NBA Power Rankings: Lakers' big weekend creates separation at the top

NBA Power Rankings: Lakers' big weekend creates separation at the top

BOSTON — With several marquee matchups the past couple of weeks in the NBA, the gridlock at the top is starting to loosen up. 

Analytics-driven analysis has been the basis for many of the team comparisons as far as which teams are the best. 

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But the past week has seen many of the upper echelon teams square off, which has taken away some of the guesswork involved in determining the best teams.

Because of that, there is a noticeable shift at the top of the power rankings this week.

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NBA Power Rankings: Season enters its fourth quarter

NBA Power Rankings: Season enters its fourth quarter

BOSTON — NBA games by and large are defined by what happens in the fourth quarter, which is where the league is right now when you look at the calendar. 

Three-quarters of the season are in the book, but there’s plenty at stake throughout the association in the coming weeks. 

While Milwaukee leads a handful of teams that are poised for a strong postseason surge, there is much work left to be done for a number of teams that are very much in the thick of a race towards one of the last playoff spots. 

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It’ll make for yet another down-to-the-wire finish for the last couple of remaining playoff spots, while sorting out the rest of the postseaon participants won’t be a breeze, either. 

Potential tie-breakers make every conference matchup a must-win game because it could literally be the difference between beginning the playoffs at home versus on the road against one of the better teams in the conference. 

Regardless of where your team stacks up, the final stretch of the NBA season will be a fun one, full of twists, turns and performances by talented players all doing their part to best position their teams for postseason success that will be fueled in part by how they perform in the coming weeks. 

Click here for this week's NBA Power Rankings.

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NBA Power Rankings: Playoff push begins in earnest now

NBA Power Rankings: Playoff push begins in earnest now

LOS ANGELES — The NBA All-Star break is the unofficial starting point for the second half of the season. 

But more than that, it begins in earnest the playoff push that most of the league’s teams will be focused on. 

Teams near the top are trying to secure home-court advantage for as many rounds as possible, while teams that have been middle of the pack are trying to seal up a postseason spot. 

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And then there are those on the outside looking in, teams that have little to no choice in approaching every game with a must-win mentality. 

Doing those things while keeping players relatively healthy and fresh for a postseason run, creates some difficult decisions for coaches and front-offices this time of year. 

“Trying to keep guys healthy for the playoffs … we call that a good problem,” one Western Conference executive whose team is currently on the outside of the playoff picture told NBC Sports Boston. “It means you’ve played well enough to where the playoffs isn’t a concern; it’s where you end up.”

Click here for NBC Sports Boston’s latest NBA Power Rankings.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Trail Blazers, which begins Tuesday at 9 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.