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Time has come for our No. 1s to meet on the court

Power Rankings: Week 14

POSTED: Feb 2, 2015 11:24 AM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann

NBA.com

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The Hawks host the Warriors on Friday in a must-see matchup between the NBA's class of the East and West.

Two teams have dominated the top of the Power Rankings this season. The Golden State Warriors held the top spot for the first eight weeks, running out to a 23-3 record in the tough Western Conference. And, after one Monday with the Chicago Bulls at the top, the Atlanta Hawks have held on to No. 1 for five weeks straight now, having won 33 of their 35 games since Thanksgiving.

Even as the Hawks were streaking, the Warriors had a claim as the better team. They've had the No. 1 defense in the league, a more efficient offense than Atlanta, and the league's best point differential by a wide margin. But the Hawks weren't getting by on a soft, Eastern Conference schedule, and have accumulated more quality wins than the Dubs. Their 16 wins against teams currently over .500 are three more than any other team has.

And now, we're finally going to see the NBA's two powerhouses go head to head. On Friday in Atlanta, the Hawks and Warriors will meet for the first time. The backcourt matchups (Stephen Curry vs. Jeff Teague and Klay Thompson vs. Kyle Korver) are reason enough to watch, but it's the cohesion on both ends of the floor that makes both teams so good. And the team that's more cohesive on Friday should be at the top of the Power Rankings next Monday.

A week after they meet in Atlanta, there will be a lot of Hawks and Warriors in New York. Hopefully, we'll get to see Korver vs. Curry in the 3-point contest the night before Mike Budenholzer and Steve Kerr coach their respective All-Star teams.

* * *

• Last week: Race for West's eighth spot starting to heat up
• This time last year: New commissioner in NBA, but same No. 1 on this list -- Adam Silver took over for David Stern, the Nets threw away a win against the Raptors, Evan Turner beat the Celtics at the buzzer, and reports had the Cavs dealing with locker room problems.

• Plus-minus stud: Zach Randolph (MEM) was a plus-55 in four games last week.
• Plus-minus dud: J.J. Hickson (DEN) was a minus-47 in four games last week.

• Hero Team of the Week: Memphis (4-0) -- The Grizzlies won their four games by an average or 17 points, winning in Dallas by 19 on the second night of a back-to-back.
• Zero Team of the Week: Orlando (0-3) -- The Bucks are good, but no so good that you should be losing to them by 29 points in the third quarter at home.

• High jumps of the week: Cleveland (+3), Houston, (+3), Phoenix (+3), Toronto (+3)
• Free falls of the week: Chicago (-4), Portland (-4), Washington (-4)

• East vs. West: The West is 168-116 (0.592) against the East in interconference games, but the East was 14-11 last week.

• Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. L.A. Lakers, 2. Utah, 3. Philadelphia
• Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Atlanta, 2. Washington, 3. Golden State
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)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)

The league has averaged 96.2 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.0 points scored per 100 possessions through Sunday.

* * *

NBA.com's Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man's opinion. If you have 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

Last week: 1

Atlanta (40-8)
Pace: 96.0 (17) OffRtg: 107.4 (5) DefRtg: 99.5 (4) NetRtg: +7.8 (2)
The Hawks are the first team to 40 wins, the second to surpass last season's win total, and the ninth in NBA history to win 19 straight games. They're 34-1 after building a double-digit lead, and the only loss came back on Nov. 7, when they led the Hornets by 10 for 46 seconds in the first quarter and lost in double-OT on Lance Stephenson's banked three.
This week: @ NOP, vs. WAS, vs. GSW, @ MEM

2

Last week: 2

Golden State (37-8)
Pace: 101.3 (1) OffRtg: 109.6 (3) DefRtg: 97.1 (1) NetRtg: +12.6 (1)
The Warriors have only eight losses, but three two-game losing streaks. Rebounding was a big part of last week's losses to the Bulls and Jazz, who combined for 36 offensive boards and 44 second chance points. No team has regressed more in defensive rebounding percentage than the Dubs, who rank 23rd this season, down from fifth last year.
This week: @ SAC, vs. DAL, @ ATL, @ NYK

3

Last week: 3

Memphis (35-12)
Pace: 94.2 (26) OffRtg: 105.1 (10) DefRtg: 100.4 (7) NetRtg: +4.7 (7)
Zach Randolph has recorded a double-double in all 12 games since he returned from a knee injury. More importantly, the Grizzlies have held nine of the 12 opponents to a point per possession or less. Despite missing Mike Conley in four of their last nine games, the Grizz are rolling again, and only two of their last six pre-break games are against winning teams.
This week: @ PHX, @ UTA, @ MIN, vs. ATL

4

Last week: 4

L.A. Clippers (33-15)
Pace: 96.2 (15) OffRtg: 110.8 (1) DefRtg: 103.3 (16) NetRtg: +7.5 (3)
After Saturday's win in San Antonio, the Clippers are 9-4 against the other teams in the West's top eight, with five straight wins by an average of 16 points. Austin Rivers has scored in double-figures in three straight games and on Saturday, Spencer Hawes finally looked like the guy Doc Rivers thought he was signing. When it has a bench, this team is really good.
This week: @ BKN, @ CLE, @ TOR, @ OKC

5

Last week: 8

Houston (33-15)
Pace: 98.6 (4) OffRtg: 103.3 (14) DefRtg: 99.5 (3) NetRtg: +3.8 (9)
With Dwight Howard possibly out for most of February, the Rockets' margin for error is thin, and their season might have flashed before their eyes when James Harden went down (temporarily) with a knee injury on Saturday. Ten of their next 14 games are at home, but 11 of their next 13 are against teams currently above .500 (against whom they're 10-12).
This week: vs. CHI, vs. MIL, vs. POR

6

Last week: 5

San Antonio (30-18)
Pace: 95.5 (22) OffRtg: 103.7 (13) DefRtg: 99.9 (6) NetRtg: +3.8 (8)
The Spurs' defense has been improved since Kawhi Leonard's return, but offense has been a struggle with Manu Ginobili (36 percent over the last eight games) slumping and Boris Diaw not playing nearly as well as he did last season. Saturday's loss to the Clippers was their second by 20-plus in 10 days and, by far, their worst home loss of the season.
This week: vs. ORL, vs. MIA, @ TOR

7

Last week: 6

Dallas (32-17)
Pace: 96.6 (12) OffRtg: 110.2 (2) DefRtg: 103.1 (14) NetRtg: +7.1 (4)
Dallas isn't the offensive juggernaut it was before the Rajon Rondo trade, but it takes success on both ends of the floor to compete for a title, and the Mavs are one of four teams that ranks in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency since the deal. They still have to prove themselves against good teams after losses to Memphis and Houston last week.
This week: vs. MIN, @ GSW, @ SAC, vs. POR

8

Last week: 11

Phoenix (28-21)
Pace: 99.3 (2) OffRtg: 106.5 (7) DefRtg: 104.0 (19) NetRtg: +2.4 (13)
The Suns took care of business against the Wizards and Bulls at the end of their eight-game homestand and still have more home games (17) than road games (16) remaining on their schedule. But they've scored less than 90 points per 100 possessions in their last three games away from the U.S. Airways Center after Saturday's loss at Golden State.
This week: vs. MEM, @ POR, vs. UTA, @ SAC

9

Last week: 12

Toronto (33-15)
Pace: 95.9 (18) OffRtg: 109.5 (4) DefRtg: 104.6 (21) NetRtg: +5.0 (5)
They needed overtime after blowing leads of 17-plus to both the Nets and Wizards, and they still haven't completely turned things around on defense. The Raptors have won six straight, though, to climb back into second place in the East. Lou Williams hasn't shot particularly well, but he's the team's second leading scorer (and a team-high plus-57) during the streak.
This week: vs. MIL, vs. BKN, vs. LAC, vs. SAS

10

Last week: 13

Cleveland (29-20)
Pace: 94.6 (24) OffRtg: 106.9 (6) DefRtg: 105.3 (24) NetRtg: +1.6 (14)
With Andrew Wiggins scoring 33 points on Saturday, the Cavs got a little taste of what they traded for Kevin Love, who has shot 38 percent over his last 10 games. But any trade regrets can be put on hold during a 10-game winning streak, with the Cleveland offense continuing to roll thanks, in part, to Kyrie Irving's 55 points in the absence of LeBron James.
This week: vs. PHI, vs. LAC, @ IND, vs LAL

11

Last week: 7

Portland (32-16)
Pace: 96.7 (11) OffRtg: 104.5 (11) DefRtg: 99.7 (5) NetRtg: +4.8 (6)
If you believe that Damian Lillard deserved a trip to New York over one of the Thunder's two All-Stars, you could simply point out that he's played almost as many minutes (for a much better team) than the two of them combined. But maybe those minutes have taken their toll. Lillard has shot 33 percent as the Blazers have lost eight of their last 10 games.
This week: vs. UTA, vs. PHX, @ DAL, @ HOU

12

Last week: 14

New Orleans (25-22)
Pace: 94.1 (27) OffRtg: 105.7 (8) DefRtg: 105.1 (23) NetRtg: +0.6 (15)
There was an Anthony Davis injury scare last week, but with Friday's win over the Clippers, the Pelicans have won seven of their last eight games against the top 10 in the West, scoring 110 points per 100 possessions in the eight games. They're already 2-0 against the Thunder, so they can clinch a tiebreaker with a split of this week's huge home-and-home set.
This week: vs. ATL, vs. OKC, @ OKC, vs. CHI

13

Last week: 9

Washington (31-17)
Pace: 95.9 (20) OffRtg: 103.9 (12) DefRtg: 100.4 (8) NetRtg: +3.5 (10)
The Wizards have been a better first-half team than second-half team, especially defensively. But they've allowed an average of 59.3 points (getting scorched from 3-point range) in the first 24 minutes over their last four games, losing the last three first halves by double-figures. They came back to beat the Lakers on Tuesday, but have dropped two straight.
This week: vs. CHA, @ ATL, @ CHA, vs. BKN

14

Last week: 10

Chicago (30-19)
Pace: 95.9 (19) OffRtg: 105.2 (9) DefRtg: 102.4 (12) NetRtg: +2.8 (11)
The Bulls still have all the tools to be the best team in the East. But they haven't been consistent on either end of the floor in going 5-9 since Jan. 7. The offense has been the bigger problem and it starts with Derrick Rose. He hit the game-winner at Golden State on Tuesday, but his jumper has otherwise been off, and turnovers have been a bigger problem.
This week: @ HOU, @ NOP, @ ORL

15

Last week: 17

Milwaukee (25-22)
Pace: 96.5 (13) OffRtg: 101.7 (17) DefRtg: 99.0 (2) NetRtg: +2.7 (12)
Saturday's win over the Blazers was both a preview of Giannis Antetokounmpo in the dunk contest and the latest example of how good the Bucks' defense is. The offense hasn't been so great, but Jared Dudley shot 13-for-21 in two starts for the injured Ersan Ilyasova last week. Milwaukee has won three straight for the first time since November.
This week: @ TOR, vs. LAL, @ HOU, vs. BOS

16

Last week: 16

Charlotte (20-27)
Pace: 95.2 (23) OffRtg: 98.0 (29) DefRtg: 100.5 (9) NetRtg: -2.5 (17)
The Hornets are 4-1 without Kemba Walker (who's out at least six weeks), even though Brian Roberts and Lance Stephenson have combined to shoot 29 percent (6-for-24 from 3-point range) in the five games. Nobody behind them looks like much of a threat to take their playoff spot away, but no East team has more road games (19) or more back-to-backs (10) left.
This week: @ WAS, vs. WAS, @ PHI, vs. IND

17

Last week: 15

Oklahoma City (23-24)
Pace: 97.1 (9) OffRtg: 100.8 (22) DefRtg: 100.7 (10) NetRtg: +0.1 (16)
The Thunder offense has been held under a point per possession in 10 of their last 13 games and they're not getting any closer to a playoff spot. But they've still won 11 of their last 13 games at home and have the league's most home-heavy (21 home, 14 road) remaining schedule. They haven't played more than two straight games at the Peake since November.
This week: vs. ORL, @ NOP, vs. NOP, vs. LAC

18

Last week: 18

Detroit (18-30)
Pace: 96.1 (16) OffRtg: 101.0 (21) DefRtg: 103.7 (17) NetRtg: -2.6 (19)
Pistons fans voiced their displeasure with Josh Smith and got some revenge on Saturday. But a win over the shorthanded Rockets doesn't make up for a 20-point defeat to the Sixers. Jodie Meeks may be the guy who misses Brandon Jennings most. He shot 4-for-16 in Philly and is 2-for-14 from 3-point range since Jennings was lost for the season.
This week: vs. MIA, @ IND, vs. DEN, vs. MIN

19

Last week: 19

Miami (21-26)
Pace: 91.8 (30) OffRtg: 101.1 (20) DefRtg: 104.0 (18) NetRtg: -2.8 (20)
Hassan Whiteside is making jump shots now, and he hasn't just put up crazy numbers (like 24 rebounds in less than 29 minutes against the Mavs on Friday). He helped the Heat go from ranking 29th defensively in December to seventh in January. They're off to a good start in February, holding Boston to 16 or fewer points in three of four quarters on Sunday.
This week: @ DET, @ MIN, @ SAS

20

Last week: 20

Utah (17-30)
Pace: 92.9 (28) OffRtg: 102.9 (15) DefRtg: 106.1 (27) NetRtg: -3.2 (23)
The Jazz are making their way through a tough stretch of schedule and are obviously still a few steps from putting it all together, especially in the backcourt. But Friday's win over the Warriors was a taste of their potential. Gordon Hayward (26 points, 15 rebounds, six assists) played like a star and their four-man frontline was strong from top to bottom.
This week: @ POR, vs. MEM, @ PHX, vs. SAC

21

Last week: 21

Boston (16-30)
Pace: 98.9 (3) OffRtg: 100.6 (23) DefRtg: 103.3 (15) NetRtg: -2.6 (18)
James Young saw some playing time on Sunday and coach Brad Stevens says we'll be seeing more of the rookie soon. But the Celtics haven't committed to prioritizing the future over the present just yet. Avery Bradley is playing through a busted thumb and Tayshaun Prince had been playing ahead of Young until a hip issue kept him out against the Heat.
This week: @ NYK, vs. DEN, vs. PHI, @ MIL

22

Last week: 24

Sacramento (17-29)
Pace: 97.3 (8) OffRtg: 102.7 (16) DefRtg: 105.8 (26) NetRtg: -3.1 (22)
The Kings ended their eight-game losing streak in Indiana on Saturday, though they had to hold on for dear life after DeMarcus Cousins fouled out for the third time in eight games. Only six other players have fouled out that many times all season and the Kings remain awful when he's off the floor. He's an All-Star, because their record surely isn't his fault.
This week: vs. GSW, vs. DAL, @ UTA, vs. PHX

23

Last week: 23

Brooklyn (18-28)
Pace: 94.4 (25) OffRtg: 99.7 (24) DefRtg: 104.4 (20) NetRtg: -4.7 (25)
The Nets were relatively competitive against the Hawks and Raptors last week, but have lost 12 of their last 14 games. Brook Lopez totaled 53 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks against Atlanta and Toronto, but the defense has been terrible, allowing 123 points per 100 possessions over the last 10 games, with him and Mason Plumlee on the floor together.
This week: vs. LAC, @ TOR, vs. NYK, @ WAS

24

Last week: 25

Indiana (17-32)
Pace: 95.6 (21) OffRtg: 98.0 (28) DefRtg: 101.0 (11) NetRtg: -3.1 (21)
Roy Hibbert was 9-for-11 in Thursday's win over the Knicks and whatever remains of their frontline. The Pacers are 12-8 when Hibbert has made at least half of his shots, but 3-22 when he hasn't (and 2-2 when he hasn't played). They may have a favorable schedule going forward, but it won't matter if they don't get enough offense from their 7-2 center.
This week: vs. DET, vs. CLE, @ CHA

25

Last week: 22

Denver (19-29)
Pace: 98.4 (5) OffRtg: 101.2 (19) DefRtg: 105.2 (22) NetRtg: -3.9 (24)
JaVale McGee is back (and back to Shaqtin') and the Nuggets ended their losing streak with a win in New Orleans on Wednesday. But they hit a new low by getting thumped in Memphis on Thursday and giving up 62 first-half points to the anemic Hornets on Saturday. Things will get real ugly if they don't take advantage of some similarly bad pre-break opponents.
This week: @ PHI, @ BOS, @ DET

26

Last week: 28

New York (10-38)
Pace: 92.8 (29) OffRtg: 99.0 (26) DefRtg: 107.4 (28) NetRtg: -8.4 (28)
The Knicks have already won as many games in the second half of the season (five) as they won in the first half. The big difference in their numbers is on defense, in part because they've played some terrible offenses in the last two weeks. But Carmelo Anthony has been shooting well and getting to the line more than he was earlier in the season.
This week: vs. BOS, @ BKN, vs. GSW

27

Last week: 29

Philadelphia (10-38)
Pace: 97.9 (6) OffRtg: 91.4 (30) DefRtg: 102.5 (13) NetRtg: -11.2 (30)
The Sixers almost ended the Hawks' winning streak by becoming the second team to beat them after trailing by double-figures, but couldn't get the late stops they needed on Saturday. Their most-used lineup is a plus-33 in 149 minutes together, though Brett Brown has limited its minutes by bringing K.J. McDaniels off the bench for the last four games.
This week: @ CLE, vs. DEN, @ BOS, vs. CHA

28

Last week: 26

Orlando (15-35)
Pace: 96.2 (14) OffRtg: 99.4 (25) DefRtg: 105.7 (25) NetRtg: -6.3 (26)
The Magic have have lost 14 of their last 16 games and had the second worst defense in January. Jacque Vaughn may pay the price and the remaining schedule could make a new coach look good if they figure out how to win at home (where they're 5-17). After they visit the Thunder and Spurs, they'll have eight more home games (19) than road games (11).
This week: @ OKC, @ SAS, vs. LAL, vs. CHI

29

Last week: 27

L.A. Lakers (13-35)
Pace: 97.0 (10) OffRtg: 101.4 (18) DefRtg: 107.9 (29) NetRtg: -6.5 (27)
It's Jordan Clarkson time. The rookie point guard from Missouri, who is starting ahead of Jeremy Lin, averaged 18.3 points in three games last week and hit a big jumper in the second overtime of Thursday's win over the Bulls. He has the size to finish in the paint, but doesn't appear to be much of a distributor, averaging just 2.5 assists per 36 minutes.
This week: @ MIL, @ ORL, @ CLE

30

Last week: 30

Minnesota (8-39)
Pace: 97.6 (7) OffRtg: 98.8 (27) DefRtg: 109.6 (30) NetRtg: -10.8 (29)
Ricky Rubio is set to return from a 42-game absence on Monday. He's typically helped the Wolves more on defense than offense, but given Zach LaVine's learning curve at point guard, Rubio will provide a huge boost on both ends of the floor. Though Kevin Martin didn't shoot well in his first three games back, he has added some much-needed spacing.
This week: @ DAL, vs. MIA, vs. MEM, @ DET