NBA Power Rankings: Sixers move up behind an incredible run by Joel Embiid

The playoff races in each conference continue to heat up as teams around the NBA attempt to improve their positioning in the standings over the final stretch of the season.

To this point, only three teams — Houston, San Antonio and Detroit — have been eliminated from playoff contention. The rest of the league seemingly remains in the hunt with the play-in tournament or an outright playoff berth very much within reach for several teams.

To make further sense of it, Rookie Wire took a look at the NBA and ranked each team from worst to first. We come back each week and provide our latest assessment of the best teams and those that are rising.

Detroit Pistons (15-53)

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 28

The Pistons have the longest active losing streak in the NBA at 11 games. They have officially been eliminated from playoff contention and appear to be well on their way to earning a 14% chance of landing the top pick as one of the three worst teams. One positive to watch out for, though: The continued development of James Wiseman. He is averaging 12.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and one block in 10 games with the Pistons.

Houston Rockets (15-52)

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 29

The Rockets have lost three straight to maintain their position at the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference. Despite the losses, Jabari Smith Jr. looks to be playing well of late. He put up a career-high 30 points on Thursday and has produced back-to-back double-doubles for the first time this season.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

San Antonio Spurs (17-50)

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 30

The Spurs are 3-3 since losing 16 straight games. They posted an impressive win over the Nuggets over the weekend, despite a triple-double effort by Nikola Jokic. Denver was 25-0 when Jokic produced a triple-double prior to that contest.

Charlotte Hornets (22-48)

Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 27

The Hornets have lost five out of their last seven games and will be the next team officially eliminated from playoff contention in the near future. The final month of the season will enable the team to get a closer look at several players as it looks ahead to the offseason.

Orlando Magic (28-40)

Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 24

The Magic went 1-3 on their recent four-game homestand after defeating the Heat on Saturday. They will now hit the road for four games beginning in San Antonio on Tuesday in a must-win situation. With 14 games left to play, the Magic need every win they can get to stay alive just 3.5 games back of the last play-in spot.

Portland Trail Blazers (31-37)

MMike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 23

The Trail Blazers‘ playoff hopes are fading fast after going 2-4 on their recent six-game road trip. They are two games back of the Thunder in 10th place with two other teams ahead of them at the moment. However, if there is any time to make a run, it’s now: Eight of their next nine are at home.

Washington Wizards (31-37)

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 22

The Wizards have lost five out of their last six games to fall out of the play-in group in the Eastern Conference. They are still only a half-game back of the Bulls in 10th place so there is still plenty of time to make a run. Of their 14 remaining games, nine are at home.

Chicago Bulls (31-36)

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 26

The Bulls have won back-to-back games to move into the last play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. They have eight out of their last 15 games at home, where they have gone 18-15 this season, and will be looking to go on a bit of a run to lock in their postseason fate.

For more coverage on the Bulls, visit Bulls Wire

Indiana Pacers (31-37)

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 25

The Pacers continue to trend upward after winning six out of their last nine games. They are just a half-game back of 10th place behind that run and are among the teams fighting for a play-in spot. However, Tyrese Haliburton (knee), Myles Turner (back) and Bennedict Mathurin (ankle) are dealing with some injuries so the team will be short-handed this week. We’ll see if some other players can continue to step up.

Atlanta Hawks (34-34)

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 21

The Hawks continue to be an average team on the court at this point of the season. They are 5-5 over their last 10 games but look to be firmly in the play-in race. They have nine of their final 14 games at home so they will be looking to put a run together. They trail the Heat in seventh place by just a game and a half.

New Orleans Pelicans (33-35)

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 19

The Pelicans are among the seven teams that are just three games apart in the standings from seventh to 13th. They are currently 12th based on a tiebreaking scenario but are just 3-7 over their last 10 games. They will face the Lakers on Monday and then have winnable games against the Rockets (2), Spurs and Hornets. With the schedule in their favor, the Pelicans could string together some wins.

Utah Jazz (33-35)

Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 20

The Jazz wrap up a six-game road trip on Monday in Miami. They can salvage it with a 3-3 record with a win and maintain ground in the play-in race. Utah is among the teams in contention at this point with 14 games left to play. Considering the amount of change that has occurred, fighting for a play-in spot this late in the year will likely be seen as a successful season.

Toronto Raptors (32-36)

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 16

Toronto has dropped five out of its last seven games but is currently holding onto the ninth spot in the play-in group. They are just one game up on those teams on the outside looking in and will need to get back on track to remain alive. They have seven out of their next eight games at home so that should help things.

Minnesota Timberwolves (34-34)

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 17

The Timberwolves put together an impressive three-game run by beating the Clippers, Lakers and Kings but have since dropped back-to-back contests. They are now seventh in the Western Conference, one game back of the Warriors, but are just three games up on the Trail Blazers in 13th place and are anything but locked into the playoffs.

They could get Karl-Anthony Towns back before long. He has been out since late November but has been ramping up his on-court activity and is getting closer to a return. Though there is no firm date for him to return, Towns could soon be back. With the playoff race going down to the wire, the Timberwolves could get a big boost with Towns’ return.

Dallas Mavericks (34-34)

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 14

The Mavericks continue to struggle after losing seven out of their last 10 games. They are among the teams battling for playoff positioning in the Western Conference and could be in danger of falling out of contention if their recent skid continues.

Oklahoma City Thunder (33-35)

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 18

Since dropping five straight, the Thunder are once again ascending after winning five out of their last six games. They moved up to 10th on Sunday after knocking off the Spurs and should stick around for the remainder of the season. The playoff race is tight in the Western Conference and these high-pressure games should be a great learning experience for the group.

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

LA Clippers (36-33)

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 15

The Clippers have posted three straight wins since losing five in a row. The offense seems to be flowing pretty well with Russell Westbrook on the court, which should bode well for the group down the stretch and into the playoffs. They continue their home-heavy month of March with six out of their next seven in L.A.

Miami Heat (36-33)

Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 11

The Heat are just 5-8 since improving to a season-high seven games above .500 on Feb. 11. Jimmy Butler continues to perform at a high level but the team is struggling to get him more help. They nearly pulled out a win in overtime over the Magic behind his late-game heroics but fell just short. It is clear that they have some things to figure out before the playoffs arrive.

Los Angeles Lakers (33-35)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 12

The Lakers fell to the Knicks by four points on Sunday but are right there in the race for the play-in group behind their recent run. They have only three games left against teams above. 500 so if they can take advantage of their schedule, the team could have a chance of sneaking into the play-in tournament.

For more coverage on LeBron James and the Lakers, visit LeBron Wire

Golden State Warriors (35-33)

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 10

The Warriors‘ tale of two teams continued last week after dropping all three of their road games. Fittingly, they bounced back and defeated the Bucks at home in overtime behind Stephen Curry’s 36-point performance; they are now 28-7 at home and 7-26 on the road. The difference of play at home compared to the road is quite remarkable and it is clear something will need to change to have a chance in the postseason.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

Brooklyn Nets (39-29)

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 13

Brooklyn has won five out of its last six games. They posted wins over the Celtics, Timberwolves and Nuggets over that stretch and look to be finding their groove with Mikal Bridges & Co. They have 10 out of their last 14 games at home and will be looking to continue to build some momentum heading into the postseason.

For more coverage on the Nets, visit Nets Wire

Memphis Grizzlies (40-26)

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 9

The Grizzlies have posted two straight wins and appear to be getting back on track without Ja Morant. They have gotten strong performances from the likes of Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr., and will need to continue to do so moving forward.

Cleveland Cavaliers (43-27)

Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 8

The Cavaliers posted an impressive win last week over the Celtics, split a two-game series with the Heat and then knocked off the Hornets. They have likely emerged as a top-four team in the Eastern Conference and could make a run in the playoffs.

New York Knicks (40-30)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 7

The Knicks are 1-3 since reeling off nine consecutive wins and have one more game left on their West Coast road trip. Jalen Brunson is dealing with a foot injury, though, so the Knicks probably shouldn’t be penalized too much for their recent slide.

Phoenix Suns (37-30)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 6

The Suns will be without Kevin Durant for at least three weeks due to an ankle injury suffered in pre-game warmups. The team looked to be rolling with Durant in the picture, but will now be forced to wait before getting its full complement of players on the court. They are still fourth in the Western Conference and are in good shape (all things considered) ahead of the playoffs.

Sacramento Kings (40-26)

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 5

The Kings picked up their 40th win of the season on Saturday after defeating the Suns on the road. It is the first time since the 2005-06 season the Kings have posted 40 wins as they remain in second place. In other news, Domantas Sabonis was named the Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 20 points, 10.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists.

Denver Nuggets (46-22)

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 2

The Nuggets are suddenly struggling after matching a season-high three-game losing streak. They have even lost with Nikola Jokic putting up back-to-back triple-double performances; they were previously 25-0 when he did so. Now, Denver will hit the road for a five-game East Coast road trip so we’ll see if the group can get back on track.

Boston Celtics (47-21)

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 3

The Celtics have returned to their winning ways after posting two straight over the Trail Blazers and Hawks. They continue a six-game West Coast road trip on Monday in Houston so expect to see that win streak extended against the lowly Rockets.

For more coverage on the Celtics, visit Celtics Wire

Philadelphia 76ers (45-22)

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 4

The Sixers have the longest active win streak in the NBA at five games. The team is getting it done behind a strong run by Joel Embiid. He has scored at least 30 points in six straight games and was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 38.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. Embiid looks to be in an incredible groove right now on the court and has had his way with the opposition of late. Philly now has seven out of its next eight games on the road.

For more coverage on the 76ers, visit Sixers Wire

Milwaukee Bucks (48-19)

Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 1

The Bucks fell in overtime to the Warriors on Saturday without Giannis Antetokounmpo (hand). However, the team is 8-2 over its last 10 games and has a game-and-a-half lead over the Celtics in second place in the Eastern Conference. They can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Miami loss on Monday.

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire