NBA Power Rankings: Bucks make history; Rockets’ small ball working just fine; Celtics’ depth on display


Here’s a quick trivia question: Which NBA team was the fastest ever to clinch a playoff berth? You’re probably thinking the 73-win Warriors. How about the 72-win Bulls? Wrong on both counts. With the Washington Wizards’ loss on Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks clinched a postseason spot after just 56 games — the fastest ever for an NBA team.

It’s just another notch in the belt of the Bucks, who are on pace to be among the best ever in point differential and net rating while leading the NBA by a wide margin in defensive efficiency. Speaking of defense, the Boston Celtics, owners of the league’s third-stingiest defense, picked up an impressive win to start the week and then nearly beat the Los Angeles Lakers on the road — both games without All-Star Kemba Walker. Boston showed its depth of talent, and Jayson Tatum looks like he’s made a huge leap.

Then there are the Rockets, who are baffling teams with the most extreme version of small ball we’ve seen in quite some time. As of now, at least, they haven’t been burned by other teams’ size, largely due to what head coach Mike D’Antoni calls a “weird” roster. And finally there’s the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are steadily creeping up the standings in a season during which some thought they would sell off their parts and kick off a rebuild. This, as they say, is why they play the games.

Here is this week’s edition of the Power Rankings, now that the NBA is back in full swing.





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