The NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday without any major moves involving the league's top teams. But some of the more minor ones could end up tipping the balance of power, at least to a certain extent.
Here's a ranking of all nine of the NBA's title contenders now that the trade deadline has passed.
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The Wizards had put together a stretch where they were 18-3 before losing their last two, but they didn't let the deadline pass without adding some scoring help to their bench. Washington acquired Bojan Bogdanovic in a trade from the Nets, and in his second game with the Wizards on Sunday, he put up 15 points in 33 minutes.
That probably won't be enough to make Washington a real threat in the East, but the way they've been playing the past month or so (along with the addition of Bogdanovic) allowed them to sneak onto this list.
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Danny Ainge let the trade deadline pass without parting with any of his over-valued assets, even though Boston was reportedly deep in talks with the Bulls about a potential trade for Jimmy Butler. Chicago's asking price was ultimately too high, so the Celtics will ride out the rest of the season with what they've got -- and that still might be enough to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
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There was no deadline day deal that the Clippers could have made to truly improve the roster, but a healthy core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan is still capable of doing damage in the postseason. The West is so loaded, however, that L.A. could be facing an early playoff exit once again -- which could lead to some very interesting decisions this summer.
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The Jazz have the league's third-ranked defense behind only the Warriors and the Spurs, and Gordon Hayward has looked unstoppable in the two games after the All-Star break. There weren't any moves that made sense for Utah at the deadline, but the Jazz still figure to be a very tough out in the playoffs as the team is currently constructed.
The Raptors made two key moves that figure to give the team a huge boost if they meet the Cavaliers late in the playoffs for a second straight season. Grabbing Serge Ibaka from the Magic was the big one, but the deadline day deal for P.J. Tucker wasn't a small addition. He's a hard-nosed defender who gives his opponents fits, and he can knock down corner threes at a reasonable percentage.
Added toughness for the playoffs is never a bad thing, and the Raptors got plenty of it with these two additions.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have the second-best record in the league at 45-14, and rank first in defensive efficiency. There was no reason to tinker with a loaded roster at the deadline, so San Antonio stood pat as expected. The Spurs are always a juggernaut during the regular season, and they could very well end up in the Finals when all is said and done. But earlier-than-expected playoff exits the past two years have us hesitant to place them above the remaining three teams on the list.
All season long, the Rockets have been the team that's appeared to have the best chance of taking down one of the favorites, and the addition of Lou Williams at the trade deadline -- who was the Lakers' leading scorer this year despite coming off the bench in all but one of his regular-season appearances -- only adds more firepower to the league's second-most efficient offense.
Houston may try to outscore teams 140-130 the rest of the way, and given the team's personnel, it's a strategy that just might work. The Rockets are a real threat to the rest of the power teams in the West.
Golden State Warriors
Trades don't make a whole lot of sense when you have the best record in the league, so the Warriors were content to let the deadline pass without shaking things up. Golden State is expected to land veteran point guard Jose Calderon once he secures a buyout from the Lakers, but even without that addition, the Warriors remain the favorites to represent the West in the NBA Finals for a third consecutive season.
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You were expecting someone else?
The Cavaliers didn't make any moves at the trade deadline, but as far as their title chances are concerned, they're still in pretty good shape. Help is reportedly on the way soon in the form of Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut, and Cleveland didn't have to give up a single asset to bolster its depth on the roster.
The Cavaliers have dealt with injury issues, but they've still managed to compile the best record in the East to this point, and both J.R. Smith and Kevin Love are expected to be back in the lineup with a few weeks remaining in the regular season. A healthy Cleveland team remains the favorite to repeat as champions, and nothing that happened at the trade deadline did anything to change that.