for the Brooklyn Nets. Irving’s status was something that was hanging over the NBA playoffs and any team that might have to potentially play the Nets in the playoffs. With Irving available for every game, it is now fair to say that the Nets might be the top team in the Eastern Conference. Because they are currently in the play-in tournament, the Nets could be a matchup for the team that gets the top seed in the conference.

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30. Oklahoma City Thunder (+0)

The worst thing for the Thunder this week was not the fact that they lost to the Heat, Magic, and Celtics. The worst thing that happened to Oklahoma City was the fact that they beat Orlando in the other game they played this week. Both teams are fighting for lottery positions and the Thunder getting a win hurt their chances. What was surprising was that the Thunder got the win without the help of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Theo Maledon was the guy stepping up and helped secure the Thunder’s only win of the week.

29. Portland Trail Blazers (-1)

Not even a win over the Pistons could keep the Blazers from falling in the power rankings this week. Losses to the Nets, Pacers, and Spurs did not look good this week for Portland and there is just not much to say about the Blazers in their current state. The news came this week that star point guard Damian Lillard is going to be out for the remainder of the season and that has to be a gut punch to the fan base who has had to deal with a tough season.

28. Houston Rockets (+1)

An 18 point win over the Wizards was enough to keep Houston above the Blazers and Thunder this week. Christian Wood was impressive this week and has been consistent on offense as of late. With less than a month to go in the season, the Rockets are holding on to the worst record in the NBA and will have the best odds to land the number one pick, which is all the franchise has really cared about all season long.

27. Orlando Magic (-1)

Orlando got a shocking victory over the Golden State Warriors, but it was not a great week other than that. The Magic split a pair of games with the Thunder and lost to the Pistons. The two big men for the Magic are playing great right now and both Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr have shown to be pieces for this team moving forward. Orlando still holds the second-best odds to win the draft lottery and could be able to move past the Rockets soon.

26. Detroit Pistons (+1)

Detroit got a surprising double-digit victory over Atlanta on Wednesday and that capped off a 2-2 week for the team. The Pistons got a win over the Magic as well, a game in which forward Saddiq Bey scored a career-high 51 points in an impressive performance. Cade Cunningham continues to show why he was picked first overall and Detroit is playing hard on most nights.

25. Washington Wizards (-2)

It was a tough week for the Wizards, which is becoming quite common here towards the end of the season. Despite getting a win over the Lakers, Washington lost to the Rockets and the Knicks and did not look good in either game. Kristaps Porzingis is playing decent but is not shooting the ball well from three. Kyle Kuzma is the only other guy worth mentioning for the Wizards that is playing well.

24. Indiana Pacers (+1)

The Pacers won two games this week and that is good enough to move them up one spot, despite the wins being against some of the worst teams in the NBA. Indiana almost had their third win over the week before losing at the end of the game to the Kings. Both Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield looked motivated to play their old team and had good games against Sacramento.

23. Sacramento Kings (+1)

Sacramento saved themselves from a winless week with Damian Jones tipping the ball in at the end of the game against the Pacers. Domantas Sabonis did injure his knee during the King’s loss to the Suns this week and it might be time to shut him down for the rest of the season. The best news for Sacramento has been the play of Davion Mitchell, who has been scoring the ball well with De’Aaron Fox sitting with an injury.

22. Los Angeles Lakers (-1)

The Lakers almost got a nice win over the 76ers on Wednesday, but they fell just short with LeBron James on the bench and still no Anthony Davis. Russell Westbrook saved the day against the Raptors earlier in the week and then the Lakers proceeded to blow a big lead against the Wizards. James had a nice game against his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that was perhaps the highlight of the week for Los Angeles.

21. San Antonio Spurs (+1)

The Spurs and the Lakers get to swap spots for the week and that is due to San Antonio getting some key wins over the Blazers and the Warriors. San Antonio is still two games back from being in the play-in tournament and time is running out for the Spurs to make a run. Dejounte Murray was good this week and Josh Richardson turned out to be a surprising piece this week in the Spurs wins.

20. Atlanta Hawks (-2)

Atlanta looked fantastic in a win over Memphis, especially considering that guard Trae Young did not play. Young also had a brilliant game in his return to Madison Square Garden against the Knicks on Tuesday. However, every time the Hawks have a nice moment, they have to have a few bad ones to balance it out. Losses to the Pelicans and a double-digit to the Pistons are just not a good look for a team that wants to be seen as a dangerous team heading into the playoffs.

19. Los Angeles Clippers (-3)

The Clippers are now sitting on a four-game losing streak after losing both of their games this week against the Jazz and the Nuggets. The offense for the Clippers has been solid, but it is the defense that has been collapsing during this losing streak. The only good news for the Clippers right now is that they are holding on to the eighth seed firmly right now and are unlikely to lose it.

18. New Orleans Pelicans (+2)

New Orleans looked good in a win over Atlanta and in a win over San Antonio but did not look as sharp in a loss to Charlotte. CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas have been having to do most of the work for New Orleans because Brandon Ingram has yet to return from his injury. The Pelicans are clinging to the last play-in spot and are only up 1.5 games on the Spurs.

17. New York Knicks (+2)

New York got two wins over the Hornets and the Wizards, but also suffered losses to the Hawks and the Jazz. the Knicks are still five games behind the Hawks for the last spot in the play-in tournament and the loss on Tuesday to Atlanta hurts the Knicks ‘ chances to get that last spot. Julius Randle missed two games this week, giving way to big performances from RJ Barrett and Alec Burks.

16. Chicago Bulls (-3)

The Bull’s fall from being amongst the top teams in the NBA continues and now Chicago is only two games from having to play in the play-in tournament. Two blowout losses to the Suns and the Bucks were just more of the same from Chicago. Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams are both back, but that has not seemed to make much of a difference for the Bulls. It seems so long ago that this looked like one of the best teams in the NBA.

15. Cleveland Cavaliers (+2)

Cleveland did lose to the Lakers in James’ return to Cleveland, but it was not all bad for the Cavaliers this week. They did beat the Nuggets in overtime this week and also beat the Pistons, which is more impressive than it sounds considering how well Detroit has been playing as of late. Cleveland needs to continue to improve because they are only holding on to sixth place in the Eastern Conference by one game over Toronto.

14. Utah Jazz (-3)

The Jazz did pick up a couple of wins this week, but the reason they are dropping a few spots is how they looked in the losses they had this week. A loss to the Celtics is never the worst thing, but the way Utah looked in that game is a bit concerning. The defense for the Jazz has not been at the level the NBA is accustomed to and that is going to be a problem in the playoffs if Utah can’t get it fixed.

13. Charlotte Hornets (+2)

The Hornets keep on winning and are trying to catch the Nets for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. That would be a big deal for Charlotte because it would mean that they would not be eliminated automatically if they lose the first game. Wins over the Mavericks and Pelicans looked really good before a loss to the Knicks on Wednesday. The two guys leading the charge are the ones that you would expect, with LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges playing well this week.

12. Golden State Warriors (-2)

Life has been tough without MVP candidate Stephen Curry, but the Warriors did manage to get a win over the Miami Heat this week. Draymond Green returning has been helpful, but the Warriors are just not the same team without Curry, even if that is pointing out the obvious. Even without Curry though, that is no excuse to lose to the Orlando Magic. Golden State is hoping to be fully healthy for a playoff run, something that is looking increasingly unlikely.

11. Toronto Raptors (+1)

The Raptors had a 1-2 week, but the win came over the 76ers, so that is a positive. The loss to the Lakers was ugly though because losing on a buzzer-beating three to Westbrook is never a good thing. The offense falling flat this week is the main reason that the Raptors could not get anything going. However, the team remains only one game out from being in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

10. Denver Nuggets (-1)

Denver did beat the Clippers this week to salvage what was a pretty forgettable week for the Nuggets. What is even worse for Denver is that it is looking increasingly likely that point guard Jamal Murray is not going to be back this season. As amazing as Nikola Jokic is, this team needs Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to be championship contenders.

9. Brooklyn Nets (+5)

While the Nets only rank ninth in this week’s power rankings, they are unquestionably the biggest winners in the NBA this week. Irving is going to be able to play in every game from this point onward and the hope is still for Ben Simmons to play this season. Whoever gets the top seed in the Eastern Conference is not going to enjoy it so much if they have to play Kevin Durant, Irving, and Simmons.

8. Miami Heat (-1)

Things don’t seem to be going very smoothly in South Beach. Jimmy Butler, Udonis Haslem, and head coach Erik Spoelstra had to be separated from each other in an altercation during the game against Golden State. Everything will probably blow over, but that kind of thing is rare to see from the Heat. That was not the only problem this week though, as Miami lost to the Magic and Spurs this week as well. The Heat are still contenders, but they have some things they need to figure out.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves (-1)

After a great win over Milwaukee at the beginning of the week, it looked like the Timberwolves were going to challenge for a spot in the top five of the rankings this week. However, losses to Dallas and Phoenix. Still, though, this team is looking good and could be a threat when it comes playoff time. Enough can’t be said about the way Karl-Anthony Towns is playing and it is almost certain he will be on the All-NBA team this season.

6. Dallas Mavericks (-1)

It was a 2-2 week for the Mavericks, which is uncharacteristic, given how this team had been playing. Dallas beat the red-hot Timberwolves and the Rockets this week but lost to the 76ers and Hornets as well. Spencer Dinwiddie and Jalen Brunson combined for 54 points in the win over the Rockets.

5. Milwaukee Bucks (-3)

It was not a great week for the defending champs, losing to Minnesota, but they did bounce back and beat Chicago. The loss to the Timberwolves did happen without Giannis Antetokounmpo on the court, but the team should still be capable of winning games with Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Pat Connaughton came back and looked good shooting the basketball.

4. Philadelphia 76ers (+4)

After an embarrassing week last week, Philadelphia looked impressive this week. The highlight of the week might be a win over the Heat, a game in which James Harden and Joel Embiid did not even play. The team also got wins over the Mavericks and Lakers, with the only loss coming to the Raptors. Embiid and Harden steal the show, but Tyrese Maxey has been impressive this week as well.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (+0)

The Grizzlies had a terrible loss to the Hawks to start the week, a game in which Atlanta did not have Young or John Collins. It was solid the rest of the way, with wins over Brooklyn and Houston and the team somehow continues to play well without their star player Ja Morant. Desmond Bane was the guy that stepped up and was efficient on offense this week.

2. Phoenix Suns (-1)

If the team ranked ahead of them was not playing at an absurd level right now, the Suns would have been an easy choice to remain at No. 1. Phoenix has won six in a row now and beat the Bulls, Kings, and Timberwolves this week. Chris Paul is inching closer to a return and that is going to make this team that much better. This is the clear championship front-runner as of now.

1. Boston Celtics (+2)

The way that the Celtics are winning is just ridiculous. Boston is just pummeling opponents right now and it has been an amazing turnaround, considering where the team was at the start of the season. The defense is still elite, but it has been the offense that has been lethal during this incredible stretch by the Celtics. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are among the best duos in the NBA right now and if nobody is taking Boston seriously as an NBA championship contender, it might be time to rethink that.

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Main Image Credit: via CBS Sports

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