Now we can all just go about our business of playing, watching and analyzing the final 874 games of the 2015-16 season.
The Golden State Warriors lost. It was bound to happen, and it shouldn't be a surprise that it happened at the end of a seven-game road trip, on the second night of a back-to-back, after a double-overtime thriller, even though the opponent wasn't a good one. The Milwaukee Bucks did what four teams in our top 10 couldn't do earlier on the Warriors' trip, but they had some help, especially from the Raptors, Pacers and Celtics, who all made Stephen Curry and Draymond Green play big minutes along the way.
Warriors vs. Bucks
Greg Monroe scores 28 points for the Bucks, who beat the defending NBA champions, snapping the Warriors' NBA-record start at 24 wins.
It was the definition of a schedule loss, and there will be others before April 13. But the Warriors can now play some regular, regular season games, at least until they host the Cavs on Christmas, their first game against one of the three teams that might have a chance of beating them four times in a seven-game series.
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• Last week: Parity makes for some good East basketball
• This time last year: Change could be in the air as trade season arrives -- Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list. The Warriors had won 16 straight games and the Kings fired Mike Malone. Blake Griffin beat the Suns with a lucky bounce, Bradley Beal beat the Magic on an alley-oop, Tobias Harris beat the Hawks with an elbow pull-up, and Tony Allen did a turnover dance.
• Plus-minus stud: Russell Westbrook (OKC) was a plus-68 in four games last week.
• Plus-minus dud: Nik Stauskas (PHI) was a minus-88 in four games last week.
• Hero team of the week: Toronto (4-0) -- The Raptors benefited from three games against bad teams, but their perfect week included a win over the Spurs without DeMarre Carroll or Jonas Valanciunas.
• Zero team of the week: Philadelphia (0-4) -- The Sixers' week (on the court) began with a 51-point loss to the Spurs and didn't get much better after that.
• Team to watch this week: Toronto -- After a 4-0 week at home, the Raptors hit the road to face three teams -- Indiana, Charlotte and Miami -- tied with them in the loss column.
• East vs. West: The East is 72-70 (0.507) against the West in interconference games and was 15-15 last week.
• Toughest schedules through Dec. 13: 1. New Orleans, 2. Sacramento, 3. Philadelphia
• Easiest schedules through Dec. 13: 1. San Antonio, 2. Houston, 3. Toronto
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: Milwaukee (+4), Phoenix (+4), Six teams (+3)
• Free falls of the week: Miami (-6), Minnesota (-6), New Orleans (-4)
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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 98.6 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 101.5 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
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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.
Golden State (24-1)
Pace: 101.8 (3) OffRtg: 112.9 (1) DefRtg: 98.1 (5) NetRtg: +14.8 (1)
Now that the streak is over, the Warriors can focus on their long-term goals, like staying healthy, staying fresh, and getting back to being the best defensive team in the league. As they've torn other defenses to shreds, their own has taken a small step backward. Luke Walton doesn't need to start giving days off yet, because the champs are playing only five games, all at home, in the next 16 days.
This week: vs. PHX, vs. MIL
(20-5) Pace: 95.9 (26) OffRtg: 104.7 (4) DefRtg: 91.9 (1) NetRtg: +12.7 (2)
The Spurs' starting lineup has had its ups and downs offensively; it's scored less than a point per possession over the last five games
. But this team continues to win with its bench, which has been similarly dominant as that of the Warriors
. Gregg Popovich is now 12-0 against former assistants Brett Brown and Mike Budenholzer, having beat them by a combined 76 points last week. This week:
vs. UTA, vs. WAS, vs. LAC
(15-7) Pace: 95.6 (29) OffRtg: 105.0 (3) DefRtg: 99.9 (11) NetRtg: +5.1 (5)
The Cavs are 6-6 in games they've trailed by 10 or more points after Tuesday's win over the Blazers
. But it was nice to not have one of those double-digit deficits Friday in Orlando, where they built their biggest halftime lead (16 points) since the second game of the season. The easy win
came with the season debut of Iman Shumpert (who shot 5-for-7) and a breakthrough for Timofey Mozgov (8-for-9). Two big games this week. This week:
@ BOS, vs. OKC, vs. PHI
(16-8) Pace: 99.1 (13) OffRtg: 107.6 (2) DefRtg: 100.0 (12) NetRtg: +7.7 (3)
Though the Thunder haven't had a consistent third scorer behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (Serge Ibaka followed 23 points against Atlanta with 15 total in a home-and-home with Utah
), they've scored 111 points per 100 possessions on their five-game winning streak. A third guy hasn't been all that necessary with how efficient Durant has been. He's on Stephen Curry's tail for the league lead in true shooting percentage
. This week:
vs. POR, @ CLE, vs. LAL
(16-9) Pace: 96.1 (25) OffRtg: 103.9 (6) DefRtg: 99.4 (9) NetRtg: +4.5 (6)
The Raptors are without two starters, but their four-game winning streak (with a win over the Spurs) has been a result of better starts. After losing five straight first quarters, they've won four straight (by a total score of 108-84), with DeMar DeRozan (31 points on just 17 shots
) and Luis Scola (24 points) giving them some early punch. DeMarre Carroll could be missed against Paul George, Nicolas Batum and Dwyane Wade this week. This week:
@ IND, @ CHA, @ MIA, vs. SAC
Pace: 101.3 (4) OffRtg: 101.1 (18) DefRtg: 97.0 (4) NetRtg: +4.1 (8)
The Celtics came up short against the champs, but won their two more important games - vs. Chicago and at Charlotte - last week, improving to 4-5 against the other nine East teams over .500, with three more games against that group this week. Their offense continues to be shaky, but their defense has held seven of their last 10 opponents, including two top-six offenses over the weekend, under a point per possession.
This week: vs. CLE, @ DET, vs. ATL
Pace: 98.4 (17) OffRtg: 104.4 (5) DefRtg: 98.6 (6) NetRtg: +5.8 (4)
The big story in Charlotte has been the Hornets' improved offense. But they're playing Steve Clifford defense again, having risen from 17th to sixth in defensive efficiency over the last three weeks (a climb somewhat aided by the absence of Al Jefferson over the last six games). Top six on both ends of the floor - where only the Warriors, Spurs and Hornets reside - is title contention territory.
This week: @ ORL, vs. TOR, @ WAS
(13-9) Pace: 100.1 (7) OffRtg: 102.7 (9) DefRtg: 99.5 (10) NetRtg: +3.2 (9)
Monta Ellis had one of his best performances as a Pacer in an important win over Miami on Friday, but Indy has lost four of their last five games, allowing 114 points per 100 possessions. The starting lineup has been outscored by 29 points in that stretch
and has been the seventh worst defensive unit among 34 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes
. Their status as a top-10 team on both ends of the floor is shaky. This week:
vs. TOR, vs. DAL, vs BKN, @ MEM
(13-9) Pace: 95.9 (27) OffRtg: 100.9 (19) DefRtg: 96.7 (2) NetRtg: +4.1 (7)
The Heat are 7-1 against the Western Conference after Sunday's comeback win over Memphis
. But they're 6-8 against the East after losses to the Wizards, Hornets and Pacers (that dropped them from first to seventh in the standings) last week. From the fourth quarter on Monday through the first quarter on Sunday, they scored a paltry 84.2 points per 100 possessions. This week brings two more big games within the East. This week:
@ ATL, @ BKN, vs. TOR, vs. POR
(13-8) Pace: 99.8 (8) OffRtg: 97.2 (28) DefRtg: 96.8 (3) NetRtg: +0.5 (14)
Taj Gibson's move into the starting lineup hasn't exactly solved the Bulls' offensive problems. The new starters have scored just 71 points in 44 minutes together since the move
. Fourth quarters were more of a problem than first quarters ... until Saturday, when the bench, led by Aaron Brooks (15 points in the period
), helped them come back to beat the Pelicans with a 34-24 fourth. This week:
vs. PHI, vs. MEM, vs. DET, @ NYK
(14-11) Pace: 98.2 (20) OffRtg: 102.5 (11) DefRtg: 101.0 (14) NetRtg: +1.5 (12)
The Hawks' offense was a thing of beauty last season, but has been rather mediocre this year, scoring just 101 points per 100 possessions as they've gone 6-9 over the last 4 1/2 weeks
. The starting lineup has been generally sharp in that time
, but they've scored a paltry 93.9 in 244 minutes with Kyle Korver off the floor
. Dennis Schroder's journey to being a starting point guard somewhere has hit a road block. This week:
vs. MIA, vs. PHI, @ BOS, @ ORL
(14-10) Pace: 99.2 (11) OffRtg: 103.8 (7) DefRtg: 101.1 (15) NetRtg: +2.7 (10)
The Clippers are 7-2 since Thanksgiving, but have only the 14th ranked offense in that stretch
and haven't beat a team with a winning record since they beat the Pistons a month ago. They're in Detroit on Monday for another matchup of the two worst benches on good teams. The Clippers have been 15 points per 100 possessions worse offensively
with Chris Paul off the floor, and Doc Rivers still isn't staggering his stars' minutes. This week:
@ DET, vs. MIL, @ SAS, @ HOU
Pace: 99.0 (14) OffRtg: 102.6 (10) DefRtg: 101.0 (13) NetRtg: +1.6 (11)
If the Mavs were a clear playoff team in the West, they'd be taking advantage of this soft stretch of schedule (eight of nine games against teams at or below .500 and the other against the struggling Hawks) that ends Monday against Phoenix. But losses to Sacramento, Houston, Atlanta and Washington, in which they were outscored by 22.3 points per 100 possessions over the middle two quarters, are signs of mediocrity.
This week: vs. PHX, @ IND, vs. MEM
(14-11) Pace: 98.1 (21) OffRtg: 99.7 (21) DefRtg: 99.1 (7) NetRtg: +0.6 (13)
The Pistons' offensive improvement (105.3 points scored per 100 possessions over the last eight games) was validated by Saturday's big win over Indiana
. They had six guys in double-figures in that game and Marcus Morris has been shooting well, but, ranking 29th in passes per possession, they tend to go as Reggie Jackson goes. They're 10-1 in games he has shot 45 percent or better
and 4-10 otherwise. This week:
vs. LAC, vs. BOS, @ CHI
Pace: 94.4 (30) OffRtg: 102.2 (13) DefRtg: 101.7 (16) NetRtg: +0.4 (15)
Gordon Hayward has been solid (he severely outplayed Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday) and Quin Snyder has been tinkering with his starting lineup, but the Jazz are 2-6 without Rudy Gobert and barely holding on to a top-eight spot in the West. After three losses to the Thunder in the last three weeks (in which they allowed 111 points per 100 possessions), they don't face them again until late March.
This week: @ SAS, vs. NOP, vs. DEN
(12-11) Pace: 98.4 (18) OffRtg: 99.4 (23) DefRtg: 99.3 (8) NetRtg: +0.1 (16)
The Magic have lost three of their last four games, allowing the Clippers, Suns and Cavs to score 111 points per 100 possessions in the three losses
. They rank eighth in defensive efficiency overall, but are 1-5 and rank 26th defensively against the league's top 10 offenses. They face two more this week (plus No. 11 Atlanta) at the start of a stretch where they play seven of their last eight games of 2015 at home. This week:
@ BKN, vs. CHA, vs. POR, vs. ATL
(13-12) Pace: 96.7 (24) OffRtg: 99.2 (24) DefRtg: 104.7 (25) NetRtg: -5.5 (24)
It was an eventful week for the Grizzlies. They suffered two more blowout losses, they got a miracle win on Matt Barnes' ridiculous half-court heave
, and they may have said an official goodbye to grit and grind with Zach Randolph losing his starting job in Sunday's loss in Miami
. Of course, the offense has been pretty bad (94.9 points scored per 100 possessions
) with Matt Barnes and Jeff Green on the floor together. This week:
vs. WAS, @ CHI, @ DAL, vs. IND
(12-12) Pace: 100.5 (6) OffRtg: 102.1 (14) DefRtg: 105.1 (27) NetRtg: -3.0 (21)
It's hard to believe that the Rockets have really turned the corner until they get another quality win, beat a non-Lakers team by more than seven points, or stop losing to the Nets. But they're 7-2 with the league's second best offense
since Thanksgiving and their bench is looking decent, with Donatas Motiejunas back in the post and their back-up wings - Corey Brewer and Marcus Thornton - shooting better. This week:
@ DEN, @ SAC, @ LAL, vs. LAC
(10-12) Pace: 101.2 (5) OffRtg: 100.6 (20) DefRtg: 104.1 (23) NetRtg: -3.5 (22)
Six of the Wizards' last seven games have been within five points in the last five minutes and their late-game offense was brutal against Houston on Wednesday and in New Orleans on Friday
. But they got a big win in Miami on Monday and held on for dear life in Dallas on Saturday. Now, they have to at least tread water without Bradley Beal (another stress reaction in his right leg) for at least two weeks. This week:
@ MEM, @ SAS, vs. CHA
(11-14) Pace: 101.9 (2) OffRtg: 102.5 (12) DefRtg: 103.1 (19) NetRtg: -0.7 (18)
Mirza Teletovic's incredible rebound and fadeaway game-winner
in Chicago ended a string of heartbreaking losses and sparked a 3-1 week that has the Suns hanging around the playoff picture. Devin Booker has begun his career by making 17 of his first 24 3-pointers
, but Jeff Hornacek is bringing the rookie along slowly. A spot in the top eight is within reach, the defense has been improved, and some big games are on the horizon. This week:
@ DAL, @ GSW, vs. NOP, vs. MIL
(11-14) Pace: 97.0 (23) OffRtg: 99.5 (22) DefRtg: 102.2 (17) NetRtg: -2.7 (20)
With games against Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor coming this week, Kristaps Porzingis has won the race to the rookie wall. He shot 6-for-25
and saw limited second-half minutes on the Knicks' three-game trip out West. He's not the only issue with the Knicks' starting lineup, which has been outscored, 173-119, over the last five games
, allowing more than 122 points per 100 possessions
. This week:
vs. MIN, @ PHI, vs. CHI
(10-15) Pace: 97.3 (22) OffRtg: 103.6 (8) DefRtg: 104.2 (24) NetRtg: -0.6 (17)
If you haven't figured it out yet, the Blazers are rather erratic. They blew a four-point lead with 20 seconds to go in Milwaukee on Monday, blew an 18-point, first-half lead in Cleveland on Tuesday, and blew a 10-point, fourth quarter lead against the Knicks on Saturday. Allen Crabbe has had a strong December though, shooting 55 percent
(13-for-30 from 3-point range) and scoring in double-figures in all seven games
. This week:
vs. NOP, @ OKC, @ ORL, @ MIA
(10-15) Pace: 95.7 (28) OffRtg: 99.1 (25) DefRtg: 104.7 (26) NetRtg: -5.6 (25)
Saturday's game doesn't take anything away from the Warriors, but it could be a spark for the Bucks, who rank eighth defensively since Thanksgiving
and who beat the Blazers earlier in the week with some nice execution on O.J. Mayo's three
and Greg Monroe's layup
that erased a four-point deficit in 12 seconds. Of course, they've lost nine straight games on the road, where they play 15 of their next 21. This week:
@ LAL, @ LAC, @ GSW, @ PHX
(9-15) Pace: 101.9 (1) OffRtg: 102.1 (15) DefRtg: 106.1 (28) NetRtg: -4.0 (23)
With the extra rest days he had last week, George Karl shortened his rotation and got two wins in which the Kings outscored the Jazz and Knicks 120-56 in the paint
. A big part of that, obviously, was DeMarcus Cousins, who recovered from a three-game stretch in which he shot 13-for-53. And not only did Rajon Rondo dunk
, but he also made seven of his eight free throws last week. This week:
vs. HOU, @ MIN, @ TOR
(9-14) Pace: 98.4 (19) OffRtg: 97.8 (26) DefRtg: 103.9 (22) NetRtg: -6.0 (27)
It was looking like a real ugly week in Denver, with the Nuggets scoring a total of 68 points in the second half against Orlando on Tuesday and first half against Minnesota on Friday. After the Orlando loss
, Mike Malone said his team's offense was "on a milk carton." But a big third quarter helped them come back from 18 down against the Wolves, and they won in overtime
with Danilo Gallinari scoring nine of their 11 points. This week:
vs. HOU, @ MIN, @ UTA, vs. NOP
(9-14) Pace: 98.9 (15) OffRtg: 101.7 (16) DefRtg: 102.7 (18) NetRtg: -1.0 (19)
Kevin Garnett turned back the clock and hit Blake Griffin over the head with it
on Monday. But the Wolves have lost six of their last seven games, allowing more than 112 points per 100 possessions when KG has sat down
. The only win in that stretch was against the Lakers, and they've built a habit of blowing big leads. Friday's overtime loss in Denver
put them at 2-3 in games they've led by at least 15 points. This week:
vs. DEN, @ NYK, vs. SAC, @ BKN
(6-17) Pace: 99.7 (9) OffRtg: 101.3 (17) DefRtg: 108.5 (30) NetRtg: -7.3 (28)
It feels like a make-or-break week for the Pelicans. After Saturday's loss in Chicago
(in which they blew a double-digit, second-half lead), they're 1-11 on the road. And now they play four road games against teams between them and a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The defense still stinks and they're not getting consistent offensive production from anybody, even Anthony Davis, who shot 16-for-45 in two losses last week
. This week:
@ POR, @ UTA, @ PHX, @ DEN
(7-16) Pace: 98.7 (16) OffRtg: 97.6 (27) DefRtg: 103.2 (20) NetRtg: -5.6 (26)
Joe Johnson has shown some signs of life, Bojan Bogdanovic has started to make shots, Andrea Bargnani is still in the NBA, and the Nets have scored more than a point per possession in three straight games for the first time this season. But their schedule is getting tough again. Saturday's loss to the Clipppers
began a stretch where 14 of 16 games are against teams currently over .500. Twelve of the 16 are against top-10 defenses. This week:
vs. ORL, vs. MIA, @ IND, vs. MIN
(3-21) Pace: 99.1 (12) OffRtg: 96.8 (29) DefRtg: 108.5 (29) NetRtg: -11.7 (29)
Getting sent to the bench hasn't helped Julius Randle, who has shot 39 percent in four games as a reserve
(5-for-20 over the weekend). But D'Angelo Russell had a big fourth quarter and a big shot in Wednesday's overtime loss in Minnesota and then returned to the starting lineup after Jordan Clarkson sprained an ankle. The Lakers went 1-7 on their trip and are back on the road after two (winnable?) games at home. This week:
vs. MIL, vs. HOU, @ OKC
Pace: 99.2 (10) OffRtg: 91.2 (30) DefRtg: 103.5 (21) NetRtg: -12.3 (30)
Before their win over the Lakers, the Sixers were pretty competitive in their losses. Since then, not so much. But to make up for how uninteresting they've been on the floor, they've had some fireworks off it. Jerry Colangelo was added to the front office on Monday and Mike D'Antoni could be added to the coaching staff soon. It's going to be fascinating how this all plays out and if "the process" takes a detour.
This week: @ CHI, @ ATL, vs. NYK, @ CLE