1. Golden State Warriors (65-15, Last week: 1)
The Warriors have been miles ahead of the pack through the majority of the regular season and they'll easily ride through the finish line in first place. Outscoring opponents by 11.4 points per 100 possessions is no small feat. The Warriors are on track to have the second-highest net rating since the NBA started keeping track of per-100 differentials during the 2000-01 season, via NBA.com's stats section.
2. San Antonio Spurs (55-26, Last week: 3)
The Spurs were on a four-game losing streak heading into a game against the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 27, but they broke out of the rut and will end the season having not lost consecutive games since. San Antonio has been unstoppable since that point, putting up nearly 113 points per 100 possessions while holding opponents to 97, according to NBA.com.
Can they end the season on a 12-game winning streak?
3. Atlanta Hawks (60-20, Last week: 4)
Atlanta enjoyed its first 60-win season in franchise history and will be the only team in the Eastern Conference to do so this year. The Hawks have soared into control of the East, but they're still waiting on Paul Millsap to make his return from injury. Losing Thabo Sefolosha through the playoffs to an ankle injury via the NYPD isn't ideal either.
4. Houston Rockets (54-26, Last week: 2)
The Rockets had a chance to prove themselves as the second-best team in the Western Conference, but losing back-to-back games to the Spurs was a setback. Sure, it involved the Spurs intentionally fouling Josh Smith through most of the second half on Friday, but all's fair in love and war.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (54-26, Last week: 5)
The final team in the top five wasn't easy to pick, but the Clippers have been too good to ignore. They've spent the majority of the season trailing only the Warriors in offensive and defensive efficiency. Los Angeles has lost just two games since Blake Griffin returned on March 15 and is 9-1 over its last 10 games.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers (51-29, Last week: 6)
The Cavaliers evolved for the better through the season, and there are two catalysts that stand out. The first was landing Timofey Mozgov following Anderson Varejao's season-ending Achilles injury. The second was letting LeBron James take time off to get right. Cleveland might not be in the top five, but the Cavaliers are just as dangerous as any team above them.
Let's see how Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving do in their first crack at the playoffs.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (54-26, Last week: 7)
Is the glass half full or half empty for the Grizzles? On the one hand, this isn't a team that needs to prove itself. On the other, Tony Allen is still out with a hamstring issue, Mike Conley is battling injuries and Marc Gasol tweaked his ankle and left the arena in a walking boot on Sunday.
Still, it's hard to imagine the Grizzlies heading into their summer hibernation without a fight.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (51-29, Last week: 8)
The Trail Blazers have gone from one of the favorites in the Western Conference to a team that's looking more like its season will be robbed by injuries. Arron Afflalo's shoulder injury is the latest setback; he could miss the first few playoff games. This again means C.J. McCollum is going to have to step up in a big way.
9. Dallas Mavericks (49-31, Last week: 10)
Remember the "Rondo Slide?" When the Mavericks acquired Rajon Rondo in December, they were still leading the NBA in offensive efficiency, scoring 113.3 points per 100 possessions. The blazing scoring that set Dallas apart steadily dropped off, and Dallas is now fifth overall at a respectable 107.3 points per 100 possessions. That problem, however, is that number drops to 101.5 points per 100 possessions when Rondo is on the court, and his individual on-court net rating is negative. Dallas is statistically better off with Rondo on the bench.
Now, they'll take things one seven-game series at a time until he becomes a free agent this summer.
10. Chicago Bulls (48-32, Last week: 9)
Watching Derrick Rose dunk as he gets back into form before the playoffs was bittersweet. On the one hand, it's great that he's still able to get up. On the other, he clearly lacks the explosion he had once upon a time:
11. Toronto Raptors (48-32, Last week: 11)
Lou Williams is having a career year and looks to have bounced back from tearing his ACL with the Hawks in 2013. The biggest thing for the Raptors is getting Kyle Lowry, who has missed nine games since March 20, back on track. Lowry's made just seven of the 26 field goals he's attempted since returning.
12. Washington Wizards (46-34, Last week: 12)
How far can a team that lives and dies by the mid-range jump shot go? We're about to find out with the Wizards, who have an affinity for taking those long twos. Here's a quick look at their shot performance and distribution charts for the season:
13. New Orleans Pelicans (43-37, Last week: 14)
The Pelicans missed a big chance to take a full-game lead on the Thunder on Sunday, but Anthony Davis is still close to making his playoff debut. It's still hard to grasp that a Hail Mary three from Davis could be the shot that sends New Orleans to the postseason.
(Any excuse to post that shot will be taken).
14. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-37, Last week: 13)
A game that featured Russell Westbrook dropping a career-high 54 points was very close to being the same game that slammed the door on the Thunder. Not only did the Thunder lose to the Pacers, but Westbrook was hit with his 16th technical foul of the season, which would have resulted in an automatic one-game suspension. Instead, the NBA rescinded the foul, which means the battle for the No. 8 seed won't be decided by Westbrook's absence. That's good across the board for neutral fans.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (40-40, Last week: 18)
Giannis Antetokounmpo put together an impressive sophomore season, averaging 13 points, seven rebounds and two and a half assists per game while putting together two WOW moments per week. The final Greek Freak highlight for these power rankings is the cherry on top. The block, the behind-the-back-move, the soaring dunk and the stinkface:
16. Boston Celtics (38-42, Last week: 20)
Here's live video of Isaiah Thomas taking the Celtics' playoff chances for a spin:
17. Utah Jazz (37-43, Last week: 15)
The Jazz ended the season well out of playoff position, but they shouldn't be confused with the other non-playoff teams in the Western Conference. Utah has everything the teams below them lack: A head coach to grow with, young big men to build around in Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, a super-versatile wing Gordon Hayward and a duo of guards to develop in Trey Burke and Dante Exum. Those are reasons to be excited about what the Jazz are marinating.
18. Indiana Pacers (37-43, Last week: 21)
Indiana isn't going out without a fight, remaining in playoff contention while riding a five-game winning streak. The Pacers haven't lost since Paul George made his season debut on April 5. They have to win out and hope for losses from the Nets or Celtics to close the season in order to make the postseason. Games against the Wizards and Grizzlies won't make that easy.
19. Brooklyn Nets (37-43, Last week: 17)
The Nets have been in and out of the playoffs all season, but can lock up a playoff berth with two combined wins and Pacers losses. Brooklyn has the same record as Indiana, but owning the tiebreaker gives the Nets the edge. Can they close it out with wins over the Bulls and Magic?
20. Phoenix Suns (39-42, Last week: 16)
The Suns flaming out and having to make plans to attend the NBA Draft lottery is still one of the biggest surprises of the season. Phoenix has enjoyed plenty of winning as a franchise, though, as Dave King of Bright Side of the Sun took the opportunity to remind Suns fans:
While the Phoenix Suns have never won an NBA championship, they still have the league's 4th highest winning percentage (.552), averaging a 45-37 record since their inception in 1968. The team has experienced a losing season such as this one only 6 times in the last 27 years. That means 21 times, fans have been able to cheer on a winning basketball team.
21. Miami Heat (35-45, Last week: 19)
The Heat not only need to win out to make the playoffs, but they also need either Boston or Brooklyn to crumble during the final week. Miami owns the tiebreaker against both teams, but sitting two games out with two games left means all Dwyane Wade and company can do is cross their fingers and finish the season with a couple of wins. (That is, unless they want to lose enough to move their pick into the top 10 and prevent it from going to the 76ers).
Having bottom-dwellers like the Magic and 76ers on tap to end the year makes winning a real possibility, though. Buckle up.
22. Charlotte Hornets (33-47, Last week: 22)
The Hornets are officially out of the playoff race. They've lost to the Nets, Pacers, Celtics and Heat since the final week of March, giving up key victories to every team that pushed them out of contention for good.
23. Detroit Pistons (31-49, Last week: 23)
The winds of change continue to blow in Detroit. It sounds like Greg Monroe is all but a lock to leave the franchise this summer. The Knicks appear to be the frontrunner for his services, and his move to New York is "as close to a done deal as you can get," according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. (Monroe denied the rumor).
The Pistons made big strides, built a ******* wall together and endured several injuries, but might be on the verge of another big shakeup.
24. Denver Nuggets (30-50, Last week: 24)
Raymond Felton driving by the Nuggets defense to hit a game-winning layup in double overtime is the most fitting way for Denver's disastrous season to end. Seriously, RAYMOND FELTON drove straight into the Nuggets defense from the three-point line. The only obstacle was Kenneth Faried contesting the shot way too late:
25. Orlando Magic (25-55, Last week: 26)
Orlando has a lot to figure out this summer, but there is good news. Victor Oladipo's been one of the best sophomores this season, while Elfrid Payton looks like he's a step above most of his fellow rookies. Yet Oladipo and Payton haven't played well together, as Orlando's defense has actually been worse when they share the court.
26. Sacramento Kings (27-53, Last week: 25)
Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins are both shut down for the final games of the season, which means this Kings team is ready to head into the sunset. Cousins continued to grow this season, putting up career-bests in multiple categories (points, assists, rebounds, blocks and free-throw attempts) while enjoying his second-best shooting season.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (21-59, Last week: 27)
Dwight can ride his Buycks with no handle bars. Gary Harris, on the other hand, cannot:
28. Philadelphia 76ers (18-62, Last week: 29)
The 76ers are riding an eight-game losing streak into the final week of the season. But with only two games left, they look destined to have the third-best odds on lottery night.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-64, Last week: 28)
The Timberwolves picked a fine season to stumble into another lottery pick. Injuries to both Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio have been a big part of the problem in Minnesota, and the big men (Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein) and point guards (D'Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay) will be prime for the picking for Flip Saunders in the draft. Which way will they go with another top pick in hand?
30. New York Knicks (16-64, Last week: 30)
Goodnight, sweet Knicks. May the grass be greener on the other side of summer.
*All data courtesy of NBA.com unless otherwise noted.