We’ve hit the last week of the regular season and teams are going to be clinching playoff spots, fighting for seeding, or outright tanking. For the last edition of the regular season power rankings, we’re going to go ahead and sort each team into tiers. The only tiers that truly matter are the first two, but fans of teams in the “pretenders” tier will likely still be able to witness their clubs in the postseason or play-in tournament.
The top of the East (Bucks, Celtics, 76ers) might be stronger than the top of the West (Suns, Nuggets, Grizzlies) heading into the last week. The East semifinals and finals are going to be a grind, and that might actually benefit whichever team does come out of the West. The Bucks are the favorites to win it all at the moment, but it only takes one bad shooting series or one freak injury to completely change everything.
SECOND TIER CONTENDERS
The Knicks, Clippers and Pelicans have big injury questions, although the situation is much clearer for New York and LA regarding Julius Randle and Paul George. The Warriors simply haven’t been able to lock in on the road this year, but they are the defending champions and have not been beaten in a playoff series since 2014-15 when Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are available for the duration of the series. The Kings are simply inexperienced when it comes to the postseason, while the Heat and Lakers have been too inconsistent to be considered true title contenders despite their recent history.
The Mavericks are the only team capable of leaping into the secondary contender realm, solely due to Luka Doncic’s postseason track record. The Timberwolves just dropped a game to the tanking Blazers, which isn’t exactly going to inspire confidence given how tight the West standings are.