The NBA playoffs are less than a month away, and so much is still to be decided. Who will actually make the playoffs in the West? Who will have homecourt in the first round? It’s really been an exciting regular season, and injuries—though truly unfortunate—could introduce a new level of unpredictability come April 15.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet, however. Plenty of meaningful games still have to be played over the next 17 days or so. Here’s how each team stacks up headed into Week 24(!!!) of the NBA season.
30. Phoenix Suns (19–55)
Last Week: 30
29. Dallas Mavericks (22–51)
Last Week: 28
28. Memphis Grizzlies (19–54)
Last Week: 24
27. Chicago Bulls (24–49)
Last Week: 26
26. Brooklyn Nets (23–51)
Last Week: 23
25. Atlanta Hawks (21–52)
Last Week: 29
24. Sacramento Kings (24–50)
Last Week: 22
23. Orlando Magic (22–51)
Last Week: 27
22. New York Knicks (27–47)
Last Week: 25
Good on Kings owner VivekRanadivé for supporting peaceful protest in a statement after Sacramento’s win over the Hawks last Thursday. The game was delayed due to a protest outside the arena after the killing of Stephon Clark. It’s kind of insane that an owner is earning so much praise for such a statement—that’s no knock on Ranadivé, who certainly deserves credit, but how rare we hear statement like his is pretty concerning.
On the court, all these teams are still bad, and I’m worried about anyone who is watching these teams on a consistent basis. The Knicks lead the group of tankers this week solely because of their shocking road win against the Wizards.
21. Detroit Pistons (33–40)
Last Week: 21
20. Los Angeles Lakers (32–40)
Last Week: 19
19. Charlotte Hornets (33–41)
Last Week: 20
These three teams are not quite bad enough to be tanking, but they aren’t going to sniff the playoff race either. In another world, the Hornets played well enough in close games to give us a chance at seeing postseason Kemba. Charlotte is currently riding a three-game win streak, with each victory coming against a lottery-bound opponent. The Lakers have lost a tiny bit of their friskiness, while the Pistons are hurtling toward a rehaul in the summer.
18. Washington Wizards (40–33)
Last Week: 9
The loss to the Knicks on Sunday may be a smart long-term play if the Wiz are hoping to fall back into the seventh seed for a potential first-round matchup against the wounded Celtics. Still, a loss to the Knicks is a loss to the Knicks. I would clamor for John Wall’s return, but honestly his sideline outfits are possibly more entertaining than watching him run a fast break.
17. Miami Heat (39–35)
Last Week: 16
Two straight losses to end Week 23. The Heat are perhaps a James Johnson missed free throw and a Paul George offensive foul being called away from riding a five-game win streak. Miami is still in a good spot, though, only a half-game behind the Bucks for the coveted seven-spot in the East.
16. Milwaukee Bucks (39–34)
Last Week: 15
Really nice win for the Bucks over a streaking Spurs team on Sunday. That was Milwaukee’s first win against a team over .500 since March 4. As great as Giannis has been this season, something about the Bucks just doesn’t seem right to me over the past month. I’m not sure any East heavyweight is going to fear the deer this postseason, but I would be genuinely happy if a crazy Giannis series made me look like an idiot for saying that.
15. Los Angeles Clippers (39–34)
Last Week: 17
The Clips have responded to a four-game losing streak by winning two of their last three, all of which came on the road. Winning in Toronto is no joke! Unfortunately for L.A., its schedule hardly lets up the rest of the way. Whatever happens, this team is going to be fun to watch—the Clippers have scored less than 100 points only once in March.
14. Denver Nuggets (40–33)
Last Week: 18
Two straight wins for the Nuggets, who are on the road through the end of the month. This upcoming week is an absolute gauntlet—Denver has to play in Philly, Toronto and Oklahoma City over the next five nights. The Nugs are only 1 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, but these next few days could very well determine their fate.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (42–32)
Last Week: 14
The Wolves are hanging on without Jimmy Butler. They play three straight tankers this week, and five of their last eight games will be at home. The Teague-Wiggins-Bjelica-Gibson-Towns lineup has a fairly impressive 5.6 net rating.
12. New Orleans Pelicans (43–31)
Last Week: 11
The Pelicans had won four in a row before stumbling against the Rockets on Saturday. Of the West’s bottom four seeds, New Orleans is possibly in the toughest position to hold onto their playoff spot. But anyone trying to catch up to Anthony Davis has a tough climb in front of them.
11. Golden State Warriors (54–19)
Last Week: 5
The Warriors are rightfully punting on the regular season at this point, as they’re locked into the two-seed down the stretch. None of the team’s four All-Stars played in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Jazz. Still, the Dubs have won only three of their last eight, and their best-case scenario is to be healthy by Round 2 of the playoffs. This is certainly the shakiest Golden State has looked at any point over the last four seasons. More than anything, I want Stephen Curry to be at full strength for a potential West Finals showdown against the Rockets.
10. Utah Jazz (42–32)
Last Week: 6
A baffling loss to the Hawks last week aside, the Jazz are still one of the hottest teams in the league. That slip-up against Atlanta could be big, though, as Denver is only one game back in the loss column. But the Jazz remain high in my power rankings because Donovan Mitchell is so damn entertaining to watch. His play down the stretch of last Friday’s loss to the Spurs was not normal for a rookie.
9. Indiana Pacers (43–31)
Last Week: 10
The Pacers have a lot to play for down the stretch, as they’re in a battle for home court with the red-hot 76ers. No matter what happens, let’s be clear: This has been an incredible season for Indiana. Kevin Pritchard has absolutely earned the last laugh after he was widely derided for the Paul George trade. I’m excited to see how the Pacers and Victor Oladipo build off this year, but for now, this franchise should still be very much focused on making a deep playoff run.
8. San Antonio Spurs (43–31)
Last Week: 8
San Antonio had won six in a row until its loss to the Bucks on Sunday. Amid all the turmoil surrounding Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs are still only a half-game behind the Thunder for homecourt in the first-round of the playoffs. A Spurs-Warriors first-round series sans Steph Curry is also in play, and that could be a very, very intriguing matchup.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder (44–31)
Last Week: 4
The Thunder had a down week thanks to a silly loss in Boston and a close defeat at the hands of the Blazers. Apparently, Corey Brewer can only do so much! I have more faith in this team now than at any point earlier this season, but a slide down the standings would still be somehow unsurprising.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (45–28)
Last Week: 1
The Blazers dropped two in a row at home before bouncing back with a win in OKC. After struggling at times together earlier this season, the Damian Lillard-C.J. McCollum duo now has a 5.2 net rating. Portland’s defensive efficiency is a respectable 104.1 when its bombs-away backcourt shares the floor.
5. Toronto Raptors (54–20)
Last Week: 3
The Raptors uncharacteristically dropped a couple games last week. I’m not going to penalize Toronto too much, though. This team has earned the right to slack a tiny bit down the stretch. The gap between the third-place Raptors and fourth-place Celtics in net rating is the same gap between Boston and the eighteenth-place Heat.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (44–29)
Last Week: 12
The Cavs are streaking right now, winning five straight, including two impressive victories against the Bucks and Raptors. Cleveland‘s defense should rightfully still give everyone pause, but the Cavs can still outscore most teams in the NBA. The return of Kevin Love is a nice boost for the end of the season.
3. Boston Celtics (50–23)
Last Week: 7
Boston gutted out two great wins against the Thunder and Blazers this week despite dealing with numerous injuries. The Kyrie news is tough, and I wonder if Boston regrets not pushing him to get surgery earlier in the season. As much as some teams may be angling to play an Irving-less Celtics team in the first-round of the playoffs, they may end up regretting that choice. Brad Stevens has dealt with adversity well all year long.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (42–30)
Last Week: 13
The hottest team in the East. The 76ers are basically on a revenge tour right now, embarrassing everyone who thought this team would be around .500 at best this season. The fact that we are hardly talking about Joel Embiid’s health anymore is incredible to think about.
1. Houston Rockets (60–14)
Last Week: 2
The Rockets need to severely curtail James Harden and Chris Paul’s minutes over the season’s final couple weeks. No need to risk anything here. It’s time to gear up for this franchise’s most important playoff run in two decades.