As you prepare for the 2022 postseason, expect the unexpected. We know what these teams have done over the last six months, but the playoffs are different, and they’re sure to provide us with something we haven’t seen before. Special performances from special players on a special stage.
Two years ago, Anthony Davis shot 46% from outside the paint in the playoffs, having shot 34% from outside the paint in the regular season (and now having shot 32% from outside the paint over the two seasons since).
Last year, the Bucks went 7-2 in clutch games in the playoffs after going just 13-15 in clutch games in the regular season. And that included a 3-0 mark in The Finals against a team (the Suns) that is otherwise 61-20 in clutch games over the last two seasons. The last of those clutch wins came with Giannis Antetokounmpo shooting 17-for-19 (89%) from the free-throw line (having shot 56% through the Bucks’ first 20 playoff games).
With a week (53 games) left in the regular season and a Play-In Tournament coming next week, it may seem a tad early for playoff talk. But this is the final edition of the 2021-22 Power Rankings. With that, we have some reshuffling in the top 10, with the defending champs getting some special consideration (apologies to the Grizzlies). And we wrap the season with notes on why each team (in the top 10 in each conference) might succeed or fail in the Play-In and/or playoffs.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way: Luke Kennard (LAC) was a plus-63 in four games last week. Boston’s Jayson Tatum is the season-long leader in cumulative plus-minus at plus-616.
- Wrong Way: Chuma Okeke (ORL) was a minus-61 in four games last week. Houston’s Jalen Green has the worst cumulative plus-minus (minus-522) for the season.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Memphis (3-0) — Some guys in Grizzlies uniforms beat the best team in the league on Friday.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: Portland (0-4) — The guy who’s led the Blazers in total points scored since March 1st still doesn’t have a headshot on NBA.com (we have a black-and-white NBA logo where his picture should be). That’s the story of these late-season Blazers.
East vs. West
- The West is 223-220 (.503) against the East in interconference games, though the East was 6-5 last week. There are seven interconference games left on the schedule, and the West has had a winning record vs. the East in 21 of the last 22 seasons (1999-00 through 2020-21).
Schedule strength through Week 24
- Toughest: 1. Houston, 2. Orlando, 3. New Orleans
- Easiest: 1. Phoenix, 2. Boston, 3. Memphis
- Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
Movement in the Rankings
- High jumps of the week: Atlanta (+3), Miami (+3), Toronto (+3)
- Free falls of the week: Cleveland (-3), Boston (-2), Philadelphia (-2)
Week 25 Team to Watch
- San Antonio — Holding the tiebreaker over the Lakers (who can win a maximum of 35 games), the magic number (combination of San Antonio wins and L.A. losses) for the 33-45 Spurs to clinch the West’s final Play-In spot is two. It seems academic, but the Spurs have a tough final week if their opponents don’t rest (too many) guys. They’re in Denver on Tuesday and in Minnesota on Thursday. Then they have a weekend back-to-back, hosting the Warriors on Saturday and finishing the season in Dallas.
Previous Power Rankings
- Last week: East leaders set to clash with 2 weeks left
- This time last year: Play-In races heating up in East, West — The Jazz had their third winning streak of (at least) nine games, and the Raptors beat the Warriors by 53. Russell Westbrook had 35 points and 21 assists against the Pacers, Jrue Holiday signed a contract extension with the Bucks, and Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending foot sprain.
- The archive: NBA.com Power Rankings
Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league has averaged 98.7 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 111.2 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
NBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.