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The Sixers move to No. 1, replacing the Phoenix Suns | NBA power rankings

This is the second time this season the Sixers have occupied the top spot.

Joel Embiid (21) and the Sixers are back atop the NBA power rankings.
Joel Embiid (21) and the Sixers are back atop the NBA power rankings.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

For the second time this year, the 76ers have earned the No. 1 spot in The Inquirer’s NBA power rankings.

The Sixers, who have won eight games in a row, moved up from No. 2. Phoenix, which dropped two games in the last week, had been No. 1. The Sixers were No. 1 for one previous week, on March 23.

This is the final week of the regular season, and the Sixers have four games left, beginning Tuesday in Indiana.

Records are through Monday. Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.

1. Sixers, 47-21 (2)

During the eight-game win streak, the Sixers are No. 1 in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 101.4 points per 100 possessions, more than five points better than their season average (106.8). It wasn’t the most challenging schedule, with the two victories over the Atlanta Hawks the only ones among the eight that came against teams with current winning records. During the streak, Joel Embiid has averaged 25.4 points and 8.9 rebounds in 27.8 minutes. He has shot 39.1% from three-point range and 92.1% from the foul line.

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2. Utah, 50-19 (3)

Monday’s 119-116 loss at Golden State snapped a five-game win streak. Jordan Clarkson, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, had 41 points off the bench. Donovan Mitchell (ankle) has missed the last 13 games, and the Jazz are 8-5 in that stretch.

3. Phoenix, 48-20 (1)

The Suns dropped two of their last three games, losing on the road at Atlanta and the Los Angeles Lakers sandwiched around a 128-105 home win over the New York Knicks behind 26 points from Deandre Ayton.

4. Denver, 44-24 (4)

The Nuggets have lost three of four, dropping games at the Lakers and Utah and losing at home to Brooklyn. Nikola Jokic has played in all 68 games and averages 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists.

5. Milwaukee, 43-25 (5)

The Bucks suffered a defensive meltdown in Monday’s 146-125 loss at San Antonio. The Spurs scored 87 points in the first half. The loss halted a five-game win streak.

6. Brooklyn, 44-24 (6)

A four-game losing streak ended with Saturday’s 125-119 win at Denver behind 33 points by Kevin Durant. Since missing three games with a bruised left thigh, Durant has averaged 31.3 points in his last seven games.

7. L.A. Clippers, 45-23 (7)

The Clippers have lost four of six, including Sunday’s 106-100 home loss to the Knicks. The Clippers lead the NBA in three-point shooting (41.6%).

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8. Dallas, 40-28 (10)

The Mavs have won four in a row, beating Miami, Brooklyn, and Cleveland twice. Dallas is 10-2 in its last 12. Tim Hardaway Jr. has played in 11 of the last 12 and averaged 20.5 points.

9. Portland, 40-29 (13)

The Trail Blazers have won four in a row and eight of nine with Monday’s home victory over Houston. That improved their lead to 1½ games over the Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 6 seed and avoiding a play-in game. During the win streak, Damian Lillard has averaged 33 points.

10. New York, 38-30 (8)

The Knicks are on course to earn their first playoff spot since 2012-13. On Sunday, the Knicks beat the Clippers, 106-100, in Los Angeles, snapping a two-game losing streak.

11. L.A. Lakers, 38-30 (9)

The Lakers had a much-needed 123-110 win Sunday over visiting Phoenix. Anthony Davis had 42 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. It was the fourth straight game without LeBron James (ankle). The Lakers are 10-15 without James this season.

12. Miami, 37-31 (11)

The Heat have won two in a row and five of six, including Sunday’s 130-124 victory at Boston behind 26 points from Jimmy Butler. Miami has a difficult next three games: at Boston, home vs. the Sixers, and at Milwaukee.

13. Atlanta, 38-31 (12)

Despite being outscored by 45-29 in the fourth quarter, the Hawks held on for a 125-124 home win Monday over Washington. Second-year forward De’Andre Hunter returned to action after missing the previous 24 games with a knee injury. The Hawks have won four of five.

14. Golden State, 36-33 (15)

The Warriors have won three in a row, as Steph Curry scored 36 points in Monday’s 119-116 home win over Utah. Golden State has earned a berth in the play-in round. Curry has scored 30 or more points in seven consecutive games and averaged 37.7 points in that time.

15. Boston, 35-33 (14)

The Celtics have lost two in a row and three of four, including Sunday’s 130-124 home defeat to Miami that put Boston two games behind Miami for the No. 6 seed. Evan Fournier had his Celtics high of 30 points against Miami and, in the last four games, has averaged 21.5 points and shot 63% from three-point range.

16. Memphis, 35-33 (16)

The Grizzlies have won two in a row and three of four with Monday’s 115-110 home win over New Orleans. Memphis clinched a play-in spot with the victory. Ja Morant had 12 points and 12 assists, one shy of tying his season high in assists.

17. San Antonio, 33-35 (17)

Monday’s 146-125 home win over Milwaukee lowered to one the Spurs’ magic number to clinch a play-in spot in the Western Conference. Six players had 19 or more points, led by DeMar DeRozan’s 23. This was the Spurs’ second win in their last eight games.

18. Charlotte, 33-35 (18)

The Hornets have won three of their last six games. Those six games marked the return of LaMelo Ball after he missed 21 games with a wrist injury. In the last six, he is averaging 16.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

19. Indiana, 32-36 (20)

Domantas Sabonis just missed a triple-double with 21 points, 20 rebounds, and nine assists in Monday’s 111-102 win at Cleveland. The Pacers, who will host the Sixers on Tuesday, are 20-15 on the road but just 12-21 at home.

20. Washington, 32-37 (19)

After overtime wins against Toronto (in Tampa) and at Indiana, the Wizards fell Monday at Atlanta, 125-124. Russell Westbrook broke Oscar Robertson’s triple-double record after producing 28 points, 13 rebounds and 21 assists. It was Westbrook’s 182nd career triple-double. All-Star Bradley Beal (hamstring) missed the game for Washington, which holds a 2½game lead over Chicago for the 10th and final Eastern Conference play-in seed.

21. New Orleans, 31-38 (21)

The Pelicans are 1-2 since Zion Williamson suffered a fractured left finger. Monday’s 115-110 loss at Memphis dropped the Pelicans 2½ games out of the 10th and final play-in seed with three games left.

22. Sacramento, 30-38 (23)

The Kings entered the final week of the season still mathematically alive for a play-in berth. Sacramento has won five of its last six, and, while people focus on coach Luke Walton’s job status, the Kings are playing hard down the stretch.

23. Chicago, 29-39 (24)

The Bulls enter the final week mathematically alive for a play-in berth after winning three in a row. All three wins came with the return of All-Star Zach LaVine, who missed the previous 11 games while in health and safety protocols.

24. Toronto, 27-41 (22)

Instead of making a run for a play-in spot, the Raptors have lost three in a row and six of seven. In last week’s 131-129 OT loss to Washington, Pascal Siakam had 44 points. two games after he scored 39 in a 121-114 win over the Lakers.

25. Minnesota, 21-47 (25)

After a four-game win streak, the Wolves lost three in a row before earning a 128-96 win at Orlando on Sunday. First overall pick Anthony Edwards is averaging 18.9 points while playing in all 68 games.

26. Orlando, 21-47 (26)

A modest two-game winning streak has been followed by a three-game skid. Lots of players are getting a chance as Orlando has had five different leading scorers in its last five games, including rookie R.J. Hampton, who had 19 points in a loss to Minnesota. Hampton has averaged 10.8 points in 23 games for the Magic since being traded by Denver.

27. Detroit, 20-49 (27)

The Pistons have lost two in a row and six of seven with Sunday’s 108-96 home defeat against Chicago. That came a day after a 118-104 loss in Philadelphia to the Sixers.

28. Cleveland, 21-48 (28)

Monday’s home loss to Indiana was Cleveland’s 11th consecutive defeat and 14th in the last 15 games. The injury-plagued Cavs dressed just nine players.

29. Houston, 16-53 (29)

Monday’s 140-129 loss at Portland was the sixth consecutive defeat and 11th in 12 games for the Rockets. During the losing streak, the Rockets have allowed an average of 129.1 points.

30. Oklahoma City, 21-48 (30)

The Thunder have lost seven in a row and 21 of 22. Twelve of those losses have been by 20 or more points.