NBA Power Rankings – Here comes Kevin Durant, there go the Celtics

The NBA’s plot is twisting within the ultimate third of the 2022-23 common season, and it might be only the start of extra sudden turns down the stretch.

The Boston Celtics have comfortably dominated the Eastern Conference this season however fell out of first place for the primary time in 2023 after a lopsided loss to the New York Knicks on Monday. Boston now trails the Milwaukee Bucks by half a sport within the standings.

Speaking of the Knicks, Tom Thibodeau’s squad is likely to be on observe to reclaiming the center of New York. With a six-game win streak, they’ve now surpassed their crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets within the standings. Despite some spectacular moments from younger gamers, the Nets have not averted the anticipated penalties of buying and selling away Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, having misplaced seven of their previous 9 video games, and are at risk of falling into the play-in event.

The different facet of Brooklyn’s commerce deadline strikes may quickly trigger turbulence within the Western Conference, too, as Durant is predicted to make his debut for the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday in opposition to the Charlotte Hornets.

Note: Throughout the common season, our panel (Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk) is rating all 30 groups from prime to backside, taking inventory of which groups are taking part in the most effective basketball and which groups are trying most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: 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

1. Milwaukee Bucks
2022-23 report: 44-17
Previous rating: 2

The Bucks have the most effective report within the NBA due to their 15-game successful streak, the fourth longest in franchise historical past and their longest since successful 18 straight in 2019. Milwaukee went 10-0 in February, the fourth undefeated month in franchise historical past, to maneuver previous Boston for first place within the Eastern Conference for the primary time since Christmas. — Collier

2. Boston Celtics
2022-23 report: 44-18
Previous rating: 1

After spending the ultimate two weeks of February (together with the All-Star break) away from dwelling, the Celtics return to Boston for a enjoyable three-game homestand in opposition to playoff groups — Cleveland on Wednesday, Brooklyn on Friday and New York on Sunday; all televised on ESPN — earlier than heading to Cleveland on Monday. They will attempt to hold tempo with the streaking Milwaukee Bucks atop the Eastern Conference. — Bontemps

3. Denver Nuggets
2022-23 report: 44-19
Previous rating: 3

Even after the entire commerce deadline insanity, the Nuggets stay the strongest group within the Western Conference. Finally wholesome for the primary time since Nikola Jokic’s MVP reign, they’re higher than they have been after they made the convention finals within the 2020 bubble, and have an actual shot on the title this season. — Andrews

4. Philadelphia 76ers
2022-23 report: 39-21
Previous rating: 4

Close losses to Boston on Saturday and Miami on Monday have all however eradicated Philadelphia from having a sensible probability of transferring as much as the highest two spots within the Eastern Conference standings. Barring a big collapse, the Sixers must be roughly locked in to the third seed, setting them up for one more titanic second-round playoff sequence with a lot at stake. — Bontemps

5. Cleveland Cavaliers
2022-23 report: 39-25
Previous rating: 5

The Cavaliers play the Celtics on Wednesday for the primary time since beating them twice within the span of every week in late October and early November — successful each in time beyond regulation. They comply with it up with one other Celtics matchup on March 6. Playoff preview, anybody? — McMenamin

6. Memphis Grizzlies
2022-23 report: 37-23
Previous rating: 7

Ja Morant scored 30 factors within the paint throughout his 39-point triple-double in Tuesday’s win over the Lakers. It was the fourth time in his profession he has scored not less than 30 factors within the paint, probably the most of any guard since play-by-play was first tracked in 1996-97, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Information analysis. — MacMahon

7. Sacramento Kings
2022-23 report: 36-25
Previous rating: 8

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The Kings’ offense has been almost unstoppable this season. So unstoppable that it has carried them into a cushty spot in 3-seed and previous the LA Clippers in one of many highest-scoring video games in NBA historical past. Their protection, alternatively, has been virtually nonexistent. It’s a difficulty — particularly contemplating their coach, Mike Brown, is taken into account to be a defensive wiz. But it additionally makes one surprise how a lot better they might be if they will work out that finish of the court docket. — Andrews

8. Phoenix Suns
2022-23 report: 33-29
Previous rating: 6

Kevin Durant will make his debut for Phoenix on Wednesday in opposition to the Charlotte Hornets, three weeks to the day for the reason that Suns traded for the previous MVP. “I was having fun out there before I got injured,” Durant stated. “So looking forward to going out there and picking up where I left off.” — McMenamin

9. New York Knicks
2022-23 report: 36-27
Previous rating: 12

You know Tom Thibodeau is pleased along with his group when he describes his gamers as “a team full of leaders, and a team full of gym rats,” as he did following Monday’s win over the Celtics. New York is now 6-0 since buying Josh Hart, and one of many largest video games within the Knicks-Nets intracity rivalry looms Wednesday evening, when New York can put some house between itself and Brooklyn for the East’s fifth seed with a win at Madison Square Garden. — Bontemps

10. LA Clippers
2022-23 report: 33-31
Previous rating: 11

The Clippers are taking part in with higher vitality, and Kawhi Leonard is again to taking part in like he was earlier than his ACL damage. But the Clippers’ protection has struggled, they usually’ve dropped three straight. Head coach Ty Lue has loads of new items he is attempting to place collectively. Russell Westbrook has slot in effectively to this point and largely been what the Clippers have wished him to be — taking part in off Leonard and Paul George and never attempting to do an excessive amount of. The drawback is the Clippers are in a troublesome stretch taking part in West playoff contenders and head to Golden State and Sacramento subsequent. — Youngmisuk

11. Dallas Mavericks
2022-23 report: 32-31
Previous rating: 9

Forward/middle Maxi Kleber, who has been sidelined since tearing his hamstring in a mid-December apply, returned Tuesday evening in opposition to the Pacers. His comeback might be vital to Dallas’ hopes of a playoff run, as Kleber is the Mavs’ most important defender. Dallas has allowed 108.3 factors per 100 possessions with Kleber on the ground this season and 116.2 with out him. — MacMahon

12. Miami Heat
2022-23 report: 33-29
Previous rating: 10

Miami dropped 4 straight earlier than Jimmy Butler pulled them throughout the end line in opposition to the Sixers on Monday evening. Butler closed up February with three straight stable video games — averaging 24.7 factors, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per sport. The Heat have an opportunity to get again on observe as they begin a six-game homestand with Wednesday’s sport, additionally in opposition to the Sixers. — Friedell

13. Golden State Warriors
2022-23 report: 32-30
Previous rating: 16

The Warriors need to be happy that they’ve managed to keep away from a significant drop-off with out Stephen Curry (once more), along with absences from Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins. The query now turns into, with no clear return timetables for Curry and Wiggins, will the Warriors be capable to keep afloat, and even push their means out of the play-in? — Andrews

14. Brooklyn Nets
2022-23 report: 34-27
Previous rating: 13

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Brooklyn has dropped seven of its previous 9 after Tuesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets are nonetheless adjusting to life with out Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, however Mikal Bridges continues to be a shiny spot. He is averaging 23.8 factors, 5.2 rebounds and three.2 assists over his transient six-game Nets tenure. — Friedell

15. Atlanta Hawks
2022-23 report: 31-31
Previous rating: 17

After the Joe Prunty-era Hawks went 2-0, the Quin Snyder period acquired began Monday evening. Snyder — who agreed to a five-year deal to turn into Atlanta’s head coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday — had an opportunity to start his Hawks tenure with a victory, however the Wizards’ late run prevented that. Still, Atlanta stays within the thick of issues within the Eastern Conference play-in race and is at .500 with 20 video games to go. — Lopez

16. Minnesota Timberwolves
2022-23 report: 32-32
Previous rating: 14

It’s onerous to know what to make of the Timberwolves this season. After their blockbuster commerce to amass Rudy Gobert over the summer time, they struggled early on … and badly. They improved after Karl-Anthony Towns was injured, but there is no telling what they will seem like if and when Towns returns. — Andrews

17. Utah Jazz
2022-23 report: 31-32
Previous rating: 20

Talen Horton-Tucker will get an prolonged audition as a playmaker for the remainder of the season after the Jazz traded Mike Conley Jr. and purchased out Russell Westbrook. Horton-Tucker has averaged 13.3 factors and 6.0 assists in eight video games since Utah made the three-way commerce. He didn’t play within the earlier 4 video games. — MacMahon

18. Toronto Raptors
2022-23 report: 31-32
Previous rating: 21

With the Nets in free fall, each Toronto and Atlanta may have alternatives to maneuver into the highest eight within the East. The Raptors particularly have regarded rejuvenated in latest weeks, going 6-2 for the reason that commerce deadline after Tuesday’s win over Chicago and 10-5 total of their previous 15 video games. — Bontemps

19. New Orleans Pelicans
2022-23 report: 30-32
Previous rating: 15

The Pelicans are struggling however are actually coping with much more accidents. Since Zion Williamson was injured on Jan. 2, the Pelicans have gone simply 7-18 — the fifth-worst report within the league over that span. Now the Pelicans shall be with out Jose Alvarado (proper tibial stress fracture) for not less than three weeks and Larry Nance (left ankle sprain) for not less than two weeks. — Lopez

20. Los Angeles Lakers
2022-23 report: 29-33
Previous rating: 22

The Lakers misplaced their first take a look at with out LeBron James, who will miss not less than two weeks whereas rehabbing a proper foot damage. The group’s 26 turnovers resulting in 41 Memphis factors have been discouraging, however the total temper remained decided. “The mission is the mission,” Anthony Davis stated. “We have more than enough, in my opinion, to still win basketball games. And we have to. He’s not coming back anytime soon.” — McMenamin

21. Portland Trail Blazers
2022-23 report: 29-32
Previous rating: 18

Damian Lillard’s ridiculous 71-point explosion would be the spotlight of the Blazers’ season, however Portland adopted that up by blowing a 23-point lead in a street loss to Golden State. The Blazers have misplaced six of 9 and need to discover a option to benefit from the Lakers shedding James for an prolonged time frame. After a house sport in opposition to New Orleans, the Blazers hit the street for a six-game swing. — Youngmisuk

22. Washington Wizards
2022-23 report: 29-32
Previous rating: 23

The Wizards got here up with some massive defensive stops for a win over Atlanta with out Kristaps Porzingis and Monte Morris. The Wizards snapped a two-game slide, and the win got here within the first of 4 conferences with Atlanta within the subsequent month-plus. With the Hawks only a sport and a half forward of the Wizards for eighth within the East, these video games may resolve Washington’s postseason destiny. — Youngmisuk

23. Oklahoma City Thunder
2022-23 report: 28-33
Previous rating: 19

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has missed the Thunder’s previous three video games with what the group is now calling an belly pressure, and Oklahoma City’s report has gone down with him. The Thunder have now misplaced 4 in a row after shedding to Sacramento on Monday and slipped to thirteenth within the Western Conference playoff standings. — Lopez

24. Chicago Bulls
2022-23 report: 28-34
Previous rating: 24

The Bulls dropped a vital sport Tuesday in opposition to the Toronto Raptors, shedding to a group forward of them within the Eastern Conference play-in race and dropping the season sequence and tiebreaker to Toronto. — Collier

25. Orlando Magic
2022-23 report: 26-36
Previous rating: 25

Paolo Banchero continues to pad a powerful Rookie of the Year résumé. He had 29 factors, eight rebounds and 4 assists in Monday’s street win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The Magic have two massive checks in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks over the subsequent week and wish to search out extra consistency down the stretch to push into the play-In dialog. — Friedell

26. Indiana Pacers
2022-23 report: 28-35
Previous rating: 26

Tyrese Haliburton collected double-digit assists in every of his first two video games out of the All-Star break. He has 30 video games with not less than 10 assists, tied for probably the most such video games within the NBA this season. — Collier

27. Charlotte Hornets
2022-23 report: 20-43
Previous rating: 27

Charlotte’s disappointing season acquired even sadder Monday evening after LaMelo Ball fractured his proper ankle throughout Monday evening’s win over the Detroit Pistons. The Hornets are in determined want of some lottery luck because the franchise continues to be struck by accidents, inconsistency and poor roster constructing. — Friedell

28. Detroit Pistons
2022-23 report: 15-47
Previous rating: 28

James Wiseman put collectively his greatest sport of the season, amassing 23 factors on 9-of-11 capturing with seven rebounds in a loss to the Hornets on Monday. With Detroit going by some damage woes, Wiseman has been within the beginning lineup the previous two video games. — Collier

29. San Antonio Spurs
2022-23 report: 15-47
Previous rating: 29

The Spurs’ annual rodeo street journey ended within the group’s seventeenth consecutive loss Monday evening, earlier than beating the Jazz on Tuesday. San Antonio was a league-worst 2-24 since Jan. 1 and hadn’t gained a sport since Jan. 17 earlier than taking down Utah. The excellent news: The Spurs play their first dwelling sport since Feb. 3 when the Indiana Pacers come to city Thursday. — Lopez

30. Houston Rockets
2022-23 report: 13-48
Previous rating: 30

The Rockets have the worst report within the NBA for the third consecutive season, placing Houston in place to get one other decide at or close to the highest of the lottery. Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. — drafted with the No. 2 decide in 2021 and No. 3 decide in 2022, respectively — rank first and second among the many Rockets in complete minutes performed. Houston is minus-350 when Green and Smith are on the ground collectively — the second-worst plus-minus of any tandem within the league this season. — MacMahon