Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 25: 1 thing to watch for every team as season nears end

The Celtics secure the No. 1 overall seed & the 76ers make the biggest jump in final survey of the regular season.

The Celtics have the NBA’s best overall record for the 1st time since they won the championship in 2008.

We’ve made it to Week 25, the final seven days of the season.

Here’s what we know …

  • 10 teams have been eliminated, so we have the 20 that will be in the playoffs or the Play-In Tournament.
  • The Boston Celtics have secured the No. 1 overall seed and home-court advantage through The Finals.
  • The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks will definitely face each other in the 9-10 Play-In game in the East, with the Bulls likely to be hosting.
  • The LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks are very likely to be meeting in the 4-5 series in the West, with the Clippers almost certain to have home-court advantage.

Other than that, things are pretty wide open. There are 57 games left (over only five days this week with no games on Monday and Saturday). As things stand now, 50 of them could be meaningful.

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Philadelphia (4-0) — The big fella is back!
  • Something Just Ain’t Right: Milwaukee (0-4) — Losses to bad teams at this time of year are doubly bad.

* * *

East vs. West

Schedule strength through Week 24

  • Toughest: 1. San Antonio, 2. Portland, 3. Utah
  • Easiest: 1. Orlando, 2. Miami, 3. Milwaukee
  • Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record.

* * *

Movement in the Rankings

  • High jumps of the week: Philadelphia (+8), Orlando (+4), Portland (+3)
  • Free falls of the week: Cleveland (-6), Miami (-5), Milwaukee (-3)

* * *

Week 25 Team to Watch

  • Orlando The Magic, who haven’t won more than one playoff game in 13 years, have a chance to be the 2 seed in the East. They’re just a game behind the second-place Bucks, who they’ll face twice this week. They’ll play in Milwaukee on Wednesday and in Orlando on Sunday afternoon.

* * *


OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)

The league has averaged 114.6 points scored per 100 possessions and 99.2 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes 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 threads.

Last Week:2

Record: 62-16

OffRtg: 122.4 (1) DefRtg: 110.4 (2) NetRtg: +12.0 (1) Pace: 98.0 (19)

The Celtics have the league’s best overall record for the first time since they won the championship in 2008. They cliched it on Wednesday and have kept on winning, despite resting guys almost every night.

One takeaway

It’s very simple. The Celtics are one of the best regular-season teams in NBA history. Their winning percentage ranks just 20th all-time, but their point differential (plus-11.6 per game) ranks fifth. Only four of their 16 losses have not been within five points in the last five minutes, with the last of those not-close defeats having come more than two months ago (Feb. 1). They were without a starter in two of the four and playing the fifth game in seven days for another.

The Celtics rank in the top two on both ends of the floor and they’ve been 5.2 points per 100 possessions better than the next best team, which would easily be the biggest such differential in the 28 seasons for which we have play-by-play data.

What to watch for this week

Having clinched the overall No. 1 seed, the Celtics will certainly continue to give starters days off; Health is priority No. 1. But they do have two potential playoff previews and a chance to become the first team in 29 years to go undefeated at home against its own conference.

Week 25: @ MIL, vs. NYK, vs. CHA, vs. WAS

Last Week:1

Record: 54-24

OffRtg: 117.6 (6) DefRtg: 112.3 (9) NetRtg: +5.2 (4) Pace: 97.4 (26)

The Nuggets’ went 4-3 over Jamal Murray’s seven-game absence, falling to 7-10 in games played between the top six teams in the West with losses to the Suns, Wolves and Clippers. But Murray returned on Sunday and scored 16 points in less than 21 minutes as Denver blew out the Hawks.

One takeaway

The win over Atlanta gave the Nuggets one more victory than they had last season (53-29). Statistically, they’ve been 1.9 points per 100 possessions better, with the much bigger improvement (when you take the league average into account) having come on defense. But they still have a lot of work to do to secure the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage through the conference finals.

Their home-road differential (they’ve been 9.9 points per 100 possessions better at Ball Arena than they’ve been elsewhere) isn’t as big as it was last season (12.6 per 100), but it’s still the third biggest differential in the league.

What to watch for this week

The Nuggets control their own destiny, they have three games (all on the road) against eliminated teams, and they’ll have a rest advantage when they host the Wolves (who play the Wizards the night before) on Wednesday. They won’t have the tiebreaker against either Minnesota (1-2, worse division record) or Oklahoma City (1-3).

Week 25: @ UTA, vs. MIN, @ SAS, @ MEM

Last Week:3

Record: 53-25

OffRtg: 118.3 (4) DefRtg: 112.1 (6) NetRtg: +6.2 (3) Pace: 100.6 (8)

The Thunder were without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams for all four of their games last week, losing the first three and beating the Hornets by three points. So they’ve slipped to third in the West, where they’ll probably remain if their two best players don’t return for their final four games.

One takeaway

Prior to this four-game stretch without Gilgeous-Alexander and Williams, the Thunder were in the top five on both ends of the floor, remarkable given where this team was two years ago (24-58, minus-8.0 points per 100 possessions). This season’s leap has been a little smaller (both in regard to winning percentage and point differential per 100) than the one they made last season, but you can argue that it’s tougher to go from Play-In loser to top-three seed than from the Lottery to the Play-In.

It bears repeating that this team ranks fourth in the percentage of its minutes (41%) that have come from rookies or second-year players, so there’s probably another leap to be made next season.

What to watch for this week

The Thunder have the tie-breaker against the first-place Nuggets, who they trail by just a game. So they can still move back up if their guys are back in the lineup. They’re the only West team with no road games remaining and they’ve been 9.7 points per 100 possessions better at the Paycom Center (plus-11.3) than they’ve been elsewhere (plus-1.6), with that being the league’s fourth biggest home-road differential.

Week 25: vs. SAC, vs. SAS, vs. MIL, vs. DAL

Last Week:4

Record: 54-24

OffRtg: 114.5 (17) DefRtg: 107.7 (1) NetRtg: +6.8 (2) Pace: 97.9 (21)

The Wolves had a brief dalliance with first place again, but lost an ugly game in Phoenix on Friday and are back in second, tied in the loss column with the Nuggets, with a head-to-head showdown coming on Wednesday.

One takeaway

The Wolves actually rank higher offensively over Karl-Anthony Towns’ 16-game absence (14th, 114.3 points scored per 100 possessions) than they did previously (18th, 114.6 per 100). That’s despite their more recent starting lineup (with Naz Reid in Towns’ place) having scored just 101.2 points per 100 possessions in its 114 minutes over the 16 games.

Of course, defense remains the foundation. The Wolves have allowed 6.9 fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average (114.6), which would be tied for the sixth best differential in the 28 seasons for which we have play-by-play data.

What to watch for this week

The Wolves are 2-1 against the Nuggets, 2-0 with Rudy Gobert (who had 21 points in their win 10 days ago) and 0-1 without him. Kyle Anderson has been their primary defender on Nikola Jokic, who’s had a usage rate of 36.7% (his third highest vs. any opponent) over the three games.

While the game in Denver on Wednesday could be for first place, the Wolves will still have two games remaining, one against the Suns, having lost the first two meetings by double-digits.

Week 25: vs. WAS, @ DEN, vs. ATL, vs. PHX

Last Week:6

Record: 48-30

OffRtg: 117.6 (7) DefRtg: 115.1 (18) NetRtg: +2.4 (13) Pace: 100.7 (7)

If you like teams playing well going into the postseason, the Mavs are your squad in the Western Conference. With Dante Exum (8-for-12 on clutch 3s!) saving them against the Rockets on Sunday, they’ve won 14 of their last 16 games to give themselves a shot at a top-four seed in the Western Conference.

One takeaway

The Mavs have been the league’s most improved team since the trade deadline, both in regard to winning percentage (20-7 vs. 28-23) and point differential per 100 possessions (plus-7.2 vs. minus-0.1). The improvement has been mostly about defense, with Dallas ranking seventh on that end of the floor since the deadline. Their current starting lineup (frontline of Derrick Jones Jr., P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford) was a plus-8 in a little less than 10 minutes against the Warriors on Tuesday, the Mavs’ only loss in the 14 games in which that lineup has started together, and it’s allowed just 97.6 points per 100 possessions in its 151 total minutes.

What to watch for this week

Holding the division-record tie-breaker over the seventh-place Pelicans, the Mavs are in a great position to finish in the top six in the West. Catching the Clippers (who have the head-to-head-tiebreaker) for fourth will be difficult and an LA-Dallas first-round series is almost a sure thing.

They’ll be playing the second game of a back-to-back themselves, but their game in Miami on Wednesday will be the third time in three weeks that the Mavs are facing a team that’s playing its fifth game in seven days. They won the previous two games (vs. Utah and at Sacramento) by 16 and 36 points.

Week 25: @ CHA, @ MIA, vs. DET, @ OKC

Last Week:8

Record: 50-28

OffRtg: 118.6 (3) DefRtg: 114.9 (17) NetRtg: +3.7 (7) Pace: 97.7 (23)

The Clippers have been without Kawhi Leonard (knee inflammation) for the last four games, but they’ve won six of their last seven to remain in the top four in the Western Conference.

One takeaway

The Clippers lost their first five games with James Harden. Since then and despite a sluggish five weeks after the All-Star break, they’ve had the league’s third best record (43-20) and its second most efficient offense (120.2 points scored per 100 possessions). They’re seemingly built for the playoffs, though their record within the top nine in the West (12-16, including 11-12 since that 0-5 start with Harden) could be better.

What to watch for this week

Leonard is arguably the best playoff performer of the last seven years, having averaged 29.6 points on a true shooting percentage of 63.5% over 62 playoff games since 2017. So his health is obviously the most important thing going forward.

But the Clippers have an important back-to-back against the Suns, probably needing to win at least one of the two games to secure a top-four seed. They absolutely eviscerated the Phoenix defense over two meetings in early January, scoring almost 150 points per 100 possessions in Paul George’s 68 minutes on the floor.

Week 25: @ PHX, vs. PHX, vs. UTA, vs. HOU

Last Week:9

Record: 46-32

OffRtg: 117.0 (9) DefRtg: 114.0 (13) NetRtg: +3.0 (8) Pace: 99.0 (15)

The Suns are 4-2 on their gauntlet of 10 straight games against good/great teams to close the season, barely hanging onto the 6 seed in the West after a loss to the Pelicans on Sunday.

One takeaway

Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant have all been available for the last 14 games and the Suns are now 23-14 (.622) with all three stars in the lineup, having outscored their opponents by 3.7 points per 100 possessions over those 37 games. That differential is good (it would rank seventh in the league overall), but not elite, and the Suns are supposed to be elite with that level of talent. Bench minutes haven’t been great (the Phoenix bench ranks 19th), the defense hasn’t been at a championship level, and the Suns have fumbled a lot of close games.

What to watch for this week

That 23-14 record with all three stars includes an 8-4 mark within the top 10 in the West. The Suns’ last four games are all against that group, and they probably need to win at least three of the four to remain in the top six in the West.

No team has been more efficient against a single opponent than the Clippers have been against the Suns, with LA having scored 140.1 points per 100 possessions as it won two meetings in early January. The final two meetings are a home-and-home set on Tuesday and Wednesday, a great opportunity for the Suns to prove that they’re a better defensive team than they were three months ago. They’ll still have two more tough games after that, especially if the Wolves are playing for seeding on Sunday.

Week 25: vs. LAC, @ LAC, @ SAC, @ MIN

Last Week:5

Record: 47-31

OffRtg: 118.0 (5) DefRtg: 115.2 (19) NetRtg: +2.9 (9) Pace: 100.8 (6)

Yikes. The Bucks have lost four straight (and six of their last seven) games, with the first three games of the losing streak having come against the Wizards, Grizzlies and Raptors. All three of those losses came without either Damian Lillard or Giannis Antetokounmpo, but all three opponents (who are otherwise a combined 16-51 since the All-Star break) were missing more starters than the Bucks themselves.

One takeaway

Lillard hasn’t had a great season by his own standards, but the Bucks are now 1-7 without him and have been 12.1 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor (plus-6.9) than they’ve been with him off the floor (minus-5.2). And that differential is bigger (15.2 per 100) since they added Patrick Beverley (who’s missed the last three games). The team’s four most-used lineups have been awesome (plus-16.6 per 100 in 1,105 total minutes), but Doc Rivers will probably need to lean heavily on his two future Hall of Famers in the postseason.

What to watch for this week

The third-place Magic are just a game behind the Bucks, with two head-to-head meetings this week. Milwaukee has more questions defensively, but with all four remaining games against top-six defenses, the offense should also be under the spotlight. Six of the 10 Bucks with at least 10 field goal attempts over this 1-6 stretch have made less than 40% of their shots.

Week 25: vs. BOS, vs. ORL, @ OKC, @ ORL

Last Week:7

Record: 46-32

OffRtg: 116.5 (12) DefRtg: 111.8 (5) NetRtg: +4.7 (6) Pace: 98.6 (16)

After winning three of their first four games after Brandon Ingram’s knee injury, the Pelicans lost four straight and slipped out of the top six in the West. But they got a big win in Phoenix on Sunday (and kept Devin Booker from scoring 50-plus in a fourth straight meeting) to give themselves a chance to climb back into a guaranteed playoff spot.

One takeaway

The Pels have a great resume. Before Ingram’s absence, they were one of four teams that ranked in the top 10 on both ends of the floor. Offensive consistency has been an issue, as has playing from behind. The Pels are just 3-19 (0-7 since the All-Star break) when trailing at halftime after losses to the Suns and Magic last week. They’re a first-half and front-running team, with only 28 of their 78 games having been within five points in the last five minutes.

What to watch for this week

We know that Ingram will miss at least one more game (Tuesday at Portland), but it would be great if he can return for at least one of the last three, especially with all three opponents likely having something to play for. The Pels are 4-0 against the Kings (who they’ll visit on Thursday), with Ingram having averaged 24.8 points on 53/56/89 shooting splits over the four games.

Week 25: @ POR, @ SAC, @ GSW, vs. LAL

Last Week:10

Record: 46-32

OffRtg: 117.0 (8) DefRtg: 112.1 (8) NetRtg: +4.9 (5) Pace: 96.1 (30)

With the Knicks having their best regular season (despite key injuries) in the last 11 years, news that Julius Randle is done for the season hits hard. The Knicks are still winning some games and they still have a chance to finish as high as second in the Eastern Conference.

One takeaway

Over the first 27 seasons for which we had play-by-play data (1996-97 through last season), there were three teams – the Nets, Knicks and Wizards – that had never ranked in the top 10 on both ends of the floor. The Knicks are now one of four teams that rank in the top 10 on both ends, having seen the league’s fifth biggest drop in points allowed per 100 possessions from last season, when they ranked 19th defensively.

OG Anunoby returned from a nine-game absence over the weekend and with the Knicks splitting games in Chicago and Milwaukee, they’re 15-2 in games in which both Anunoby and Jalen Brunson have been available. And their numbers with the duo’s minutes without Randle (plus-26.4 per 100 possessions in 221 minutes total) have been a little better than in their minutes with Randle also on the floor (plus-24.5 in 285), though both of those numbers are ridiculously good.

What to watch for this week

Anunoby had his elbow wrapped and shot just 2-for-9 from 3-point range over his two games back, so it still may be an issue going forward, and he’s one of the guys who will need to make shots when Brunson draws a crowd in the playoffs.

The Knicks are 0-4 against the Celtics, but might not get the No. 1 seed at full strength when their four-game trip concludes in Boston on Thursday. With their other three games against the Bulls (x 2) and Nets and with the Magic having a tougher slate, the 3 seed (and avoidance of Boston until the conference finals) is achievable.

Week 25: @ CHI, @ BOS, vs. BKN, vs. CHI

Last Week:19

Record: 44-35

OffRtg: 116.2 (14) DefRtg: 113.6 (11) NetRtg: +2.6 (10) Pace: 98.1 (18)

Joel Embiid returned from a 29-game, two-month absence last week and the Sixers won their first three games with the reigning MVP back in uniform, then escaping San Antonio with a double-overtime victory highlighted by Tyrese Maxey’s 52 points and Nicolas Batum’s deft inbounds pass that led to Maxey’s game-tying bucket in regulation. With a five-game winning streak, they have a slight chance of climbing back into the top six in the East.

One takeaway

The Sixers are 28-7 (.800) and have outscored their opponents by 11.0 points per 100 possessions in games when they’ve had both Maxey and Embiid available, with that winning percentage being slightly better than the Celtics’ full-season mark (.795). That includes a 9-5 mark against other teams that currently have winning records after a comeback win in Miami on Thursday. Embiid obviously isn’t (yet) in as good shape as he was earlier in the season, but he averaged 27.7 points in just 28.2 minutes over his three games last week, shooting 10-for-19 from mid-range and getting to the line a ton (10 attempts per game).

What to watch for this week

The Sixers have scored an efficient 121 points per 100 possessions over those 35 games with both Maxey and Embiid, but the bigger focus over the next seven days should be how well the big man is moving defensively. Those three games he played last week came against two bad offensive teams and the Thunder without both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams, and the Sixers were much better defensively with Embiid on the bench than they were with him on the floor.

The Sixers could certainly finish the season on an eight-game winning streak, but (with the sixth-place Pacers holding the head-to-head tie-breaker), they’ll multiple games of help to avoid the Play-In.

Week 25: vs. DET, vs. ORL, vs. BKN

Last Week:13

Record: 45-33

OffRtg: 116.2 (13) DefRtg: 114.6 (15) NetRtg: +1.6 (17) Pace: 99.5 (14)

The Kings are 1-2 on a four-game trip that concludes in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, and they’re in danger of falling back to the 9-10 Play-In game in the Western Conference.

One takeaway

The team that had the league’s No. 1 offense last season ranks 13th on that end of the floor, with each of the Kings’ top seven guys (their regular starters plus Malik Monk and Trey Lyles) having scored less efficiently than they did in ’22-23.

But they still have a chance to match (or surpass) their win total from last season (48-34), in part because they’ve seen the league’s sixth biggest drop in points allowed per 100 possessions and are right at the league average on defense. They rank fifth defensively (108.4 points allowed per 100) over the 11 games that Keon Ellis has been in the starting lineup and if they continue defending at or near that level, this would be the Kings’ first better-than-average defense in the last 18 years.

What to watch for this week

After they visit Oklahoma City, the Kings will host the two teams directly in front of them in the standings, so the opportunity is there to move back up. Of course, they’re 0-4 against the Pelicans (who they’ll face on Thursday), with two of the losses having come by more than 30 points. They’ve allowed more than 128 points per 100 possessions over the four games, so meeting No. 5 is a chance to show that this defensive improvement is real.

Week 25: @ OKC, vs. NOP, vs. PHX, vs. POR

Last Week:17

Record: 46-32

OffRtg: 113.1 (22) DefRtg: 110.6 (3) NetRtg: +2.5 (12) Pace: 97.3 (27)

The Magic lost in Charlotte on Friday, somehow allowing the league’s 28th-ranked offense to score 124 points on just 96 possessions (the Hornets’ third most efficient performance of the season), but they remain in third place in the East, with a real chance of moving up one more spot.

One takeaway

The Magic are set to rank in the bottom 10 offensively for the 11th straight season, truly an amazing streak of futility on that end of the floor. They’ve taken a small step forward offensively, but have really turned into an elite defensive team. They only rank 12th in opponent effective field goal percentage and foul a little too much, but they’re the best in the league at limiting their opponents’ shooting opportunities, ranking second in opponent turnover rate and third in defensive rebounding percentage.

What to watch for this week

Raise your hand if you had two Week 25 meetings between the Bucks and Magic possibly deciding the 2 seed in the East. The Magic are coming in hotter, but the Bucks remain one game ahead (the season series is tied 1-1) and Orlando saw both Franz Wagner (ankle turn) and Jonathan Isaac (back) leave their Sunday win over the Bulls with injuries.

Week 25: @ HOU, @ MIL, @ PHI, vs. MIL

Last Week:14

Record: 45-34

OffRtg: 120.0 (2) DefRtg: 117.6 (24) NetRtg: +2.4 (14) Pace: 102.1 (2)

The Pacers have won four of their last five (and seven of their last 10) games, with a huge win over the Heat on Sunday giving them the head-to-head tie-breaker and control of the 6 seed in the East.

One takeaway

The Pacers’ offense couldn’t keep the pace it was on through the first few months of the season and they haven’t been great offensively (115.0 points scored per 100 possessions) in 806 minutes with Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam on the floor together. But they have made some progress defensively over the course of the season, ranking 14th on that end of the floor over the last month. Some of that improvement is their opponents shooting worse from 3-point range, but some of it is their opponents shooting just 54.8% in the paint (where the Pacers allow a lot of shots), down from 59.3% over their first 64 games.

What to watch for this week

Assuming they don’t fall into (and then lose in) the Play-In, the Pacers will likely start the playoffs on the road, and they’ve lost in both Chicago and Brooklyn over the last 12 days. So it would be good to get a road win over two this week.

In addition to having the tie-breaker against Miami, the Pacers also have the tie-breaker over the Sixers, who are now in seventh place and just a game back. They still need two wins (or help from Philly and Miami opponents) to secure a top-six spot in the East, but they can also move up if they can get a win in Cleveland on Friday, having won two of their first three meetings with the Cavs.

Week 25: @ TOR, @ CLE, vs. ATL

Last Week:15

Record: 45-34

OffRtg: 115.2 (15) DefRtg: 114.7 (16) NetRtg: +0.6 (18) Pace: 101.4 (4)

The Lakers had won nine of 10, but their push to get out of the Play-In stalled on Sunday, when LeBron James missed their game against the Wolves with an illness and Anthony Davis left early after being hit in the face. So they still have some work to do just to climb out of the 9-10 Play-In game.

One takeaway

James and Davis have played 1,665 minutes together, the duo’s highest total in Davis’ five seasons with the Lakers and more than they played over the last two regular seasons combined (1,463). Despite that, the Lakers have taken a tiny step backward in regard to point differential (that of a team that’s only 41-38), though they’re tied with the Mavs for the best record (23-9) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes.

This will also be just the second time in James’ six seasons with the Lakers (and in the last 11 seasons overall) that they’ve had a better-than-average offense, with the last time being the 2019-20 championship season. They didn’t make a trade at the deadline this year, but still rank second offensively since then.

What to watch for this week

One of the teams the Lakers can catch for a higher seed is the Pelicans, who they’ll visit on Sunday, having scored 139 points on 101 possessions (the most efficient performance against New Orleans’ top-five defense this season) in the last meeting. First, they need to hold off the Warriors, who will be in L.A. on Tuesday night.

Week 25: vs. GSW, @ MEM, @ NOP

Last Week:11

Record: 43-35

OffRtg: 113.3 (21) DefRtg: 111.7 (4) NetRtg: +1.6 (16) Pace: 97.0 (28)

The Heat are as healthy as they’re going to get, with Tyler Herro returning from a 20-game absence over the weekend. But having lost big games to the Sixers and Pacers (by a total of six points) last week, it’s very likely that they’ll be in the Play-In for a second straight year.

One takeaway

Though Herro, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have all missed more games, the Heat have been 2.1 points per 100 possessions than they were last season (when they were outscored by 26 points over their 82 games), ranking higher on both ends of the floor. But they haven’t played as many close games and they’ve been much worse when games have been within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime: plus-14.7 per 100 possessions (second best) last season vs. minus-15.7 per 100 (third worst) this season.

What to watch for this week

With Duncan Robinson having shot just 6-for-26 from 3-point range since returning from a five-game absence, we could see Herro back in the starting lineup this week. The Heat’s current starting lineup (with Robinson and Nikola Jovic) has been outscored by 6.8 points per 100 possessions in 181 total minutes.

The Heat still trail the sixth-place Pacers (who have the tie-breaker) by only one game in the loss column, so they’re not locked into the Play-In. They’re 18-7 (5-1 since Feb. 1) against the seven teams behind them in the East standings, set to play three of their final four games against the Hawks and Raptors (x 2).

Week 25: @ ATL, vs. DAL, vs. TOR, vs. TOR

Last Week:16

Record: 43-35

OffRtg: 116.8 (11) DefRtg: 114.6 (14) NetRtg: +2.2 (15) Pace: 100.0 (11)

The Warriors have won seven of their last eight games, fighting off the Rockets to secure their spot in the Play-In. They really needed that other one too, but they lost a heartbreaker in Dallas on Friday, when the Mavs were without Luka Doncic.

One takeaway

The Warriors have a better winning percentage and a better point differential than they had last season. But the West is much stronger this year, so they’re in 10th place instead of sixth (they actually tied for the conference’s fifth best record last season) and likely need to win two road Play-In games to make the playoffs.

Not only are the Warriors likely to finish 10th in the West, they’re just 9-23 against the nine teams ahead of them, with four of those wins having come in the first two weeks of the season. That 9-23 record breaks down to 8-10 when Draymond Green has played at least 20 minutes and 1-13 when he’s been unavailable or ejected, but 8-10 still isn’t great.

What to watch for this week

The odds that the Warriors can move up to ninth place are pretty low. But they’ll rise significantly if they can beat the Lakers on Tuesday, earning the tie-breaker and climbing to within a game in the loss column of L.A. Green has played in all three meetings with the Lakers thus far, with the Warriors an amazing 66.1 points per 100 possessions better in his 101 minutes on the floor (plus-30.2) than they’ve been in his 53 minutes on the bench (minus-35.9).

Week 25: @ LAL, @ POR, vs. NOP, vs. UTA

Last Week:12

Record: 46-33

OffRtg: 114.6 (16) DefRtg: 112.1 (7) NetRtg: +2.5 (11) Pace: 97.6 (25)

It seems that Donovan Mitchell still isn’t right. He’s now missed 17 of the Cavs’ 26 games since the All-Star break and shot just 38% (including 41% in the paint and 3-for-14 from mid-range) over the nine games he’s played in. That includes a 4-for-13 performance (with five turnovers) as they lost by 19 to the Lakers on Saturday.

One takeaway

With Mitchell’s struggles and lack of availability, the Cavs have seen the league’s second biggest drop in winning percentage and its biggest drop in point differential per 100 possessions since the All-Star break. But they actually rank higher on offense (20th) than they do on defense (24th) since the break, having allowed more than 120 points per 100 possessions in Mitchell’s 312 post-break minutes.

What to watch for this week

All eyes are on Mitchell, whether he plays and how well he’s moving (on both ends of the floor) when he does.

The Cavs can still finish as high as second in the East, all three of their remaining games are at home, and two of them are against the Grizzlies and Hornets. But they did lose to Charlotte less than two weeks ago and most important is that they don’t fall out of the top six, so that Mitchell can get an extra four or five days of rest.

Week 25: vs. MEM, vs. IND, vs. CHA

Last Week:18

Record: 38-40

OffRtg: 113.5 (20) DefRtg: 112.9 (10) NetRtg: +0.6 (19) Pace: 99.6 (13)

The Rockets made a nice run, winning 11 straight games to close within a game of the 10th-place Warriors. But they’ve since lost five straight and they’re missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

One takeaway

The Rockets had the league’s worst record (59-177, .250) over the first three years of this playoff drought. But with a new coach and some veteran additions, they took a huge step forward this season, seeing both the league’s biggest jump in winning percentage and its biggest jump in point differential per 100 possessions. By going from last to sixth in transition points allowed per game, they’ve gone from 29th to 10th in overall defensive efficiency.

What to watch for this summer

Jalen Green’s season-long numbers aren’t much different than his numbers from last season, but he seemingly turned a corner in averaging 27.7 points on an effective field goal percentage of 58.6% over March. And the Rockets can go into the offseason with a little more confidence in what they have in the 22-year-old.

They won’t have their own first-round pick (unless it lands in the top four), but they’ll have the Nets’ pick. The Rockets’ entire core is under contract for next season and they’ll be adding Steven Adams to the mix, but the continued development of Green, Jabari Smith Jr. and Amen Thompson will determine if they can take another step forward.

Week 25: vs. ORL, @ UTA, @ POR, @ LAC

Last Week:20

Record: 36-42

OffRtg: 116.8 (10) DefRtg: 118.4 (27) NetRtg: -1.6 (20) Pace: 100.9 (5)

After a 6-1 stretch that included two wins over the Celtics, the Hawks went 0-2 on a trip through Dallas and Denver, scoring less than a point per possession over the two losses. So they remain in 10th place in the East, in position to visit Chicago for the 9-10 Play-In game next week.

One takeaway

Last season, the Hawks were slightly better with Trae Young and Dejounte Murray on the floor together (plus-0.3 points per 100 possessions) than they were with one on the floor without the other (minus-0.4 per 100). This season, they’ve been much worse with both on the floor (minus-6.0 per 100) than they’ve been with only one (plus-1.2 per 100). So you’d have to think that the should split them up permanently, barring a miracle playoff run. And they can do so knowing that, in Jalen Johnson, they have another player (who’s only 22) they can build around.

What to watch for this week

Young said on his podcast last week that he’ll have another update with his doctor on Monday, and it sounds possible that he’ll play before the regular season is over. Onyeka Okongwu (toe sprain) is also scheduled to be re-evaluated this week, so the Hawks could be much healthier for their Play-In game against the Bulls next Wednesday.

Home-court advantage in that game still has to be determined. Chicago leads by a game, holds the tie-breaker, and has an easier schedule (two of its four games against Detroit and Washington) this week.

Week 25: vs. MIA, vs. CHA, @ MIN, @ IND

Last Week:21

Record: 37-41

OffRtg: 113.6 (19) DefRtg: 115.5 (21) NetRtg: -1.9 (21) Pace: 96.9 (29)

The Bulls lost to the Hawks (getting outscored by 36 points from 3-point range) last Monday, but are still a game ahead and still have the tie-breaker in the race that will determine home-court advantage in the 9-10 Play-In game, with the matchup locked in.

One takeaway

The Bulls could still match or surpass their win total from last season (40-42), though they’ve been 3.2 points per 100 possessions worse. Last season, they were much worse in clutch games (15-23) than they were otherwise (25-19). This season, the opposite is true, with the Bulls 26-16 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes and 11-25 otherwise. They’re a bottom-10 defense overall, but have allowed a league-low 96.1 points per 100 clutch possessions.

What to watch for this week

The Hawks have the tougher remaining schedule (three of four games against winning teams), so the Bulls have a good chance of remaining in ninth place. Having scored just 105.1 points per 100 possessions (with Nikola Vucevic shooting 29%) over their last three games, it would be nice if they could find some offense, even if it’s against the Pistons and Wizards.

Week 25: vs. NYK, @ DET, @ WAS, @ NYK

Last Week:22

Record: 31-48

OffRtg: 112.7 (23) DefRtg: 115.5 (20) NetRtg: -2.8 (22) Pace: 97.7 (24)

The Nets have won five of their last eight games, but have still taken a step backward from last season, even when you consider their numbers (13-15, minus-1.1 points per 100 possessions) after last year’s trade deadline.

One takeaway

The Nets have gotten only 5% of their minutes from rookies or second-year players, by far the lowest rate among the 10 teams that didn’t qualify for the playoff or the Play-In (next lowest is Toronto at 13%). They’re a veteran team that underachieved, especially on defense, where they had the personnel to be really good. Of course, their two-time All-Defense guy (who’s getting paid $38 million) played just 15 games.

What to watch for this summer

The defense has been improved (ranking 12th since the All-Star break) under interim head coach Kevin Ollie, though the improvement might not be significant enough for him to earn the full-time job. With neither a first-round pick nor cap space, the Nets’ path to improvement is limited, and it may be that they need to part with their most tradeable player (Mikal Bridges) to put themselves in a better position for the future.

Rookie Noah Clowney had a couple of intriguing performances last week (totaling 39 points, 16 points and four blocks against the Pacers and Pistons), but Nic Claxton (who turns 25 in nine days) is an unrestricted free agent and will need to get paid if the Nets still want to remain somewhat competitive.

Week 25: vs. TOR, @ NYK, @ PHI

Last Week:25

Record: 27-51

OffRtg: 106.9 (30) DefRtg: 113.6 (12) NetRtg: -6.7 (25) Pace: 98.6 (17)

There are no “lost” seasons in the NBA. The Grizzlies had Ja Morant for just nine games and Marcus Smart for just 20, but they were able to get experience for young guys – like GG Jackson and Vince Williams Jr. – who could be rotation players on a winning team in short time. Four years ago, Jordan Poole played more than 1,200 minutes as a rookie for a Warriors team that went 15-50. Two years later, he was the sixth man for the NBA champs.

One takeaway

The Grizzlies have also maintained a high standard on defense, where they somehow still rank 12th. That should be confirmation that Taylor Jenkins has some serious coaching chops and that Jaren Jackson Jr. (who’s played more minutes than he did last season) remains a difference-maker on that end of the floor. It’s also great that Brandon Clarke has been back for five of the last six games, with the Grizzlies allowing just 104.9 points per 100 possessions in his 107 minutes on the floor.

What to watch for this summer

The Grizzlies primarily need to get healthy. Six of their top seven guys will have at least four years of experience at the start of next season, so they could look to trade their Lottery pick (likely to land in the 7-9 range) for another veteran to help them win right away.

Week 25: vs. SAS, @ CLE, vs. LAL, vs. DEN

Last Week:23

Record: 19-59

OffRtg: 109.4 (26) DefRtg: 116.2 (22) NetRtg: -6.8 (26) Pace: 101.8 (3)

Victor Wembanyama has lived up to the hype, making history with the numbers he’s put up and emerging as the best rookie defender we’ve seen in a long time. Yet the Spurs still need another win to avoid finishing with the worst record in franchise history.

One takeaway

While their winning percentage has gone down, the Spurs have been 3.1 points per 100 possessions better than they were last season, with that being the league’s eighth biggest jump. And the numbers have been much better when their best players have played. They’ve outscored their opponents by 9.0 per 100 in 806 total minutes with Wembanyama, Tyus Jones and Devin Vassell all on the floor, but have been outscored by 9.0 per 100 in 1,344 minutes with only two of the three on the floor.

What to watch for this summer

The Spurs shouldn’t feel a ton of urgency, but Vassell and Wembanyama are ready to win some games now, they obviously need more guys to complement them, and the team will have the cap flexibility to sign or trade for a player or two who can fill out the rest of the starting (or closing) lineup.

Week 25: @ MEM, @ OKC, vs. DEN, vs. DET

Last Week:24

Record: 29-49

OffRtg: 114.5 (18) DefRtg: 119.6 (30) NetRtg: -5.1 (23) Pace: 100.4 (10)

The Jazz have the fourth best all-time record among current franchises, with the three teams ahead of them – the Spurs, Celtics and Lakers – having combined to win 39 NBA championships. The Jazz are now several steps from winning their first title, and they’re in position to finish last on one end of the floor or the other for the first time since their first season in Utah (1979-80, when they ranked last on defense among only 22 teams).

One takeaway

The Jazz have three rookies (all taken in the first round last year) that need development, and those three guys – Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks and Brice Sensabaugh – all rank in the top four on the team in total minutes since the All-Star break (with the Jazz having a league-worst 3-19, post-break record). They also still have a collection of veterans who can win games now. They’re 29-49, but have outscored their opponents with Lauri Markkanen (who turns 27 next month) on the floor.

What to watch for this summer

With those veterans mostly on reasonable contracts, the Jazz could make a trade or two and lean more toward the timeline of their three rookies and the two first-round picks they have this year. But they also have cap space and the ability to acquire more vets that can help them take a step forward. Kris Dunn has re-established his value and is an intriguing free agent.

Week 25: vs. DEN, vs. HOU, @ LAC, @ GSW

Last Week:26

Record: 25-53

OffRtg: 111.9 (24) DefRtg: 117.8 (25) NetRtg: -5.9 (24) Pace: 100.0 (12)

The Raptors turned the page this season by trading OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, actually getting stuff in return for players who will be free agents this summer, a good thing because they weren’t very good in the first place. Of course, they were much worse after the trades (and after Scottie Barnes broke his hand), but avoided finishing the season on a 21-game losing streak, picking up two wins over the weekend.

One takeaway

Toronto’s new core – Barnes, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley – will be 23, 24 and 25 years old at the start of next season. The Raptors were only 8-14 in games they played together, but outscored their opponents by 2.9 points per 100 possessions in 439 total minutes with all three on the floor. They’re not starting from scratch and have the potential to be a solid defensive team, though they did take the league’s biggest step backward on that end of the floor, allowing 4.7 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season.

What to watch for this summer

Quickley is a restricted free agent and Barnes is eligible for a contract extension, so those guys will need to get paid. And the Raptors will have a decision to make regarding Bruce Brown, who has a $23 million team option, with the possibility that they could exercise it and then trade him. They’re getting the Pacers’ first round pick, but will lose their own (to the Spurs) if it doesn’t fall in the top six. They have the league’s sixth worst record, but there’s still more than a 50% chance that they’ll lose it.

Week 25: vs. IND, @ BKN, @ MIA, @ MIA

Last Week:30

Record: 21-57

OffRtg: 108.1 (29) DefRtg: 116.7 (23) NetRtg: -8.6 (27) Pace: 98.0 (20)

The Blazers’ first season in 12 years without Damian Lillard will be their third straight season in the bottom three in the Western Conference. They weren’t as dreadful defensively as they were the last couple of years, but will finish in the bottom three on offense for the first time in 18 years.

One takeaway

With the departure of Lillard and a bunch of injuries, the focal point of this season was No. 3 pick Scoot Henderson. He’s already a terrific passer and there are still many chapters to be written over the 20-year-old’s career, but the first one was obviously a little disappointing. He ranks last (by a healthy margin) in effective field goal percentage among 170 players with at least 500 field goal attempts and the Blazers have been outscored by 12.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, with that being the second worst mark among 217 players who’ve averaged at least 20 minutes. They were absolutely destroyed (minus-20.1 per 100) in 611 total minutes with Henderson and Anfernee Simons on the floor together.

What to watch for this summer

The Blazers are well over the salary cap, with their nine highest-paid players all under contract through (at least) next season. But they could have two Lottery picks in the Draft, with the Warriors owing them their first-rounder (protected 1-4). They could shop Malcolm Brogdon (who has one more year on his contract), though finding a deal for Jerami Grant (four years, $132 million) will be tougher. And it would be nice if Robert Williams III had a healthy ramp-up to next season.

Week 25: vs. NOP, vs. GSW, vs. HOU, @ SAC

Last Week:27

Record: 15-64

OffRtg: 109.9 (25) DefRtg: 118.7 (28) NetRtg: -8.8 (28) Pace: 103.0 (1)

The Wizards have the league’s second worst record while ranking just 15th in the percentage of their minutes (16%) that they’ve gotten from rookies and second-year players. That would be the lowest rate among 33 teams (including four this season) that have won fewer than 25% of their games over the last 20 years.

One takeaway

The Wizards got a lot more than Jordan Poole when they traded Bradley Beal and then re-routed Chris Paul to Golden State. But the 24-year-old was the main piece that saw action this season, and he saw significant drops in both production (per-36 numbers) and efficiency. He’s been back in the starting lineup for the last 13 games, but Poole has been more productive and efficient since he went to the bench after the All-Star break (23.6 points per 36, true shooting percentage of 55.9%) than he was before the break (19.3, 51.1%).

What to watch for this summer

The Beal trade also allowed the Wizards to move up in last year’s Lottery to select Bilal Coulibaly, who wasn’t as raw as originally thought and showed some very intriguing skills before fracturing his wrist last month. They’ll have another Lottery pick (no worse than No. 6) this year, plus another one late in the first round. Tyus Jones is a free agent and there should still be a market for Kyle Kuzma if he doesn’t want to remain a Wizard for life.

Week 25: @ MIN, vs. CHI, @ BOS

Last Week:28

Record: 19-59

OffRtg: 108.5 (28) DefRtg: 119.1 (29) NetRtg: -10.6 (30) Pace: 97.8 (22)

Two years ago, the Hornets were seemingly on the come up, going 43-39 and losing in the Play-In with a star, 20-year-old point guard. They’re 46-114 (.288) over the two years since then, in position to be the only team to finish in the bottom three on both ends of the floor this season.

One takeaway

The Hornets seemingly have three core pieces with which to build around. But LaMelo Ball, Brandon Miller and Mark Williams played a total of just 153 minutes (over 12 games) together this season. Charlotte should feel good about taking Miller (21.8 points per game on an effective field goal percentage of 58% over the last two weeks) with the second pick last year and, if Ball can get healthy and a little more serious, they have two 6-7 guys on the perimeter who are both super talented and under the age of 23.

What to watch for this summer

New executive VP Jeff Peterson has a lot on his plate. He’s got to hire a new coach, make a Lottery selection and maybe make some upgrades without a lot of cap flexibility. There shouldn’t be a ton of urgency, but the Hornets have the league’s longest active playoff drought (eight years) and need to take a step forward next season.

Week 25: vs. DAL, @ ATL, @ BOS, @ CLE

Last Week:29

Record: 13-65

OffRtg: 109.3 (27) DefRtg: 118.1 (26) NetRtg: -8.8 (29) Pace: 100.5 (9)

The Pistons are set to have the league’s worst record for the second straight season and a bottom-five mark for the fifth straight year. They brought in a new coach (paying him a lot of money) and have had Cade Cunningham for 50 more games than they had him last season, and they somehow took a step backward.

One takeaway

The Pistons are still very young. Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren are all under the age of 23. They should probably look to Houston for a blueprint on how to begin a return to relevance: get better on defense first, and let the offense come as the young guards and wings develop. The Stewart-Duren combination probably isn’t going to work offensively, but it’s worked on defense and Thompson (his 2.89 steals + blocks per 36 minutes rank 26th among 256 players who’ve played at least 1,000 minutes) can potentially be a real force on that end of the floor.

What to watch for this summer

Assuming they finish with the league’s worst record, the Pistons will add another top-five pick to that young, five-man core. They should also have plenty of cap space with which to go shopping, and Cunningham is eligible for a contract extension. It will be fascinating to see how that turns out, given that the former No. 1 pick hasn’t yet shown that he’s a franchise cornerstone.

Week 25: @ PHI, vs. CHI, @ DAL, @ SAS