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NBA Power Rankings: Mavericks, Rockets making late surge

March Madness may be in full swing, but don’t forget about the professional hardwood. There are about eight regular-season games remaining for every NBA team; the importance of each one is ratcheting up in a big way.

Where does your favorite team find itself coming down the home stretch? Let’s take a look at the power rankings.

1. Boston Celtics

Record: 58-16

The Celtics continue to maintain the best record in the NBA, and it isn’t even close. Led by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, they are the cream of the crop.

Boston is a -130 favorite to win the Eastern Conference and a +200 favorite to win the NBA championship.

Read more about 2023/24 NBA Championship Odds on site.

2. Denver Nuggets

Record: 51-23

The Western Conference is a logjam right now, with the top three teams separated by just a half-game in the standings. Among that trio, though, it’s hard to bet against the Nuggets. They are the defending NBA champions and – with Nikola Jokic still playing at an elite level – another title is well within reach.

The Nuggets are +145 favorites to win the West.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

Record: 51-22

The Thunder are tied for first place in the West with Minnesota as of Sunday afternoon, a half-game ahead of Denver. There is no question that this team is the real deal. The sample size is large enough to determine that beyond the shadow of a doubt. Now the question is: how will this young team handle the pressure of the playoffs?

Read more about the 2023/24 NBA Rookie of the Year odds on site.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves

Record: 51-22

If Karl-Anthony Towns is out for the entire season (playoffs included) then Minnesota obviously has no chance. We will assume, though, that he can come back either for the first round or at least for the conference semifinals if the Timberwolves advance.

Even with Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert, the T-Wolves aren’t going far without KAT. With him, they could go a long way.  

5. Milwaukee Bucks

Record: 47-27

Head coach Doc Rivers’ arrival has not turned things around in Milwaukee. Sure the Bucks are arguably playing a little bit more defense (that’s not saying a lot!), but their record is way worse with Rivers than it was under Adrian Griffin. Still, a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard can never be discounted in the playoffs.

6. Cleveland Cavaliers

Record: 45-29

The Cavs went on a 17-1 stretch in January and February, but they have crashed back down to Earth a bit. Despite a return to reality, they still have an inside track to lock up home-court advantage in round one of the playoffs. Donovan Mitchell and company even have a chance to catch Milwaukee for the No. 2 seed.

7. Los Angeles Clippers

Record: 46-27

Similar to the Cavaliers, the Clippers were on fire in December and January. However, they have been mediocre at best since that streak and now look like pretenders as opposed to contenders.

Los Angeles cannot be entirely discounted if Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden can all stay healthy throughout the playoffs, but for not it looks like this team can’t hang with the top three in the West.

8. Dallas Mavericks

Record: 44-29

No team outside of Milwaukee and maybe Phoenix has a better one-two punch than Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Is the rest of the roster enough to take Dallas where it wants to go in the playoffs?

Moving up at least to No. 6 in the West standings to avoid the play-in tournament would be a good start, and that is exactly what the Mavs have done thanks to a six-game winning streak.

9. New Orleans Pelicans

Record: 45-29

The Pelicans have been one of the streakiest teams in the association. Since going 7-1 to begin March, however, they are in a rare stretch of mediocrity with a 3-3 record in their last six games. Zion Williams has been red hot of late and needs to keep it going if New Orleans wants to overtake the Clippers for home-court advantage in the first round.

10. Phoenix Suns

Record: 43-31

Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal were on the court together prior to January. They are healthy now, but it hasn’t really mattered. A whole lot of talent on paper simply isn’t translating to enough wins on the court. That being said, it’s hard to think anybody wants to see them in the playoffs.

11. New York Knicks

Record: 44-29

The revitalized Knicks have been all over the place this season. They started hot, took a dive after being decimated by injuries and are back on the rise despite still being undermanned.

OG Anunoby has missed a bunch of games, but Mitchell Robinson is back and Julis Randle’s return may be a week away. It’s amazing how well this team has played even without being healthy. If New York is 100 percent for the playoffs, watch out!

12. Los Angeles Lakers

Record: 41-33

Los Angeles has work to do if it wants to get out of the play-in tournament area and into the top six of the Western Conference. In fact, so much work is required in that effort that it now looks impossible. The Lakers won the inaugural In-Season Tournament in 2023/24, but it looks like that’s all they’ll be winning.

13. Indiana Pacers

Record: 42-33

Did the Pacers also peak during the In-Season Tournament? It looks like it. Tyrese Haliburton is still balling after digging out of his brief shooting slump, but Indiana is barely staying inside the cut line for a top-six spot in the East and avoiding the play-in round. Will the addition of Pascal Siakam ultimately make any difference?

14. Orlando Magic

Record: 43-31

The Magic have cooled off a bit following a scorching-hot start to the season, but a top-six spot in the East looks like it will be locked up sooner rather than later (currently 2.5 games ahead of Miami). This young Orlando squad seems borderline legit, led by Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.

The Magic are -250 to win the Southeast Division.

15. Miami Heat

Record: 40-33

The Heat have been all over the place dating back to mid-January. They won three straight, lost seven in a row, won five straight and lost four consecutively.

They have since stabilized, with a solid 5-3 record in their last eight overall. Miami may not be great, but this is a franchise that always seems to step up in the playoffs.

The Heat are -160 to be a part of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

16. Sacramento Kings

Record: 42-31

Outside of New York, no team is decimated by injuries to a greater extent than Sacramento. Kevin Huerter is out of the year and Malik Monk will miss the rest of the regular season. Can De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis do anything to save a sinking ship?

17. Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 39-35

18. Golden State Warriors

Record: 39-34

19. Houston Rockets

Record: 38-35

20. Atlanta Hawks

Record: 34-40

21. Chicago Bulls

Record: 35-39

22. Brooklyn Nets

Record: 29-45

Read more: NBA Most Improved Player odds

23. Utah Jazz

Record: 29-45

24. Memphis Grizzlies

Record: 24-50

25. Toronto Raptors

Record: 23-50

26. San Antonio Spurs

Record: 18-56

27. Charlotte Hornets

Record: 18-55

28. Portland Trail Blazers

Record: 19-55

29. Detroit Pistons

Record: 13-61

30. Washington Wizards

Record: 14-60

Odds mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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