NBA Power Rankings: Which stars are carrying the load for injured teammates?

Times have fallen on hard times in the NBA regular season as opposing players battle late-season fatigue to get their teams into the best playoff position.

The Eastern Conference is currently a three-team race between the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers, with young postseason contenders the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, and Brooklyn Nets level below.

The Denver Nuggets are the clear favorite in the West at the moment, with the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies still battling for the top spot. But behind them is a nine-team race for the remaining playoff and play-in spots.

Missing from this race are NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who are recovering from injuries and looking to return for the playoffs. But luckily for James’ Los Angeles Lakers and Durant’s Phoenix Suns, Anthony Davis and Devin Booker are doing enough to make up for the absence of their superstar teammates. The Lakers finished 9th last week and beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday after spending most of the season on the sidelines while the Suns still hold 4th and hope to at least , Express yourself. home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

NoteA: During the regular season, our group (Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim McMahon, Dave McMenamin and Om Youngmisuk) rank all 30 teams from top to bottom, determining which teams are playing. the best basketball and which teams are most likely to be title contenders.

Previous ratings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Record 2022-23: 50-19
Previous rating: 1

The Bucks already have the best record in the league and became the first team to make the playoffs on Tuesday night with a win over the Suns. But the best news of the week was Chris Middleton’s next move. He started the last four games he played in and on Monday he scored 31 points and had nine assists in his first 30-point appearance since March 16, 2022. — Collier

2. Boston Celtics

Record 2022-23: 47-22
Previous rating: 3

Monday’s loss to Houston was the latest major sign of Boston’s unease since the All-Star break. In those 10 games, the Celtics hit .500, finishing 13th on offense and 17th on defense. It’s safe to say it’s not enough to send them back to the NBA Finals. — good time

3. Philadelphia 76ers

Record 2022-23: 45-22
Previous rating: 4

The 66ers need to improve their defense; they are ranked 22nd defensively after the All-Star break. But the fact that Philadelphia is second on offense allowed them to go 7-3 in the second half, the toughest stretch in the league, according to Sportzshala’s BPI. There are only a couple of home games this month, so it won’t get any easier anytime soon. — good time

4. Denver Nuggets

Record 2022-23: 46-23
Previous rating: 2

The Nuggets have gone through a rough patch for what seems to be the first time this season. They lost four games in a row for the first time, including a 21-point loss to Chicago, and their bench is struggling. They have created a good pillow for themselves in the standings, but now is not the time to lose steam. — Andrews

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

Record 2022-23: 44-27
Previous rating: 5

With Darius Garland out for two of Cleveland’s last three games with a quadriceps injury, Carys LeVert has caught the rhythm as a starter. LeVert, who had his ups and downs in his time with the Cavs, averaged 17.7 points on 50% shooting in his last three games as Cleveland went 2-1. — McMenamin

6. Sacramento Kings

Record 2022-23: 40-27
Previous rating: 8

The Kings finally got 40 wins for the first time since 2006. The fan who predicted it this summer is somewhere shining as brightly as a laser beam outside the Golden 1 Center. Sacramento’s defense needs to improve if the Kings want to make it to the playoffs. But if they can just keep outperforming their opponents, they might be fine. — Andrews

7. Memphis Grizzlies

Record 2022-23: 41-26
Previous rating: 9

For the first time in his career, Desmond Bain had at least five assists in five straight games, according to Sportzshala Stats & Information. This run coincides with Ja Morant’s absence, forcing Bane to take on significantly more facilitating duties. “Of course it was an adjustment, but I’m definitely enjoying the opportunity,” said Bain, who averaged 21.2 points and 6.4 assists over five games. — McMahon

8. Phoenix Suns

Record 2022-23: 37-32
Previous rating: 6

It’s been a tough week for the Suns. First, during a hiatus ahead of what was to be his home franchise debut, Kevin Durant suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for several weeks. They then lost three games in a row, including two in a row to two previous league champions: Golden State and Milwaukee. The Warriors hit the Suns early, leading them by 22 points after the first quarter, while the Bucks killed them late, leading the Suns by 11 points in Game 4, which Phoenix lost by 12. — McMenamin

9. New York Knicks

Record 2022-23: 41-30
Previous rating: 7

With a victory in Portland on Tuesday night, New York ended a grueling stretch of time since the All-Star break as they traveled the West Coast and played 11 games non-stop for more than a day. Now, the Knicks are heading home and resting for three days before hosting West-leading Denver on Saturday as they try to snatch East No. 5 from rival Nets. — good time

10. Golden State Warriors

Record 2022-23: 36-33
Previous rating: 10

Warriors are a mystery. They’re really good at home, finishing a tight overtime game with a victory over the Bucks and nearly crushing the Suns. They play at home, it’s not their problem. The problem is everywhere except Chase Center. The Warriors have won just seven road games. Seven of their remaining 13 tilts are away games. If they want to stay out of the play-ins and have a real postseason race, they need to figure out how to get wins away from San Francisco. — Andrews

11. Brooklyn Nets

Record 2022-23: 39-30
Previous rating: 13

Mikal Bridges just keeps growing, becoming a bigger star during his tenure with the Nets. He scored 34 points in 47 minutes in Friday’s overtime win over the Timberwolves and another 34 points on Tuesday in a loss to the Thunder. His game continues to grow over time in Brooklyn. — Friedel

12. Los Angeles Clippers

Record 2022-23: 36-33
Previous rating: 15

Ten days ago, the Clippers were on the verge of a catastrophic loss to Memphis, but Kawhi Leonard and Paul George came to the rescue and dominated the fourth quarter. They are now heading for a rematch with the defending champion Warriors on a three-game winning streak as they look to reclaim their position as contenders. Leonard is back to his pre-ACL injury and George says he’s feeling better. Russell Westbrook and other new players are feeling comfortable as Tai Liu waits for Norman Powell to return from a shoulder injury to bolster his rotation. — yongmisuk

13. Miami Heat

Record 2022-23: 37-33
Previous rating: 11

Jimmy Butler is having the best time of his career since the All-Star break. In March, he averages 26.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists and continues to play big when Miami needs it. The 33-year-old six-time All-Star needs more constant help from his teammates to take the Heat out of the play-in tournament. — Friedel

14. Dallas Mavericks

Record 2022-23: 34-35
Previous rating: 14

“No one dies,” coach Jason Kidd said Monday night after the Mavs’ ninth loss in 12 games dropped them to under .500. It’s not exactly the mood the Mavs were hoping for when they made their deal with Kyrie Irving. Some good news: There is hope that Irving (foot) and Luka Doncic (thigh) will return this week. Josh Green averaged 22 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in two missed All-Stars games. — McMahon

15. Minnesota Timberwolves

Record 2022-23: 35-34
Previous rating: 12

Minnesota’s defense looked very good, but its scoring—or lack thereof—was problematic. Anthony Edwards averaged 32 points in two Timberwolves games last week, but he didn’t get much help on offense. — Andrews

16. Los Angeles Lakers

Record 2022-23: 33-35
Previous rating: 18

The Lakers’ game against New Orleans on Tuesday was epic on several fronts: they started the game with identical records, and Los Angeles won 2-1 in the series of the season. The Lakers came in with a 40-point lead to win the game in New Orleans and win a potential tiebreaker. “We control our own destiny,” Anthony Davis later said of Los Angeles’ playoff chances. “We have to keep winning basketball games.” — McMenamin

17. Oklahoma City Thunder

Record 2022-23: 34-35
Previous rating: 23

Josh Giddy recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against the Nets on Tuesday night. It’s the eighth triple-double of Giddy’s young career. And now it is the second most among all players aged 20 and under in the history of the NBA. Giddy passed Magic Johnson (7) on Tuesday and is second only to Luka Doncic, who had 21 triple-doubles under the age of 21. Lopez

18. Atlanta Hawks

Record 2022-23: 34-35
Previous rating: 16

Trae Young had 17 points and 11 assists in the first half against Boston on Saturday, the third time this season he had at least 15 points and 10 assists in a half. The rest of the NBA combined has done it three times. Young finished with 35 points and 13 assists, giving him 30 career games with 35 points and 10 assists. He…


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