As an unprecedented regular season with a jam-packed, condensed schedule winds to a close, we're starting to see NBA teams go into preservation mode in the final month before the playoffs. Star players are sitting and/or having their minutes limited as teams hope to be at full strength for the start of the postseason, which has led to some disappointing "marquee" matchups and upsets around the league. Those outside the playoff picture are gearing up for the lottery, with many bottom-dwellers also choosing to rest their best players with the hopes of securing a franchise-changing prospect in this summer's draft.
Even with their own version of roster roulette, the Los Angeles Clippers remained No. 1 in this week's Power Rankings, with the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers right behind them. The biggest risers of the week were none other than the New York Knickerbockers, who have won six games in a row and look like a legit playoff team. Conversely, the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans each dropped five spots after lackluster performances.
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Here are this week's NBA Power Rankings.
*Keep in mind that our Power Rankings are based on the team's performance the previous week, not the entire season.
|The Clippers managed to go 3-1 this week despite being without Kawhi Leonard for three of the games and without Paul George for one of them. Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson picked up the scoring slack, but it wasn't enough to get past the 76ers in a close loss in Philly. George has looked tremendous this month as the Clippers have continued to put wins on the board without the services of Serge Ibaka and Patrick Beverley.||--||14-13|
|The Suns were rolling and hot on the trail of the Utah Jazz for the league's best record, when they were unexpectedly blitzed by a short-handed Spurs team on Saturday. Hey, these things happen, and Phoenix has still won 14 of its last 17 games despite the hiccup. Devin Booker and Chris Paul both shot below 40 percent from the field this week and the Suns still went 3-1, a testament to the depth of this roster and the reliability of the system. Deandre Ayton put up 17.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this week on 72 percent field goals.||--||16-10|
|None of their opponents were at full strength (who is these days?), but beating the Mavericks, Nets and Clippers in a single week is no simple task. Joel Embiid rekindled the MVP flames by averaging 37 points and 11.3 rebounds on 42 percent 3-point shooting in the undefeated week, putting up 36 and 14 in a big win over the Clippers without Tobias Harris. Furkan Korkmaz has been a surprise contributor of late, averaging nearly 16 points on 11-of-24 3-point shooting this week.||3||13-12|
|Wednesday's showdown with the 76ers lost some luster due to injuries, as Joel Embiid proved to be too much for the Nets down the stretch. They also fell to the Heat on Bam Adebayo's buzzer-beater on Sunday, with a win over Charlotte in between. James Harden is still out with a hamstring issue, while Kevin Durant missed a game and then left Sunday's loss to Miami with a thigh contusion. Brooklyn's firepower when healthy is obvious, but at what point will the stars' lack of reps together potentially impact their playoff success?||1||15-12|
|The Jazz have hit a relative rough patch, going 4-4 over their last eight games, and they'll be without Donovan Mitchell for at least a week with a significant ankle sprain. Utah rested Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley and Derrick Favors in Saturday's overtime loss to the Lakers, and that practice could become more frequent as the team attempts to stay healthy for the postseason. Mitchell's injury will lead to more offensive opportunity for Bojan Bogdanovic, who averaged 24.8 points this week on 44 percent 3-point shooting.||1||15-13|
|The Celtics nearly coughed up late leads against the Blazers and Lakers, but then mounted a comeback of their own to beat the Warriors on Saturday without Jaylen Brown for their sixth straight win. Boston is rolling and has won all six without Evan Fournier, who could return this week from health and safety protocols. Jayson Tatum has been on fire, averaging 30 points and eight rebounds on 52 percent 3-point shooting for the week, while Brown scored 40 points on 20 shots in the win over the Lakers.||3||21-5|
|Denver shook off the devastating news of Jamal Murray's season-ending knee injury to beat the Heat and Rockets to close out the week, but its playoff ceiling has been severely lowered. Nikola Jokic will have to pick up the scoring load, and he started by averaging 24.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists this week. Michael Porter Jr. has also taken advantage of the extra looks, putting up 23.3 points and eight rebounds per game this week on 40 percent 3-point shooting.||2||15-10|
|The Bucks beat the Timberwolves handily before Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a six-game absence for a win over the Hawks and a loss to the Grizzlies. Giannis averaged 21.5 points, eight rebounds and five assists on 57 percent shooting in the two games. Jrue Holiday continued his excellent play, averaging 18.3 points and six assists on 50 percent 3-point shooting for the week, while Brook Lopez has gotten hot, going 9 for 19 on 3-pointers in the three games.||--||19-6|
|Watch out for the Knicks, who won all four games this week to make it six in a row overall, and are now firmly in the mix for a top-four seed in the East. Julius Randle is on a tear, averaging 35.8 points for the week on 45.5 percent 3-point shooting, including 44 points in a win over the Mavericks on Friday. The Knicks continue to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, giving up 106 points per 100 possessions this week against quality offensive teams.||8||13-13|
|Give the Lakers credit for holding down the fort with their two superstars on the shelf, as they picked up wins this week over the Hornets and short-handed Jazz with losses to the Knicks and Celtics. Dennis Schroder continues to steer the offense, averaging 18.3 points and seven assists this week, with Kyle Kuzma adding 16 points and four rebounds per game. The good news is Anthony Davis is expected to return soon, possibly against the Mavericks on Thursday, though he'll be on a strict minutes limit initially.||1||10-15|
|The Hawks went 2-1 this week as their success under Nate McMillan continues. Bogdan Bogdanovic has thrived in an increased offensive role under McMillan, putting up 24.7 points and 4.7 assists per game this week on on 16-for-31 3-point shooting. Clint Capela averaged 20 points and 20 rebounds this week -- something you're not going to see too often -- giving Trae Young plenty of help as Atlanta makes its playoff push.||1||13-13|
|The Mavericks went 1-3 this week, and would have gone winless were it not for a miraculous Luka Doncic game-winner against Memphis. They closed out the week with a lifeless home loss to the Kings, who came in with a nine-game losing streak. The Mavs have a chance to make a move in the standings given their favorable remaining schedule, but that's not going to happen if they're losing to teams like Sacramento at home. Doncic averaged 30 points for the week and dished out a career-high 19 assists in the loss to the Knicks.||5||13-12|
|Another strong week for the Grizzlies, whose only loss came on Luka Doncic's absurd buzzer-beater. They beat the Bulls twice and thoroughly dominated the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday behind 26 points and a career-high seven 3-pointers from Grayson Allen. Dillon Brooks led the team with 21.3 points per game this week, while Jonas Valanciunas added 19.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game on 70 percent shooting.||2||17-9|
|Jimmy Butler called his team "soft" after a bad loss to the Timberwolves, and Bam Adebayo responded by hitting a buzzer-beater against the Nets on Sunday with Butler watching from the sideline. Miami has been inconsistent all year, and can't use injuries as an excuse anymore. The defensive effort was not there this week, allowing 119.1 points per 100 possession, which was the source of Butler's frustration.||4||12-14|
|Wardell. Stephen. Curry. There are no words to explain what Curry is doing on the court right now, and fortunately for the Warriors it's resulted in wins. Golden State had its first four-game winning streak of the season snapped in Saturday's entertaining loss to the Celtics, and there's no doubt the Warriors are playing their best basketball of the season. Curry averaged -- you almost can't type it without laughing -- 43.8 points per game this week on 36-for-66 (54.5 percent) 3-point shooting. There's no way to explain it, so it's best to just sit back and enjoy.||5||13-13|
|The Blazers split a pair of one-point games against the Celtics and Spurs, then lost to the Hornets on Sunday. Damian Lillard missed the last two games with a hamstring issue, leaving CJ McCollum, Norm Powell and Carmelo Anthony to do the heavy lifting offensively. Anthony averaged 20.7 points for the week on 48 percent 3-point shooting, while McCollum and Powell struggled a bit with the extra defensive attention -- they combined to go 3 for 16 from the 3-point line in the loss to Charlotte.||3||13-12|
|You can't stop Drew Eubanks, you can only hope to contain him. With DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills and Jakob Poeltl out of the lineup, Eubanks put up 13 points and career-high 13 rebounds as the short-handed Spurs wiped the floor with the Suns in one of the more shocking outcomes of the season. Devin Vassell also scored a career-high 18 points in the win, finally getting opportunity in a normally crowded San Antonio backcourt. Overall the Spurs went 2-2 for the week, and remain in play-in position.||2||7-18|
|The Hornets lost three straight games to start the week, but took advantage of Damian Lillard being out of the lineup on Sunday with a win over the Blazers. Terry Rozier missed the loss to the Lakers, but averaged 27.7 points, 9.3 assists and seven rebounds on 40 percent 3-point shooting in the other three games. Miles Bridges has continued his strong play in Gordon Hayward's absence, averaging 21.3 points and seven rebounds on 47 percent 3-point shooting in four games this week.||4||7-19|
|Bradley Beal is back, and, boy, is it nice. The Wizards won all four games this week, including impressive showings against the Jazz and Pelicans, making it seven in a row when Beal is in the lineup. Washington's defense, which was historically bad last season, is slowly creeping toward mediocrity, allowing just 108.5 points per 100 possessions while winning six of the last seven games. Beal averaged 33 points for the week despite a rough stretch from 3-point range, while Russell Westbrook continued his recent tear with 25.3 points, 14.5 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game this week.||5||11-15|
|The Pacers went 1-3 this week with losses to the Clippers, Jazz and Hawks and a win over the Rockets. The defense has looked shaky of late, and was exploited by some high-powered offenses. Malcolm Brogdon averaged 24.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists for the week on 38 percent 3-point shooting, while Domantas Sabonis added 20.5 points, 13.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists.||2||14-12|
|Stan Van Gundy called out his team for its lack of late-game execution in Sunday's loss to the Knicks, and it's certainly not the first time that's happened. The Pels went 1-3 this week with their only win coming against the reeling Kings and two losses coming in overtime. Zion Williamson was frustrated by a poor performance in the loss to Washington, but still averaged 27.5 points and 7.3 rebounds for the week. Brandon Ingram looks fully healthy, averaging 28.8 points and 5.8 assists this week.||5||17-8|
|Try as they might, the Raptors weren't able to out-tank the Magic and Thunder this week, winning both games without Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. They also beat the Spurs earlier in the week after losing to the Hawks, and they were fined by the NBA for not adhering to the rules of rest and injury reporting -- quite an eventful sequence of events! Toronto got contributions up and down the roster from players like Paul Watson and Yuta Watanabe, while Malachi Flynn has held down point guard duties with Lowry on the shelf, averaging 14.8 points and 5.8 assists this week on 41 percent 3-point shooting.||--||13-13|
|Chicago saw its losing streak reach five games before a much-needed win against the Cavs on Saturday. Zach LaVine missed the final two games of the week due to health and safety protocols, which didn't help a sputtering Bulls offense. Nikola Vucevic averaged 23.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game on 52 percent 3-point shooting for the week, while Coby White put up 27 points and seven assists in a loss to Memphis after reclaiming his starting job due to LaVine's injury.||2||10-14|
|The Cavs beat the Hornets this week, but followed that up with losses to the Warriors and Bulls. That's now four losses in five games for the Cavs, who were led by Collin Sexton's 26 points per game this week on 55 percent 3-point shooting and Darius Garland's 19.7 points and 8.7 assists per game. Jarrett Allen also made his return to the lineup after an eight-game absence, averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds.||1||16-10|
|The Wolves lost to three of the NBA's best teams this week -- the Nets, Bucks and Clippers -- but pulled out an impressive home win over the Heat behind 24 points from Karl-Anthony Towns and six other Wolves in double figures. Minnesota has kept D'Angelo Russell's minutes in the mid-20s since he returned a couple of weeks ago, so it appears they're being extra careful with him as he gets his legs back.||1||13-12|
|Things were looking pretty bleak for Sacramento with nine straight losses, but it ended the streak with a strong effort to beat the Mavs in Dallas on Sunday. De'Aaron Fox went toe-to-toe with Luka Doncic in the win, scoring 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter while dishing out 12 assists. Terence Davis has been a nice boost of energy since coming over from the Raptors, averaging 10.8 points on 55 percent 3-point shooting this week.||2||14-10|
|The Pistons watched a late lead slip away in a tough loss to the Clippers, but bounced back to beat OKC before losing to the Wizards on Saturday. Detroit probably won't win much for the rest of the season, but it has gotten some strong performances from its young talent recently. Isaiah Stewart averaged 15.3 points and 13.7 rebounds for the week, including a career-high 21 rebounds against the Thunder, the same game in which Killian Hayes dished out seven assists and picked up a career-high five steals.||2||7-21|
|The Rockets salvaged what could have been a winless week by holding on to beat Orlando on Sunday. The twin towers of Christian Wood and Kelly Olynyk each averaged over 20 points this week to lead the Houston offense. Kevin Porter Jr. has embraced his playmaking role since being called up from the G League earlier this season, averaging 16.8 points and 7.3 assists this week.||1||7-18|
|Orlando picked up a win over the Bulls this week, while losing to the Spurs, Raptors and Rockets. Rookie Cole Anthony has looked good of late, averaging 14.3 points and 5.5 assists on 51 percent shooting in just 26 minutes per game this week. Wendell Carter Jr. has also been solid in the middle, putting up 16.3 points and 9.8 rebounds in the four games.||--||7-20|
|The young Thunder continue to do their best, but have now lost 10 straight games after another winless week. Lu Dort returned to the lineup and has embraced the role of the team's primary scorer, averaging 32.3 points on 56 percent 3-point shooting in three games this week. Darius Bazley, an intriguing young forward who averaged 16 points this week, has also become more aggressive offensively out of necessity.||--||11-14|