NBA Power Rankings, Week 26: Celtics finish season on top as Warriors, Lakers climb!

Get ready with your favorite gameday snacks and make sure you’re ready to monitor social media, because the NBA playoffs are about to begin! As the regular season comes to a close, it’s time to take a closer look at the league’s top teams and determine who’s got the skills to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy. From buzzer-beaters to clutch performances, this year’s NBA Power Rankings have been a wild ride. Let’s take a look at where all 30 teams are in our NBA Power Rankings as we end the regular season and enter the 2023 NBA Playoffs!

The Boston Celtics have successfully kept other contenders at bay at the close of the regular season. They stay in the top spot of the NBA Power Rankings, while the Milwaukee Bucks stay at No. 2. The Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers follow closely behind even as the Memphis Grizzlies are the top-ranked Western Conference team at No. 5.

Our biggest climbers at the end of the regular season are the Golden State Warriors. They rise all the way from the bottom half of the NBA Power Rankings to among the top 10. The Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Minnesota Timberwolves also move up a few spots each. On the flip side, the New Orleans Pelicans and Brooklyn Nets are among our biggest sliders this week.

The Bucks still hold the best win-loss record in the league followed by the Celtics, Sixers, and Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile, several teams ended the season on three-game hot streaks. These include the Celtics, Warriors, Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers. The Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic, on the other hand, each lost four in a row to close their 2022-23 campaigns.

How about the other teams, though? Where does each team stand when it comes to the final NBA Power Rankings of the 2022-23 season?

Remember that our NBA Power Rankings take into account various factors, including overall win-loss records, recent performances, net rating differentials, and streaks or slumps.

Previous 2022-23 NBA Power Rankings: Week 25 | Week 24 | Week 23 | Week 22 | Week 21 | Week 20

Now without further ado, let’s look at our 2022-23 NBA Power Rankings at the end of the regular season.

1. Boston Celtics (no change)

The Celtics may not have finished the season with the best win-loss record in the league, but they finish as the No. 1 team in our NBA Power Rankings. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games, including going 4-1 in April. They finish as the second seed in the Eastern Conference and will face either the Miami Heat or the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. Either way, the Celtics should be heavily favored to win their first playoff series.

See you Saturday

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 9, 2023

2. Milwaukee Bucks (no change)

The Bucks managed to hold on to the best win-loss record in the league, and they will enjoy home court advantage throughout the entire postseason. That said, they kind of limped towards the finish line, losing back-to-back games against the Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. Like Boston, however, Milwaukee should be heavy favorites against whomever they face in the first round of the playoffs.

3. Philadelphia 76ers (+1)

The Sixers ended the regular season strong, winning three of their last four games. Many fans also believe Joel Embiid has done enough to win MVP for his dominant play this year. Time will tell if that prediction is correct, but it’s hard to argue with his individual numbers and how well the Sixers have played all season.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (+1)

The Cavs ended their regular season with a loss to the Charlotte Hornets, but that shouldn’t put much of a damper on the team, though. Prior to that, the Cavs had won seven of their last nine games, which helped them cement the fourth spot in the East and a playoff matchup against the New York Knicks. By the way, it feels like Donovan Mitchell should finally make an All-NBA Team.

5. Memphis Grizzlies (-2)

The Grizzlies went on a bit of a seesaw ride this past week. They beat the Blazers and Bucks but lost to the Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite that, Memphis finishes as the second seed in the Western Conference, and they will face either the Lakers or the Wolves in the first round. Are the Grizzlies favorites against either? We’re not so sure.

6. Golden State Warriors (+10)

The defending champions did just enough to avoid being in the play-in tournament. They won eight of their last 10 games to just nose out the Lakers for the sixth seed in the West. The Dubs might also be the favorites in their first-round matchup against the upstart Sacramento Kings. I mean, these are the defending champions after all, right? That’s a huge reason they move up 10 spots in our NBA Power Rankings to close the season.

7. New York Knicks (+1)

The Knicks are going to be very dangerous in the playoffs. Before losing their last two games, New York won five in a row to solidify their hold on the No. 5 seed in the East. It’ll be fun seeing Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and RJ Barrett lead this team against the Cavs in the first round.

8. Los Angeles Lakers (+3)

This might be a crazy take, but the Lakers look like the most dangerous team in the West right now. Keep in mind that they have won nine of their last 11 games, and they also have the best win-loss record and second-best net rating post-All-Star break among all West teams. Maybe a deep run is in the offing for the Lakers.

9. Denver Nuggets (-3)

Man, the Nuggets have the highest win total in the West, but they sure don’t look like the best team in their conference. They finish the season losing five of their last seven games and own a middling (16th) net rating after the All-Star break. We’re not confident in this team at all.

10. Phoenix Suns (-1)

The Phoenix Suns ended the season losing to both Los Angeles teams. Still, they finished with the fourth seed in the wild West, giving them a first-round matchup with the Clippers. Also, with their big four seemingly well-rested for the playoffs, maybe the Suns are finally going to make another deep postseason run.

11. Sacramento Kings (-1)

We love the Kings’ story this season, as they’ve been everyone’s favorite underdog story. Of course, it sucks that they went 1-4 in April and will now face the defending champs in the first round. It was good while it lasted, Sacramento.

12. Chicago Bulls (+1)

What we’re seeing from the Chicago Bulls is not exactly a late-season resurgence. Objectively, they’re just finally playing decent basketball on a relatively consistent basis. Proof? The Bulls have the third-best net rating post-All-Star-Break. All the other play-in teams in the East better watch out.

See you in the play-in.#SeeRed | @BMO_US

— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 9, 2023

13. Los Angeles Clippers (+2)

Don’t count these Clippers out. They may not be title favorites, but when they’re on, they’re still among the best teams in the league. The Clips have won five of their last seven and have their sights on a first-round upset against the Suns. That series is going to be absolutely bonkers.

14. New Orleans Pelicans (-7)

It feels so weird to bump the Pelicans way down, but that’s the way it is. This is not a terrible team, mind you. In fact, going 3-2 in April isn’t that bad. However, so many other teams have just made deeper inroads than the Pels. We’re also unsure they’ll make it out of the play-in tournament.

15. Toronto Raptors (-3)

Speaking of play-in teams who might have just one more game, the Raptors might be in that same boat as well. They’ve lost two of their last three games and have a do-or-die contest against the streaking Bulls. Needless to say, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Gary Trent Jr. all need to be at their very best.

16. Miami Heat (+3)

The Heat have been notoriously inconsistent this season. However, they just went 4-1 in April to close out the regular season. That’s a very good sign for a team hoping to turn some heads in the playoffs. That said, they’ll have to survive the Play-In Tournament first.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (+3)

Like the Heat, the Wolves are an inconsistent bunch that managed to end the regular season red-hot. They’ve won three games in a row and look pretty good for the Play-In Tournament. Well, that was until Rudy Gobert was sent packing after he punched teammate Kyle Anderson. Now, who knows where the Wolves’ chances stand.

18. Brooklyn Nets (-4)

The darling Nets fall four spots in our NBA Power Rankings mainly because they went 2-2 in their final four games. They still finished ahead of the Heat in the standings to avoid the Play-In Tournament, but the Nets aren’t expected to last long against the presumptive MVP and his Sixers in the postseason.

19. Atlanta Hawks (-1)

The Hawks had a hot start in April, winning their first three games. After that, however, they lost back-to-back games to close the season. Granted, those last two were against the Sixers and the Celtics. Still, that doesn’t augur too well for a team that might last just two games in the Play-In Tournament.

20. Oklahoma City Thunder (+1)

OKC fans have got to love the fact that they managed to nose out the Dallas Mavericks for the last play-in spot in the West. The Thunder did it after winning their last two games against the Utah Jazz and Grizzlies. Nobody expects them to go past the first round at most, but this was still a feel-good ending for the franchise this season.

21. Dallas Mavericks (+1)

There is no doubt that the Mavs have been the most disappointing team since the trade deadline. In fact, since acquiring Kyrie Irving, the Mavs won just nine of their last 27 games of the season. Back when the Irving trade was announced on February 6, the Mavs held the fifth-best record in the West (29-26). Now, they finish below .500 and miss the Play-In Tournament entirely. What a shame.

Who saw this coming when the Kyrie trade went down!?

— Basketball Forever (@bballforever_) April 8, 2023

22. Orlando Magic (-5)

The Magic had a great run to end March, but we all knew reality would catch up with them. Now, they slink back into the offseason and look ahead. Still, there might be a brighter future awaiting them in 2023-24. This young core, after all, has shown a lot of promise.

23. Utah Jazz (no change)

The Jazz were still a top 10 West team on March 21st. Sadly, things went downhill from there, as they lost nine of their last 11 games to finish the season 12th spot in their conference. Oh well, that’s probably still better than most expected entering the season.

24. Indiana Pacers (+1)

The Indiana Pacers found a way to end their season on a high note after beating the Knicks in a meaningless game. Now, more soul-searching is about to happen this offseason, and perhaps some key roster shake-ups as well.

25. Washington Wizards (-1)

When the Washington Wizards beat the Celtics in late March, we held our breath, as it looked like this team could miraculously make it to the Play-In Tournament. The Wizards proceeded to drop five of their last six games to finish just a game ahead of the Magic in the standings.

26. Charlotte Hornets (no change)

Yes, the Hornets lost four of their last five games. However, they did finish the season beating the Cavs by 11. We’re hoping they can put together a much healthier roster next season as they build around LaMelo Ball.

27. Houston Rockets (+1)

Oh wow, look at the Houston Rockets. They won four of their last five games, including a 21-point beating of the Nuggets. And they might even end up with Victor Wembanyama next season. Things may finally be looking up for Houston!

28. Portland Trail Blazers (-1)

On the other hand, things are looking way down in Oregon. The Portland Trail Blazers won just once in their last ten games of the regular season. Damian Lillard may not say anything soon, but he’s probably deep in thought about whether staying in Portland is still worth it.

29. San Antonio Spurs (no change)

The San Antonio Spurs went 3-2 in April, which is about as good as it could get for this team. Now it’s off to the Wembanyama sweepstakes this offseason.

30. Detroit Pistons (no change)

A win over the Pacers was all it took to stop the Detroit Pistons 11 game losing streak. And then they lost to the Bulls by 22, which is a pretty accurate summary of their season.

The post NBA Power Rankings, Week 26: Celtics finish season on top as Warriors, Lakers climb! appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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