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NBA Power Rankings: Celtics climb, Lakers crater as regular season winds down

Chinmay Vaidya updates his 2022 NBA power rankings.

Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers
 LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers sits on the bench for a time-out during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on March 21, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Lakers defeated the Cavaliers 131-120.
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

No one is playing basketball quite like the Boston Celtics. A team that looked completely dead after 50 games is now leading the Eastern conference with seven games left in the season. The Celtics are 22-3 since they were 25-25, led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. That duo was in trade rumors at one point, which seems like a decade ago. Boston is looking like a dangerous outfit in the playoffs, especially if it lands the top seed.

On the flip side of the country, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to crater. LeBron James is scoring at will but it’s not helping his team. The Lakers coughed up a massive lead to the Pelicans Sunday and now sit at 10th in the West, one game ahead of the Spurs. San Antonio has been playing with young guys all season, but that roster has managed to get into play-in contention. The Lakers seem like they no longer care about this year, and Anthony Davis isn’t walking through the door to be a savior. This is a disaster season in LA.

The Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat remain at the top of the rankings, despite the Heat losing out on the top seed in the East for now. Phoenix got Chris Paul back early and has looked like the best team in the league, while Miami continues to deal with nagging injuries. We’ll see if the Heat can ultimately get back to the No. 1 seed in the East. The 76ers, Bucks, Grizzlies and Warriors remain threats in the playoffs, although only the two in the East can realistically elevate their seeding this late in the season.

Here’s a look at the full power rankings.

NBA Power Rankings: Week 23

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