NBA Playoff Power Rankings: Where Celtics stand among 16 teams


The 16-team NBA playoff field is set. The higher seeds will host the lower seeds at their respective home arenas. Some arenas might even have fans in them. But the postseason isn't necessarily back to "normal."We mean that in a good way, too. There's drama in both conferences, and the top seeds aren't expected to cruise to the playoffs like in years past. In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers are threatening another title run as the No. 7 seed, while the NBA's top two teams by record -- the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns -- somehow feel like underdogs. In the East, the New York Knicks are hosting a playoff series. Enough said.All of that uncertainty means the best teams still standing aren't necessarily the highest-seeded teams. Which are the best teams, you ask? Our playoff edition of NBA Power Rankings aims to answer that question by assessing each team's body of work and how well-equipped they are to go the distance.

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Seed: No. 8 in Eastern Conference

Matchup: No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers

NBA title odds (via PointsBet): 250/1

The Wizards had less than a 1 percent chance to make the postseason on April 6. They feature two superstars in all-time triple-double leader Russell Westbrook and second-leading scorer Bradley Beal. Should the Sixers be worried?

... No. Washington beat some bad teams down the stretch and is too inconsistent on defense. But Westbrook or Beal might steal a game or two.


Seed: No. 8 in West

Matchup: vs. No. 1 Utah Jazz

NBA title odds: 250/1

Ja Morant (35 points, six rebounds, six assists, four steals) and the Grizzlies showed a ton of resolve outlasting Steph Curry in his own gym Friday night. Grizzlies-Jazz won't break any ratings records, but we're not complaining about at least four more games of Ja.


Seed: No. 7 in East

Matchup: No. 2 Brooklyn Nets

NBA title odds (via PointsBet): 100/1

There are moral victories to be had in this series. And if Jayson Tatum has another 50-point game in him and Kemba Walker or Evan Fournier continue their strong play, we could see some competitive stretches of basketball.

But with Jaylen Brown lost to injury and Robert Williams' status uncertain, all signs point to Boston getting steamrolled. We'd be surprised if this series makes it back to Brooklyn for Game 5.


Forsberg's Celtics-Nets series preview and prediction

Seed: No. 4 in East

Matchup: No. 5 New York Knicks

NBA title odds (via PointsBet): 100/1

The Hawks won seven of eight heading into the postseason, but they're not exactly built like a playoff team. If the Knicks' top-ranked defense can put the clamps on Trae Young in his first-ever postseason, Atlanta could find itself playing at a slower pace that favors New York. The Hawks have a bright future. It's just not now.


Seed: No. 4 in East

Matchup: No. 5 Atlanta Hawks

NBA title odds (via PointsBet): 100/1

If defense wins championships, then Tom Thibodeau and his No. 1-ranked unit deserve more respect. New York also has its go-to postseason scorer in Julius Randle.

But like their first-round opponent, the Knicks don't have much playoff experience, which limits their ceiling to a second-round exit. That'd still be cause for celebration after a magical season at MSG.


Seed: No. 5 in West

Matchup: No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers

NBA title odds (via PointsBet): 50/1

The Mavs have plenty of motivation after watching the Clippers tank their way to the No. 4 seed to avoid facing the Blazers or Lakers in Round 1.

But Los Angeles dispatched Dallas in six games last postseason despite Luka Doncic averaging 31 points per game. So, unless Doncic drops 40 a night, it's hard to envision a different result.


Seed: No. 6 in East

Matchup: No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks

NBA title odds (via PointsBet): 33/1

If there's a series to watch in the East, it's this one. The Heat won eight of their last 10 regular-season games and are starting to look like last year's bubble team that made an NBA Finals run.

If role players Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson can support Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo with consistent production, Miami could give the Bucks some serious problems.


Seed: No. 6 in West

Matchup: No. 3 Denver Nuggets

NBA title odds (via PointsBet): 50/1

We've seen what Damian Lillard can do in the playoffs, and his Blazers took down the Nuggets just two years ago in the second round. Head coach Terry Stotts needs more from Portland's 23rd-ranked scoring defense, but this team isn't a fun matchup for Denver.


Seed: No. 3 in West

Matchup: No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers

NBA title odds (via PointsBet): 33/1

This is where Denver will feel the absence of Jamal Murray, who was a flamethrower in last year's bubble. It's hard to bet against MVP favorite Nikola Jokic, though, and if Michael Porter Jr. can keep playing at a high level, the Nuggets should at least make it to Round 2.


Seed: No. 2 in West

First-round matchup: No. 7 Lakers

NBA title odds: 25/1

The Suns won 19 games two seasons ago. Now they're in the postseason for the first time in a decade as the No. 2 seed ... and their reward is the defending champion Lakers.

Paul's presence will ensure this group isn't too far over its head, but Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton will have little room for error in their first playoff series. 


Seed: No. 4 in West

First-round matchup: No. 5 Dallas Mavericks

NBA title odds: 55/1

After another season of successful load management, it's put up or shut up time for Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers. A potential second-round matchup with the No. 1 seed Jazz (who took two of three from L.A. this season) looms large.


Seed: No. 3 in West

First-round matchup: No. 6 Miami Heat

NBA title odds: 80/1

The Bucks are unburdened from the curse of the No. 1 seed and have a lockdown backcourt defender in Jrue Holiday. We haven't seen any solid evidence that Milwaukee can beat Philly or Brooklyn in a seven-game series, but two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is fully capable of providing it. 


Seed: No. 1 in East

Matchup: No. 8 Washington Wizards

NBA title odds: 15/2

Was Doc Rivers the missing ingredient in Philly? The Sixers rode an MVP-caliber Joel Embiid and a resurgent Tobias Harris to the best record in the East and will set about exorcising their playoff demons.

With the winner of the Knicks and Hawks awaiting in Round 2, anything short of an East finals appearance would be a massive failure.


Seed: No. 7 in West

Matchup: No. 2 Suns

NBA title odds: 4/1

The Lakers needed a 34-foot LeBron James bomb to squeak past a middling Warriors team in the play-in tournament. They'll have a tall task in Chris Paul and an excellent Phoenix Suns team in the first round. And yet...

Would anyone be surprised if L.A. makes a title run? The Lakers have won six in a row with James and Anthony Davis back from injuries. They're easily capable of beating Phoenix and getting back to the NBA Finals if their two stars can stay upright.


Seed: No. 1 in West

Matchup: No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies

NBA title odds: 7/1

The Jazz have been slept on all season, and they deserve their due after staving off the Suns for the West's top seed. The one question mark is Donovan Mitchell, who hasn't played since mid-April due to a sprained ankle.

If Mitchell can return to full form by the end of the first round, a trip to the conference finals should be in the cards. 


Seed: No. 2 in East

Matchup: No. 7 Boston Celtics

NBA title odds: 5/2

Celtics coach Brad Stevens called the finally-healthy Nets "the most talented team that’s been assembled since I’ve been in the NBA," and it's hard to disagree.

If Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are all in the lineup and even close to 100 percent, they should be the favorites in every series they play. Durant and Irving know what it takes to succeed at the highest level, and with three championships between them, both have done so.

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