The playoffs are just 26 days away, but is there a team out there that would like to get them started right now?
The Golden State Warriors have seemingly righted the ship, but are still missing Kevin Durant. Maybe the Houston Rockets are feeling good about how they're playing, but do they like being matched up with the Oklahoma City Thunder (winners of five straight) in the first round? The San Antonio Spurs, meanwhile, are 0-2 against their most likely first round opponent (Memphis).The Utah Jazz are still missing a key piece and the LA Clippers need time to get that 4 seed back from the Jazz.
In the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers just got Kevin Love back, but are missing Kyle Korver and need to flip the switch defensively. The best players on the second-place, fourth-place and fifth-place teams (Boston, Toronto and Atlanta) are all hurt. Clearly the Indiana Pacers would be happy with the 6 seed, but they'd be playing the one healthy team in the top five.
So, as anxious as we all are to get the postseason started, these last 188 games could be important in regard to preparation. Heck, we still have an MVP race to sort out too.
- Last week: No. 1 seeds at risk as schedule gets to Warriors, Cavs
- This time last year: Spurs get even, reclaim No. 1 spot -- The Spurs were 35-0 at home after a win over the Warriors, the Mavs found something by starting Dirk Nowitzki at center, the Pelicans shut Anthony Davis down for the season, Mirza Teletovic hit one of his crazy game-winners, and Dwight Howard got in trouble for using Stickum spray on his hands.
- Plus-minus stud: Draymond Green (GSW) was a plus-63 in three games last week.
- Plus-minus dud: D'Angelo Russell (LAL) was a minus-75 in four games last week.
- Hero team of the week: Portland (3-1) -- The Blazers' week started with an ugly loss in New Orleans, but they recovered to win in San Antonio on the second night of a back-to-back and then sweep another back-to-back in Atlanta and Miami.
- Zero team of the week: Phoenix (0-3) -- The Suns at home lost to two other teams - Sacramento and Orlando - that are out of the playoff picture, and no mascots dove on the floor during game play to make things interesting.
- East vs. West: The West is 228-189 (.547) against the East in interconference games after going 17-12 (3-0 against Atlanta) last week. Every team still has at least one game remaining against the opposite conference.
- Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. L.A. Lakers, 2. Brooklyn, 3. Sacramento
- Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Washington, 2. Golden State, 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: Memphis (+5), Portland (+5), Sacramento (+4)
- Free falls of the week: Atlanta (-4), Minnesota (-4), Phoenix (-4), Washington (-4)
- Team to watch this week: Washington -- Having lost three of their last four games, the Wizards have the ability to turn things around quickly when they visit Boston on Monday for one of the most important games of the season. If they don't win that one, Wednesday's game in Atlanta becomes critical. And Saturday's visit to Cleveland is their last chance to get a win against the champs, having fallen just short in the last meeting.
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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 98.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 106.1 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.
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