Both conferences look to feature exciting playoff races with under 10 games left in the season. Indiana, Detroit, Chicago and Washington all have a chance at the last two spots in the Eastern Conference, while Utah, Houston and Dallas are in an even tighter race for the West’s final two spots. Let’s discuss these team’s chances of making the postseason in our power rankings, and you can look at last week’s rankings here.
1. Golden State Warriors (66-7); same spot – Golden State will tie Chicago’s all-time record (72-10) by going 6-3, or they can beat it by going 7-2. My bet, although not too risky, is on the latter scenario.
2. San Antonio Spurs (61-12); same spot – If there’s a team that help can stop Golden State from reaching greatness, it is San Antonio since they face them two more times.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (52-21); same spot – The Cleveland soap opera continues…Kyrie Irving’s singer/songwriter girlfriend may have cheated on him.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (51-22); up 1 spot – After a rough start to the month, OKC has rattled off seven straight wins. They take on Toronto tonight in what should be a real battle.
5. Toronto Raptors (49-23); down 1 spot – Should the Raptor’s even bring DeMarre Carroll back at this point and risk upsetting their chemistry? The Toronto Star thinks not.
6. Atlanta Hawks (44-30); up 2 spots – The Hawks are really peaking at the right time of the year. Nobody is talking about them, so maybe they can sneak in a challenge the Cavs and Raptors for the East title.
7. LA Clippers (45-27); down 1 spot – With Blake Griffin still not back yet and the Clippers going just 4-6 in their last 10 games, it’s looking like a 3-team race for the Western Conference title.
8. Miami Heat (42-30); up 1 spot – Some like Miami as a darkhorse favorite to make the NBA Finals. If true, it would certainly help their chances if they can emerge from the crowded race for the #3 seed.
9. Charlotte Hornets (42-21); down 2 spots – Charlotte is on the backside of this crowded race, currently in sixth place, but just 1.5 games behind Atlanta for the third seed.
10. Boston Celtics (43-30); same spot – Boston has played really well lately, but they also have a tough end to their regular-season schedule.
11. Memphis Grizzlies (41-32); same spot – This scrappy Memphis squad is going to the playoffs no matter what. But will their chemistry be good by the time they get their injured players back?
12. Indiana Pacers (39-34); same spot – There are no guarantees that Indiana is in the postseason. However, they’re looking in pretty good shape right now and just need to grab a few more wins.
13. Portland Trail Blazers (39-35); up 2 spots – Portland has been pretty up and down since their post-All-Star break surge. But they are still defying expectations and sitting in sixth in the West.
14. Detroit Pistons (35-34); down 2 spots – Whether it’s Cleveland or Toronto who finishes in first, they’re going to have a tough time with the Pistons as a first-round opponent.
15. Chicago Bulls (36-36); same spot – If I told you before the season that Chicago would be .500 at this point and out of a playoff spot, you’d probably think that I was crazy.
16. Utah Jazz (36-37); up 1 spot – Along with Portland, the Jazz are definitely a candidate for surprise team of the year.
17. Houston Rockets (36-38); down 3 spots – At this point, the Rockets are simply trying to back into a playoff spot.
18. Washington Wizards (36-37); same spot – The Wizards dealt with plenty of injuries this season and don’t look like the same team that made the East semifinals last year. But they still have an outside chance at the postseason.
19. Dallas Mavericks (35-38); same spot – Dallas has absolutely collapsed down the stretch, going 2-8 in their last 10 contests. Amazingly, though, they are only half a game out of the playoffs.
20. Denver Nuggets (31-43); up 2 spots – Given Denver’s lack of star talent, it’s pretty admirable that they’ve topped 30 wins already. Hopefully they can pick up a star player who can push them into the postseason next year.
21. Orlando Magic (30-43); same spot – The one area of the schedule where Orlando got crushed this year was their own division, going just 3-10 against Southwest opponents.
22. Milwaukee Bucks (30-44); down 1 spot – Mired in a 5-game losing streak, this is not how Milwaukee wants their young team to carry on into the offseason.
23. New York Knicks (30-44); same spot – With a fired coach and rumors about whether Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony will be back (even with his no-trade clause), everything is up in the air for New York.
24. Sacramento Kings (29-44); same spot – Despite a dismal season, the Kings have actually won three out of their last five contests. Too bad it won’t mean much for George Karl, who’s assuredly gone after this year.
25. New Orleans Pelicans (26-46); same spot – Not exactly the follow-up that Anthony Davis was hoping for after guiding the Pelicans to 47 wins last season.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (24-49); same spot – The Timberwolves are brimming with young talent. But will this translate into wins in 2017?
27. Brooklyn Nets (21-51); same spot – Brooklyn got their biggest win of the season over Cleveland last week. If only they could shoot that good every time out.
28. Phoenix Suns (20-53); same spot – The Suns will be just another team looking for a permanent coaching solution this offseason.
29. L.A. Lakers (15-58); same spot – With cap room, four good young players and a sure-to-be high draft pick, L.A. could easily turn things around by next year.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (9-65); same spot – Philadelphia has nine more games left to get another victory and avoid tying the worst record ever.