Here's a quick trivia question: Which NBA team was the fastest ever to clinch a playoff berth? You're probably thinking the 73-win Warriors. How about the 72-win Bulls? Wrong on both counts. With the Washington Wizards' loss on Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks clinched a postseason spot after just 56 games -- the .
It's just another notch in the belt of the Bucks, who are on pace to be among the best ever in point differential and net rating while leading the NBA by a wide margin in defensive efficiency. Speaking of defense, the Boston Celtics, owners of the league's third-stingiest defense, picked up an impressive win to start the week and then nearly beat the Los Angeles Lakers on the road -- both games without All-Star Kemba Walker. Boston showed its depth of talent, and Jayson Tatum looks like he's made a huge leap.
Then there are the Rockets, who are baffling teams with the most extreme version of small ball we've seen in quite some time. As of now, at least, they haven't been burned by other teams' size, largely due to . And finally there's the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are steadily creeping up the standings in a season during which some thought they would sell off their parts and kick off a rebuild. This, as they say, is why they play the games.
Here is this week's edition of the Power Rankings, now that the NBA is back in full swing.
|The Bucks started off their post-All-Star stretch in a familiar way, beating the Pistons on the road and 76ers at home. They have an absurd plus-11.8 net rating for the season, and their defensive rating is over three points better than the closest team. It's hard to overstate the Bucks' regular-season dominance, but the tone changes when the focus shifts to the playoffs. It may not be fair, but they're going to have to prove it in the postseason.
|The Lakers fought off a valiant effort by the Celtics in a thrilling game on Sunday afternoon, following up a home win over the Grizzlies earlier in the week. Behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers are 43-12 with a relatively light schedule remaining. It will be tough for the Nuggets, Clippers, Rockets or Jazz to catch them for the No. 1 seed in the West if James and Davis stay healthy.
|Their 15-game winning streak was snapped in the final game before the All-Star break, but the Raptors wasted no time starting another one, beating the Suns before putting a 46-point beatdown on the Pacers on Sunday. At this point Toronto will give Marc Gasol all the time he needs to recover from a hamstring injury, with Serge Ibaka playing some of the best basketball of his career.
|Four Celtics scored 25 or more points in a win over the Timberwolves, and none of them were Kemba Walker -- this is a deep, dangerous team. Jayson Tatum put on a signature performance on Sunday, tying a career-high with 41 points, and nearly led the Celtics to a road win over the Lakers. Tatum has been a revelation in February, averaging nearly 30 points per game, while shooting 47 percent from the 3-point line on nearly nine attempts per game.
|The small-ball experiment continues to look great for the Rockets, who ratteld off road wins over the Warriors and Jazz this week. James Harden and Russell Westbrook did the heavy lifting on offense, combining to average 61 points and 15.5 assists in the two games. They also seemed to have little trouble with Rudy Gobert despite going small the whole game.
|OKC picked up home wins over the Nuggets and Spurs this week, and now have sole possession of the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, just four games back in the loss column from the No. 2 seed. Luguentz Dort has become a viable rotation player for a team in desperate need of wings. He's logged over 20 minutes in five of the last six games.
|Denver lost to the Thunder in their first game after the All-Star break before taking care of the extremely short-handed Timberwolves. Nikola Jokic continues to put up huge numbers, and Michael Porter Jr. is being eased back into the rotation following an ankle injury. Mike Malone said Porter will be in the playoff rotation, so they'll need to get him as many reps as possible moving forward.
|The Sixers beat the Nets in overtime before being blown out by the Bucks on national TV on Saturday. The major concern for Philly right now is Ben Simmons, who missed the Brooklyn win and left early against Milwaukee with a back injury. He's set to be evaluated, but he was not moving well when he exited the game against the Bucks. The Sixers rely on Simmons on both ends of the court, so they'll need him healthy as they vie for playoff positioning.
|Following a tough double-overtime loss to the Celtics before the break, the Clippers turned in an uninspired effort in a home loss to the Kings. Kawhi Leonard was fantastic, but occasionally looked frustrated with his teammates during the loss. The chemistry hasn't been great with the Clippers all season, something they'll need to remedy if they're going to be the title contender they look like on paper.
|It wasn't a good return from the break for the Jazz, who lost to the Spurs and Rockets at home this week. Utah went ice-cold from deep, making just 30 percent of their 3-pointers in the two games.
|The Heat suffered a rough loss to the Hawks in their first game after the All-Star break, but bounced back to beat the Cavs handily without Jimmy Butler, who missed the game for personal reasons. Bam Adebayo nearly averaged a triple-double in the two games, putting up 21.5 points, 11 rebounds and 8.5 assists.
|The Mavericks beat the Magic, then lost to the Hawks without Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis or Jalen Brunson, who hurt his shoulder on the first play of the game. Dallas has now fallen behind the Thunder in the playoff standings, but the good news is that Doncic appears healthy following his ankle injury.
|No, you didn't read that box score wrong -- the Pacers actually lost to the Raptors by 46 points, tying for the second-worst loss in franchise history. Indiana did beat the Knicks to kick off the week, but they're now 3-7 in their last 10, and have fallen two games behind the 76ers for the No. 5 seed in the East. Victor Oladipo has had a rough time getting back in the swing of things after his lengthy absence.
|The Pelicans picked up an important win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, giving them the all-important tie-breaker with Portland should a playoff spot come down to it. They finished off the week by pushing past the Warriors, with Zion Williamson averaging 26.5 points on 62 percent shooting in the two games. New Orleans is now 7-3 in its last 10 games, and is gunning for the No. 8 seed in the West.
|The Grizzlies lost to the Kings and Lakers this week, and things go worse when they learned Jaren Jackson Jr. will be out at least two weeks with a left knee sprain. Memphis has the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA based on opponents' winning percentage, so hanging onto that No. 8 seed out West might be a difficult task.
|Kyrie Irving will miss the rest of the season due to his lingering shoulder injury, which hurts the Nets' chances for a first-round upset in the playoffs. But they've played well without him all season, and it will allow Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert to continue to flourish as primary playmakers. Brooklyn lost to the 76ers in overtime, then blew out the Hornets in Charlotte in their first two games after the All-Star break.
|The Spurs picked up a big road win over the Jazz, then suffered a big loss to the Thunder on the road. They remain within striking distance of a playoff spot, but they'll need the Grizzlies to struggle down the stretch.
|Portland lost to the Pelicans for the fourth time this season to start the week, giving New Orleans the tiebreaker if the teams are dead even for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They bounced back to beat the Pistons behind 41 points, 12 asssits and nine rebounds from CJ McCollum, and 32 points from Carmelo Anthony with Damian Lillard still out of the lineup with a groin injury. Portland now sits three games out of the eighth seed, but only 2.5 games up on the No. 13 Suns.
|Sacramento won both games this week and has now won five of its last seven despite key injuries to frontcourt staples Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes. The Kings beat the Clippers on Saturday for the second time this season, with De'Aaron Fox taking control down the stretch with 20 points and eight assists.
|The Magic only had one game this week, losing to the Mavericks at home. They've lost seven of their last 10 games, but sit three games ahead of the Wizards in the loss column for the final playoff spot in the East. Orlando has one of the most favorable remaining schedules in the league, so at least that's something to look forward to.
|Phoenix lost to the Raptors, then beat the Bulls this week. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton continue to be a formidable scoring duo, averaging nearly 50 points combined in the two games. Ricky Rubio averaged a double-double for the week with 15.5 points and 10 assists per game.
|Charlotte beat the Bulls and lost to the Nets this week, and they've now won three of their last four games. Malik Monk has averaged 20.2 points on 42 percent 3-point shooting over his last five games, while Miles Bridges continues to play well. PJ Washington averaged 16.5 points and six rebounds while hitting 5-of-10 3-pointers in the two games this week.
|The Bulls lost to the Hornets and Suns before beating the Wizards despite allowing 53 points to Bradley Beal. Rookie Coby White has been on fire for Chicago, averaging 26 points on 44 percent 3-point shooting for the week, including back-to-back 33-point outbursts against the Suns and Wizards.
|The Hawks came out of the break hot, picking up their 16th and 17th wins against the Heat and Mavericks, respectively. Trae Young went off for a career-high 50 points in the win over Miami, a signature game in what's been a terrific offensive year for the All-Star. John Collins, Young's running mate, tied his career-best with 35 points in the win over Dallas to go along with 17 rebounds and two blocks.
|The Cavs beat the Wizards in their return from the All-Star break with new head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, then lost to the Heat on Saturday. Andre Drummond has averaged 12.8 points and 11.8 rebounds since coming over from the Pistons before the trade deadline,
|Not a good week for any Wizards playoff hopefuls, with losses to the Cavs and Bulls. Bradley Beal put up a career-high 53 points on Sunday in the loss to Chicago, but it simply wasn't enough. Rui Hachimura has been solid since returning from injury, averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for the week.
|The Knicks lost to the Pacers in their only game of the week, with Julius Randle being held to just seven points in 30 minutes. Bobby Portis had 19 points off the bench, and Frank Ntilikina had 14 points in a spot-start for the injured Elfrid Payton.
|The Pistons lost to the Bucks and Blazers this week, and said goodbye to another one of their players, Markieff Morris, who has since been picked up by the Lakers. Christian Wood has benefited from the extra run, averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds in the two losses this week.
|The Wolves lost to the Celtics on Friday, then to the Nuggets on Sunday with only nine active players. Jordan McLaughlin and Malik Beasley thrived with D'Angelo Russell out of the lineup against Denver, but they'll sorely miss Karl-Anthony Towns while he recovers for at least two weeks with a wrist fracture.
|The Warriors were hammered by the Rockets in their first game after the All-Star break, then saw the game slip away agianst the Pelicans on Sunday. Golden State signed former No. 4 overall pick Dragan Bender in their latest rehabilitation project, so they'll get a good look at him at least for the next 10 days. Stephen Curry said that his targeted return date is still next Sunday, so some excitement could be coming to the league's worst team.