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Power Rankings: Warriors take their show on the road

Thunder, Heat soaring, too; Wizards, Knicks take a tumble

POSTED: Nov 30, 2015 10:45 AM ET
UPDATED: Nov 30, 2015 11:36 AM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann

NBA.com

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Several teams -- like the champion Warriors -- will rack up loads of flyer miles this week.

It's a good time to be a basketball fan in an Eastern Conference city.

Sure, the West, thanks to a 9-2 record over the last five days, has regained the edge in games played between the two conferences. But almost every team in the East has been competitive this season. Even the Nets (went down to the wire with both Golden State and Cleveland) and Sixers (have led in the fourth quarter each of their last five games) have been if you want to be generous with your definition of "competitive."

Furthermore, as you get ready for the holidays, there will be a few can't-miss shows touring the East. The Warriors, the Thunder, and Kobe Bryant are all hitting the road this week. And over the next 13 days, 11 of the 15 Eastern Conference arenas will get their last glimpse of Kobe or their only 2015-16 viewing of Stephen Curry or the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook Show.

The only exceptions are Cleveland (which will see OKC on Dec. 17th), Chicago (which gets its visit Anthony Davis on the 12th), Orlando (which has LeBron James coming to town on the 11th), and New York (which will see both Curry and OKC in late January).

It's a great time to be alive and watching basketball ... though it would be cool to fast forward to Jan. 25 for that first Warriors-Spurs meeting.

* * *

• Last week: Problems arise for Bucks, Clippers
• This time last year: Warriors, Grizzlies break through as West's new powers -- Russell Westbrook returned from a 14-game absence to help the Thunder recover from a 3-12 start. DeMar DeRozan suffered a groin injury that would knock him out for 21 games. DeMarcus Cousins was dealing with a virus that would eventually cost Mike Malone his job. Kevin Garnett tried to bite Joakim Noah, Memphis was 15-2, and the Sixers were 0-16.

• Plus-minus stud: Stephen Curry (GSW) was a plus-82 in three games last week.
• Plus-minus dud: John Wall (WAS) was a minus-55 in four games last week.

• Hero team of the week: San Antonio (4-0) -- The Spurs' offense still hasn't hit its stride, but the defense had things locked down as their 4-0 week culminated in a 20-point win over the Hawks.
• Zero team of the week: Washington (0-4) -- The Wizards lost their first three games by a total of 64 points, and then blew an eight point lead with less than four minutes to go against the Raptors.

• East vs. West: The West is 42-41 (0.506) against the East in interconference games and was 10-4 last week.

• Toughest schedules through Nov. 29: 1. New Orleans, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Washington
• Easiest schedules through Nov. 29: 1. Golden State, 2. San Antonio, 3. Dallas
Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.

• High jumps of the week: Memphis (+6), Minnesota (+5), Miami (+3), Orlando (+3)
• Free falls of the week: Washington (-6), New York (-5), Three teams (-4)

* * *

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 98.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 101.3 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

* * *

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

Golden State (18-0)
Pace: 102.1 (3) OffRtg: 113.5 (1) DefRtg: 96.5 (5) NetRtg: +17.0 (1)
If you aren't convinced yet, the Warriors can add to their resume over the course of a seven-game road trip that begins Monday in Utah and includes two back-to-backs, five games against teams with winning records, and three against top-10 defenses. They could be without Harrison Barnes (sprained left ankle) for the entire trip, which obviously hurts their ability to play dominant small ball.
This week: @ UTA, @ CHA, @ TOR, @ BKN

2

Last week: 3

San Antonio (14-3)
Pace: 96.4 (25) OffRtg: 103.0 (8) DefRtg: 93.1 (1) NetRtg: +9.9 (2)
The Spurs have won 11 of their last 12 games, are 9-0 at home, and have held each of their last five opponents under 90 points per 100 possessions, even though they've been without a starter in three of those five games. They've always been good at keeping their opponents off the line, but this season's opponent free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of just 0.199 would be the lowest in the last 43 years.
This week: @ CHI, vs. MIL, @ MEM, vs. BOS

3

Last week: 2

Cleveland (13-4)
Pace: 95.6 (28) OffRtg: 106.2 (3) DefRtg: 100.0 (13) NetRtg: +6.2 (6)
The Cavs remained unbeaten at home (they're 29-1 in regular-season games at the Q since mid-January), thanks to LeBron James's game-winner and an obvious missed call against Brooklyn on Saturday. But lackluster defense in the first halves of games continues to put them in tough spots late. They've lost the first half in all five games they've played against Brooklyn, New York and Philadelphia.
This week: vs. WAS, @ NOP, @ MIA

4

Last week: 5

Indiana (11-5)
Pace: 99.9 (9) OffRtg: 102.0 (11) DefRtg: 95.5 (3) NetRtg: +6.4 (5)
The Pacers have won five straight, avenging their last loss (against the Bulls) along the way. Paul George (40, 33 and 39 points last week) continues to put up big numbers, C.J. Miles hit eight threes in Washington on Tuesday, and now Monta Ellis is starting to get going. They're on the brink of ranking in the top 10 on both ends of the floor, but a tough stretch looms. Eight of their next 11 opponents are over .500.
This week: @ LAC, @ POR, @ UTA

5

Last week: 6

Oklahoma City (11-6)
Pace: 100.8 (6) OffRtg: 107.8 (2) DefRtg: 100.2 (14) NetRtg: +7.6 (3)
Kevin Durant shot 12-for-23 from 3-point range in his first three games back and is shooting 50 percent (65-for-130) from outside the paint this season. The Thunder have scored more than 111 points per 100 possessions on their four-game winning streak and, after visits to Atlanta and Miami this week, will have played 11 of their 19 games against the Eastern Conference.
This week: @ ATL, @ MIA, vs. SAC

6

Last week: 9

Miami (10-5)
Pace: 96.0 (27) OffRtg: 101.4 (13) DefRtg: 94.5 (2) NetRtg: +7.0 (4)
The Heat held the Knicks to just 82 points per 100 possessions in two games last week. But sandwiched in between was a game in which they couldn't handle the Pistons' spread attack, with Chris Bosh struggling to recover out to opposing stretch fours. It's a good week to be watching games at the Heat's House, with three good teams coming to town. Both Boston and Cleveland will be on the second night of a back-to-back.
This week: vs. BOS, vs. OKC, vs. CLE

7

Last week: 8

Toronto (11-7)
Pace: 97.0 (24) OffRtg: 103.0 (7) DefRtg: 99.5 (11) NetRtg: +3.5 (9)
Six of the Raptors' last eight games have been within five points in the last five minutes, including a pair of thrillers over the weekend. Cory Joseph hit the game-winner in Washington on Saturday, but had a couple of late turnovers against Phoenix on Sunday. Bismack Biyombo is supposed to bring defense, but the new starting lineup has allowed 112 points per 100 possessions in the four games Jonas Valanciunas has missed.
This week: @ ATL, vs. DEN, vs. GSW

8

Last week: 4

Chicago (9-5)
Pace: 100.5 (8) OffRtg: 97.3 (26) DefRtg: 97.2 (6) NetRtg: +0.1 (17)
Fred Hoiberg came to Chicago with a plan to revamp the Bulls' offense. But no team has regressed more offensively than the Bulls, who have scored 7.4 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season. They've shot less than 40 percent in each of their last three games, rank 29th in field goal percentage in the restricted area, and are a bottom-7 team in three of the four factors. That's bad.
This week: vs. SAS, vs. DEN, vs. CHA

9

Last week: 10

Atlanta (11-8)
Pace: 98.7 (18) OffRtg: 103.9 (6) DefRtg: 101.1 (16) NetRtg: +2.8 (10)
The Hawks might not have four All-Stars again this year, but Paul Millsap is looking good for his third straight selection. He's averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals. And even though he's shooting more threes, his free throw rate is the highest its been since his rookie season. He totaled 48 points and 23 boards in two good wins (vs. Boston and at Memphis) last week.
This week: vs. OKC, vs. TOR, vs. LAL

10

Last week: 7

Dallas (10-7)
Pace: 99.3 (13) OffRtg: 101.1 (15) DefRtg: 99.5 (10) NetRtg: +1.6 (13)
Rick Carlisle's offense can be as good as any offense in the league ... if guys make shots. Dirk Nowitzki leads the league in 3-point percentage, but Mavs not named Nowitzki or Deron Williams have shot a brutal 27.4 percent from beyond the arc. It was incredible that Wesley Matthews was able to play at the start of the season, but he hasn't been a very reliable secondary option. The Mavs are traveling from coast to coast this week.
This week: @ SAC, @ POR, vs. HOU, @ WAS

11

Last week: 12

Utah (8-7)
Pace: 94.7 (30) OffRtg: 100.5 (19) DefRtg: 98.7 (7) NetRtg: +1.8 (12)
The Jazz began their first homestand of the season with a win over New Orleans on Saturday and their offense (102.3 points scored per 100 possessions over their last six games) has shown some signs of life. But they've assisted on less than half of their buckets in that stretch and they're down with the Sixers in regard to what percentage of their passes result in an assist, free throw assist or secondary assist.
This week: vs. GSW, vs. ORL, vs. IND

12

Last week: 14

Charlotte (10-7)
Pace: 98.1 (20) OffRtg: 104.3 (5) DefRtg: 99.7 (12) NetRtg: +4.6 (7)
The Hornets could be without Al Jefferson (strained calf - MRI on Monday) for a few games, but got good minutes from a young frontline of Frank Kaminsky and Tyler Zeller in wins over the Kings and Bucks last week. They've won eight of their last nine games at Time Warner Cable Arena, but complete their seven-game homestand with a visit from the champs on Wednesday, the first of four straight games against top-10 defenses.
This week: vs. GSW, @ CHI

13

Last week: 19

Memphis (10-8)
Pace: 97.4 (22) OffRtg: 98.8 (24) DefRtg: 102.2 (17) NetRtg: -3.4 (21)
Opening-week losses to the Cavs (by 30) and Warriors (by 50) have the Grizzlies' point differential still looking ugly. But they've now won seven of their last nine games, even with Zach Randolph missing five of them. Mike Conley is their barometer. He has an effective field goal percentage of 60.7 percent in wins and 32.7 percent in losses. That's the biggest differential among 58 players with at least 75 shots in both.
This week: @ NOP, vs. SAS, vs. PHX

14

Last week: 11

Boston (9-8)
Pace: 101.6 (4) OffRtg: 100.0 (20) DefRtg: 96.4 (4) NetRtg: +3.6 (8)
The Celtics have won their last three home games, allowing 82 points per 100 possessions. And they've lost their last three road games, allowing 115. So we have no choice but to send them to a neutral-site game on Thursday (Mexico City) to find out who they really are. There's still a big offensive drop-off when Isaiah Thomas sits, but he's not getting to the line nearly as much as he did at the end of last season.
This week: @ MIA, @ SAC (Mexico City), @ SAS

15

Last week: 17

L.A. Clippers (9-8)
Pace: 99.1 (15) OffRtg: 105.0 (4) DefRtg: 102.8 (20) NetRtg: +2.2 (11)
Doc Rivers' desperation reached the point where Luc Mbah a Moute went from garbage-time specialist on Friday to starter on Sunday. But the Clippers have won three of their last four games, holding their opponents under a point per possession, to get back on the right side of .500. Paul Pierce has played just 32 minutes over the last three games, but his four baskets on Sunday were the most he's made since opening night.
This week: vs. POR, vs. IND, vs. ORL

16

Last week: 21

Minnesota (8-9)
Pace: 99.3 (14) OffRtg: 100.9 (16) DefRtg: 100.7 (15) NetRtg: +0.2 (16)
Friday brought the answer to the question we've all be asking: If the Rubio-less Wolves played the Cousins-less Kings, which team wouldn't lose? That was the Wolves' third straight win, a streak that coincided with Sam Mitchell putting Kevin Martin in the starting lineup. But Martin has shot a brutal 26 percent over his last nine games and Zach LaVine has turned into a much more reliable scorer.
This week: vs. ORL, vs. POR

17

Last week: 20

Orlando (9-8)
Pace: 98.5 (19) OffRtg: 100.7 (18) DefRtg: 99.3 (9) NetRtg: +1.4 (14)
Victor Oladipo's move to the bench has sparked the Magic's first three-game winning streak. The new starting lineup is just a plus-1 in 43 minutes during the streak, but Oladipo is a plus-36, averaging 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists per 36 minutes off the bench. We'll see if that continues on the road, where the Magic are 2-5 and where they play six of their next seven games.
This week: @ MIN, @ UTA, @ LAC

18

Last week: 13

New York (8-10)
Pace: 96.4 (26) OffRtg: 99.6 (22) DefRtg: 102.2 (18) NetRtg: -2.7 (20)
The Knicks have followed a four-game winning streak with a four-game losing streak, shooting 36 percent in the three games Carmelo Anthony played and then failing to stop the Rockets without him on Sunday. Remember when they tallied 36 fast break points in their first two games? They've averaged 5.8 since then and rank last in the league in fast break points per game for the fourth straight season.
This week: vs. PHI, vs. BKN, @ MIL

19

Last week: 18

Phoenix (8-9)
Pace: 102.7 (1) OffRtg: 102.4 (10) DefRtg: 103.5 (24) NetRtg: -1.1 (18)
With Tyson Chandler playing less and missing a couple of games, the Suns' defense has been pretty terrible (110 points allowed per 100 possessions) over the last two weeks. But a break-out game (20 points, 6-for-7 from 3-point range) from Mirza Teletovic in Toronto on Sunday put an end to their four-game losing streak, and there's nothing but bottom-10 offenses left on their six-game trip.
This week: @ BKN, @ DET, @ WAS, @ MEM

20

Last week: 16

Detroit (8-9)
Pace: 97.2 (23) OffRtg: 97.0 (27) DefRtg: 98.8 (8) NetRtg: -1.8 (19)
The Pistons got a good win over the Heat on Wednesday, but shot 34 percent in their three losses last week. With an effective field goal percentage of 45.3 percent, they're the second worst shooting team of the last 10 years, depending on second-chance points for more than 15 percent of their offense. A soft, four-game homestand (all four opponents are bottom-10 defensive teams) could get them back on track.
This week: vs. HOU, vs. PHX, vs. MIL, vs. LAL

21

Last week: 15

Washington (6-8)
Pace: 101.5 (5) OffRtg: 98.1 (25) DefRtg: 103.3 (23) NetRtg: -5.3 (23)
While defense has been the larger problem for the Wizards this season, their offense has been rather anemic (87 points scored per 100 possessions) as they've lost four straight games to Eastern Conference teams they should be competing with for a playoff spot. John Wall hasn't just missed 67 percent of the shots he's taken during the streak, he missed a pair of crucial free throws in Saturday's loss to Toronto.
This week: @ CLE, vs. LAL, vs. PHX, vs. DAL

22

Last week: 23

Portland (7-10)
Pace: 97.8 (21) OffRtg: 102.7 (9) DefRtg: 102.4 (19) NetRtg: +0.3 (15)
The Blazers continue to live or die with their starting backcourt. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have shot a combined 47 percent from 3-point range in the team's seven wins, but just 28 percent in its 10 losses. They had a chance to beat the Bulls on Tuesday with Lillard shooting 4-for-22, but he missed a free throw to tie with 21 seconds left. They're 3-0 against L.A. teams, visiting the Clippers on Monday.
This week: @ LAC, vs. DAL, vs. IND, @ MIN

23

Last week: 24

Sacramento (6-12)
Pace: 102.1 (2) OffRtg: 101.7 (x) 12DefRtg: 106.6 (27) NetRtg: -4.8 (22)
The Kings got a win (in Milwaukee) without DeMarcus Cousins, but have allowed more than 112 points per 100 possessions in the eight games he's missed, with Kosta Koufos unable to hold it down on that end of the floor. Via a combination of Cousins' injuries (and suspension) and the inconsistency of George Karl's rotation, no Kings lineup has played more than 38 minutes together.
This week: vs. DAL, vs. BOS (Mexico City), @ HOU, @ OKC

24

Last week: 26

New Orleans (4-13)
Pace: 100.5 (7) OffRtg: 100.8 (17) DefRtg: 108.5 (29) NetRtg: -7.7 (27)
The Pelicans' three-game winning streak and run of strong offense came to an end with road losses to the Clippers and Jazz. Their defense remains bad, but they're not letting their opponents get to the rim as much as they did last season and their league-high opponent 3-point percentage will come down with time. Nine teams have contested a lower percentage of their opponents' 3-point attempts.
This week: vs. MEM, @ HOU, vs. CLE

25

Last week: 27

Brooklyn (4-13)
Pace: 98.7 (17) OffRtg: 96.6 (29) DefRtg: 103.1 (22) NetRtg: -6.5 (25)
The Nets have remained competitive against a pretty tough schedule, despite Lionel Hollins' apparent apathy when faced with the task of figuring out how to make his team better. After an ugly first seven games, they've been outscored by just 2.5 points per 100 possessions over the last 10, with seven of those games on the road and seven against teams currently over .500.
This week: vs. PHX, @ NYK, vs. GSW

26

Last week: 22

Denver (6-11)
Pace: 98.8 (16) OffRtg: 98.9 (23) DefRtg: 105.1 (25) NetRtg: -6.2 (24)
The Nuggets have lost six straight games, only one of them was within five points in the last five minutes, and they hit a low-point in Dallas on Saturday, scoring five points in the third quarter. Danilo Gallinari and Emmanuel Mudiay were 0-for-8 in those 12 minutes and have combined to shoot 31 percent during the streak. The schedule has been tough, but Saturday's loss was just the start of a five-game trip.
This week: @ MIL, @ CHI, @ TOR, @ PHI

27

Last week: 28

Houston (7-10)
Pace: 99.7 (11) OffRtg: 99.7 (21) DefRtg: 106.3 (26) NetRtg: -6.6 (26)
A two-point escape against the Sixers and an overtime victory over the Melo-less Knicks isn't much, but the Rockets will take what they can get and they're undefeated (2-0) with Patrick Beverley starting at the point. The flip side of that is that prized summer acquisition Ty Lawson played just 2:41 against Memphis on Wednesday and was a DNP in New York on Sunday, stuck behind both Beverley and Jason Terry.
This week: @ DET, vs. NOP, @ DAL, vs. SAC

28

Last week: 25

Milwaukee (6-11)
Pace: 94.8 (29) OffRtg: 101.4 (14) DefRtg: 109.0 (30) NetRtg: -7.7 (28)
Jason Kidd changed his starting lineup on Sunday, but starts really haven't been the problem for the Bucks. They've outscored their opponents by 19.6 points per 100 possessions in the first six minutes of games, a mark which leads the league. The problem, which has multiple factors, is that they've been outscored by 11.9 points per 100 possessions over the final 42 minutes.
This week: vs. DEN, @ SAS, @ DET, vs. NYK

29

Last week: 30

Philadelphia (0-18)
Pace: 99.9 (10) OffRtg: 90.8 (30) DefRtg: 102.9 (21) NetRtg: -12.1 (30)
The Sixers are knocking on the door. After holding fourth-quarter leads in just two of their first 13 games, they've been up in the final period in each of the last five. But the clutch-time stats in those five games are ugly: 6-for-27 shooting (1-for-11 from 3-point range), one assist and 11 turnovers. They're staying in games by playing defense and rank eighth on that end over the last 19 days.
This week: vs. LAL, @ NYK, vs. DEN

30

Last week: 29

L.A. Lakers (2-14)
Pace: 99.5 (12) OffRtg: 96.7 (28) DefRtg: 107.4 (28) NetRtg: -10.6 (29)
Kobe Bryant made official what was growing more obvious with every 6-for-19 shooting night. He'll have more chances to make big shots, but Sunday night's attempt to tie was just another sign his decision is probably coming too late. We might want to look away at times over the next 4 1/2 months, but we'll keep hoping that the Mamba stays healthy through April 13.
This week: @ PHI, @ WAS, @ ATL, @ DET