By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Mar 4, 2013 11:15 AM
There are seven weeks left in the regular season. And while the Lakers' playoff chase is a fascinating story to monitor daily, we also just want every team to be at full strength come April 20, no matter who the final 16 teams are.
So yeah, we (selfishly) want to see Derrick Rose in uniform for the Bulls. We want to see Danny Granger get back in shape and in rhythm. We want to see Andrew Bogut anchoring the Warriors' defense full-time. And we definitely don't want to see Tony Parker go down with an ankle injury that could ultimately hurt the Spurs' chances at one more run for title No. 5.
Of course, a completely healthy league is never going to be a reality. And the first day of last year's playoffs (when both Rose and Iman Shumpert went down with ACL tears) is still fresh in our minds. All we can do is hope for the best.
Last week: Heat hitting their stride
This time last year: Bulls take back No. 1 spot -- Kobe Bryant was shooting 54 percent with a mask on, Deron Williams scored a 2011-12 NBA season-high 57 points in Charlotte, Brook Lopez was done for the season after five games, and Josh Smith did this to Serge Ibaka.
Hero Team of the Week: Denver (3-0) -- The Nuggets blew by the Lakers, won in Portland, and then held on to beat the Thunder.
Zero Team of the Week: Charlotte (0-3) -- Three losses by an average of 29.3 points. U-G-L-Y.
High jumps of the week: Boston (+4), Atlanta (+3), Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Washington (+2)
Free falls of the week: Golden State (-5), Brooklyn (-3), Toronto (-3)
East vs. West: The West is 204-150 (.576) against the East in interconference games this season and was 13-11 last week.
Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. New Orleans, 2. Golden State, 3. Phoenix
Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. New York, 2. Atlanta, 3. Orlando
Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank) - Click here
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
The league is averaging 94.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 102.8 points scored per 100 possessions.
NBA.com's Power Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Monday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via twitter.
|1|| Miami (43-14) |
Pace: 93.0 (23), OffRtg: 110.7 (1), DefRtg: 101.6 (11), NetRtg: +9.0 (3)
The Grizzlies and Knicks have been vanquished and the Heat's winning streak is at 14 games. Neither LeBron James nor his shooting percentage can be kept down, and Shane Battier still can't miss. But another challenge comes Sunday, with a visit from the Pacers. That may be the only drama left for the Heat between now and May, unless people really want to talk about this dunk contest nonsense.
This week: @ MIN, vs. ORL, vs. PHI, vs. IND
|Last week: 1|
|2|| San Antonio (47-14) |
Pace: 96.6 (7), OffRtg: 107.4 (5), DefRtg: 97.7 (3), NetRtg: +9.7 (2)
With Tony Parker out four weeks with a sprained ankle, it's obviously time for Manu Ginobili to step up, and the Spurs need him playing his best come playoff time either way. Ginobili had 15 assists against the Kings on Friday and 17 points on eight shots against the Pistons on Sunday, but didn't need to play more than 23 minutes in either win. Tougher challenges (Chicago and OKC) lay ahead.
This week: vs. CHI, vs. POR
|Last week: 2|
|3|| Oklahoma City (43-16) |
Pace: 96.4 (8), OffRtg: 110.4 (2), DefRtg: 99.5 (6), NetRtg: +10.9 (1)
The door is seemingly open for the Thunder to get back the No. 1 seed in the West. And no, they should NOT be afraid of a first-round matchup with the Lakers. But including Tuesday's game against L.A., they have a pretty tough stretch of five games in seven days, which concludes with a visit to San Antonio next Monday. Sunday's win over the Clips ended a three-game road losing streak.
This week: vs. LAL, @ NYK, @ CHA, vs. BOS
|Last week: 3|
|4|| L.A. Clippers (43-19) |
Pace: 94.2 (16), OffRtg: 106.5 (7), DefRtg: 99.7 (7), NetRtg: +6.7 (4)
The Clips are still clearly No. 3 in the West after falling to 0-3 against Oklahoma City on Sunday, but one wonders how that game would have turned out if Serge Ibaka had been ejected for Batuming Blake Griffin. Chris Paul scored 29 points on the road against the No. 1 defense on Thursday, but has shot just 10-for-35 (1-for-9) from 3-point range in his two games against the Thunder.
This week: vs. MIL, @ DEN, vs. DET
|Last week: 4|
|5|| Indiana (38-22) |
Pace: 92.5 (26), OffRtg: 101.0 (19), DefRtg: 95.5 (1), NetRtg: +5.4 (5)
The Pacers continue to get better offensively and have a better point differential than the Heat over the course of Miami's winning streak. All five Indy starters have averaged double-figures in that time, led by David West, who averaged 24 points in four games last week. So if they can get something from Danny Granger off the bench, they could be more of a threat to the champs than previously thought.
This week: vs. BOS, @ ORL, @ MIA
|Last week: 5|
|6|| Memphis (39-19) |
Pace: 91.8 (28), OffRtg: 100.8 (20), DefRtg: 97.2 (2), NetRtg: +3.6 (8)
Their winning streak came to an end in Miami on Friday, but the Grizzlies' defense proved (for most of the night, at least) that it can hang with one of the best offenses of the last 36 years. Now, they're dealing with injuries to both Zach Randolph (ankle) and Darrell Arthur (head/neck), so it could be Ed Davis' time to shine. He recorded his first Memphis double-double in Sunday's route of the Magic.
This week: vs. POR, @ CLE, vs. NOH
|Last week: 6|
|7|| Denver (38-22) |
Pace: 97.7 (2), OffRtg: 106.9 (6), DefRtg: 102.8 (13), NetRtg: +4.1 (7)
The Nuggets lack a traditional go-to guy, but they do have two point guards they can trust with the ball in their hands. Andre Miller hit the Blazers with a go-ahead post move in the final minute on Wednesday, and Ty Lawson hit the game-winner against the Thunder on Friday. Of course, the two are still a combined 7-for-25 in the final minute of games with a score differential of three points or less.
This week: vs. ATL, @ SAC, vs. LAC, vs. MIN
|Last week: 7|
|8|| Houston (33-28) |
Pace: 98.8 (1), OffRtg: 107.5 (4), DefRtg: 104.7 (24), NetRtg: +2.8 (9)
The Rockets have gone back to a more traditional starting lineup, with rookie Donatas Motiejunas, who wasn't even in the rotation before the All-Star break, at the four. He gives James Harden and Jeremy Lin the spacing they need to attack the basket, and has shot 6-for-14 from 3-point range over the last four games. The new lineup has been kind of ridiculous offensively in limited (52) minutes.
This week: @ DAL, @ GSW, @ PHX
|Last week: 8|
|9|| New York (35-21) |
Pace: 92.7 (24), OffRtg: 108.1 (3), DefRtg: 103.3 (15), NetRtg: +4.8 (6)
The Knicks are comfortably on the 2-3 side of the Eastern Conference bracket, Amar'e Stoudemire continues to give them efficient scoring off the bench and Jason Kidd finally rediscovered his 3-point stroke on Sunday. But quality wins from this team have been pretty sparse over the last couple of months. After failing to hold the Heat down, they're set to host the Thunder on Thursday.
This week: @ CLE, @ DET, vs. OKC, vs. UTA
|Last week: 9|
|10|| Chicago (34-26) |
Pace: 92.1 (27), OffRtg: 99.9 (24), DefRtg: 98.6 (4), NetRtg: +1.3 (12)
On the latest episode of "As The Star Returns," Derrick Rose sat on the Bulls' bench in Indiana on Sunday, which apparently means that he's one step closer to playing. In the meantime, the Bulls continue to play up and down, and seemingly miss Kirk Hinrich every time he sits. Since Jan. 1, they're 15-4 with Hinrich, who is a broken nose from having injured every single body part this season.
This week: @ SAS, vs. UTA, @ LAL
|Last week: 10|
|11|| Boston (31-27) |
Pace: 93.6 (20), OffRtg: 100.3 (21), DefRtg: 99.5 (5), NetRtg: +0.9 (13)
The Celtics only played two games, but it was a good week for Avery Bradley. He scored a season-high 18 points in Monday's win in Utah and then shut down Stephen Curry on Friday. Paul Pierce was the star though, totaling 52 points, 15 boards and 12 assists in the two games and scoring seven straight points in Monday's overtime to get the Celtics a big win on the road.
This week: @ PHI, @ IND, vs. ATL, @ OKC
|Last week: 15|
|12|| L.A. Lakers (30-30) |
Pace: 97.2 (4), OffRtg: 105.4 (8), DefRtg: 103.5 (16), NetRtg: +2.0 (10)
The Lakers have reached .500, but before they can throw a parade, they have to make a trip to Oklahoma City. It's fair to wonder how their defense will hold up on Tuesday, but 34-year-old Kobe Bryant seems to be holding up just fine. He's averaged 34.8 points and 7.2 rebounds, while shooting 57 percent, over the last five games and doesn't seem to have any problems elevating when he needs to.
This week: @ OKC, @ NOH, vs. TOR, vs. CHI
|Last week: 13|
|13|| Atlanta (33-25) |
Pace: 94.2 (15), OffRtg: 102.7 (13), DefRtg: 101.2 (10), NetRtg: +1.5 (11)
Al Horford has now scored 20-plus in nine straight games and has as many 3-pointers (3) in his last four games as he had in his first 368. But the Hawks dropped the ball in Phoenix on Friday and, with the game on the line, couldn't catch the ball in L.A. on Sunday. Now, their six-game trip ends with the second night of a back-to-back in the thin air of Denver, and they don't get any real rest after that.
This week: @ DEN, vs. PHI, @ BOS, vs. BKN
|Last week: 16|
|14|| Brooklyn (34-26) |
Pace: 90.7 (30), OffRtg: 103.2 (11), DefRtg: 103.7 (18), NetRtg: -0.5 (16)
Only the Heat (22-3) and Spurs (29-4) have better records against teams under .500 than Brooklyn (19-3). The Nets play eight of their next 11 games against losing teams, but nothing's a given with how they've been playing. They've lost four of their last five and their offense has been rather spotty for quite a while now, scoring less than a point per possession over their last 21 games.
This week: @ CHA, vs. WAS, @ ATL
|Last week: 11|
|15|| Utah (32-27) |
Pace: 93.8 (19), OffRtg: 103.7 (10), DefRtg: 104.1 (19), NetRtg: -0.4 (15)
With the Lakers closing in and with the Rockets about to go through a relatively easy stretch, Utah plays five of its next six games on the road and eight of its next 10 against teams over .500. So it's a bad time for both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to be dealing with sprained left ankles ... unless Enes Kanter can get 23 and 22 every night, like he did against the Bobcats on Friday.
This week: @ MIL, @ CLE, @ CHI, @ NYK
|Last week: 14|
|16|| Milwaukee (29-28) |
Pace: 97.3 (3), OffRtg: 100.3 (23), DefRtg: 101.1 (9), NetRtg: -0.9 (17)
The Bucks clinched the season series with Toronto on Saturday and have won three straight, while the Raptors have dropped four in a row and the Sixers are the Sixers. So it's time to start printing those playoff tickets in Milwaukee. Brandon Jennings shot just 9-for-31 last week, but he got bailed out by Monta Ellis in Houston on Wednesday and dished out 19 more assists on Saturday.
This week: vs. UTA, @ LAC, @ GSW, @ SAC
|Last week: 17|
|17|| Golden State (33-27) |
Pace: 96.8 (6), OffRtg: 103.7 (9), DefRtg: 103.5 (17), NetRtg: +0.2 (14)
It was cool that Stephen Curry averaged 36.8 points over four games last week. His 54-point MSG performance was one for the ages and he's truly an offensive star. But the Warriors went 0-for-4, scoring less than a point per possession and allowing the Sixers' awful offense to shoot 52 percent. If they weren't home for 16 of their final 22 games, it would be panic time. It still might be.
This week: vs. TOR, vs. SAC, vs. HOU, vs. MIL
|Last week: 12|
|18|| Washington (19-39) |
Pace: 94.4 (14), OffRtg: 96.1 (30), DefRtg: 99.8 (8), NetRtg: -3.7 (23)
Bradley Beal is making another run at Damian Lillard in the Rookie of the Year race, averaging 20.0 points on 49 percent shooting over his last nine games, including a 29-point, 11-rebound performance against the Knicks on Friday. Of course, he plays for the Wizards, so you know there's a catch. And he sprained his left ankle late in Sunday's win over Philly. He's listed as day-to-day.
This week: @ MIN, @ BKN, vs. CHA
|Last week: 20|
|19|| Dallas (26-33) |
Pace: 96.9 (5), OffRtg: 102.5 (15), DefRtg: 104.1 (20), NetRtg: -1.6 (19)
It was quite a depressing week for the Mavs, who blew a late, five-point lead against the Bucks on Tuesday, blew a 25-point lead in Memphis on Wednesday, and gave up a 44-point quarter in Houston on Sunday. They did get a decent win in Brooklyn, but are clearly in a spoiler role now. They face the Rockets again on Wednesday before playing a couple of Lottery-ball matchups on the road.
This week: vs. HOU, @ DET, @ MIN
|Last week: 19|
|20|| Portland (27-31) |
Pace: 93.8 (18), OffRtg: 102.1 (16), DefRtg: 105.2 (25), NetRtg: -3.1 (20)
After a brutal February in which they got outscored by more than 10 points per 100 possessions, the Blazers were probably happy to flip the calendar to March. They played just two games last week, but that was enough for rookie Meyers Leonard to break out, scoring 25 total points in the two games. Still, he was a little too excited about dunking on a 36-year-old point guard on Wednesday.
This week: vs. CHA, @ MEM, @ SAS, @ NOH
|Last week: 22|
|21|| Toronto (23-37) |
Pace: 92.5 (25), OffRtg: 103.2 (12), DefRtg: 104.6 (23), NetRtg: -1.5 (18)
The Raptors' new starting lineup is the league's best defensive lineup that has played at least 100 minutes. But Rudy Gay missed Saturday's OT loss in Milwaukee with back spasms and Jonas Valanciunas was benched for Andrea Bargnani. It can't be because Valanciunas was shooting too much. The rookie had a total of just 24 field goal attempts in his previous eight games.
This week: @ GSW, @ PHX, @ LAL, vs. CLE
|Last week: 18|
|22|| Cleveland (20-39) |
Pace: 94.8 (11), OffRtg: 101.9 (17), DefRtg: 107.0 (28), NetRtg: -5.1 (26)
The absence of Kyrie Irving has allowed Dion Waiters to take on a playmaker role. The rookie has at least six assists in six of the 10 games he's played without Irving. He's also averaged 19.9 points on 53 percent shooting over his last seven games. The Cavs had as many wins (2) in Irving's three-game absence last week as they had in his 11-game absence in November and December.
This week: vs. NYK, vs. UTA, vs. MEM, @ TOR
|Last week: 23|
|23|| Detroit (23-39) |
Pace: 93.2 (21), OffRtg: 100.3 (22), DefRtg: 104.4 (22), NetRtg: -4.2 (25)
Did somebody in Detroit tell Jose Calderon that he's not allowed to shoot the ball? He's one of the best shooters in the league and not that far off from a 50/40/90 season, but he's attempted less than 10 shots in six of his last eight games. He totaled 29 assists, but just 11 field goal attempts in visits to Washington (a win) and New Orleans (a loss) last week. Don't be shy, let it fly!
This week: vs. NYK, vs. DAL, @ LAC
|Last week: 21|
|24|| New Orleans (21-39) |
Pace: 91.1 (29), OffRtg: 102.6 (14), DefRtg: 106.7 (27), NetRtg: -4.1 (24)
Last week brought another injury (a bone bruise in his left shoulder) to Anthony Davis. And another shoulder injury has Jason Smith, who had shot 54 percent since Jan. 1, out for the season. The Hornets' defense is back to being terrible again, but Greivis Vasquez continues to show why he's a Most Improved candidate, putting up 25 points and nine assists in Friday's win over Detroit.
This week: vs. ORL, vs. LAL, @ MEM, vs. POR
|Last week: 24|
|25|| Phoenix (21-39) |
Pace: 95.0 (10), OffRtg: 98.3 (28), DefRtg: 104.4 (21), NetRtg: -6.1 (27)
Break up the Suns! They've won three straight, including Wednesday's miraculous victory in San Antonio, and they've played really good defense. Really. Jermaine O'Neal has recorded double-doubles in four of the last eight games, including a season-high 22 points and 13 boards against the Spurs, as well as the brilliant, 70-foot assist on Wesley Johnson's game-tying three.
This week: vs. TOR, @ SAC, vs. HOU
|Last week: 27|
|26|| Sacramento (21-40) |
Pace: 95.6 (9), OffRtg: 101.6 (18), DefRtg: 108.9 (30), NetRtg: -7.3 (29)
The Kings are at the bottom of the Western Conference, but they went 8-0 against the bottom four teams in the East this season, including wins by a total of 60 points over the Magic and Bobcats last week. And on Tuesday, No. 1 in the East needed two overtimes and a missed Pizza Guy game-winner to keep its winning streak going and avoid its only home loss of the last two months.
This week: vs. DEN, @ GSW, vs. PHX, vs. MIL
|Last week: 28|
|27|| Minnesota (20-36) |
Pace: 94.8 (12), OffRtg: 99.8 (25), DefRtg: 103.1 (14), NetRtg: -3.2 (21)
The Wolves have lost five straight and are 4-21 since early January. Both Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain) and Andrei Kirilenko (calf strain) are dealing with new injuries and Alexey Shved appears to have hit the rookie wall. He has shot 14-for-52 (27 percent) over the last seven games. As Kevin Love talks about coming back this season, his team's lottery odds improve almost daily.
This week: vs. MIA, vs. WAS, @ DEN, vs. DAL
|Last week: 25|
|28|| Philadelphia (23-35) |
Pace: 93.0 (22), OffRtg: 98.5 (27), DefRtg: 102.2 (12), NetRtg: -3.7 (22)
It looked like the Sixers had earned an automatic trip to the bottom of the Power Rankings with Tuesday's double-digit loss at home to the awful Magic and Doug Collins' sensational "It ain't my fault" press conference. But they actually managed to recover from that disaster to beat the slumping Warriors, while the Bobcats managed to look much worse over the weekend.
This week: vs. BOS, @ ATL, @ MIA, @ ORL
|Last week: 26|
|29|| Orlando (16-44) |
Pace: 93.9 (17), OffRtg: 99.6 (26), DefRtg: 106.4 (26), NetRtg: -6.8 (28)
Last week, we kind of downplayed Tobias Harris' solid Orlando debut. And then he went and shot 27-for-36 (5-for-9 from 3-point range) in his next three games, averaging 22.0 points and 7.7 rebounds. Maurice Harkless has also looked solid of late, averaging 14.1 points on 57 percent shooting (9-for-18 from beyond the arc) over his last eight games.
This week: @ NOH, @ MIA, vs. IND, vs. PHI
|Last week: 30|
|30|| Charlotte (13-46) |
Pace: 94.4 (13), OffRtg: 97.3 (29), DefRtg: 108.5 (29), NetRtg: -11.3 (30)
The Bobcats haven' won a road game outside of Orlando since Jan. 6. Last week, they got waxed by the Clippers, got waxed by the Jazz (who were without Millsap and Jefferson), and got really waxed by the 21-40 Kings. Want an example of the rookie wall? How about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's zero points, one rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes in L.A. on Tuesday.
This week: @ POR, vs. BKN, vs. OKC, @ WAS
|Last week: 29|
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