NBA POWER RANKINGS: Where the contenders stand 3 weeks before the playoffs

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Charles Krupa/AP

There’s just over three weeks left in the NBA season, meaning the race for the postseason is on.

According to FiveThirtyEight, there are just 21 teams left with a chance to make the playoffs.

We used their numbers to create power rankings of those remaining 21 teams with the playoffs fast approaching.

Across both conferences, there are tight races for the top eight seeds, which should give us an exciting finish in April.

Check out the power rankings below.


21. New Orleans Pelicans

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Ronald Martinez/Getty

Record: 30-41, 11th in West

Offensive rating: 102.4 (127th)

Defensive rating: 104.2 (7th)

One thing to know: The Pelicans still have a slim shot at the playoffs – something they desperately want because their first-round pick goes to the Kings this year. DeMarcus Cousins, averaging 24, 11, and 2 in his last four games, is trying to help the Pelicans get there.


20. Charlotte Hornets

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Bob Leverone/AP

Record: 32-39, 11th in East

Offensive rating: 105.9 (14th)

Defensive rating: 104.9 (8th)

One thing to know: Though the Hornets may miss the playoffs, they have to be encouraged by the play of Marvin Williams, who is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds per game in March.


19. Detroit Pistons

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Carlos Osorio/AP

Record: 34-38, 10th in East

Offensive rating: 103.6 (23rd)

Defensive rating: 105.3 (11th)

One thing to know: Stan Van Gundy expressed his frustration with his team after a big loss to the Bulls on Wednesday. Expect big changes in Detroit if the Pistons miss the postseason.


18. Chicago Bulls

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Nam Y. Huh/AP

Record: 24-38, 9th in East

Offensive rating: 104.3 (21st)

Defensive rating: 105.3 (11th)

One thing to know: The Bulls can’t be thrilled with their deadline deal that cost them Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and a second-round pick for Cameron Payne and Joffrey Lauvergne. Payne is in the D-League rehabbing an injury and Lauvergne has been a mostly ineffective reserve.


17. Portland Trail Blazers

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Rick Scuteri/AP

Record: 33-38, 9th in West

Offensive rating: 107.4 (12th)

Defensive rating: 108.4 (24th)

One thing to know: The Blazers may have found an answer at center in Jusuf Nurkic. The former Nugget has averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks per game since joining Portland. Importantly, when he’s on the floor, the Blazers have a defensive rating of 104.7 – a top-1o figure if it were sustained.


16. Denver Nuggets

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David Zalubowski/AP

Record: 34-37, 8th in West

Offensive rating: 110.1 (4th)

Defensive rating: 110.6 (29th)

One thing to know: The Nuggets have had the NBA’s best offense since December 15. Unfortunately, their horrific defense will hold them back if they make the playoffs.


15. Miami Heat

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Alan Diaz/AP

Record: 35-37, 8th in East

Offensive rating: 104.9 (18th)

Defensive rating: 104.0 (5th)

One thing to know: The Heat remain one of the hottest teams in the league over the last two months, but they suffered a setback with Dion Waiters’ ankle injury. They’ve gone 1-2 since he’s been out.


14. Indiana Pacers

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Frank Franklin II/AP

Record: 36-35, 7th in East

Offensive rating: 105.2 (16th)

Defensive rating: 105.9 (17th)

One thing to know: With rumors swirling about Paul George’s commitment to the team, the Pacers have been the picture of mediocrity, going win-loss, win-loss for the last 15 games.


13. Milwaukee Bucks

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Matt Slocum/AP

Record: 36-35, 6th in East

Offensive rating: 107.6 (11th)

Defensive rating: 106.5 (20th)

One thing to know: Nobody would have blamed the Bucks for falling out of the playoff race after Jabari Parker’s torn ACL, but they’ve stayed strong, thanks to the help of Khris Middleton (17 points, four rebounds, three assists, 48% three-point shooting since the All-Star break).


12. Atlanta Hawks

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Todd Kirkland/AP

Record: 37-34

Offensive rating: 102.5 (26th)

Defensive rating: 103.6 (4th)

One thing to know: Paul Millsap reportedly plans to opt out this summer and test the free-agent market. It leaves the Hawks in a tough space – re-sign a 32-year-old to a five-year max. deal or let him leave for nothing?


11. Memphis Grizzlies

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Brandon Dill/AP

Record: 40-32, 7th in West

Offensive rating: 104.7 (19th)

Defensive rating: 104.1 (6th)

One thing to know: The Chandler Parsons signing has gotten worse and worse for the Grizzlies. He’s done for the year already to get knee surgery. It’s the third straight year his season has ended early due to knee injuries.


10. Los Angeles Clippers

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Tony Gutierrez/AP

Record: 43-30, 5th in West

Offensive rating: 109.3 (7th)

Defensive rating: 106.0 (19th)

One thing to know: The Clippers are just 8-9 since the All-Star break, with losses to the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, and Jazz, aka the top four teams in the West. J.J. Redick admitted he doesn’t know what to expect from the team anymore. Not good.


9. Oklahoma City Thunder

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Sue Ogrocki/AP

Record: 41-30, 6th in West

Offensive rating: 105.3 (15th)

Defensive rating: 105.2 (10th)

One thing to know: Russell Westbrook is still averaging a triple-double. On Wednesday, he also put up a perfect triple-double: 18 points on 6-of-6 shooting, with 11 rebounds and 14 assists.


8. Toronto Raptors

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Alan Diaz/AP

Record: 43-29, 4th in East

Offensive rating: 109.7 (5th)

Defensive rating: 105.0 (9th)

One thing to know: Without Kyle Lowry (wrist), DeMar DeRozan has been grinding the Raptors to victories, with some insane shot-making. According to NBA.com/Stats, DeRozan has hit 49% of his shots with a defender “very close” (0-2 feet) since the All-Star break.


7. Utah Jazz

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Rick Bowmer/AP

Record: 44-28, 4th in West

Offensive rating: 107.0 (13th)

Defensive rating: 102.3 (3rd)

One thing to know: How much did the Jazz’s win over the Clippers, a potential first-round matchup, mean to Utah? It was their first win over the Clippers in their last 12 tries.


6. Washington Wizards

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Alex Brandon/AP

Record: 43-28, 3rd in East

Offensive rating: 107.9 (9th)

Defensive rating: 105.9 (18th)

One thing to know: The Wizards’ bench reinforcements since the All-Star break have helped, but only marginally. The team still gets badly outscored when John Wall and Bradley Beal sit.


5. Boston Celtics

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Charles Krupa/AP

Record: 46-26, 2nd in East

Offensive rating: 108.3 (8th)

Defensive rating: 105.3 (12th)

One thing to know: The Celtics’ defense is peaking at the right time. They have the fourth-stingiest defense in March, the first time all season they’ve been in the top 10 in defensive rating.


4. Houston Rockets

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Matt York/AP

Record: 49-22, 3rd in West

Offensive rating: 112.3 (2nd)

Defensive rating: 105.7 (15th)

One thing to know: The Rockets have five of the top 20 players in made threes this season.


3. Cleveland Cavaliers

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David Zalubowski/AP

Record: 46-24, 1st in East

Offensive rating: 111.2 (3rd)

Defensive rating: 107.7(22nd)

One thing to know: The Cavs have the second worst defense in the league in March, leading LeBron James to question his teammates’ toughness while some around the NBA worry about things in Cleveland.


2. San Antonio Spurs

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Eric Gay/AP

Record: 55-16, 2nd in West

Offensive rating: 109.6 (6th)

Defensive rating: 101.0 (1st)

One thing to know: The Spurs have won 50 games or more for the 18th-straight season. Kawhi Leonard, now the team’s leading scorer, was eight years old when the streak began.


1. Golden State Warriors

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David Goldman/AP

Record: 57-14, 1st in West

Offensive rating: 112.9 (1st)

Defensive rating: 101.1 (2nd)

One thing to know: After a strange and unusual stumble without Kevin Durant in which they risked losing the No. 1 seed, the Warriors have bounced back with a six-game win streak where they’ve beaten opponents by a total of 98 points.


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Ben Margot/AP

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