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NBA Power Rankings: 30ish words for 30 teams

Welcome to theScore’s biweekly NBA power rankings, where you’ll find roughly 30 words on all 30 teams every other week through the end of the season.

1. Golden State Warriors (61-14)

The Dubs haven’t lost since March 11, and the turnaround from the initial post-KD-injury slump has been striking; they’ve won nine straight with a point differential of 15.7, including back-to-back victories over their closest competitors.

2. San Antonio Spurs (57-17)

Despite Wednesday’s home loss to the Warriors, the Spurs still have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Golden State – although they’re 3.5 games back now with eight to play.

3. Houston Rockets (51-23)

Tuesday’s loss to the Warriors was only Houston’s second in nine games. The Rockets are first in the NBA in both offensive rating and true shooting percentage since the All-Star break.

4. Boston Celtics (48-27)

While you can debate whether the Celtics would be the worst No. 1 seed in NBA history, the fact is they sit in a virtual tie with Cleveland for first in the East with eight to play.

5. Toronto Raptors (45-30)

Since P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka have been on the team together, the Raptors have the NBA’s third-best defensive rating and its second-best rebounding percentage. They’ve won seven of nine and are expecting Kyle Lowry back shortly.

6. Washington Wizards (46-29)

The Wizards clinched their first division title in 38 years this week, while Kelly Oubre Jr. has given a thin bench a lift, averaging 12.3 points on near-60 percent shooting over his last four games.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (47-26)

The Cavs’ 8-10 record since the All-Star break is explained by the fact that only the Lakers have a worse defensive rating over that period.

8. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-31)

There’s little doubt the Thunder would be bad without Russell Westbrook. That’s why they’ve rode his near-30 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds over his last 10 games to an 8-2 record.

9. Milwaukee Bucks (39-36)

The Bucks are 13-4 in March and have moved into a tie for fifth in the East. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton have stepped up their games even further in Jabari Parker‘s absence, shooting almost a combined 50 percent during the month.

10. Portland Trail Blazers (36-38)

The Blazers have won 12 of 15 and have the third-best offense in the league in March. Tuesday’s win over Denver ensured them of the tiebreaker should the teams end up knotted for eighth in the West.

11. Miami Heat (37-38)

Miami still hasn’t hit that elusive .500 mark yet, but its 26-8 record since Jan. 17 is third only to the Spurs and Warriors during that time. The Heat have the NBA’s third-best net rating since the All-Star break, too.

12. Utah Jazz (46-29)

The Jazz have been up and down for three weeks, and lost a key game to the Clippers last weekend. And while they still lead L.A. by 1.5 games for fourth in the West, the Jazz have now lost that tiebreaker and have a tough schedule to finish out – including three games in four nights against the Timberwolves, Blazers, and Warriors.

13. Los Angeles Clippers (45-31)

The inconsistent Clippers beat the Jazz in a big game. They then promptly lost at home to Sacramento.

14. Memphis Grizzlies (41-34)

Forty-year-old Vince Carter is averaging 10.4 points on 41 percent 3-point shooting over nine games since being inserted into the starting lineup. It’s not quite Vinsanity, but cherish the things of your youth.

15. Denver Nuggets (35-39)

The loss to Portland was big, but Denver’s March included wins over the Cavs, Celtics, Bucks, and Clippers. The Nuggets remain a game behind the Blazers for eighth with eight to play.

16. New Orleans Pelicans (32-43)

The Boogie-Brow experiment is starting to show signs of life, but Pelicans fans will need to wait another season to view playoff basketball.

17. Atlanta Hawks (39-36)

The Hawks’ abysmal play with Paul Millsap out of the lineup should not come as a surprise. Atlanta has posted a minus-5.6 net rating with Millsap on the bench this season, while scoring just 97.9 points per 100 possessions.

18. Chicago Bulls (35-39)

The Bulls have endured a bad month, but only sit 1.5 games behind the Pacers for eighth in the East. The good news: Six of their last eight games come against current lottery teams, including two against the Nets.

19. Charlotte Hornets (34-41)

The Hornets have won four of their last six contests, but it may be too little, too late for Charlotte, which is 15-26 since Jan. 1.

20. Indiana Pacers (37-38)

The Pacers remain in playoff position, but things are going downhill in a hurry. Barring an unforeseen turnaround, Larry Bird may be wise to shop Paul George this summer.

21. Dallas Mavericks (31-43)

He likely won’t garner many votes for Executive of the Year, but general manager Donnie Nelson has made some savvy moves over the past nine months, signing Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell to cheap deals, while landing Nerlens Noel for pennies on the dollar.

22. Philadelphia 76ers (28-47)

Recent reports suggest the long-standing rebuild in Philly may soon be over, which is likely to elicit conflicting emotions among Sixers fans, as many still haven’t gotten over Sam Hinkie’s dismissal.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves (29-44)

A trendy preseason pick to sneak into the playoffs, the Timberwolves have struggled to live up to expectations in 2016-17, and are all but certain to extend their postseason drought to a league-leading 13 seasons.

24. Detroit Pistons (34-41)

It’s crazy to think – given last season’s encouraging finish – but the Pistons may once again be forced to enter rebuild mode this summer. Detroit has dropped its last five contests, and now sits three games out a playoff spot with seven games remaining.

25. Sacramento Kings (29-46)

The Kings are nowhere near contender status, but at least their young talent looks promising. Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, and Willie Cauley-Stein have all impressed over the past month.

26. Orlando Magic (27-48)

The Magic are awful, and their future doesn’t look much brighter. However, that could change if the lottery balls go their way in May.

27. Brooklyn Nets (16-58)

The season has been a complete disaster, but the Nets have shown recent signs of life; they’ve won more games in March (seven) than the Cavaliers (six).

28. New York Knicks (28-47)

What’s there to say about the Knicks at this point? New York has already guaranteed its fourth consecutive losing season, and Phil Jackson is too stubborn to undergo a true rebuild.

29. Los Angeles Lakers (21-53)

The Nets may own the inferior record, but one could argue the Lakers have been the league’s worst team this season, posting the NBA’s worst point differential, while surrendering an embarrassing 111.1 points per 100 possessions.

30. Phoenix Suns (22-53)

A 70-point night from Devin Booker wasn’t enough to propel the Suns to victory, as Phoenix has now dropped its last nine and is making little effort to hide its tanking tactics.

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