Both of the NBA’s conferences are currently being steamrolled by freight trains running roughshod through the league with no regard for casualties. In the West it’s the familiar faces of the Phoenix Suns, who have continued to roll despite injuries to Chris Paul, Cameron Johnson and others. In any other universe they’d be the No. 1 team this week, but the Eastern Conference locomotive being conducted by the Boston Celtics was just a millisecond faster, earning them the top spot in the NBA Power Rankings.
The Celtics absolutely destroyed four more opponents, as they’ve gone 9-1 with a plus-15.4 net rating over their last 10 games, and they look like a legitimate contender to win the title as they inch closer and closer to the No. 1 seed in the conference.
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Also moving up were the Brooklyn Nets, who expect to receive the highly anticipated news that Kyrie Irving will be allowed to play in home games, effective immediately. This comes at a great time, as the Nets picked up two wins this week, one without Irving against the Utah Jazz. The biggest risers of the week, however, were the Philadelphia 76ers, who rode Joel Embiid and James Harden to three wins to break into the top five.
The Dallas Mavericks found out how fast the cookie can crumble from week to week, as they dropped from No. 1 to No. 6, giving them the dubious distinction of biggest faller. Here are this week’s NBA Power Rankings, as teams continue to jostle for postseason positioning.
*Please keep in mind that our Power Rankings are based on the team’s performance the previous week, not the entire season.
|OK, the Celtics are starting to get truly frightening. They beat the Kings, Nuggets, Thunder and Jazz this week by an average margin of 21.5 points, and most weren’t even that close. They outscored their opponents by 22.3 points per 100 possessions this week, nearly doubling the next-best team, the Suns. We all know about Boston’s defensive prowess, but it put up a ridiculous 133.4 points per 100 possessions in four games this week, as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the way with 31 and 27.8 points per game, respectively. There is no hotter team in the NBA right now than the Boston Celtics, who have moved within a game and a half of the top seed in the Eastern Conference.||1||46-28|
|The Suns ran their winning streak to six games win victories over the Bulls, Kings and Wolves this week. Phoenix has now won eight of its last nine games, and shows no signs of slowing with Chris Paul’s return reportedly on the horizon. Devin Booker averaged 29 points and five assists for the week on 52 percent shooting, while Deandre Ayton added 22.3 points and 12 rebounds per game on 68 percent shooting. Landry Shamet had the hot hand, knocking down 54 percent of his 3-pointers en route to 18 points per game.||1||59-14|
|Memphis lost to the Hawks to start the week, but bounced back for solid wins over the Rockets and Nets, both of which came without Ja Morant due to knee soreness. Desmond Bane took the offensive lead with Morant on the sideline, averaging 23.5 points and six assists on 9-for-16 3-point shooting in the two wins. De’Anthony Melton also stepped up in Morant’s absence, averaging 19.5 points on 10-for-16 3-point shooting in the two games.||2||50-23|
|Milwaukee only played two games this week, losing to the Wolves without Giannis Antetokounmpo and then steamrolling the Bulls with the Greek Freak back on the floor. He went for 25 points, 17 rebounds and five assists in the win, though he did commit nine turnovers. Pat Connaughton played in his first two games since Feb. 10 and looked good, averaging 14.5 points and four rebounds on 8-for-18 3-point shooting.||—||45-27|
|The 76ers beat the Mavs, Heat and Lakers this week, with the win over Miami impressively coming with both Joel Embiid and James Harden out of the lineup. Their only loss was a throwback affair with the Raptors, who held Philadelphia to just 88 points. Joel Embiid averaged 27.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for the week, while James Harden put up 21.7 points, nine assists and 7.7 rebounds per game. Tyrese Maxey scored 28 points in 28 minutes in the short-handed win over the Heat.||7||45-27|
|It was a short run at the top for the Mavericks, who lost to the 76ers and Hornets to start the week before beating the Wolves and Rockets. Luka Doncic sat out the Houston win, but averaged 23 points, 7.7 assists and 5.7 rebounds in the other three games on 39 percent 3-point shooting. Spencer Dinwiddie and Jalen Brunson combined for 54 points without Doncic against the Rockets, and each averaged 19.3 points for the week.||5||45-28|
|The Wolves kept up their red-hot stretch with a convincing win over the Bucks to start the week, but came back down to earth in subsequent losses to the Mavs and Suns. Karl-Anthony Towns averaged 20.7 points and 10 rebounds per game on 40 percent 3-point shooting for the week, while Anthony Edwards put up 21 points per game on 48 percent 3-point shooting.||—||42-32|
|Kyrie Irving is no longer a part-time player, as the Nets prepare to finally receive the news they’d been waiting for all season — an adjustment to New York City’s vaccine mandate that will allow Irving to play in home games … at least for now. Prior to the news, Brooklyn beat the Blazers and picked up an impressive win over the Jazz without Irving before losing to the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies on national TV on Wednesday. Irving scored 43 points on 6-of-11 3-point shooting in the loss, while Kevin Durant averaged 36.7 points per game for the week on 58/41/96 shooting splits. Just ridiculous.||2||38-35|
|It wasn’t looking great for the Warriors without Steph Curry, as they dropped consecutive games to the Spurs and Magic to start the week. But things took a borderline miraculous turn on Wednesday, as Golden State managed to convincingly beat the Heat in Miami despite being without Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Otto Porter Jr. Continuing his hot stretch, Jordan Poole put up 30 points and nine assists in the win over Miami, while averaging 28 points for the week on 46 percent 3-point shooting.||3||48-25|
|After a win over the Thunder, the frustration of back-to-back bad losses to the 76ers without Joel Embiid and James Harden, then the Warriors without Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, came to a boil when Jimmy Butler, Erik Spoelstra and Udonis Haslem had to be separated during a sideline blow-up after a 19-0 third-quarter run by Golden State on Wednesday. Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry all averaged over 20 points per game for the week, but the Heat have now dropped four of their last eight games, and are in danger of losing the top seed in the East.||2||47-26|
|Toronto suffered disappointing losses to the Lakers and Bulls this week, while grinding out a low-scoring win over the 76ers in between. Pascal Siakam averaged 21.7 points, seven rebounds and 5.3 assists per game on 52 percent shooting, while Scottie Barnes added 17.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and five assists per game. Overall the Raptors went ice cold from deep, making just 26 percent of their nearly 32 3-point attempts per game.||2||40-32|
|The Jazz started the week with wins over the Clippers and Knicks before losing to the Nets and being run off the floor by the Celtics. Donovan Mitchell averaged 34.3 points on 39 percent 3-point shooting in three games this week, while Jordan Clarkson added 18 points per game on 35 percent 3-point shooting. Utah held both L.A. and New York under 100 points, but had trouble containing the more fruitful offenses of Brooklyn and Boston.||1||45-28|
|After losing to the Cavs in overtime and being blown out by the Celtics (like everyone else these days), the Nuggets bounced back to beat the Clippers on Tuesday. The reports of Jamal Murray’s potential return turned more dour recently, with Michael Malone saying his point guard is “not close.” Nikola Jokic went cold from 3-point range this week, but put up his usual, monster numbers with 28.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and six assists per game.||2||43-30|
|Charlotte ran its win streak to five games with victories over the Mavericks and Pelicans to start the week, but finished things off with a home loss to the Knicks on Wednesday. LaMelo Ball averaged 22 points, seven assists and 5.7 rebounds per game on 48 percent 3-point shooting for the week, while Miles Bridges added 18 points, 5.7 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game on 54 percent shooting.||1||37-36|
|The Bulls’ struggles against top-tier teams continued this week, losing to the Suns and Bucks by a combined 55 points. In between was a solid win over the Raptors, but Chicago has yet to regain its early-season form despite the return of Alex Caruso and, more recently, Patrick Williams. Dealing with nagging knee issues, Zach LaVine averaged 19.7 points and 7.3 assists per game this week, though he shot just 39 percent from the field.||1||42-30|
|The Cavs picked up an impressive overtime win over the Nuggets to start the week, then took care of the Pistons before LeBron James destroyed them in a loss to the Lakers. The defense, a calling card of Cleveland’s success this season, has suffered significantly since Jarrett Allen’s injury in early March. Darius Garland put up some huge numbers this week with 26 points and 14.3 assists per game.||1||41-31|
|The Hawks’ roller-coaster season continued this week, as they looked great in wins over the Grizzlies (without Trae Young) and Knicks, but also dropped games to the Pelicans and Pistons — the latter by 21 points. Young went off for 45 points in his favorite road building — Madison Square Garden — while averaging 29 points and nine assists for the week on 45 percent 3-point shooting. Bogdan Bogdanovic averaged 31 points in the wins this week, and 17 points in the losses.||1||36-37|
|The Knicks beat the Wizards and Hornets this week, while losing to the Jazz and Hawks (New York will be happy it doesn’t have to see Trae Young again this season). With a postseason berth slipping away, the focus turns to RJ Barrett, who kept up his strong year with 25.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this week, albeit on poor shooting from the field. Alec Burks took on some extra scoring responsibility, averaging 19 points on 6-for-13 3-point shooting in two games without Julius Randle.||1||31-42|
|The Clippers only played two games this week, losing to the Jazz and Nuggets to bring their losing streak to four games. Terance Mann led the team with 19 points per game for the week, while backup big man Isaiah Hartenstein dished out 6.5 assists per game, including a career-high eight in the blowout loss to Utah. The Clippers gave up 248 points in the two games, and their short-handed offense simply isn’t equipped to match that kind of output.||1||36-38|
|The Pelicans beat the Spurs and Hawks to start the week, before failing to get a shot off in the final 8.9 seconds of a three-point loss to the Hornets. With Brandon Ingram still on the shelf, CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas did the heavy lifting on offense, each averaging more than 20 points per game. Jaxson Hayes has looked comfortable as the starting four next to Valanciunas, averaging 12.3 points and nine rebounds per game this week on 4-for-7 3-point shooting.||1||30-42|
|Russell Westbrook played the hero late in a surprising, overtime road win over the Raptors to start the Lakers’ week, then LeBron James went off for a monster triple-double (and one of the best poster dunks of the year) in a win over his former Cavs. The Lakers also gave up a 16-point lead in a loss to the Wizards, then put up a valiant effort without James in a five-point loss to the 76ers on Wednesday. James averaged 37.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists this week as he passed Karl Malone for second on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Westbrook also had a good week, putting up 22 points, 9.3 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game on 52 percent shooting, including 48 percent from behind the 3-point line.||2||31-42|
|The Spurs started off the week with a 33-point loss to the Pelicans, but bounced back for wins over the Warriors and Blazers. Dejounte Murray averaged 21 points, seven rebounds and 6.7 assists on 42 percent 3-point shooting, while Josh Richardson provided a nice boost in the two games he played, averaging 20 points on 6-for-16 3-point shooting. San Antonio is just two games back in the loss column of the final two play-in spots.||2||29-44|
|Domantas Sabonis went down with a knee injury late in Sacramento’s loss to Phoenix this week, and there are reports that he and De’Aaron Fox may both be shut down for the remainder of the season. The Kings were able to pick up a win after losses to the Celtics and Suns thanks to Damian Jones’ last-second put-back to beat the Pacers on Wednesday. Rookie Davion Mitchell has looked great in Fox’s absence, averaging 21.7 points and six assists this week on 47/44/91 shooting splits, to accompany his physical defense.||1||26-48|
|Any week with two wins is a good one for the Pacers, even if they come against two of the league’s worst teams, and they almost made it three before a last-second tip-in by Kings center Damian Jones gave them a disappointing loss on Wednesday. Center Goga Bitadze averaged 18.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, taking advantage of some extra run with Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith missing time. Buddy Hield went off against his former Kings, putting up 25 points, seven assists and four steals on 5-for-8 3-point shooting, while Tyrese Haliburton nearly averaged a double-double for the week.||1||25-48|
|Detroit’s convincing win over the Hawks on Wednesday put a cap on a 2-2 week, which also included a win against the Magic and losses to the Cavs and Blazers. Saddiq Bey scored a career-high 51 points in the win over Orlando with Cade Cunningham and Jerami Grant on the sidelines, then eight Detroit players scored in double figures in the win over Orlando. Grant only played in two of the games, but averaged 30.5 points while going 9 for 13 from 3-point range.||3||20-53|
|The Magic split with the Thunder this week, while also picking up an impressive win over the Warriors and losing to the Pistons. Wendell Carter Jr. was great in the two games he played, both Magic wins, averaging 24.5 points and 12 rebounds on 70 percent shooting. Franz Wagner continued his excellent rookie season, putting up 17.5 points per game this week on 52 percent shooting.||2||20-54|
|The Wizards lost to the Knicks to start the week, then launched a comeback victory against the Lakers before being pummeled by the lowly Rockets. Kristaps Porzingis led the team with 22.3 points, nine rebounds and two blocks per game, but shot just 27 percent from the 3-point line. Rui Hachimura got some extra opportunity with Kyle Kuzma missing two games this week, and he put up 12.3 points per game on 44 percent 3-point shooting.||—||30-41|
|The Blazers suffered a close loss to the Nets and beat the Pistons this week, while also being throttled by the Pacers and Spurs. Josh Hart only played in two of the games, but he averaged 25.5 points and 5.5 assists on 6-for-13 3-point shooting. Ben McLemore took on more of a scoring role this week, averaging 18 points per game on 38 percent 3-point shooting, while big man Drew Eubanks put up 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.||2||27-45|
|OKC started off the week by losing to the Heat, Magic and Celtics to run their skid to 10 games, but they got revenge against Orlando on Wednesday to get back into the win column. The Thunder notably picked up their win without the services of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, as Theo Maledon, Isaiah Roby and rookie Tre Mann led the team in scoring — not necessarily a sentence we thought we’d write at the beginning of the season. Mann had a tremendous week, averaging 23.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game on 45 percent 3-point shooting. He also scored 23 of the Thunder’s 25 points in the second quarter in the loss to Boston, the highest-scoring quarter for any rookie this season.||—||21-52|
|The Rockets lost three more games this week, but they also beat the Wizards by 18 points — the largest margin of victory they’ve mustered all season. Hey, they’ll take the small victories when they can. Christian Wood led the team with 23.8 points and 10 rebounds per game, while shooting 15 of 26 from the 3-point line this week. Jalen Green had a rough shooting week after a recent hot stretch, while fellow rookie Alperen Sengun put up 12 points and 7.8 rebounds in just under 23 minutes per game.||—||18-55|