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NBA Power Rankings: Heat, 76ers, Celtics rising in East after trade deadline

Chinmay Vaidya updates his NBA power rankings after the 2021-22 trade deadline.

Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets
James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets looks on from the sideline against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center on February 08, 2022 in New York City.
Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The 2021-22 NBA trade deadline has come and gone with some teams making big moves while others stayed put and let their current roster speak for itself. The biggest move was the Philadelphia 76ers acquiring James Harden from the Brooklyn Nets, sending Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks back to their rivals.

Harden changes the outlook for the 76ers, who are looking to capitalize on Joel Embiid’s best season yet. The shooting guard should be motivated after an ugly exit from Brooklyn. He’ll be a high-usage player on the perimeter but could become the perfect complement to Embiid, who is the MVP frontrunner. The Boston Celtics added Derrick White to their backcourt as they kept their winning streak going. The Celtics are the No. 6 seed at the moment, which would keep them out of the play-in tournament.

With all the talk of the 76ers and Nets, the Miami Heat continue to dominate opponents. The Heat are finally fully healthy and look like a team nobody wants to deal with in the playoffs. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry are suffocating opposing offenses while Tyler Herro has broken out in his third NBA season as a scorer. Look for this team to be a factor when the games really matter.

The Nets may have won the trade but the calculus now changes with Ben Simmons still on the sidelines. This guy hasn’t played a game since last summer, so he’s not going to be up to speed for a while. Kevin Durant is not coming back soon either, and Kyrie Irving still can’t play home games. The trade looks good on paper, but the Nets might not leave themselves enough games to avoid the play-in tournament. On the West coast, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to flounder with volatile play.

The Lakers gave the Golden State Warriors all they could handle Sunday, but also lost to the Portland Trail Blazers after getting dominated by the Milwaukee Bucks. The Los Angeles Clippers have also faltered due to their stars being out. We’ll see if either team from Tinseltown can get things rolling in the right direction after the All-Star break.

Let’s take a look at Chinmay Vaidya’s power rankings for Week 18 of the NBA season.

NBA Power Rankings: Week 18

Rank Team Previous Rank
Rank Team Previous Rank
1 Phoenix Suns 1
2 Golden State Warriors 2
3 Miami Heat 5
4 Milwaukee Bucks 4
5 Philadelphia 76ers 7
6 Memphis Grizzlies 4
7 Chicago Bulls 8
8 Utah Jazz 6
9 Cleveland Cavaliers 9
10 Dallas Mavericks 10
11 Boston Celtics 14
12 Denver Nuggets 11
13 Toronto Raptors 13
14 Minnesota Timberwolves 15
15 Los Angeles Lakers 16
16 Atlanta Hawks 17
17 Charlotte Hornets 18
18 Brooklyn Nets 12
19 Los Angeles Clippers 19
20 Washington Wizards 20
21 New York Knicks 21
22 Indiana Pacers 22
23 New Orleans Pelicans 25
24 Sacramento Kings 26
25 San Antonio Spurs 24
26 Oklahoma City Thunder 27
27 Detroit Pistons 28
28 Portland Trail Blazers 23
29 Orlanod Magic 29
30 Houston Rockets 30