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NBA Power Rankings: Wolves among risers, Celtics dip before playoffs

by | NBA Writer

The NBA season is long. It is. You can argue it's too long, and it certainly feels that way at times, for everyone. The players feel it drag in January and February, with the mental grind of travel, practice, shootaround, games and travel make everything into gray sludge. The media and fans feel it when the games lose impact and intensity.

And yet, there's so much joy to be found in the regular season. Those random nights in January when some player goes ballistic in a non-nationally-televised game and everyone's going berserk about it on Twitter. The rare nationally televised heavyweight matchup that really turns into a haymaker duel between two great teams. Those little moments where rookies show glimpses of the greatness that's to come.

The Warriors are the story this year, and for much of the season, they were the only story. Their pursuit of history swallowed up headlines and pixel space, and for good reason. When we look back on this season, that's what we'll remember. How great the Warriors were, and what it was like to watch them chase history.

But as the season has progressed, I have to tell you, other stories came to the surface. OKC figuring itself out and even though they didn't get a single win vs. the Warriors, they still seem scary come the second-round of the playoffs. The Spurs' dominance wrapped in that quiet facade of theirs. The suddenly-compelling Eastern Conference playoff race with good, solid team after good, solid team. And all the drama, from D'Angelo Russell to Sam Hinkie to George Karl and back again.

The playoffs are the destination, it's when casual sports fans and media hop on board. But there's joy to be found in the journey to get there. This season has been fun, and not just because of the Warriors, but because of all the storylines of this sport that constantly evolve and change, that thrill and challenge us.

Also, you know, the Warriors.

Here is your final edition of this season's Power Rankings, complete with a season-ending grade for each team. Thanks for coming on the ride with me.

Karl Anthony Towns
The future is bright for the Timberwolves. (USATSI)


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