The Best Teams in the NBA Right Now, Vol. 5

The Boston Celtics are back? The Sixers are sliding? We're in the final week of the regular season, here are the five current best teams in the NBA.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics

Image via Getty/Sam Forencich

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics

The NBA regular season ends next Sunday, and out of the 12 teams (top six in both conferences) that earn guaranteed playoff spots, eight have secured berths. The top five seeds in the Eastern Conference are set in stone. The Brooklyn Nets’ magic number of landing the sixth seed is two, and control their destiny in achieving that. The Play-In Race is down to the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, and Chicago Bulls.

In the seventh seed, Miami has a two-game lead on both the Hawks and Raptors, tied with matching 39-39 records. The 10th-seeded Bulls are a game back of both of them. Yet, with the Raptors ending their season with games against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, they can very easily fall to the tenth seed and have a more challenging road to get into the playoffs.

What can be said about the wild wild West? After all the jokes and trolling, the Los Angeles Lakers are on a three-game winning streak, and are a half-game from leapfrogging from the seventh seed to the fifth due to the Los Angeles Clippers’ struggles and the sixth-seeded Golden State Warriors’ debilitating allergy to road victories (9-30). The eighth seed New Orleans Pelicans are surging, winners of seven of their last eight, and can make the same leap. And the snickers you’re hearing are coming from Nets and New York Knicks fans, directed toward Dallas, where the Mavericks are losers of seven of their last eight (4-9 with Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic together), and might not even make the play-in.

A lot of shifting and rejiggering will take place this week until things come to form. The same can be said for the teams at the top of the food chain, as power shifts have occurred in the season’s last days.

5. Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic after a nuggets win

4. Cleveland Cavaliers

Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland playing for the Cavs

3. Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant

2. Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo during 40 point loss to the Sixers

“This is an old fashioned, take you behind the woodshed beat down” – Reggie Miller, NBA on TNT

Or, in relatable terms: “The Bucks got knocked the fuck out!”

Maybe Milwaukee thought ish was sweet because heading into last Thursday’s showdown with the Boston Celtics, they were 26-5 since January, or for that matter, 24-3 since Khris Middleton returned from injury. Or maybe because their opponent’s last game was a humiliating loss to a Play-In hopeful. 

Shit ain’t sweet in Brew City, especially when losing by 41 points to a potential Eastern Conference Championship foe.

They either took the C’s for granted, or when it comes down to it, Boston is the better team, top to bottom. All things could be true, but when Giannis Antetokounmpo produces a minus-32 (on 40% shooting and a complete donut from beyond the arc) compared to the Celtics’ Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Malcolm Brogdon’s plus-41, you know you’re in trouble. The only fight shown was when Little Greek Freak, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, headbutted Blake Griffin

And it wasn’t just this game; the Denver Nuggets handled the Bucks thoroughly on March 25th, beating them by 23 in a potential NBA Finals preview.

 Milwaukee did respond last night by embarrassing the Philadelphia 76ers, 117-104, with Giannis easily piling up a 33-point, 14-rebound showing. But you can take that with a grain of salt because the Sixers have been mid lately and seem content with being the third seed.

Unless a major malfunction happens this week against the Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, and Toronto Raptors, the Bucks should clinch the East’s top spot without issue.

1. Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics celebrates after hitting a three point shot against the New York Knicks

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