Skip to main content

NBA Power Rankings: Playoff Stakes for Every Contender

Where each team stands as we enter the final week of the regular season.

The final week of the NBA regular season is officially here. The standings are shuffling with each day as teams battle for seeding and, for some, a chance at the play-in tournament.

Here’s how each team is trending as the countdown to the postseason is on.

(Note: SI’s NBA staff is ranking every team from best to worst all season long, taking into account how each squad is currently playing.)

1. Phoenix Suns

Current record: 62–16

Previous ranking: 1

The Suns likely were not anticipating ending the week with two losses to short-handed teams. Phoenix has been rolling as of late, but that was put to a halt against the Grizzlies and Thunder on the road as some players rested. The Suns still stand strong atop the West, but the team remains one win away from setting a franchise record for total wins in a season (63). They have four regular-season games left to make it happen.

2. Memphis Grizzlies

Current record: 55–23

Previous ranking: 3

The Grizzlies continue to thrive without Ja Morant, most recently having halted the Suns’ nine-game winning streak. Memphis is on a seven-game streak of its own after impressive wins over Phoenix, San Antonio and Golden State this week. With Morant expected to be back for the playoffs, the Grizzlies are shaping up to be a scary matchup in the postseason if they can keep up the offensive production.

3. Miami Heat

Current record: 51–28

Previous ranking: 10

The Heat used a 4–0 week to solidify their standing atop the Eastern Conference. The surge came in response to a four-game losing streak and has provided two games of separation between the Celtics in the standings. If Miami can take care of business and continue their impressive play as of late, the top spot in the East is all theirs.

4. Boston Celtics

Current record: 49–30

Previous ranking: 2

With the Eastern Conference standings shuffling each day, the Celtics currently find themselves in second after dropping from first with a 2–2 week. Boston suffered a tough blow with the injury to Robert Williams’s knee but also received some good news that he could return by the end of April. The Celtics rebounded to end the week and will have to hold their ground over the last three games with the Bucks and 76ers on their heels.

5. Milwaukee Bucks

Current record: 48–30

Previous ranking: 4

The Bucks found themselves in three close games and a blowout in a 2–2 week that tied them with the 76ers for third in the Eastern Conference. The overtime win over the Nets was something to celebrate, but losses against the Clippers and Mavericks came as their competitors atop the East were winning. Giannis Antetokounmpo will have the opportunity to build on his MVP case if he can help the Bucks get some wins to close the season.

6. Dallas Mavericks

Current record: 49–30

Previous ranking: 6

The Mavericks took control of the fourth-place spot in the West with a 3–1 week, and third place is within reach. As the Warriors continue to struggle, Dallas sits just a half-game behind Golden State in the standings with three games to go. Emphasized by a win against the Bucks, the Mavericks seem to be hitting their stride at the right time since the Spencer Dinwiddie acquisition and will have the opportunity to finish the regular season on a strong note.

7. Philadelphia 76ers

Current record: 48–30

Previous ranking: 5

Joel Embiid added to his MVP resume with a 44-point performance against the Cavaliers to help clinch the playoffs for Philly. Despite a loss to the Bucks to start the week, the 76ers enter the final week of the regular season with two straight wins at fourth in the East. With plenty on the line for seeding and MVP status, Embiid and the 76ers will have key opportunities to move up the standings with three out of their last four games against teams out of the playoff picture.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves

Current record: 45–34

Previous ranking: 8

After a 1–3 week, the Timberwolves bounced back with a 2-1 stretch that has them at seventh in the West. Minnesota sits 1.5 games behind the Jazz in the standings, and if Utah’s struggles continue, a chance at escaping the play-in tournament can be within reach. With three games remaining, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves will have the opportunity to strengthen their standing along with the motivation to secure their spot in the playoffs.

9. Denver Nuggets

Current record: 47–32

Previous ranking: 11

Nikola Jokić continued his MVP push with a 38-point performance that helped close out the Lakers and a 3–1 week. Denver jumped over the Jazz for fifth place in the West, and with Jamal Murray seemingly ready to return, the Nuggets are primed to compete. With games against the Spurs, Grizzlies and Lakers coming up to close out the regular season, the Nuggets will need to keep up the pressure with the Jazz right on their tail.

10. Golden State Warriors

Current record: 50–29

Previous ranking: 13

The Warriors helped turn around their recent lull with a 2–2 week that clinched their playoff berth. Though Stephen Curry will not return before the end of the regular season, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins have stepped up to give Golden State some stability after their losing streak. The Warriors will still be tasked with holding off the surging Mavericks in the standings with games against the Lakers, Spurs and Pelicans to close out the regular season.

11. Toronto Raptors

Current record: 45–33

Previous ranking: 14

The Raptors find themselves tied with the Bulls for fifth in the East after a 3–1 week. Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes are leading the way in Toronto’s late-season surge that could lift them to sit alone at fifth by the end of the regular season. The road is not easy, though, with games against the Hawks and 76ers coming up; this final stretch will be a defining one for Toronto.

12. Atlanta Hawks

Current record: 41–37

Previous ranking: 17

Trae Young and the Hawks are among the hottest teams in the NBA. They used a 4–0 week to extend their winning streak to five games and jump to eighth in the East. The Hawks deserve credit for their late-season push, and after holding on for a win against the Nets, they will need to keep up the streak to secure their standing in the play-in tournament.

13. Brooklyn Nets

Current record: 40–38

Previous ranking: 9

Kyrie Irving’s continued presence in the lineup has yet to provide the Nets with the boost they’ve needed. Though Brooklyn started the week with a win over the Pistons, the team closed it with back-to-back losses against the Bucks and Hawks (despite a career-high 55 points from Kevin Durant in the latter). The Nets find themselves locked into the play-in tournament and currently stand in 10th with four games remaining. With Ben Simmons’s potential return still yet to be determined, the time is now or never for the Nets to establish themselves as a reliable contender.

14. Chicago Bulls

Current record: 45–33

Previous ranking: 12

A 2–2 week has the Bulls hanging onto fifth place in the East. The Raptors have made up ground in the past weeks and now stand tied with Chicago in the standings, and the Bulls’ final week is no easy feat with matchups against the Bucks, Celtics, Hornets and Timberwolves. While dropping to the play-in tournament is unlikely, the Bulls must figure out how to beat elite teams if they want to compete in the postseason.

15. Los Angeles Clippers

Current record: 39–40

Previous ranking: 19

Paul George is back for the Clippers, and he has brought some wins with him. George, along with Robert Covington, powered L.A. to a 3–1 week, which included a 25-point comeback victory against the Jazz. The Clippers can’t play for better seeding as they are locked into the eighth seed, but they can work on improving their chemistry with George back in the fold.

16. Utah Jazz

Current record: 46–32

Previous ranking: 7

The Jazz are finding themselves in a rut after allowing their opponents to come back in two of their three games this week. Utah first blew a 25-point lead against the Clippers, followed by losing a 21-point advantage against the Warriors to drop to sixth in the West. Time is running out for Utah to solve its chemistry, and Donovan Mitchell will be relied on to lead the way—with a focus on protecting leads.

17. Charlotte Hornets

Current record: 40–38

Previous ranking: 15

The Hornets fell to ninth in the East after a 1–2 week. Charlotte enters the last week of the regular season in a tie with the Nets, against which it has earned the tie-breaker. With the return of Gordon Hayward, the Hornets will have to find their consistency to hold off any potential Brooklyn run to improve their standing in the play-in tournament.

18. Cleveland Cavaliers

Current record: 43–36

Previous ranking: 16

It was a busy week for the Cavaliers, who still find themselves in the top spot of the play-in tournament. Cleveland went 2–3 over the past week and enters the final week of the season in seventh place with a 1.5-game lead over the red-hot Hawks. Cleveland will work to hold onto that spot with big games against the Nets and Bucks to close out the regular season.

19. New Orleans Pelicans

Current record: 34–44

Previous ranking: 18

The Pelicans used a 2–1 week to hold onto their ninth-place standing in the West. CJ McCollum has powered New Orleans in its recent stretch, which included a win over the struggling Lakers. The Pelicans can’t move up in the standings, but there’s room to move down; they’ll continue to be challenged to stand their ground with a tough closing schedule.

20. San Antonio Spurs

Current record: 33–45

Previous ranking: 20

The Spurs are doing their best to keep the Lakers out of the playoffs. San Antonio went 3–1 over the last week and built a two-game lead over the Lakers for the last play-in tournament spot. The Spurs have a challenging slate to close the season against the Nuggets, Timberwolves, Warriors and Mavericks; do they have enough in the tank to keep the Lakers on the outside looking in?

21. New York Knicks

Current record: 35–44

Previous ranking: 21

Eliminated from the playoffs, the Knicks put together a 2–2 week to remain at 11th in the East. Julius Randle is likely shut down for the rest of the year, as well, with his quad injury. The Knicks can now look to play spoiler with the Nets coming to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

22. Washington Wizards

Current record: 34–44

Previous ranking: 22

The Wizards unveiled great cherry blossom uniforms for next season, one of the bright spots in a 2–2 week. Washington did put together an impressive win against the Mavericks but remains at 12th in the East. The Wizards will have an opportunity to pass the Knicks in the standings during the last week.

Watch NBA games online all season long with fuboTV: Start with a 7-day free trial!

23. Detroit Pistons

Current record: 23–56

Previous ranking: 26

Saddiq Bey has led a three-game winning streak for the Pistons, a bright spot at the end of a difficult season. Still, Detroit stands at 14th place in the East. The Pistons will have the opportunity to extend their streak against three talented opponents in the Mavericks, Bucks and Sixers.

24. Sacramento Kings

Current record: 29–50

Previous ranking: 25

The Kings are making the wrong kind of history this season. Sacramento cemented the longest postseason drought in NBA history on Sunday following a 2–2 week, failing to make the playoffs for the 16th straight year. Currently standing at 12th in the West, the Kings will face the Pelicans, Clippers and Suns to close out their season.

25. Los Angeles Lakers

Current record: 31–47

Previous ranking: 24

The Lakers could not stop the bleeding as their losing streak extended to six after an 0–4 week. LeBron James has been in and out of the lineup as he deals with a sore left ankle, leaving L.A. without its leading scorer. With games against the Suns and Warriors coming up, the Lakers are running out of time to overcome the two-game gap that stands between them and the final play-in seed in the West.

26. Indiana Pacers

Current record: 25–54

Previous ranking: 23

The Pacers’ losing streak ballooned to seven games after an 0–4 week. Indiana’s road to end the season doesn’t get any easier, either, with two games against the 76ers and one against the Nets. The team of young talent will have to dig deep for a win to close out its season.

27. Oklahoma City Thunder

Current record: 23–55

Previous ranking: 27

The Thunder pulled off a big upset against the Suns to close out the week with a win. The shorthanded squad, now without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the season, sits at 14th in the West. With games remaining against the Trail Blazers, Jazz, Lakers and Clippers, there will be more opportunities for the Thunder to play spoiler and build off the win over the Suns.

28. Portland Trail Blazers

Current record: 27–51

Previous ranking: 28

The Trail Blazers dropped their seventh straight game after an 0–4 week, including two straight losses to the Spurs. Portland continues to deal with the injuries that have contributed to the drop to 13th place in the West. Four games remain between Portland and the offseason.

29. Houston Rockets

Current record: 20–59

Previous ranking: 29

It was a week of losses for the Rockets, who stand 3.5 games behind the Thunder at last place in the West. Houston plays three teams in the playoff race to close the season: the Nets, Raptors and Hawks. Like other teams out of contention, Houston can play spoiler.

30. Orlando Magic

Current record: 20–59

Previous ranking: 30

A six-game losing streak has the Magic firmly in last place in the East. Most recently, the Knicks defeated Orlando in a 30-point blowout. Games against the Cavaliers, Hornets and Heat remain before the season comes to an end for the Magic.

More NBA coverage:
The Inevitability of Cade Cunningham
Joel Embiid: 'I Thought I'd Lose It'
LeBron, Lakers Better Off Not Reaching Play-In

Sports Illustrated may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.