30. Houston Rockets, 15-52 (Previous Ranking #29)
The Rockets lost all three games last week and are solidifying their position to pick in the top 3 yet again. They’ll need that pick, considering Jalen Green (21.7 points per game with an eFG% of 48.5), Kevin Porter Jr. (18.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game with an eFG% 50.4) and Jabari Smith Jr. (12.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game with an eFG% 46.7) are still struggling with offensive consistency.
However, in the Rockets loss last Thursday to the Pacers, Smith Jr. had the best game of his career so far putting up 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 steals. He continued his hot stretch in the Rockets loss on Saturday to the Bulls finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Smith Jr. is still just 19 years old and this end of season stretch he’s having is an indicator of good things to come.
29. Detroit Pistons, 15-53 (Previous Ranking #28)
James Wiseman (12.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1 block per game with a eFG% of 60 since joining the Pistons) has been balling recently, finally getting the minutes the Warriors never gave him, and Jaden Ivey (17 points, 6.8 assists, and 4 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 44.7 over his last 10 games) is starting to take over the offense despite still struggling with efficiency.
Jalen Duren (8.6 points and 8.8 rebounds with an eFG% of 63.7) had one of his best games all season in the loss on Saturday to the Pacers, posting a 16 and 11 line in just 20 minutes played. They’ll have another top 5 selection to pair alongside Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey next season.
28. San Antonio Spurs, 17-49 (Previous Ranking #30)
The Spurs move up after their impressive win over the Nuggets on Friday. Zach Collins (14 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game with an eFG% of 51.3 over his last 10 games) and Jeremy Sochan (14.1 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game with an eFG% of 43.2 over his last 10 games) have shown some promise recently and Devin Vassell (19 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game with an eFG% of 53) returned from a two-month absence on March 2nd and has played well since. This team really wants Victor Wenbanyama and it would be cool to see Head Coach Gregg Popovich get to develop another great young big man.
27. Charlotte Hornets, 22-48 (Previous Ranking #27)
The Hornets actually had an impressive week in the grand scheme of things. They started off last week with an ultra impressive win against the Knicks and followed that up with another win against the Pistons. They lost the last two games of the week to the Jazz and Cavaliers, but both of those games were competitive and there are certainly some positives for this team moving forward. Kelly Oubre (20.4 points per game with an eFG% of 49.5) and Terry Rozier (21.4 points and 5 assists per game with an eFG% of 48.5) are scoring the ball at will and will be coveted pieces if the Hornets want to move them and fully rebuild.
Mark Williams (11 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game with an eFG% of 64 over his last 10 games) and P.J. Washington (18.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 57.8 over his last 10 games) have both stepped up without LaMelo Ball, but the team desperately needs another top tier young player from the draft. They will have a good chance to have a top 3 selection and they’ll need that to accelerate a rebuild.
26. Orlando Magic, 28-40 (Previous Ranking #26)
Paolo Banchero (24 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 50 over his last 5 games) has been playing his best basketball of the season recently and continues to show the ability to draw fouls at a high level (fouled on 19.3% of his shots, ranked in the 97th percentile of Forwards).
Franz Wagner (19 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds with an eFG% of 61 over his last 5 games) is in yet another good stretch, and Markelle Fultz (15.4 points, 6 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 55.2 over his last 5 games) continues to make winning plays and is showing the Magic that he is the point guard of the future. Set to add yet another lottery pick to the mix, the Magic could make the playoffs as soon as next season if they play their cards right. They have an extremely talented young core.
25. Indiana Pacers, 31-37 (Previous Ranking #24)
Tyrese Haliburton (28.8 points, 13.2 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 65.7 over his last 5 games) has been on another level recently, and in his last game played, had 29 points and 19 assists, the only player in the association to post a line of that magnitude this year. Bennedict Mathurin (16.6 points per game with an eFG% of 48.1) has been in a rough stretch recently, and just sprained his ankle over the weekend. Overall, this season is not looking good for the Pacers, but with another lottery pick coming up, they could be a top 6 seed as soon as next season if Haliburton stays healthy.
24. Washington Wizards, 31-37 (Previous Ranking #22)
The Wizards had an atrocious week, needing a last second shot just to beat the Pistons, then losing the last three games of the week to the Hawks (twice) and 76ers. They were the 10 seed at the beginning of last week and now are tied for the 12 seed in the Eastern Conference. However, this shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you guys as the Bulls (who are now the 10th seed) have a much better team.
Besides the big 3 of Kristaps Porzingis (22.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game with an eFG% of 56 and a PSA of 126, ranked in the 61st percentile for Bigs), Bradley Beal (23.2 points and 5.4 assists per game with an eFG% of 55 and a PSA of 120.1, ranked in the 81st percentile for Combo Guards), and Kyle Kuzma (21.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 51.7 and a PSA of 109.7, ranked in the 35th percentile for Forwards), they don’t have much else. It is never good when your team is relying on Delon Wright to be the fourth option (no offense to Wright who has been spectacular on defense this season). They will be the lottery yet again and hopefully they can ace that selection since last year’s first-round pick Johnny Davis has only played in 14 games and has averaged just 4.9 minutes per game this season.
23. Chicago Bulls, 31-36 (Previous Ranking #25)
Zach LaVine (35 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game with an eFG% of 65.3 over his last 5 games) has been almost a one man team on offense recently and it worked last week. The Bulls won both of their games against the Nuggets and Rockets and moved up to 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. DeMar DeRozan (23.8 points and 5.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 52.9 over his last 5 games) is finally starting to hit his stride on offense again to alleviate some pressure off of LaVine. They are in a good position right now, but have three tough games this week against the Kings, Timberwolves, and Heat.
22. Portland Trailblazers, 31-37 (Previous Ranking #23)
Damian Lillard (32.1 points and 7.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 56.8 and a PSA of 130.2, ranked in the 98th percentile for Point Guards) has been excellent this season, but his team simply isn’t that good. Though the Trail Blazers boast an offensive rating of 116.5 (ranked 7th), a large part of that is due to Lillard and their defensive rating of 117.8 (ranked 27th in the NBA) is abysmal. Anfernee Simons (21.2 points per game with an eFG% of 55.5) took some pressure off of Lillard and kept the Blazers in the game against the 76ers on Friday night as he finished with 34 points.
Jerami Grant (17.9 points per game with an eFG% of 49.8 over his last 20 games) simply hasn’t been the same player in the second half of the season, indicative of his horrible efficiency in recent games. Grant was shooting 45% from 3PT range and had an eFG% of over 60 until January, then his efficient production fell off a cliff. With that, the Blazers don’t have a reliable third option anymore and they had depth issues already. Jusuf Nurkic returned from a month-long injury last week and didn’t do much, as it seems like he’s lost a step as well. At this point, it is hard for me to believe that the Blazers can make the Play-In Tournament, but it is simply foolish to count out Damian Lillard so they still have a chance.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder, 33-35 (Previous Ranking #20)
With no Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game with an eFG% of 53.1 and a PSA of 126.1, ranked in the 95th percentile for Point Guards) on Sunday against the Blazers, Jalen Williams (22.8 points, 5.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game with an eFG% of 65.1 over his last 5 games) yet again stepped up and led the Thunder to victory with 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 10 assists. He continues to be an absolute menace on both ends of the floor, and the Thunder now boast the 11th ranked offensive and defensive rating’s in basketball, 115.2 and 113.7 respectively. Josh Giddey (17 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.2 over his last 5 games) has been excellent recently as well, and the Thunder remain one of the more talented team’s on the edge of the bubble for the Play-In Tournament and have a decent chance to make it to the tournament.
20. Utah Jazz, 33-35 (Previous Ranking #21)
The Jazz just won’t go away. Granted, they had one of the easier weeks of any team in the NBA, defeating both the Magic and Hornets to end the week. Their only loss last week came to a superior team in the Thunder, but Talen Horton-Tucker (19.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with an eFG% of 58.5 over his last 5 games) has stepped up in a big way, most recently putting up 37 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, and dishing out 10 assists in the Jazz’ win vs. the Hornets on Saturday.
Lauri Markkanen (25.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 59.3 and a PSA of 130.6, ranked in the 97th percentile for Forwards) and Walker Kessler (8.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game with an eFG% of 72.2) have also played great recently, but I can’t help but wonder if the run of competing is over for the Jazz, who have to play the Heat and Celtics this week.
19. Toronto Raptors, 32-36 (Previous Ranking #18)
The Raptors suffered three brutal losses in a row last week to the Nuggets, Clippers, and Lakers, all three games of which they had a chance to win. Scottie Barnes (18 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 48.1 over his last 5 games) and OG Anunoby (18.6 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game with an eFG% of 68.6 over his last 5 games) have accepted bigger roles on offense recently with Pascal Siakam (24.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game with an eFG% of 51.1) and Fred VanVleet (19.1 points and 7 assists per game with an eFG% of 48.4) struggling with their shots recently.
The Raptors still force the most turnovers in the league on defense, and turn the ball over the least on offense, yet their 3PT defense is the third worst in basketball, causing their defensive rating to be just 114.5 (ranked 18th in the NBA). If they can rotate better and defend the 3 at a higher rate then this team could turn it around in time to possibly come out of the Play-In Tournament.
18. New Orleans Pelicans, 33-35 (Previous Ranking #19)
After winning two out of their three games last week, the Pelicans are right back in the mix for the Play-In Tournament. Although Brandon Ingram (22.9 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 51.4) sprained his ankle in Wednesday’s win over the Mavericks, C.J. McCollum (23.5 points and 6.4 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.3 over his last 5 games) stepped up and scored 32 points to help win them the game. Despite losing to the Thunder on Saturday, McCollum and the Pels came right back the next day and beat the Damian Lillard-less Blazers by 17 points. Trey Murphy III exploded for 41 points in the win on Sunday, and Herb Jones continued to play lockdown defense.
The Pelicans boast the 8th ranked defense in basketball (defensive rating of 113.1), and though Ingram is expected back sometime this week, Zion Williamson will not be back until at least the Play-In Tournament, meaning that McCollum, Murphy, Jones, and Ingram (when he returns) must continue to play at a high level to lead this team to where they want to go.
17. Atlanta Hawks, 34-34 (Previous Ranking #17)
Trae Young (26.8 points and 10.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 49) seems to be fitting in with new Head Coach Quinn Snyder perfectly, as he’s orchestrating the offense as well as he ever has. The Hawks got two big wins against the Wizards, but suffered two tough losses to the Heat (by 2) and the Celtics (by 9) as well last week. The Hawks now bolster the 9th ranked offense in the NBA (offensive rating of 115.8) that will only continue to improve in the final stretch of the season with Snyder as the coach.
16. Dallas Mavericks, 34-34 (Previous Ranking #13)
The Mavericks had yet another disappointing week, beating the Jazz by just 4 points before finishing the week with losses to the Pelicans and Grizzlies. Granted, the two losses came without their best player, Luka Doncic (33 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8 assists per game with an eFG% of 56.3 and a PSA of 123.8, ranked in the 91st percentile for Point Guards) and Kyrie Irving (27.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game with an eFG% of 57.2 and a PSA of 129.9, ranked in the 98th percentile for Combo Guards) missed the game on Sunday vs. the Grizzlies. Josh Green stepped up and had 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists in Saturday’s loss, and should be a bigger part of the offense even when the two stars return. The Mavs still have the 6th ranked offense in basketball (offensive rating of 116.9) and I want to see more of Doncic and Irving before I can clearly see what this team is capable of in the playoffs.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves, 34-34 (Previous Ranking #12)
The Timberwolves went 0-2 last week losing to the 76ers and Nets, but they are still .500 and have some time to gain ground in the Western Conference standings. Anthony Edwards (30.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.7 over his last 3 games) continues to be the heart and soul of this team and Mike Conley (12.2 points, 4.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game with an eFG% of 48 over his last 5 games) has done a good job getting shooters open and controlling the pace of the game. The Wolves have the 10th ranked defense in the NBA (defensive rating of 113.6) and have the talent to get all the way up to the 6 seed and not even be in the Play-In Tournament.
14. Miami Heat, 36-33 (Previous Ranking #11)
The Heat went 2-2 last week defeating the Hawks and Cavs, and also losing to the Cavs and Magic. The 12 point overtime loss to the Magic is why the Heat fall three spots in these rankings. Yes, the Magic have been competitive in most games this season, but there is no way a team should lose to them when they have Jimmy Butler (22.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.8), Bam Adebayo (21 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.2), and Tyler Herro (20.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 52.4) all healthy and on the court.
I know that the Heat have had depth issues and that is why they have lost a multitude of games this season, but this loss was unacceptable. They didn’t show any effort and lacked urgency in forcing stops in overtime, allowing themselves to be outscored 18-6 in the extra period, extremely uncharacteristic of an Erik Spoelstra coached team. Butler even walked off the court with 20 seconds to go out of frustration, which led to a technical foul. I don’t blame Butler, who leaves everything he has on the floor every single night. Sure, they still have the experience and defense (defensive rating of 112.4, ranked 5th in the NBA) to pull off an upset in the playoffs, but more consistency on offense late in the game is needed before I can seriously consider them a top ten team.
13. Los Angeles Lakers, 33-35 (Previous Ranking #14)
The Lakers ruined an otherwise excellent week when they lost to the Jalen Brunson-less Knicks on Sunday night. Although D’Angelo Russell (30.5 points and 8.5 assists per game with an eFG% of 79.2 over his last two games) has looked like one of the best offensive players in the league since he returned from the ankle injury, Anthony Davis (25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game with an eFG% of 57.1) has looked like a fragment of himself over the last two games, scoring just 25 points combined and shooting just 12-26 from the field in that stretch.
Still, there a lot of positives, as the team is still in a good position to make the Play-In Tournament, and they boast the best defensive rating in all of basketball since the trade deadline. Austin Reaves and Dennis Schroder have each played great, and this is a tough team to beat on a nightly basis even without LeBron James. If the Lakers continue to play defense like they’ve been doing and Russell can continue to alleviate some of the scoring pressure off of Davis, then the Lakers will compete in every game and have a great chance to make it out of the Play-In Tournament.
12. Golden State Warriors, 35-33 (Previous Ranking #10)
Stephen Curry (33.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 64.6 since he returned from injury) has been the only consistently dominant player on the team over the last week. Curry was able to hit some big shots and finish with 36 points to lead the Warriors to a big victory over the Bucks (without Giannis Antetokounmpo) on Saturday night. However, that game was played at home and we all know the defending champs are tough to beat at home (home record of 28-7), but their road record of 7-26 is still very concerning.
In a playoff series, they’ll likely be on the road for one more game than they are at home, and because of that I can’t pick the Warriors to even go out of the first round. Nonetheless, it is always unwise to pick against Curry and the Warriors, but I just’ don’t see a title run happening this year for them, especially without Andrew Wiggins (who has been out for almost a month for personal reasons)
11. Memphis Grizzlies, 40-26 (Previous Ranking #9)
The Grizzlies continue to tread water without Superstar Ja Morant (27.1 points, 6 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 50.2) because of their top rated defense (defensive rating of 110.1, 1st in NBA) led by Defensive Player of The Year Jaren Jackson Jr. (17 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game with an eFG% of 54.8), Dillon Brooks (14.3 points and 1 steal per game with an eFG% of 45.3) and Desmond Bane (21.3 points, 5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1 steal per game with an eFG% of 55.8). However, despite having the league’s best defense, I can’t see them even coming out of the first round without Morant or Brandon Clarke (who suffered a season ending achilles injury).
10. Brooklyn Nets, 39-29 (Previous Ranking #15)
Mikal Bridges (25.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1 steal per game with an eFG% of 57.8 over his last 10 games) has been on a scoring rampage as of late and most recently put up 25 points to lead the Nets to a huge victory on the road vs. the Nuggets. Before Sunday’s win, the Nuggets were 30-5 at home and Denver is a tough place to play because of the altitude. Now the Nets are 39-29 and 5th in the Eastern Conference standings, and if Bridges continues to play like a two-way Superstar, the Nets could hold their own in a playoff series.
9. Los Angeles Clippers, 36-33 (Previous Ranking #16)
The Clippers finally stepped up and played like the dominant team they were supposed to be last week, winning both of their games against the Raptors and Knicks. Kawhi Leonard (23.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 56.9) and Paul George (23.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 54) are still the best two-way duo in basketball and role players Terance Mann, Nicolas Batum, Eric Gordon, and Mason Plumlee are stepping up in the absence of 6th MOTY candidate Norman Powell. If they can play elite defense (defensive rating is just 114.1, ranked 14th in the NBA) down the stretch and into the playoffs, the Clippers may find themselves in their first NBA Finals ever.
8. New York Knicks, 40-30 (Previous Ranking #8)
The Knicks had an up and down week, losing three straight games to the Hornets, Kings, and Clippers, before getting a convincing win over the streaking Lakers on Sunday without their best player, Jalen Brunson (23.8 points and 6.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.3). On Sunday, both Julius Randle (25.3 points, 10.3 assists, and 4.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 53.6) and R.J. Barrett (19.8 points per game with an eFG% of 48.3) stepped up and scored 30+ points each in the win against the Lakers. With a great offense (offensive rating of 117, ranked 5th) and an improving defense (defensive rating of 114.3, ranked 16th in the NBA) the Knicks have the team to surprise some people in the playoffs.
7. Phoenix Suns, 37-30 (Previous Ranking #6)
Kevin Durant (29.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 61.1 and a PSA of 137, ranked in the 87th percentile for Bigs) will miss the next few weeks after spraining his ankle in shootarounds the other day, but Devin Booker (36 points and 7 assists per game with an eFG% of 67.5 over his last 5 games) has been the most prolific scorer in the NBA over the last two weeks. Although depth is still a serious issue for the Suns, they still have the 6th ranked defense (defensive rating of 112.7) in basketball and boast the best starting 5 in the NBA when healthy. They will be dangerous in the playoffs once Durant is back and healthy.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers, 43-27 (Previous Ranking #7)
Darius Garland (24 points, and 8.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 58.7 over his last 5 games) and Donovan Mitchell (28.6 points per game with an eFG% of 52.1 over his last 5 games) have been the primary scorers for this team all year, and they’ll only take their production up a notch in the playoffs. Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley provide the toughest interior defense in all of basketball, and Issac Okoro and Caris LeVert have done a nice job on the perimeter defensive end as well, all indicative of the Cavaliers #2 ranked defense (defensive rating of 110.2). They are also one of three teams to have both a top 10 offensive and defensive rating, and because of Mitchell’s playoff experience, the Cavs are the sleeper in the Eastern Conference to make a deep playoff run.
5. Denver Nuggets, 46-22 (Previous Ranking #2)
All of a sudden, the Nuggets are losing like nobody’s business as they’ve dropped three games in a row to the Bulls, Spurs, and Nets. Thankfully for them, they still have a 6 game lead over the second-seeded Kings and still should lock up home court advantage in the playoffs. Nikola Jokic (24.7 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists per game with an eFG% of 65.8, a PER of 31.6, and a PSA of 141.1, ranked in the 92nd percentile for Bigs) is still dominating on offense and is going to win his third straight MVP, but he is also playing some of the worst defense of his career.
Opposing teams are targeting Jokic and scoring at will in the paint, which is a big reason for the three game losing streak. It doesn’t help that Thomas Bryant (one of the worst defending big men in the league) is Jokic’s backup either and that Reggie Jackson (who has been abysmal this year) is playing serious minutes off of the bench. Nonetheless, we all know that Jamaal Murray (20.1 points, 4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game with an eFG% of 52.8) turns into another animal in the playoffs and the Nuggets are still set up for a big run.
4. Sacramento Kings, 40-26 (Previous Ranking #5)
The Kings are on fire. They have won three straight and eight out of their last nine games. Domantas Sabonis (19 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 7 assists per game with an eFG% of 63.1) and De’Aaron Fox (25.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.4) have continued to lead the way as one of the best duos in basketball.
However, stellar play from role players Kevin Huerter (15 points per game with an eFG% of 60.4), Keegan Murray (11.7 points per game with an eFG% of 57.3, Malik Monk (13.7 points per game with an eFG% of 54), and Trey Lyles (8 points per game with an eFG% of 59.8) have put them over the top. The Kings’ offensive rating of 119.5 is the highest in NBA history, and though their defensive rating of 116.6 (ranked 26th in the NBA) is quite concerning, they continue to outscore teams on a nightly basis.
3. Philadelphia 76ers, 45-22 (Previous Ranking #4)
Joel Embiid (33.4 points, 10 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game with an eFG% of 56.5 and a PSA of 130.2, ranked in the 75th percentile for Bigs) is making a serious push for the MVP award and has a great case. He has scored way more than Jokic this season, and though he doesn’t impact the offense in a variety of ways like the Nuggets Superstar, Embiid is ten times the defender Jokic is and that will be taken into consideration for the award. James Harden (21.8 points and 10.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.6 and a PSA of 126, ranked in the 93rd percentile for Point Guards) is playing some of the best basketball of his career and the 76ers just keep winning games as one of the most balanced teams in the NBA with an offensive rating of 117.5 (ranked 4th) and a defensive rating of 113.2 (ranked 8th in the NBA).
What is going unnoticed is the impact both De’Anthony Melton (10.3 points and 1.6 steals per game with an eFG% of 55.4) and Tobias Harris (14.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 56.5) have on this team, as Melton is playing elite defense and making timely shots down the stretch of games, and Harris has taken some scoring pressure off of Embiid and Harden all year long (and he’s actually hitting clutch shots at a high rate, something he has never done before). Though they have faltered in the playoffs in the past, this could be the team that gets it together and makes a serious playoff run.
2. Boston Celtics, 47-21 (Previous Ranking #3)
The Celtics are still the most balanced team in the NBA with an offensive rating of 117.6 (ranked 3rd) and a defensive rating of 112.1 (ranked 4th in the NBA). Though back-to-back losses at the start of last week to the Knicks and Cavaliers hurt, they came back and took care of business against the Blazers and Hawks to end the week.
Jayson Tatum (30.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.1 and a PSA of 122.4, ranked in the 81st percentile for Forwards) and Jaylen Brown (26.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.6 and a PSA of 117.1, ranked in the 66th percentile for Wings) have continued their inconsistencies, sometimes scoring 40+ points on one night, then the next night putting up just 10 points on 6-24 from the field. If the Celtics want to win the NBA Championship, they will need more consistent scoring production from Tatum and Brown. If they go cold in the playoffs, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon can only do so much.
1. Milwaukee Bucks, 48-19 (Previous Ranking #1)
I am not going to punish the Bucks for losing to the Warriors on the road without their best player. In fact, they should have lost by a lot, but instead almost won the game and faltered in overtime. Bobby Portis (14 points and 9.8 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 55.4) and Jrue Holiday (19.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.1) continue to step up when Giannis Antetokounmpo (31.2 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.9 and a PSA of 119.2, ranked in the 41st percentile for Bigs) misses games.
Brook Lopez (15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game with an eFG% of 59.4) almost had a triple-double with 10 blocks the other day and could be the Defensive Player of The Year if he continues to dominate. The Bucks defense is exceptional (defensive rating of 110.6, ranked 3rd in the NBA) and can keep them in any game no matter who is having an off night or missing games. This team has the championship formula and as of right now, I expect them to be the team to get it done.
Note: Advanced Statistics used in this article are gathered from Cleaningtheglass.com and Statmuse.com and are updated as of Monday, March 13th 2023