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NBA Power Rankings: Celtics and Cavaliers Rising, Nets Sliding Without Kevin Durant

Stan Son updates his 2021-22 NBA power rankings.

There wasn’t much change at the bottom of the NBA hierarchical ladder as bad teams stay bad and are bad for a reason. Or reasons. There are two teams that are head and shoulders above the rest of the league: the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. They are the only teams with at least 40 wins and both squads rank in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Right below them is the Memphis Grizzlies, who have 38 wins and also rank in the top 10 in both of the efficiency metrics. Good teams win and Memphis has done plenty of that. Great teams cover, though, and the Grizzlies are Tony the Tiger Grrrreeeeeeeeaaaattt!!!!!, as their 37-19 record ATS is tops in the league.

The biggest riser over the past week was the Boston Celtics. They went 5-0 and have gone 8-2 over their last 10 games. They posted a blistering +23.4 net rating over the past week, fueled by the league-best 94.3 defensive rating. Granted, they beat up on the Nets, Magic, Pistons and Hornets but they did blow out the Heat by 30 points. Regardless of their opponents, the Celtics took care of business in dominating fashion, so respect must be given.

The Nets are falling like the NASDAQ. Is it a coincidence that both start with N? I think not. Brooklyn has lost nine in a row. While the Celtics had the best net rating over the last five games, the Nets have had the worst at -20.1. Their offense has been terrible as Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving missed games but it’s been the porous defense that has been the main culprit. The defensive rating has been 124.8. Yuck.

The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to climb up the charts. I just noticed the alliteration. The universe is speaking to us! The Cavs are fourth in defensive efficiency so they have a solid foundation. They are 18th in offensive efficiency but just traded for Caris LeVert so that weakness has been addressed. Cleveland has raced out to a 34-21 record, so they are a good team. Like the Grizzlies, though, the Cavs are a great team because they are 33-19-3 ATS, three percentage points behind Memphis.

Let’s take a look at Stan Son’s power rankings for Week 17 of the NBA season.

NBA Power Rankings: Week 24

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


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