With only two weeks left in the regular season, who are the best and worst teams in the NBA?

The biggest movement this week comes in the middle of our rankings, where there’s a tight race brewing for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Plus, the bottom Western Conference playoff teams are at least trying to avoid the Golden State Warriors in the first round.

Here we go.

Our panel (ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, Tim MacMahon and Andre’ Snellings, The Undefeated’s and FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which are playing the best basketball and which are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Week 24 | 23 | 22 | 21 | 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | Training camp | Free agency

1. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 57-20

The Bucks sat out virtually all their top rotation players in Atlanta on Sunday and lost at the buzzer in overtime 136-135. But in a game other teams will almost certainly use in hopes of neutralizing MVP candidate James Harden, Milwaukee’s top-ranked defense again guarded the lefty by aggressively forcing him to his right. The Bucks held him to 23 points and 35 percent shooting on 26 shot attempts, walking away with the victory. If they can win three of their final five games, they’ll finish with a 60-win campaign. — Herring

2. Golden State Warriors
Record: 52-24

There are only three more regular-season games left at Oracle Arena for the Warriors. The next one will be huge, as the Warriors host the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday in a game that will likely have implications for the top seed in the West. Cleveland returns to Oracle Arena for the first time — and also the last time — since the 2018 NBA Finals on Friday. Then the LA Clippers go to Oakland on Sunday for the final regular-season game in the venue. — Spears

3. Houston Rockets
Record: 49-28

Ho-hum, James Harden had another 50-point triple-double in Saturday’s win over the Kings. That’s his second this season and fifth over his career, which is as many as any other two players combined in NBA history. Russell Westbrook has had three; Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain had two each. It was Harden’s ninth 50-point performance of the season, the most times any player has hit the milestone in a single season since did it 10 times in 2006-07. — MacMahon

4. Toronto Raptors
Record: 54-23

The Raptors have clinched the No. 2 seed, which presents them with a question similar to the one confronting their likely second-round opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers: How much of Toronto’s final-five-games slate should be devoted to load management for Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, and how much of it should serve as a high-grade opportunity to allow a starting lineup with Marc Gasol that has still played only 87 minutes together to familiarize itself with one another? — Arnovitz

5. Denver Nuggets
Record: 51-25

The Nuggets are in a tight race with the Warriors for the top spot in the West with 10 days left in the season. Tuesday’s head-to-head game is just the start of a brutal run of five straight games for the Nuggets against West playoff teams that are still jostling for postseason position down the stretch. — Snellings

6. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 49-27

With the No. 3 seed all but sewn up, the Sixers enter their six-game pre-playoff exhibition season with a familiar dilemma: Do they take the certainty of their postseason position as a chance to maximize rest of Joel Embiid and other starters who need a breather? Or do they use the opportunity to allow an impressive — but still relatively new — starting lineup to smooth out some rough edges by playing together for substantial stretches? — Arnovitz

7. Utah Jazz
Record: 46-30

Small forward Joe Ingles‘ steady progress as a playmaker has been a significant factor in the Jazz’s success, particularly considering Utah’s problems with their point guards’ health. Ingles is averaging a career-high 5.6 assists per game and has dished out more dimes each month this season. He has averaged 7.7 assists per game in March, when the Jazz are 11-4 while keeping their hopes alive of getting home-court advantage in the first round. — MacMahon

8. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 48-28

Center Enes Kanter has been playing well since replacing Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a season-ending injury last week. Kanter has averaged 15.6 points and 9.6 rebounds over his past three games. He had perhaps had his best game as a Blazer with 20 points and 15 rebounds in a 99-90 loss at Detroit on Saturday. — Spears

9. LA Clippers
Record: 47-31

At 17-5, the Clippers have the best record in the NBA since Feb. 9, the first game in a Clippers jersey for Landry Shamet, Ivica Zubac, Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green. If the Clips can sustain their current momentum for another four games, they will find themselves in the West’s No. 6 seed, thereby avoiding Golden State in the first round in favor of a possible matchup with Chris Paul and . –– Arnovitz

10. Boston Celtics
Record: 45-32

The s got a crucial two-point win over the Pacers last week and enter this week tied with na in the East in a battle for first-round home court. The s face a challenging week, with four straight games against teams still jostling for playoff positioning including a rematch with the Pacers in na on Friday that could ultimately decide the race. –– Snellings

11. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 44-33

So much for rolling into the playoffs with momentum and maybe even home court in the first round. The Spurs were only 1½ games out of the West’s No. 4 seed after reeling off nine wins in a row, but San Antonio has lost four of six games since then, putting the team in serious jeopardy of drawing the Warriors in the first round. — MacMahon

12. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 44-33

The Thunder have scuffled for the past month and now find themselves battling to stay out of the final playoff spot in the West and a potential first-round matchup with the defending champs. The Thunder play two of their three games this week against teams headed for the lottery, with only a Friday matchup with the Pistons against a team that still has playoff positioning motivation. –– Snellings

13. Indiana Pacers
Record: 45-32

na lost a heartbreaker in Boston on Friday night after botching a trap on All-Star Kyrie Irving, who got to the basket for a game-winning layup. The defeat did two things, it marked a 10th-consecutive road loss for the struggling Pacers and also gave the s at least a temporary hold on the tiebreaker between the clubs. With na pressing terribly on the road, it would be an enormous boon for the Pacers to finish with the No. 4 seed and earn home-court advantage for a series against Boston. — Herring

14. Detroit Pistons
Record: 39-37

One of the less-often discussed developments of the season thus far has been Blake Griffin‘s stable health. The Pistons’ star hadn’t missed a game due to injury all season until Saturday, when he was a late scratch (left knee soreness) against a surging Blazers club. Detroit, closing in on just its second playoff berth in 10 years, got the job done anyway, beating Portland while limiting Damian Lillard to 8-of-25 shooting and just three assists. — Herring

15. Orlando Magic
Record: 38-39

The Magic are one of four teams battling for the final three playoff spots in the East, but they would be on the outside looking in if the season ended today. Their schedule this week includes two deep lottery foes at home and two road games against Eastern Conference powers, and the Magic likely need to come close to winning out to secure their own playoff berth. — Snellings

16. Miami Heat
Record: 38-38

The Heat have thus far managed to hang onto the last playoff spot in the East, but they enter the week only a half-game ahead of the ninth-place Magic. They won three of their four games last week, with their single loss a crucial one to Orlando. The Heat have a daunting upcoming schedule, starting the week with a home-and-home against the s and ending with a game against the Raptors in Toronto. — Snellings

17. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 39-38

The 2019 postseason doesn’t officially tip off until April 13, but the Nets are already knee-deep in elimination basketball. The Nets have played a more reliable brand of defense of late, and they’ll need every stop down the stretch. Clinging to a playoff berth by a single game, Brooklyn still has the league’s most difficult remaining schedule with a pair of games against Milwaukee this week broken up by a date with the Raptors. — Arnovitz

18. Sacramento Kings
Record: 38-39

For the Kings it will be about moral victories the rest of the season, as they officially were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday. Sacramento got one of those victories at San Antonio on Sunday, snapping an 11-game road losing streak against the Spurs. The Kings now have a 38-39 record and are fighting for their first winning season since 2006. — Spears

19. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 35-41

The Hornets’ playoff hopes are on life support as they are now three games behind the Heat for the East’s final postseason spot. Charlotte has not been helping itself, having split its past 10 games and being routed 137-90 by the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. All-Star guard Kemba Walker was held to nine points in the loss after missing 10 of 14 field goal attempts after scoring 62 points combined the previous two games. — Spears

20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 34-42

The injury-plagued Timberwolves are probably looking forward to the end of the regular-season, with no playoff appearance this time. Minnesota has already shut down Robert Covington, Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague and are still without Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. The thin Wolves recently signed 26-year-old Australian Mitch Creek to a 10-day contract. Some good news: The Final Four is coming to town this weekend. — Spears

21. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 32-46

Cancun can’t come soon enough for the Pelicans, who have lost 10 of their past 12 games and been outscored by an average of 12.8 points per game in that span. New Orleans’ misery might have reached new depths with Sunday’s 28-point home loss to the , who played without LeBron James and every promising young player offered in the bad-faith Anthony Davis trade discussions. — MacMahon

22. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 35-42

LeBron James aptly summarized the ’ season last week when he told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, “THBPBPTHPT.” LeBron won’t play again for the until October, further punctuating one of the more forgettable seasons in history. Yet with one more victory over their final five games, the will post their highest win total since 2012-13, which represents progress of a certain kind. — Arnovitz

23. Washington Wizards
Record: 32-46

Washington was officially eliminated from the playoff race this past week, yet it appears that Bradley Beal — in contention for an All-NBA spot — may continue to log considerable minutes nonetheless. The 25-year-old, who leads the NBA in minutes, played 39 more in a close loss out in Utah the day after the Wizards were eliminated, and 36 in a victory over Denver on Sunday night. — Herring

24. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 31-46

Jonas Valanciunas is the latest Grizz player to get bit by the injury bug, suffering what appeared to be a nasty ankle sprain Sunday night. Valanciunas had averaged 20.6 points and 10.9 rebounds while shooting 55.4 percent from the floor entering the game since arriving to Memphis in the Marc Gasol deal. The big man had the two highest-scoring games of his career for the Grizzlies, including a 34-point, 20-rebound, 5-assist night in Saturday’s win over the Suns. Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis are the only other players to post 30-20-5 lines this season. — MacMahon

25. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 28-49

Chalk another one up for the Trae Young rookie highlight reel: This time a desperation putback at the buzzer off a frenzied sequence to give the Hawks an overtime win over Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon. Young polished off a March in which he averaged 24.2 points per game on a true shooting percentage of 55.8, along with 8.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds. — Arnovitz

26. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 30-46

The Mavs have the sixth-worst record in the league and are two wins above the Hawks, which is especially relevant considering Dallas owes Atlanta a top-five-protected pick. Perhaps on a related note, coach Rick Carlisle says the Mavs plan to be “very prudent” with Luka Doncic as he recovers from a bruised right thigh. That might set off tank alarms, but Trey Burke couldn’t care less about the Mavs’ pick, as the pending free agent had 25 points and eight assists to lead Dallas to a win Sunday in OKC. — MacMahon

27. Chicago Bulls
Record: 21-56

Chicago shut down Lauri Markkanen for the remainder of the season this past week after the 21-year-old experienced a rapid heart rate and fatigue. That now makes four players — and each of the last four remaining players they’ve acquired through the draft in Markkanen, Chandler Hutchison, Wendell Carter Jr. and Denzel Valentine — who will miss the rest of the season with injury. (It also sounds as if Otto Porter Jr. will miss the rest of the campaign.) With their loss Saturday, the Bulls ensured a bottom-four finish in the standings, meaning they’ll have at least a 12.5 percent chance at winning the draft lottery. — Herring

28. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 19-58

Outside of perhaps Tristan Thompson, no one expected all that much out of these Cavaliers. Tyronn Lue was ousted after six games, Kevin Love missed three months with an injury and Collin Sexton struggled mightily before finding his way. But they will have a clear sense of what needs to improve next season, as Cleveland is almost certainly going to post the worst defensive rating in modern NBA history. According to Basketball-Reference, the Cavs have surrendered 117.2 points per 100 possessions this season, with five games left. No other team in the site’s database (which goes back to the 1973-74 season) has even allowed 115 points per 100 possessions before. — Herring

29. Phoenix Suns
Record: 17-60

At least Devin Booker is giving the struggling Suns and their fans some entertainment in March. He is averaging 52.3 points over his past three games, but Phoenix went 0-3. In March, Booker averaged 34 points, 6.8 assists and 5.1 rebounds. — Spears

30. New York Knicks
Record: 14-62

The Knicks have long settled in as the worst team in the NBA this season. The rest of the season is essentially a tryout for their young players to earn roles for next season, with veteran mainstay DeAndre Jordan getting a healthy scratch on Saturday night. Rookie Mitchell Robinson is the current bright spot on the team, notching 35 rebounds and six blocked shots in two games last week. — Snellings


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