Power Rankings
Power Rankings
Power Rankings
Power Rankings

Power Rankings: No. 1 seeds at risk as schedule gets to Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

Archive

Mar 13, 2017 11:26 AM ET

1:07

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors have each lost five of their last seven games. Time to panic, worry, or just mild concern?

Probably not. Both teams can blame the schedule, having played each of their last seven games in a different city. And both teams can blame injuries, missing All-Star forwards - Kevins Durant and Love - for all (in the case of Love) or all but a minute and 33 seconds (in the case of Durant) of the seven-game stretch.

But the slides have made things interesting in regard to the No. 1 seed in both conferences. The Warriors are now just a half game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs, having lost the tiebreaker with Saturday's star-free defeat in San Antonio. And the Cavs are just two games ahead of both Washington and Boston in the East, with head-to-head games remaining against both of those teams.

The Warriors still rank as a top-2 team on both ends of the floor and still have three healthy All-Stars. But the Cavs have dropped to 22nd in defensive efficiency and have become even more reliant on LeBron James than they already were, having been outscored by 32 points per 100 possessions in 101 minutes with him off the floor this month.

In the last 40 years, only three teams have won the championship after ranking outside the top 10 in defensive efficiency. But all three of those teams - the 1988 Lakers, the 1995 Rockets and the 2001 Lakers - were defending champs, so the Cavs have that going for them. Both the Cavs and Warriors will need to flip the switch somewhat come April 15, but they also need to stabilize themselves in the next few weeks in order to hold onto home-court advantage through the first three rounds of the playoffs.

  • Hero team of the week: Washington (4-0) -- The Wizards beat four West teams with losing records, but coming back from 21 down in Portland on Saturday after playing overtime in Sacramento the night before was pretty darn impressive.
  • Zero team of the week: Memphis (0-3) -- The Grizzlies' five-game losing streak includes a double-digit home loss to Brooklyn on Monday.
  • East vs. West: The West is 211-177 (.544) against the East in interconference games after going 9-10 (0-4 vs. Washington) last week.
  • Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. Brooklyn, 2. Sacramento, 3. L.A. Lakers
  • Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Utah, 2. Washington, 3. Indiana
  • 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 (+7), Miami (+4), Six teams (+2)
  • Free falls of the week: Memphis (-8), Chicago (-5), Sacramento (-4)
  • Team to watch this week: Portland -- The Blazers' schedule is home heavy starting next week, but they first have to complete a trip with four road games (two back-to-backs) against top-10 defenses - New Orleans, San Antonio, Atlanta and Miami.

* * *

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 106.1 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:
2

Record: 51-14
Pace: 96.8 (26) OffRtg: 109.6 (5) DefRtg: 100.6 (1) NetRtg: +8.9 (2)

The Spurs quickly went from one concerning situation (Kawhi Leonard's concussion) to an even more concerning situation (LaMarcus Aldridge's heart issue). They should get a clearer timetable on Aldridge this week, with another home game against the Warriors, whom they're now tied with in the loss column, coming on March 29. The Spurs do have terrific depth - they have the league's best bench NetRtg by a wide margin and for the second straight season - and it will be interesting to see them revert to more pre-Aldridge offense (more pick-and-rolls) for the time being. Their assist rate has been highest when he's been off the floor.

This week: vs. ATL, vs. POR, @ MEM, vs. SAC

2
Last week:
1

Record: 52-14
Pace: 102.6 (2) OffRtg: 112.8 (1) DefRtg: 101.7 (2) NetRtg: +11.1 (1)

The Warriors now get some schedule relief after a rough eight-game stretch that gave Steve Kerr little choice but to rest his healthy starters in San Antonio on Saturday. But the team's issues go beyond the schedule. The Dubs haven't found themselves offensively without Kevin Durant, scoring just 104.2 points per 100 possessions in their first six games after his injury (including the one in which he was hurt in the second minute, not including Saturday's star-free game against the Spurs). That was their worst offensive six-game stretch in almost two years (since March 13, 2015). Stephen Curry has shot 18-for-76 (24 percent) from 3-point range over his last seven games to fall under 40 percent (and to 33rd in the league) for the season.

This week: vs. PHI, vs. ORL, vs. MIL

3
Last week:
3

Record: 46-21
Pace: 101.8 (4) OffRtg: 112.2 (2) DefRtg: 105.8 (16) NetRtg: +6.4 (3)

The Rockets had late-game issues in San Antonio on Monday, blowing a six-point lead with less than four minutes to go. They had bench issues against Utah on Wednesday, getting outscored by 18 points in 26 minutes with at least one reserve on the floor. The bench issues popped up again against Cleveland on Sunday (they were outscored by 18 points in nine minutes with James Harden off the floor), but they got the stops they needed for just their third win in their last 11 games that were within five points in the last five minutes. They still have the league's best post-break offense, even though Lou Williams has shot 25 percent in March.

This week: vs. LAL, @ NOP, @ DEN

4
Last week:
6

Record: 41-24
Pace: 99.6 (12) OffRtg: 108.5 (8) DefRtg: 105.7 (15) NetRtg: +2.8 (9)

The Wizards have been playing some good 'ol Western Conference basketball on their trip out west, scoring 117.5 points per 100 possessions and allowing 113.2 over the four games thus far. They avoided the Gorilla in Phoenix on Tuesday, came back from 15 down in the fourth quarter in Sacramento on Friday and then from 21 down in the third quarter in Portland a night later, winning in overtime both nights (with a little help from a missed call on Markieff Morris' game-winner), extending their winning streak to five games, and holding onto the 2 seed in the East. Only the Pacers (6-21) have more wins after trailing by 15 or more and only the Spurs (72) and Rockets (101) have trailed by 15-plus for fewer minutes than the Wizards (5-13, 112 minutes).

This week: @ MIN, vs. DAL, vs. CHI, @ CHA

5
Last week:
7

Record: 41-25
Pace: 93.8 (30) OffRtg: 107.1 (13) DefRtg: 102.0 (3) NetRtg: +5.0 (4)

It's mid-March and the Jazz are still navigating their way through injuries. They've won three out of every four games that George Hill, Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert have all played and have outscored their opponents by 14.2 points per 100 possessions with the trio on the floor together, but they rank 135th in the league in minutes played among all three-man units league-wide. Hill returned from a two-game absence on Saturday, but Gobert missed his first game of the season (a loss in Oklahoma City) with a leg issue. While the Jazz have other guys to handle playmaking duties when Hill has been out (and they won in Houston without him on Wednesday), there's no replacing Gobert's defensive impact.

This week: vs. LAC, @ DET, @ CLE, @ CHI

6
Last week:
4

Record: 43-22
Pace: 98.8 (15) OffRtg: 111.1 (3) DefRtg: 107.6 (22) NetRtg: +3.5 (6)

Though the travel wasn't as bad as that of the Warriors, the Cavs went 2-5 over a 12-day stretch in which they played in seven different cities, allowing 117 points per 100 possessions, and lost Andrew Bogut to a broken leg on his first defensive possession with the team. They did get J.R. Smith back last week, but he made just four of his 19 3-point attempts. They're 7-10 on the road since mid-January and are heading back out after a two-game homestand this week. With five more back-to-backs on the schedule, Larry Sanders (expected to sign on Monday) could be of use to spell Tristan Thompson, who still hasn't missed a single game (regular season or playoffs) in his career.

This week: vs. DET, vs. UTA, @ LAC, @ LAL

7
Last week:
5

Record: 42-25
Pace: 98.9 (14) OffRtg: 108.5 (9) DefRtg: 105.5 (12) NetRtg: +3.0 (8)

The Celtics' defense wasn't exactly consistent as their five-game trip wrapped up last week, giving up 73 points to the Clippers in the second half on Monday and 65 points to the Nuggets in the first half on Friday. But in between, they shut down the Warriors, and they rank fifth defensively since the break (inching closer to top 10 marks on both ends of the floor for the season) after holding the Bulls to just 26 points in the first half on Sunday. They're a game in the loss column behind the Wizards for the 2 seed in the East, but have the easier remaining schedule, with 10 of their last 15 games (including the final head-to-head meeting next Monday) at home and 11 against teams that currently have losing records (though that includes three games against the surging Heat and Bucks).

This week: vs. MIN, @ BKN, @ PHI

8
Last week:
8

Record: 37-29
Pace: 100.5 (7) OffRtg: 104.6 (17) DefRtg: 105.5 (11) NetRtg: -0.8 (18)

Billy Donovan finally put Taj Gibson in the starting lineup on Thursday and the move helped the Thunder end a four-game losing streak with wins over the (shorthanded) Spurs and Jazz. Russell Westbrook apparently realized that triple-doubles (he registered Nos. 31 and 32 in the wins) are better for his team than him taking 30-plus shots (like he did three times in the losing streak). Having Victor Oladipo shooting 10-for-15 from 3-point range in his three games back certainly helps in regard to Westbrook's willingness to pass. He has assisted on seven of the 10 threes.

This week: @ BKN, @ TOR, vs. SAC

9
Last week:
10

Record: 40-26
Pace: 98.5 (17) OffRtg: 109.0 (7) DefRtg: 105.7 (14) NetRtg: +3.2 (7)

The Clippers are still just 5-4, with the 19th-ranked defense, since Chris Paul's return, but they've allowed just 102.4 points per 100 possessions as they've won four of their last five games through a stretch of rough travel. They're still bouncing back and fourth between L.A. and the mountains this week and Monday's game in Utah is the first of two remaining meetings with the Jazz as the two teams fight for the 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round. After a 13-4 run late in Saturday's win over Philadelphia, they're a league-best 9-2 since Jan. 1 in games that have been within five points in the last five minutes.

This week: @ UTA, vs. MIL, @ DEN, vs. CLE

10
Last week:
14

Record: 32-35
Pace: 97.4 (21) OffRtg: 104.5 (20) DefRtg: 103.9 (5) NetRtg: +0.6 (12)

The Heat are still looking good for grabbing a playoff spot, but their latest sprint toward the 8 seed came to an end in Indiana in the second half of a back-to-back without Goran Dragic (and his black eye) on Sunday. Prior to that, they completed a home-and-home sweep of the Cavs and cruised against the Raptors, holding the two top-five offenses to just 97 points per 100 possessions, with a fourth-quarter comeback (and more big threes from Dion Waiters) against the Hornets in between. Dragic has a couple of more days to recover before the Heat begin a five-game homestand on Wednesday. They've won 13 of their last 14 at the Heat's House.

This week: vs. NOP, vs. MIN, vs. POR

11
Last week:
13

Record: 37-29
Pace: 99.8 (10) OffRtg: 103.1 (26) DefRtg: 103.5 (4) NetRtg: -0.4 (15)

The Hawks were seemingly reeling with a three-game losing streak (in which they allowed 60 3-pointers) that culminated with a blown 15-point lead to Golden State and some on-court bickering between Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard on Monday. But they've since won three straight, holding the Nets, Raptors and Grizzlies all under a point per possession, even though Howard sat out Saturday's game in Memphis. Schroder has averaged 24.3 points over the three games, getting half of his shots (27/54) at the rim and finishing well (67 percent) when he's got there. He ranks third in the league, behind Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic, with 12.1 drives per game.

This week: @ SAS, vs. MEM, vs. POR

12
Last week:
9

Record: 38-28
Pace: 97.3 (23) OffRtg: 110.1 (4) DefRtg: 105.8 (17) NetRtg: +4.3 (5)

After a win in Washington that kept them in the mix for the 3 seed, the Raptors lost three of the last four games on their trip to put themselves in a fight for the 4 seed, just a game ahead of the Hawks, who they lost to (and lost the tie-breaker to) on Friday. The fourth quarter was the issue in Atlanta, but a night later, their second-quarter woes continued. They were the league's fifth-best second quarter team (plus-7.0 points per 100 possessions) before the All-Star break (with Kyle Lowry anchoring the second unit that started the period), but have been the worst second quarter team (minus-20.6 points per 100 possessions) since the break (with Lowry out) after getting outscored 27-15 in the second on Saturday.

This week: vs. DAL, vs. OKC, @ DET, vs. IND

13
Last week:
12

Record: 34-32
Pace: 98.6 (16) OffRtg: 105.4 (15) DefRtg: 106.1 (18) NetRtg: -0.7 (17)

The Pacers have alternated wins and losses since the All-Star break, doing just enough to hold onto the 6 seed in the East without threatening the Raptors or Hawks. The bigger difference between the good Pacers and the bad Pacers has been on offense, where they've committed 12.8 turnovers per 100 possessions in the five wins and 18.0 per 100 in the four losses. The most important win came Sunday against Miami, when they committed just nine turnovers, got 28 points and 10 rebounds from Paul George, and didn't get outscored with George off the floor. They still have one of the East's toughest remaining schedules, but have a pretty good chance at a second straight win when they visit the Knicks on Tuesday.

This week: @ NYK, vs. CHA, @ TOR

14
Last week:
16

Record: 31-35
Pace: 100.3 (8) OffRtg: 109.4 (6) DefRtg: 110.5 (30) NetRtg: -1.1 (20)

The Nuggets survived a two-game absence from Nikola Jokic and have held their opponent under a point per possession in three out of four games for the first time since the first four games of the season. Two of the three good defensive games last week were against the Kings, but when you have the worst defense in the league, you'll take what you can get. Jamal Murray hasn't been dropping a lot of dimes as the back-up point guard, but has averaged 12.4 points on 51 percent shooting in his last seven games off the bench. This week, with all three home games against teams playing the second game of a back-to-back, is big, because nine of their final 13 games (including a huge game in Portland) are on the road.

This week: vs. LAL, vs. LAC, vs. HOU

15
Last week:
17

Record: 33-33
Pace: 97.0 (24) OffRtg: 104.3 (22) DefRtg: 105.0 (9) NetRtg: -0.7 (16)

Reggie Jackson could be turning his season around just in time to keep the Pistons out of Lotteryville. Jackson has averaged 18.6 points, with an effective field goal percentage of 60.3 percent, as Detroit has won four of its last five games to get back to .500 for the first time since Dec. 16. With his Jon-Leuer-at-power-forward starting lineup registering a league-worst (among lineups that have played at least 75 minutes) -31.3 NetRtg since the break, Stan Van Gundy went back his original starters for wins over the Cavs and Knicks last week. Tobias Harris shot just 5-for-18 in his first start since Jan. 21, but scored a season-high 28 points on Saturday.

This week: @ CLE, vs. UTA, vs. TOR, vs. PHX

16
Last week:
23

Record: 32-33
Pace: 97.3 (22) OffRtg: 107.7 (10) DefRtg: 106.4 (19) NetRtg: +1.3 (10)

The Bucks have won six straight games to take the East's last playoff spot from the Bulls, but still have a lot of work to do. They have the league's No. 2 defense over the course of the streak, smothering their opponents with their length and forcing a league-high 17.2 turnovers per 100 possessions. They keep getting good minutes from Greg Monroe, and Khris Middleton has shot 46 percent from 3-point range since returning to action. But they will play 12 of their final 17 games on the road, starting with a six-game trip (including two back-to-backs) through the Western Conference, with three of the six opponents holding winning records and another (Portland) playing better as it fights for a playoff spot.

This week: @ MEM, @ LAC, @ LAL, @ GSW

17
Last week:
18

Record: 29-36
Pace: 99.6 (11) OffRtg: 107.5 (12) DefRtg: 109.0 (26) NetRtg: -1.5 (21)

The Blazers would have a six-game winning streak and would be just a half game out of eighth place if the officials saw that Markieff Morris' foot was out of bounds before he hit the OT game-winner on Saturday (or if they didn't blow a 21-point lead prior to that). They have the No. 2 offense since the All-Star break, with Damian Lillard averaging 29.4 points, C.J. McCollum shooting 52 percent from 3-point range, and Jusuf Nurkic getting big buckets in Tuesday's win in Oklahoma City and then putting up career highs in points, rebounds, assists and blocks in Thursday's overtime win over Philly. They shot 50 percent in Phoenix on Sunday, but the last four games of their five-game trip are against top-10 defenses.

This week: @ NOP, @ SAS, @ ATL, @ MIA

18
Last week:
20

Record: 27-38
Pace: 96.9 (25) OffRtg: 107.5 (11) DefRtg: 107.3 (21) NetRtg: +0.2 (14)

The Wolves went 3-1 in a 10-day stretch against four of the top five teams in the West, highlighted by Friday's win over the Warriors. Though five of their eight games have been against top-10 offenses, they still have the league's second best post-break defense, while Karl-Anthony Towns is one of two players (LeBron James is the other) averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds since the break and has been the league's best shooter (effective field goal percentage of 66.7 percent) among players who have taken at least 100 post-break shots. But Andrew Wiggins (31 percent shooting over the last four games) has cooled off and the Wolves came up empty (going scoreless on seven straight possessions) down the stretch in Milwaukee on Saturday.

This week: vs. WAS, @ BOS, @ MIA, @ NOP

19
Last week:
11

Record: 36-30
Pace: 95.6 (28) OffRtg: 104.6 (18) DefRtg: 104.2 (6) NetRtg: +0.3 (13)

It's a little too early to wonder about their ability to hold onto a playoff spot, but the Grizzlies are sinking fast. They've lost five straight games, have lost the last four by an average of 15 points, lost to Brooklyn by 13 on Monday, and have the league's worst defense in March. David Fizdale has shuffled his starting lineup multiple times in a search for answers, but the first quarter wasn't much of a problem until Saturday against Atlanta, when the Grizz shot 5-for-24 and were outscored 33-15. Before they play eight of 11 games on the road, they host a team on a six-game winning streak on Monday.

This week: vs. MIL, @ CHI, @ ATL, vs. SAS

20
Last week:
15

Record: 31-35
Pace: 97.6 (20) OffRtg: 103.6 (24) DefRtg: 105.5 (13) NetRtg: -1.9 (22)

The Bulls have post-break wins over the Warriors and Cavs, but they can't play the best teams in the league (or play on TNT) every night and they've lost five straight games (four that they led by double-digits) to finally fall out of playoff position. They've scored a brutal 91 points per 100 possessions (and less than 20 points in eight different quarters) over the streak, with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade (who missed two of the five games) each shooting less than 40 percent. Wednesday's game against the Grizzlies (who have been as bad defensively as the Bulls have been offensively) will be ... interesting.

This week: @ CHA, vs. MEM, @ WAS, vs. UTA

21
Last week:
19

Record: 28-37
Pace: 93.9 (29) OffRtg: 104.4 (21) DefRtg: 105.3 (10) NetRtg: -0.9 (19)

The Mavs had won six of their previous seven games, but really needed Saturday's game against Phoenix before they hit the road. Dirk Nowitzki (23 points on 10-for-14 shooting, plus-14) did his part, but everybody else - including Seth Curry, for a change - shot poorly and Devin Booker's game-winner dropped them to 2 1/2 games behind Denver for eighth in the West. The Mavs rank third defensively since the break, but only one of their nine post-break games has been against a team that ranks in the top 15 in offensive efficiency. Now, five of their next seven are against teams in the top eight. They're 1-9 on the road vs. the East with four of their five remaining games in East arenas coming this week.

This week: @ TOR, @ WAS, @ PHI, @ BKN

22
Last week:
22

Record: 29-37
Pace: 98.5 (18) OffRtg: 105.9 (14) DefRtg: 104.9 (8) NetRtg: +1.0 (11)

The return of Cody Zeller has been a boost, the Hornets still have several important head-to-head games remaining on their schedule, all three of this week's games are against teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back, and they have the point differential of a team that's 35-31. But two fourth quarters last week, in which they allowed the Heat and Pelicans to shoot a combined 12-for-21 from 3-point range, have put them four games out of eighth place in the loss column. They've had the league's sixth best defense through the third quarter, but rank 20th defensively in the fourth and are 0-6 in overtime after Saturday's loss to New Orleans.

This week: vs. CHI, @ IND, vs. WAS

23
Last week:
21

Record: 26-40
Pace: 99.9 (9) OffRtg: 101.8 (27) DefRtg: 104.4 (7) NetRtg: -2.6 (23)

DeMarcus Cousins missed all six of his clutch shots as the Pelicans lost four of their first five post-break games that were within five points in the last five minutes. Then, with Cousins sitting the final 14:25 (with five fouls), they scored 30 points on 21 clutch possessions (starting with five straight threes) in Saturday's overtime win in Charlotte. In 157 post-break minutes with Anthony Davis on the floor without Cousins, the Pels have scored 114 points per 100 possessions with Davis shooting 57 percent. As they continue trying to make it work, their own playoff chances are slim, but they'll have a role in who's in and who's out either way, playing eight of their final 16 games against teams 7-11 in the West and two more against Miami and Chicago.

This week: vs. POR, @ MIA, vs. HOU, vs. MIN

24
Last week:
25

Record: 22-45
Pace: 102.3 (3) OffRtg: 104.3 (23) DefRtg: 109.1 (27) NetRtg: -4.8 (26)

Just when you started to tune out the teams that have no shot at the playoffs, the Suns had a crazy week to keep you watching. Tuesday's loss to Washington was one of the wildest, back-and-forth games of the season, with the Suns going from down 22 to up 11 to down again ... before the Gorilla dove onto the floor. They followed up 53 fast break points (the most for any team in eight years) in that game with 37 more in another loss (to the Lakers) on Thursday. Devin Booker hit the game-winner in Dallas on Saturday and they erased an 18-point deficit only to lose to Portland on Sunday.

This week: vs. SAC, vs. ORL, @ DET

25
Last week:
24

Record: 24-42
Pace: 100.9 (6) OffRtg: 100.3 (30) DefRtg: 106.5 (20) NetRtg: -6.3 (27)

The Sixers have remained somewhat competitive without Joel Embiid, playing close games in Portland and L.A. (against the Clippers) before beating the Lakers on Sunday. Eleven of their last 15 games have been within five points in the last five minutes, with Dario Saric shooting 9-for-13 on clutch shots in that stretch. Three of those buckets came in Sunday's win, with Saric setting a new career-high in scoring (29 points) for the second time in four days. Over his last 15 games, he has shot 63 percent in the paint, the seventh best mark among 28 players who have taken at least 100 paint shots over that stretch.

This week: @ GSW, vs. DAL, vs. BOS

26
Last week:
27

Record: 26-41
Pace: 99.2 (13) OffRtg: 105.0 (16) DefRtg: 108.8 (25) NetRtg: -3.8 (24)

The Knicks are 2-0 in Orlando and 0-6 everywhere else over the last two weeks. Phil Jackson had a triangle session for his team's guards on Thursday, but some defensive work would have been more helpful, because over the weekend, the Knicks allowed two bottom-10 offenses (Detroit and Brooklyn) to score 116 points per 100 possessions. Willy Hernangomez has been one of the Knicks' bright spots this season and is getting a chance to start with Joakim Noah out, but the team has been at its worst defensively with him on the floor since the All-Star break. Maybe they'll have time to talk defense with only two games this week.

This week: vs. IND, vs. BKN

27
Last week:
28

Record: 24-43
Pace: 98.2 (19) OffRtg: 100.9 (29) DefRtg: 107.6 (23) NetRtg: -6.7 (28)

Elfrid Payton is looking more like a competent point guard, maybe because he he's part of a starting lineup that fits together better with Terrence Ross and Aaron Gordon at the forward positions. Payton recorded two straight triple doubles last week and has a 3.14 assist-turnover ratio since the break, even though the Magic have been the league's worst post-break 3-point shooting team at a brutal 27.7 percent. Gordon may be a better fit at the four, but that doesn't mean he can shoot. He's 3-for-28 from 3-point range over his last 11 games and Ross (26 percent) hasn't been able to pick up the slack since he arrived. Still, the Magic have scored 111 points per 100 possessions when the pair have been on the floor with Payton.

This week: @ SAC, @ GSW, @ PHX

28
Last week:
29

Record: 20-46
Pace: 100.9 (5) OffRtg: 103.3 (25) DefRtg: 110.4 (29) NetRtg: -7.0 (29)

After scoring just 96 points per 100 possessions over their previous seven games, the Lakers have scored 112 over their last three, with Jordan Clarkson averaging 23.7 points off the bench and D'Angelo Russell shooting 6-for-9 from 3-point range in Thursday's win in Phoenix, their first and only victory since the break. But the Lakers continue to be terrible defensively with the two young guards on the floor together and, with nine of their final 16 games (including each of the next five) against top-10 offenses, they have a great chance of finishing last in defensive efficiency for the second straight season. Sunday's loss to the Sixers did help them in regard to keeping their first round pick and maybe drafting another young guard.

This week: @ DEN, @ HOU, vs. MIL, vs. CLE

29
Last week:
30

Record: 12-53
Pace: 103.7 (1) OffRtg: 101.7 (28) DefRtg: 109.3 (28) NetRtg: -7.5 (30)

The Nets are 3-4 in March, having scored 116.5 points per 100 possessions in the three wins. They made a season-high 19 threes in Sunday's win over the Knicks, which ended a 12-game losing streak within the Atlantic Division, a 16-game losing streak at home, and a 20-game losing streak vs. the East. They still have a 33-game losing streak in road games within the conference and a 20-game losing streak in the second games of back-to-backs, but beating the Knicks (doable) and Celtics (not-so doable, but would also help their draft position) this week would end both of those.

This week: vs. OKC, @ NYK, vs. BOS, vs. DAL

30
Last week:
26

Record: 25-41
Pace: 96.7 (27) OffRtg: 104.5 (19) DefRtg: 108.7 (24) NetRtg: -4.2 (25)

The Kings have now lost eight straight games since that initial, post-Boogie win over Denver. Two of last week's losses - the led the shorthanded Spurs by 28 on Wednesday and the Wizards by 15 in the fourth quarter on Friday - were particularly brutal. The skid has basically ensured an 11th straight season out of the playoffs, but Dave Joerger continues to play vets - Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans and Anthony Tolliver - who have contracts that are either expiring this summer or partially guaranteed next season. Buddy Hield, who has shot 52 percent as a King (67 percent in the paint), did get his first two starts with his new team over the weekend.

This week: vs. ORL, @ PHX, @ OKC, @ SAS


Copyright © 2017 NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy | Accessibility and Closed Caption | Terms of Use |

NBA.com is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. A Time Warner Company.