The NBA's regular season draws a lot of criticism for being an unnecessarily arduous process. The 82-game slate spans almost six months—and that's just the appetizer to a postseason that begins in mid-April and doesn't wrap until mid-June.
With resting players becoming a more common strategy, the regular season can feel like it has lost its luster. But the marathon slate also has a way of vetting the competition.
In my preseason Power Rankings, I put the Spurs and Cavaliers at No. 1 and 2 and crowned them the most obvious contenders. That prediction didn’t always look sound over the past few months. Cleveland's struggles were well-documented as they began the season 19-20, and the Spurs have lurked in the weeds most of the season while dealing with injuries to Kawhi Leonard and a host of other critical contributors.
Yet with less than two weeks remaining in the season, the Spurs and Cavaliers have become mainstays in the top three and are near-locks to end the season in that position. San Antonio is peaking at the right time of the season—no coincidence under Gregg Popovich in his 18th season—while Cleveland has used the regular-season slate to smooth out the bumps and find its footing as a contender.
Adding to the importance of the regular season: the races as we hit its home stretch. Five teams are competing for two spots in the East and are separated by just two games. While in the West, a back-and-forth between the Thunder and Pelicans for the No. 8 seed could go down to the final day of the season, with OKC currently holding just a half-game lead.
Here's where all 30 teams stand in this week's NBA Power Rankings.
(All stats and records through April 6)
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