NBA Power Rankings: Bucks remain in first as top spots hold steady Report: Cavaliers to buy out Kevin Love, Heat emerge as suitor PBT Podcast: Durant trade fallout, are Suns contenders, and All-Star Saturday night Free agent guard Bryn Forbes arrested on domestic violence charge To celebrate 60th birthday, Jordan makes historic $10 million donation to Make-A-Wish

Not much change at the top of that NBC Sports NBA strength rankings, with the Bucks holding onto the top spot (although the Celtics, without four starters, were the more impressive team in that game). Denver in fifth place remains the highest seeded team in the West, but beware the Suns.

1. Bucks (40-17, #1 last week) Jay Crowder isn’t set to debut before the All-Star break, but that hasn’t slowed the Bucks, who have won 11 in a row (including Tuesday night’s victory over a short-handed Celtics lineup). While the defense fuels this last run Giannis Antetokounmpo increased his utilization rate during this stretch and is averaging 37.2 points per game throughout the series. Jrue Holiday also strengthened its role, and Chris Middleton gets his groove back. Milwaukee feels like a team that found its way at the right time.

small icon 2. Celtics (41-17, LV 2). Coaches like to say that there are no morale wins in the NBA, but Tuesday night seemed like this to the Celtics: no. Jason Tatum or Jaylen Brown or Al Horford or Marcus Smart, but they pushed the Bucks to OT. The loss cemented the Celtics’ status as the team to win in the NBA this season. Mike Muscala since joining the Celtics, he has averaged 13.3 points per game, shot 39.1% of three, and played 25.3 minutes per night. Boston doesn’t want Muskala to play that many playoff minutes, but if he can help Horford and Robert Williams III to the playoffs is healthy, which means it was a quality pickup.

Small icon 3. 76ers (37-19, LM 3). While it’s tempting to say the 66ers are only three games behind the Celtics and a top spot in the East is out of the question, Philadelphia also has the busiest remaining schedule in the NBA for the rest of the journey. making it a long shot they climb the stairs. We tend to think of Giannis Antetokounmpo as a player living near the free throw line (13.3 free throw attempts per game), but Joel Embiid ranks second in the league, reaching the finish line 11.6 times per competition. This season, Embiid is shooting 85.7% from the lane, which has become an important part of his attacking game.

Little cavaliers icon 4. Cavaliers (38-22, LW 4). The second hottest team in the NBA and seven straight game winners (with a big challenge against the 76ers in the last game before the All-Star break. With the Nets backing down, the Cavaliers are likely holding a top-four spot comfortably in the East, meaning that they’re in a first-round playoff streak.The Cavs are also just one game behind the 76ers (until Wednesday’s game) and have a much easier schedule the rest of the way, jumping back into the top three in the East is out of the question. about the final third of the season. Donovan Mitchell should enjoy being in the All-Star Game this weekend, he more than deserves it.

Nuggets small icon 5. Nuggets (40-18, LW 5). Phoenix made all the headlines with the trade deadline and deserves a mention as a team that could come from the West, but they would have to go through Denver to do so. The Nuggets need to hold onto the top spot in the conference and have what it takes to fight when they’re healthy. The Nuggets are 20-0 this season with Nikola Jokic hitting a triple-double, which is part of his season’s MVP cause. That’s why in the postseason teams will focus on slowing down the two-time MVP and getting someone else to beat them – the pressure on them will increase. Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon the rest to play.

Little grizzly icon 6. Grizzlies (34-22, HB 6) Though always sure I am Morant talks about his team, the Grizzlies haven’t scared anyone lately (losing 9 of 12). This rating seems too high for the way they are playing right now. Glad to see The Jackson Jr. get the All-Star recognition he deserves, but can he try not to foul in this game? He also needs to stop bad penalties ahead of the postseason, when Memphis will need him to spend more than the 27.1 minutes per game he averages this season (injuries contribute to that number dropping, but that’s partly due to with the fact that he has to sit seemingly every game because of a foul.

Small heating icon 7. Heat (32-26, DW 8). The Nets are sliding down the East in the standings, which is good for the Heat (and Knicks), who have a much better chance of finishing in the top six and avoiding the play-in now. That’s why Wednesday night’s game against the Nets matters, the Heat can’t afford to mentally go on an All-Star vacation a day early, it’s the kind of game the Heat have to take care of business (like they did last night). week). against the Pacers, Rockets, and Magic). Bam Adebayo deservedly goes to Utah as an All-Star Game, Tyler Herro will throw a 3-pointer on Saturday night and you can be sure Jimmy Butler perfectly happy to spend a couple of extra weekends on a warm beach this weekend and not compete in another All-Star game.

Little kings icon 8. Kings (32-25, DX 9). De’Aaron Fox deserves to be named to the All-Star Game, he and Domantas Sabonis deserved to be in Salt Lake City, representing the best history in the NBA this season – the Kings are going to make the playoffs. Fox celebrated the announcement with four consecutive 30+ point games, including 36 in a big win over Dallas (in Doncic and Irving debuts). With all the changes in the West, the trade deadline is coming, and if the Kings want to move further than just making it to the playoffs, Mike Brown and company will have to find more protection – they’re 23rd in the NBA on this side of the ball. and now too many teams can use it in a playoff series.

Small Mavericks Icon 9. Mavericks (31-28, LV 10). Dallas started 0-2 with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in the line-up, but it’s not the duet, but other weaknesses of the line-up. Chemistry is still working out, Irving and Doncic are still playing next to each other instead of against each other, they are still figuring out the distance (as evidenced by the final game against the Timberwolves), but the Mavericks are scoring – 122.1 Attack Rating in those two games (compared to 115.6 for the season). The problem is the 125.4 Defensive Rating in those two games – Dallas can’t stop. This is the end of the floor where Jason Kidd has a job.

Little nyx icon 10. Knicks (32-27, LV 14) Monday’s victory over Brooklyn is a sign of things to come: the Nets will slide down the standings, and the Knicks have the opportunity to get into the top six and avoid the play-in by taking advantage. Josh Hart has shown himself to be a brilliant helper at the exchange deadline, he is the type to “do everything well” and can succeed anywhere. Bye Julius Randle deservedly spend his weekend in Salt Lake City as an All-Star, it’s strange not to have Jalen Brunson also making cuts – he was the MVP and the stabilizing force behind this Knicks team, he’s the reason they’re heading to the playoffs.

small sun icon 11. Suns (32-27, DW 11). Devin Booker returned and looked great in the win over the Kings, scoring 32 points and continuing the offense for several stretches of time. Kevin Duran makes his Suns debut sometime after the All-Star break, but Phoenix wisely doesn’t put a date on that. Watching the Suns attack against the Kings and then imagining Kevin Durant in it, one question came to mind: How comfortable are players like Booker and Deandre Ayton going to sacrifice part of his game for the sake of improving the team? (I do not doubt that Chris Paul good with that.) To win the ring, you have to sacrifice stars (think of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade with LeBron James in Miami), guys who do not want this can undermine the team. Ayton can see the big picture, but it’s worth looking at.

small web icon 12. Grids (33-24, DV 7). It will be a long and unique journey back for the Nets. With the trade of Durant and Irving, they started adding to their pool of draft picks and brought back a lot of quality role players, enough to form a solid foundation. The Nets don’t control their own picks until 2027 (Houston has them due to James Harden trade), so it doesn’t make sense to tank, it will be rebuilding on the fly. But if Sean Marks, along with coach Jacques Vaughn, can rebuild the team and hard-working culture — part of what attracted Durant and Irving in the first place — this is a city that could attract top talent. They did it once. They are still a strong team in the postseason, but expect the Nets to slip into the play-in zone in the final third of the season.

Small Clippers icon13. Clippers (32-28, LV 12). A victory over the Warriors without Curry on Tuesday showed the spark that the Cubs Eric Gordon, Bones Highland And Mason Plumlee can bring to the team. The Clippers may be without real point guard Tyrone Liu and Kawhi Leonard wanted, but the supporting cast around the Clippers stars is better after the trade deadline. The question remains, will this be enough? The Clippers are an example for players who miss games and workload management, and yet they haven’t developed the chemistry or good habits needed to compete at the highest level. Can they do it in the last third of the season? For our part, we are skeptical, but the talent is certainly present.

Small warrior icon 14. Warriors (29-29, LW 13). Warriors are 2-3 so far Stephen Curry fell due to a leg injury, and while he hopes to return shortly after the All-Star Game, there is no official timeline yet. Draymond Green The Warriors have a bigger problem this season with a 21st-place defense that doesn’t add up. “It won’t just come. Do I think we are capable of it? Yes, but I don’t think it will. You can get it, but it’s not just that… It’s the desire to be defensive and you don’t [dealing with a championship] .500 hangover in 60 games of the season.”

15. Timberwolves (31-29, LV 16) Karl-Anthony Towns He is expected to be out until the last 10-15 games…


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