Every NBA team has participated in 82 regular season basketball games and the dust settled on the playoff picture. While there will be plenty of playoff preview analysis available, we’ll reconvene for one final run at our DIME power rankings, keeping in mind that things will continue to be fluid as the postseason continues.
Without further ado, here we go.
1. Golden State Warriors (57-25, Last week — 2nd)The reigning champs enter the postseason as the team to beat, even if they didn’t finish with the best regular season record. Golden State’s win total of 57 should be seen as disappointing given their overall level of talent but, along the way, there were enough flashes of brilliance to provide comfort in the decision to place them at the top of the heap.
2. Milwaukee Bucks (60-22, Last week — 1st)
It was a wildly impressive campaign for the Bucks, as the team cruised to 60 wins without having to put the pedal to the floor in March and April. From a regular season standpoint, Milwaukee was the best team in the league by a considerable margin and all eyes move toward how the Mike Budenholzer-led squad will fare under the bright lights in May and, possibly, June.
3. Toronto Raptors (58-24, Last week — 3rd)
This was probably going to be where the Raptors landed regardless, but winning seven of eight games to finish the season was an encouraging display. Toronto has paced themselves beautifully throughout the marathon that is the regular season and it will be interesting to see what their A-game looks like against the best of the best.
4. Denver Nuggets (54-28, Last week — 8th)
Denver needed to win on the final night of the regular season to grab the No. 2 seed and, in some ways, it is disappointing that it took 82 games to clinch that fate. Still, it happened for the Nuggets and, by any objective measure, the team’s overall performance was impressive this season. Now, we turn our attention to whether Denver can hold up in the second season.
5. Portland Trail Blazers (53-29, Last week — 7th)
If we’re being honest, Portland isn’t a bigger playoff threat than Houston (see below), but this was still a heck of a ride from Damian Lillard and company. The Blazers winning 53 games is both relatively stunning and impressive, with consistency on a night-to-night basis and a strong finish to the campaign.