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NBA Power Rankings: Ready for a wild West finish?

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Nuggets win crucial game against Timberwolves (0:56)

Karl-Anthony Towns fouls out late and Nikola Jokic has a late tip-in to draw Denver even with Minnesota on record in the teams' fight for a playoff spot. (0:56)

Three days remain in the 2017-18 season, but the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff picture is anything but set. Five teams separated by one game -- the New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets -- are battling it out for Nos. 5 through 8.

Who will be the odd team out? It could all come down to Wednesday night's matchup between the Wolves and Nuggets to decide the final spot in a wild West finish.

Every week throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz, Amin Elhassan and Ramona Shelburne, The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears and FiveThirtyEight's Chris Herring) will rank the league's 30 teams from top to bottom, with research notes on each team provided by ESPN Stats & Information.

Previous rankings: Week 25 | 24 | 23 | 22 | 21 | 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

1. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 64-16

James Harden is averaging 30.6 points per game this season, and the Rockets have 64 wins with two games to go. Only three players in NBA history averaged 30 points per game on a 65-win team, and they each won MVP that season: Stephen Curry (2015-16), Michael Jordan (1991-92 and 1995-96) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-71). -- Vincent Johnson


2. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 58-22

The Raptors will be a No. 1 seed in the playoffs for the first time in team history. They are 0-9 all time in the first game of the playoffs, going 0-5 at home and 0-4 on the road in those games. -- Jose De Leon


3. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 58-23

It has been more than a month since all four of the Warriors' All-Stars played together; they are 31-10 when they do (including seven straight wins) and 26-13 when they don't. With or without their squad fully intact, the defense will have to rise to another level in the postseason: The Warriors rank 24th in defensive efficiency in April. -- Vincent Johnson


4. Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 record: 50-30

Ben Simmons is averaging a triple-double over his past 16 games and has led the 76ers to a 14-game win streak, which is tied for the longest single-season run in team history (Philly had an 18-gamer that spanned the 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons). -- Jose De Leon


5. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 49-31

Coming off a loss to the 76ers, the Cavaliers enter Monday trailing Philly by one game for the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed. If Cleveland stays in fourth, they'll open the playoffs against a Pacers team that won the season series 3-1. -- James Jackson


6. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 54-26

Jayson Tatum will finish the season as just the third rookie with at least 1,000 points and 100 3-pointers while shooting at least 40 percent from deep. The previous two players to accomplish that feat were Stephen Curry and Ben Gordon. -- Jose De Leon


7. Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 record: 48-32

Portland has lost three straight games and have two remaining. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, if the Blazers lose their final two games, they would be the first team to end the season with a five-game losing streak and hold home-court advantage in the opening round. -- Jose De Leon


8. Utah Jazz
2017-18 record: 47-33

The Jazz have 18 wins since the All-Star break, tied with the Raptors for third-most in the NBA over that span. With Rudy Gobert anchoring its stout defense, Utah has the NBA's best average scoring margin since the break (plus-9.9). -- James Jackson


9. Indiana Pacers
2017-18 record: 48-33

Victor Oladipo has been the star of Indiana's run to the postseason, but the Pacers head to the playoffs with solid support. In his past nine games, Bojan Bogdanovic is averaging 17.8 points per game, shooting 53 percent from the field and 46 percent from deep. Indiana's record in that span: 7-2. -- James Jackson


10. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 46-34

Anthony Davis is on pace to lead the league in blocks per game for the third time in his six-year career. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, he would be the third player to lead the league three times in his first six seasons. The other two were Mark Eaton (four times) and Dikembe Mutombo (three times). -- Jose De Leon


11. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 46-34

The Spurs' got a much-needed win against Portland on Saturday behind Manu Ginobili's 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting. At 40 years old, he's the oldest player with a 7-for-7 game in the past 50 years. -- Vincent Johnson


12. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 46-34

Russell Westbrook is chasing a triple-double average once again, but the Thunder have bigger concerns. Clinching a playoff berth is one thing, but making a compelling run is another. Last season, the Thunder ranked favorably during clutch time, finishing top-10 in plus-minus (second), 3-point percentage (seventh) and overall field goal percentage (ninth). This season? OKC is 19th in clutch-time plus-minus and ranks 22nd in both 3-point and overall field goal percentage. -- James Jackson


13. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 45-35

The Timberwolves are clinging on to the eighth seed in the West. They're looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004, which would snap the longest active playoff drought in the NBA. -- Jose De Leon


14. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 45-35

Nikola Jokic has been the driving force behind the Nuggets' push for the playoffs, leading the team in points, rebound and assists. On Saturday, he recorded his 15th career triple-double. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, that is the most by a player born outside the United States, passing Hakeem Olajuwon. -- Matt Williams


15. Miami Heat
2017-18 record: 43-37

The Heat lost to the Knicks by 24 points Friday. In two games at Madison Square Garden this season, the Heat were outscored by 26.5 points per game. It's their third-worst scoring differential at a single venue over the past 20 seasons (minimum two games). They were outscored by 29.0 points per game in Toronto in 2007-08 and by 27.5 points per game in Orlando in 2006-07. -- Jose De Leon


16. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 43-37

Giannis Antetoukounmpo makes the Bucks a tempting underdog in the playoffs. Unfortunately, for all their tempting talent, the Bucks are the only playoff team with a negative point differential this season. -- James Jackson


17. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 42-38

Washington has hit a rough stretch, losing eight of its past 10 games. The biggest concern has been its inability to close out games, as the Wizards are 0-5 since March 21 in games involving clutch time and are the only team without a clutch-time win over that span. In 16 minutes of clutch time since March 21, the Wizards have been outscored by 69.6 points per 100 possessions, worst in the NBA. -- Matt Williams


18. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 38-42

On Sunday against the Grizzlies, the Pistons made a franchise-record 23 3-pointers. Wednesday's loss against the 76ers eliminated Detroit from the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons after making it each of the previous eight. -- Jose De Leon


19. LA Clippers
2017-18 record: 42-38

The Clippers have been officially eliminated from the postseason after losing to the Nuggets on Saturday. Entering this season, the Clippers had made the playoffs in six straight seasons, which has been the fourth-longest active streak in the NBA. -- Matt Williams


20. Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 record: 35-46

Mitch Kupchak agreed to a deal to become the president and general manager of the Hornets. He won four titles as the Lakers' general manager and attended the University of North Carolina. -- Jose De Leon


21. Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 record: 34-46

Without their own first-round pick this June, the Lakers' finish is less about record and more about how they'll develop their core going forward. They found a gem in Kyle Kuzma, have an important choice to make with Julius Randle's restricted free agency and must decide if they're pressed to win now (chase LeBron James and Paul George) or will play the long game with a young roster. -- James Jackson


22. Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 record: 27-53

If the Nets lose their final two games, they will have at least 55 losses for the third straight season. It would be their longest such streak since losing 55 or more games in five straight seasons from 1986 to 1991. -- Jose De Leon


23. Sacramento Kings
2017-18 record: 26-54

If the Timberwolves can clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2004, the Kings will own the longest active playoff drought at 12 consecutive seasons. The last time the Kings made the playoffs (2006), De'Aaron Fox was 8 years old. -- Jose De Leon


24. New York Knicks
2017-18 record: 28-52

In Friday's win against the Heat, rookie Damyean Dotson finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds, his only game with at least 15 points this season. He is just the second Knicks rookie with a 30-and-10 game over the past 35 seasons; Patrick Ewing had two such games in his rookie season. -- Jose De Leon


25. Chicago Bulls
2017-18 record: 27-53

If Lauri Markkanen makes at least 12 3-pointers over the final two games of the season, he will finish with the most 3-pointers all time in a season by a 7-footer. Including Markkanen, six rookies made 100 3s this season, the most ever by a rookie class. -- Jose De Leon


26. Dallas Mavericks
2017-18 record: 24-57

Dirk Nowitzki, who underwent season-ending ankle surgery Thursday, played 77 games this season, the most by a player in his 20th season or later in NBA history. If he returns next season, he will be the first player to play 21 seasons with one team. -- Jose De Leon


27. Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 record: 24-57

The Hawks won their final two road games of the season for their first road winning streak in 2017-18. On Sunday, they held the Celtics to 0-for-4 shooting in the final minute of the game, which is tied for the most attempts without a make in the final minute of the fourth quarter against the Hawks this season. -- Jose De Leon


28. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 24-56

The Magic are guaranteed to finish 30 games below .500 for the seventh time in franchise history, with four instances coming in the past six seasons. Thanks to the rise of the 76ers, Orlando now has the worst win percentage in the NBA since the start of 2012-13. -- Clarence Fowler


29. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 22-58

Marshon Brooks has played four games with the Grizzlies this season and had more than 20 points in each one. The only Grizzlies player with a longer streak this season is Tyreke Evans, who recorded six straight 20-point games in December. -- Jose De Leon


30. Phoenix Suns
2017-18 record: 20-61

The Suns have amassed 60-plus losses for the second time in franchise history (the other coming in 1968-69). Amid the struggles, Josh Jackson has been a bright spot: He ranks second in points per game among rookies since the All-Star break, behind Utah's Donovan Mitchell. -- Clarence Fowler