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East contenders provide a fascinating Week 1

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Nov 1 2010 11:10AM

Week 1 is in the books and it certainly provided some interesting results, especially in the Eastern Conference.

First, the old Big Three (Boston) sent a message to the new Big Three (Miami). Then the new Big Three sent a message to the rest of the league by destroying the other title contender in the East. Meanwhile, the old Big Three went and lost to the Cavs, who lost to the Raptors, who lost to the Knicks, who lost to the old Big Three.

How do we digest all that in just the first six days of the season? For one, we look forward to the rematches. And we're lucky that we get both Heat-Celtics (Nov. 11) and Heat-Magic (Nov. 24) again in the next few weeks. Those games will either provide convincing answers or make things more interesting.

For now, they're ranked as they are below, with the underlying thought that Miami looked pretty scary once the Heat got past those first-game jitters.

• Last week: Magic rule the preseason
• This time last year: After One Week, Three Teams Look Strongest -- Carmelo Anthony was averaging 37.7 points per game for the 3-0 Nuggets, Andrew Bynum was healthy, Pau Gasol was not, Manu Ginobili swatted a bat, Rajon Rondo talked trash to Chris Paul, and the Sixers looked like a great offensive team. Five teams were undefeated and they all eventually made the playoffs. Five teams were winless and they all eventually missed the playoffs.

Hero Team of the Week: New Orleans (3-0) -- Other teams went undefeated, but none of them beat three of last year's playoff teams.
Zero Team of the Week: L.A. Clippers (0-3) -- Highlights don't win games and Blake Griffin is a league-worst minus-56 after the first week.

High jumps of the week: New Orleans (+11), Atlanta (+7), Toronto (+7)
Free falls of the week: Charlotte (-8), Houston (-8), Cleveland (-7)

East vs. West: The West went 8-2 in interconference games in the first week.

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
Off: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Def: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league averages 98 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 101.2 points scored per 100 possessions.

NBA.com's Power Rankings are just one man's opinion. They're released every Monday during the season. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on twitter.

1 L.A. Lakers (3-0)
Pace: 101.6 (5), Off: 108.2 (3), Def: 99.1 (14)
It's hard to believe Kobe Bryant when he says that his knee is 100 percent. It's easier to believe him when he says that people needn't worry about him finding his shot ... or finding Steve Blake for Tuesday's game-winner. Lamar Odom (16 ppg, 13.7 rpg, 68 percent shooting) is off to a great start.
Previous: 1

2 Boston (2-1)
Pace: 95.9 (22), Off: 96.8 (21), Def: 96.5 (6)
A win over the Heat, followed by a loss to the Cavs. A fight in the locker room, followed by Halloween with KG as DJ Lance Rock, Ray as old-school MJ, and Diesel as Shaqueeta. The Celtics had highs and lows both on and off the court this week. And in both cases, the highs outweighed the lows.
Previous: 4

3 Miami (3-1)
Pace: 91.6 (29), Off: 103.8 (11), Def: 86.8 (1)
The strength of the Miami defense shouldn't come as much of a surprise. And the Heat's defensive rebounding was great ... until they gave up 19 offensive boards in New Jersey on Sunday. When a team is this good, you have to nitpick, and the defensive glass is something to keep an eye on.
Previous: 3

4 Portland (3-0)
Pace: 94.5 (27), Off: 107.5 (4), Def: 96.7 (8)
The Blazers are one of only two teams ranked in the top 10 both offensively and defensively. The offense has always been good, but how have they held three other good offensive teams under a point per possession? Good free-throw defense. Their opponents are shooting just 62 percent from the line.
Previous: 7

5 Dallas (2-1)
Pace: 95.4 (24), Off: 102.4 (14), Def: 90.0 (2)
The Mavs have held all three of their opponents under 40 percent shooting, but a careless turnover, an inability to grab a rebound and poor last-play execution cost them in the final minute of Friday's loss to Memphis. They have a light week ahead, with just two games against the Nuggets.
Previous: 5

6 Orlando (1-1)
Pace: 96.3 (20), Off: 94.3 (28), Def: 93.2 (4)
Friday's loss to the Heat had to be a shock to the system for a team that cruised through the preseason and Thursday's opener against Washington. There won't be any overreaction here, but you have to wonder how it affects the Magic. They play the Heat again on Nov. 24.
Previous: 2

7 Atlanta (3-0)
Pace: 97.5 (17), Off: 110.5 (1), Def: 102.1 (15)
Headlined by Jamal "Hammer Time" Crawford, Atlanta finished second behind the Celtics in the Halloween Costume Power Rankings. On the court, the Hawks are thumbing their noses at preseason stats, which had them 30th in the league offensively. They've gone from worst to first.
Previous: 14

8 Denver (2-1)
Pace: 98.2 (15), Off: 104.9 (9), Def: 97.0 (9)
It's early, but put Arron Afflalo's name on the list of Most Immproved Player candidates. After averaging 20.4 points in the preseason, he dropped 22 in the Nuggets' win over the Jazz. Denver usually makes its living at the line, but didn't shoot a single free throw in the fourth quarter of Friday's loss in New Orleans.
Previous: 11

9 Oklahoma City (2-1)
Pace: 100.9 (7), Off: 102.6 (13), Def: 105.0 (20)
The Thunder are shooting 39.9 percent from the field and 20.8 percent from 3-point range. They got wins over the Bulls and Pistons by getting to the line a total of 91 times, but they struggled on both ends against the Jazz on Sunday. Kevin Durant has 13 turnovers and just five assists.
Previous: 6

10 New Orleans (3-0)
Pace: 94.6 (26), Off: 103.6 (12), Def: 97.7 (10)
How did the Hornets go from looking pretty awful in the preseason to beating three playoff teams in the first week? It helps to have David West (wrist injury) on the floor, but it's Chris Paul who has really flipped the switch, averaging 20 points, 6 rebounds and 9.3 assists through three games.
Previous: 21

11 San Antonio (1-1)
Pace: 100.7 (8), Off: 105.4 (8), Def: 103.1 (16)
Just a few hours after signing his contract extension, Tony Parker was benched in favor of somebody named Gary Neal for the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to the Hornets. Neal had played 1:12 in the Spurs' win over the Pacers on Wednesday, but earned 19 minutes of burn Saturday.
Previous: 8

12 Memphis (2-1)
Pace: 102.5 (3), Off: 99.1 (20), Def: 96.7 (7)
Grizzlies starters are a plus-12.2 per 48 minutes. Their reserves are a minus-22.2. That's a bit of a dropoff. The starters include Darrell Arthur, who has replaced Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph in all three games and averaged 17 points on 60 percent shooting.
Previous: 15

13 Utah (1-2)
Pace: 100.7 (9), Off: 100.0 (16), Def: 105.6 (22)
With Deron Williams shooting 6-for-22, the Utah offense was pretty anemic on Wednesday and Thursday. Then it looked positively brilliant in Oklahoma City on Sunday. With games against the Raptors, Warriors and Clippers this week, chances are that they'll continue to score efficiently.
Previous: 9

14 Chicago (1-1)
Pace: 102.4 (4), Off: 95.9 (24), Def: 96.1 (5)
Only once in his first two years in the league did Derrick Rose attempt more than 25 shots in a game. He's already done it twice this season. Tom Thibodeau says that's what's needed in Carlos Boozer's absence, but it's no coincidence that the ball movement we saw in the preseason has gone missing.
Previous: 12

15 Phoenix (1-2)
Pace: 96.7 (18), Off: 107.0 (5), Def: 107.3 (26)
We learned three things about the Suns in the first week: They're not very good defensively, they can't rebound, and Hedo Turkoglu is not that effective when he's not controlling the ball. Wait, we knew all that already. We also knew that Hakim Warrick can throw down.
Previous: 16

16 Milwaukee (1-2)
Pace: 94.2 (28), Off: 96.8 (22), Def: 99.0 (13)
Against the Bobcats (last season's No. 1 defensive team) on Saturday, the Bucks' offense was 30 points per 100 possessions better than it was against the Timberwolves (No. 29 defensively last season) a night earlier. Figure that one out.
Previous: 13

17 Golden State (2-1)
Pace: 100.6 (10), Off: 109.2 (2), Def: 106.1 (25)
Playing without Stephen Curry, the Warriors did OK defensively against the Lakers on Sunday. But after shooting 54 percent in their first two games, they shot just 41 percent vs. the champs. Like a box of chocolates, Monta Ellis went from 46 points in Game 1 to 11 dimes in Game 2.
Previous: 20

18 Houston (0-3)
Pace: 104.1 (2), Off: 106.3 (7), Def: 112.4 (30)
For the first 36 minutes of their season, the Rockets looked like a much better team than we expected. For the last 108 minutes, they've looked much worse. It's very early, but Houston is hitting a critical stretch. After they host the 3-0 Hornets on Wednesday, they play six of eight on the road.
Previous: 10

19 New York (1-2)
Pace: 99.5 (12), Off: 99.9 (17), Def: 98.5 (12)
Defense, rebounding and the play of Wilson Chandler have all been encouraging, but it would be nice if Danilo Gallinari (5-for-24) could make a shot or Amar'e Stoudemire (17 turnovers) could hold onto the ball. After the Knicks host the Magic on Tuesday, they have several winnable games in a row.
Previous: 19

20 Indiana (2-1)
Pace: 98.3 (14), Off: 104.7 (10), Def: 105.9 (24)
Roy Hibbert, who made just eight of his 21 shots against the Bobcats and Sixers, still isn't a great finisher. But his passing out of the post looked fantastic in the Pacers' two wins. Eleven assists in two games is Gasol-esque. And he gets another shot at the Sixers' awful interior defense on Wednesday.
Previous: 23

21 New Jersey (2-1)
Pace: 95.2 (25), Off: 99.1 (19), Def: 105.4 (21)
The Nets' come-from-behind wins over the Pistons and Kings were critical, because 10 of their 15 November games are on the road, and three of the home games are against Orlando, Atlanta and Portland. Maybe more important than the Ws has been the play of Derrick Favors, who's averaging a double-double.
Previous: 25

22 Sacramento (2-1)
Pace: 101.1 (6), Off: 107.0 (6), Def: 107.3 (27)
A year ago, the Kings were 9-8 in early December despite a 1-6 start on the road. They'd be 3-0 on the road this year if it weren't for a late collapse in New Jersey on Friday. It's early, but they have the most improved offense from last season, even with Tyreke Evans missing a game.
Previous: 26

23 Toronto (1-1)
Pace: 99.8 (11), Off: 95.8 (25), Def: 90.9 (3)
Yes, it's the smallest sample size ever, but Toronto is the third best defensive team in the NBA! Don't worry about an explanation for the complete statistical flip-flop, just take this time to celebrate the Raptors' defensive dominance before they play eight of their next 10 on the road.
Previous: 30

24 Cleveland (1-2)
Pace: 95.9 (23), Off: 96.1 (23), Def: 104.0 (18)
With a win over the Celtics and losses to the Raptors and Kings (getting outscored by a total of 30 points in the third quarter in the two losses), the Cavs are the Jekyll and Hyde Team of the Week. Coming off the bench doesn't seem to suit Antawn Jamison, who is shooting 7-for-22.
Previous: 17

25 Minnesota (1-2)
Pace: 106.1 (1), Off: 94.3 (27), Def: 97.9 (11)
Free Kevin Love!
Previous: 29

26 Charlotte (0-3)
Pace: 91.3 (30), Off: 99.8 (18), Def: 111.2 (29)
For the second straight year, it took the Bobcats about five minutes to score their first points of the season. Of course, the defense has to be of greater concern at this point, because if this team can't get stops, Larry Brown will be looking for greener pastures by January.
Previous: 18

27 L.A. Clippers (0-3)
Pace: 95.9 (21), Off: 90.1 (30), Def: 107.6 (28)
Unfortunately, opponents won't allow Blake Griffin to dunk on every possession. And statistically, the Clippers are the worst team in the league, getting outscored by 17.6 points per 100 possessions. Their starters are shooting a combined 36 percent.
Previous: 22

28 Washington (0-2)
Pace: 98.9 (13), Off: 90.6 (29), Def: 105.9 (23)
Having John Wall open in Orlando just wasn't fair, but the No. 1 pick recovered well enough to score 28 points and dish out nine assists in Saturday's loss in Atlanta. Beginning with Tuesday's home opener against the Sixers, the schedule eases up quite a bit over the next couple of weeks.
Previous: 24

29 Detroit (0-3)
Pace: 97.7 (16), Off: 100.2 (15), Def: 104.6 (19)
The Pistons were up seven with 1:40 to go in New Jersey, up one with seven seconds left against Oklahoma City, and up 21 in the third quarter in Chicago. And they lost all three games. Statistically, they're the best team without a win. Emotionally, they can't be doing so well.
Previous: 28

30 Philadelphia (0-3)
Pace: 96.4 (19), Off: 94.7 (26), Def: 103.7 (17)
Doug Collins wants everyone to know that none of his players has a winning record in their years in the NBA. Do you get the feeling that the coach, when his team plays on TNT in early December, might just sit down next to Marv Albert and pretend like he never left his old job?
Previous: 27
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