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Power Rankings: Spurs, Warriors finally square off

Raptors, Hawks on rise in Top 10; Clippers slip a spot

POSTED: Jan 25, 2016 11:52 AM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann


The Warriors have scored more than 124 points per 100 possessions against three top-10 defenses.

It's time.

We've been waiting long enough for the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs to face each other this season, and the day is finally here.

They've been the league's two best teams by a wide margin. One is on pace for the best record in NBA history. The other is on pace for the best point differential in NBA history. And there are a bunch of other stats to illustrate just how good they've been.

The Warriors were No. 1 in the Power Rankings through the first nine weeks of the season, but this is now the fourth straight week the Spurs have held the top spot, which is, of course, up for grabs at 10:30 ET on Monday (on NBA TV).


* * *

• Last week: Four teams clearly best at midway point
• This time last year: Race for West's eighth spot starting to heat up -- Kobe Bryant was lost for the season with a torn rotator cuff. James Harden beat the Suns at the buzzer and said the Warriors "ain't even that good." Brandon Jennings tore his Achilles, LaMarcus Aldridge put off thumb surgery, and Klay Thompson scored 37 points in a quarter.

• Plus-minus stud: Stephen Curry (GSW) was a plus-92 in three games last week.
• Plus-minus dud: Lou Williams (LAL) was a minus-52 in three games last week, putting him in this spot a second straight time.

• Hero team of the week: Toronto (4-0) -- The Raptors started off their seven-game homestand with four wins, three of them against teams in last week's top 10.
• Zero team of the week: Orlando (0-3) -- The Magic took the Raps to overtime in London, but returned stateside to run their losing streak to five games with home losses to the Sixers and struggling Hornets.

• Team to watch this week: San Antonio -- Tim Duncan's absence puts a damper on the festivities on Monday, but the Spurs play two more big games this week, hosting the Rockets on Wednesday and making their only visit to Cleveland on Saturday.

• East vs. West: The West is 133-119 (.528) against the East in interconference games after going 15-8 last week (the Warriors went 3-0).

• Toughest schedules through Jan. 24: 1. Brooklyn, 2. Milwaukee, 3. Philadelphia
• Easiest schedules through Jan. 24: 1. Oklahoma City, 2. San Antonio, 3. Orlando
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: Sacramento (+5), Charlotte (+3), Chicago (+3), New Orleans (+3)
• Free falls of the week: Miami (-5), Orlando (-5), Detroit (-3), Milwaukee (-3)

* * *

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 97.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 102.7 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

* * *'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.


Last week: 1

San Antonio (38-6)
Pace: 95.9 (25) OffRtg: 108.8 (3) DefRtg: 93.5 (1) NetRtg: +15.3 (1)
In case you forgot, the Spurs were the only team that had a winning record (2-1) against the Warriors last season, with the league's best offense (108.9 points scored per 100 possessions) against what was the No. 1 defense. Not only have these Spurs won 13 straight games, but it's been 32 games since they lost by more than 4 points. The Warriors are just one of three top-10 offenses they're facing this week.
This week: @ GSW, vs. HOU, @ CLE


Last week: 2

Golden State (40-4)
Pace: 101.7 (2) OffRtg: 112.7 (1) DefRtg: 99.0 (3) NetRtg: +13.7 (2)
The Spurs will obviously be the best defensive team the Warriors have faced all season, but they go into Monday's game having scored more than 124 points per 100 possessions against three top-10 defenses, with Stephen Curry averaging 33 points and shooting 18-for-36 on 3-pointers over the three games. If they beat the Spurs on Monday, they will have gone a full year without a regular-season loss at home.
This week: vs. SAS, vs. DAL, @ PHI, @ NYK


Last week: 3

Oklahoma City (33-13)
Pace: 98.9 (10) OffRtg: 109.2 (2) DefRtg: 100.7 (9) NetRtg: +8.5 (3)
Sunday's loss in Brooklyn, in which Brook Lopez went off for 31 points with Stephen Adams missing his second straight game with an elbow injury, was a reminder that the Thunder need more than Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (dunks!) to win games. OKC has allowed a paltry 94.5 points per 100 possessions in 928 minutes with both Adams and Ibaka on the floor, but 107.2 in 569 minutes with Ibaka on and Adams off.
This week: @ NYK, @ MIN, vs. HOU


Last week: 6

Toronto (29-15)
Pace: 95.6 (26) OffRtg: 105.2 (6) DefRtg: 100.9 (10) NetRtg: +4.3 (6)
If DeMar DeRozan is going to shoot and make threes (he was 6-for-7 against the Heat and Clippers over the weekend), the Raptors are definitely the second best team in the East. Having won eight straight games, they're making an argument that they're right there with the Cavs, who they won't play again until after the All-Star break. Their lineup of Kyle Lowry and four reserves is a plus-37 in 69 minutes during the streak.
This week: vs. WAS, vs. NYK, vs. DET


Last week: 4

Cleveland (30-12)
Pace: 94.9 (28) OffRtg: 105.2 (5) DefRtg: 99.9 (5) NetRtg: +5.3 (4)
The Cavs were a top-five team on both ends of the floor before Friday, so it will be difficult for Tyronn Lue to make a marked impact on the team's most important numbers. But he says he wants to increase the pace and get Kevin Love more touches at the elbow. His first game as coach wasn't pretty and Saturday's visit from the Spurs will be another test, but it's all about the May and June.
This week: vs. MIN, vs. PHX, @ DET, vs. SAS


Last week: 5

L.A. Clippers (28-16)
Pace: 98.3 (13) OffRtg: 106.3 (4) DefRtg: 101.7 (12) NetRtg: +4.5 (5)
Trading Josh Smith didn't really help the Clippers' bench, which got destroyed (they were a minus-28 in less than 17 minutes with Chris Paul off the floor) in Toronto on Sunday. Offense is generally the issue when Paul sits, but the last five games have been the Clippers' worst defensive stretch since before Thanksgiving. Blake Griffin isn't likely to return before they return home after a Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back.
This week: @ IND, @ ATL, vs. LAL, vs. CHI


Last week: 8

Boston (24-21)
Pace: 101.1 (3) OffRtg: 102.1 (16) DefRtg: 98.9 (2) NetRtg: +3.3 (7)
Isaiah Thomas has been making his All-Star case, averaging 25.7 points with an effective field goal percentage of 54 percent over the last nine games. But more important is that the Celtics' offense scored 40 points in 17 minutes with Thomas off the floor against a top-10 defense (Chicago) on Friday. Kelly Olynyk (shooting 16-for-26 from 3-point range over his last seven games) is a key to those non-Pizza-Guy minutes.
This week: @ WAS, vs. DEN, vs. ORL, @ ORL


Last week: 11

Chicago (25-18)
Pace: 98.8 (11) OffRtg: 100.9 (24) DefRtg: 100.4 (8) NetRtg: +0.5 (13)
Leave it to the Bulls to end a 2-6 stretch with a convincing win in Cleveland. Since he moved back to the bench five games ago, Nikola Mirotic has been a barometer of his team's success. In their two wins, he has shot 8-for-15 (5-for-7 from 3-point range) and registered a plus-16. In their three losses, he's shot 1-for-16 (0-for-7) and registered a minus-19. After hosting the Heat on Monday, they head out on a seven-game trip.
This week: vs. MIA, @ LAL, @ LAC


Last week: 10

Atlanta (26-19)
Pace: 99.0 (9) OffRtg: 103.2 (9) DefRtg: 100.3 (7) NetRtg: +3.0 (8)
The Hawks had a couple of heartbreaking losses in Sacramento on Thursday and Phoenix on Saturday, getting beat by a Rajon Rondo layup and an Archie Goodwin three. But early-game offense (which put them in holes of 15-plus points in both games) was more to blame than late-game defense as they fell to 3-6 in January against teams with losing records. They've been the second best fourth-quarter team in the league.
This week: @ DEN, vs. LAC, @ IND, @ MIA


Last week: 7

Detroit (23-21)
Pace: 97.9 (15) OffRtg: 102.0 (19) DefRtg: 101.1 (11) NetRtg: +0.9 (12)
The Pistons seemed to have navigated a tough stretch of schedule, only to lose in New Orleans and Denver on Thursday and Saturday and have Stan Van Gundy say that they're "firmly committed to being mediocre." Reggie Jackson's offense (40 percent shooting) and team defense (108 points allowed per 100 possessions) have been problems as they've lost five of their last seven games.
This week: @ UTA, vs. PHI, vs. CLE, @ TOR


Last week: 12

Memphis (25-20)
Pace: 95.5 (27) OffRtg: 100.8 (25) DefRtg: 103.0 (16) NetRtg: -2.3 (22)
The Grizzlies have been playing their best offense and worst defense of the season, with the latter trend hurting them Saturday in Minnesota, when the Wolves scored 64 points (in a slow-paced game) over the middle two quarters, which have been problems for Memphis all year. They've won nine of their last 10 games at home, and are back at the Grindhouse for three games against teams with losing records this week.
This week: vs. ORL, vs. MIL, vs. SAC


Last week: 17

Sacramento (20-23)
Pace: 101.9 (1) OffRtg: 102.8 (14) DefRtg: 104.9 (22) NetRtg: -2.1 (21)
DeMarcus Cousins has been putting up big numbers (he scored a career-high 48 points against the Pacers on Saturday), but defense has been the story as the Kings have won five straight games to put themselves in position to end their nine-year playoff drought. Over the course of the winning streak, they've allowed just 95.2 points per 100 possessions, their best five-game defensive stretch since Feb. 2007!
This week: vs. CHA, @ POR, @ NOP, @ MEM


Last week: 14

Houston (24-22)
Pace: 99.1 (8) OffRtg: 104.1 (x7 DefRtg: 105.5 (23) NetRtg: -1.4 (17)
The Rockets had quite a week. Another big comeback against the Clippers was thwarted in overtime on Monday. They lost Dwight Howard to an ankle injury and intentionally fouled Andre Drummond five times in nine seconds on Wednesday. They traded for Josh Smith on Friday and put together another big fourth quarter (with Smith providing eight points and two blocks) to pull out an important win over Dallas on Sunday.
This week: @ NOP, @ SAS, @ OKC, vs. WAS


Last week: 9

Miami (23-21)
Pace: 94.2 (29) OffRtg: 101.4 (22) DefRtg: 100.2 (6) NetRtg: +1.2 (10)
Injuries have been more of a factor than playing on the road as the Heat have lost seven of their last eight games. They have the league's worst offense in that stretch,which has taken them from third to eighth in the East. Only three Heaters have played in all eight games and Goran Dragic has been missed over the last six, in which the Heat have almost as many turnovers (109) as assists (113).
This week: @ CHI, @ BKN, @ MIL, vs. ATL


Last week: 13

Indiana (23-21)
Pace: 99.7 (6) OffRtg: 102.0 (18) DefRtg: 99.5 (4) NetRtg: +2.5 (9)
Myles Turner and Joe Young (47 points combined at Golden State on Friday) continue to get chances to shine, but C.J. Miles is a brutal 2-for-28 from 3-point range over the last six games. The Pacers have lost five of the six and just went through two weekend games in Northern California without ever holding a lead. After spending most of the last three weeks on the road, they're home (where they're 13-6) for seven of their next nine.
This week: vs. LAC, vs. ATL, vs. DEN


Last week: 15

Dallas (25-21)
Pace: 97.1 (20) OffRtg: 102.9 (13) DefRtg: 102.5 (15) NetRtg: +0.4 (14)
Zaza Pachulia almost got voted into the All-Star Game and if voting went for another couple of weeks, maybe Salah Mejri could have made a run too. Mejri sparked a big comeback (that came up short) against the Thunder (his block on Kevin Durant was the highlight) on Friday and started in Houston on Sunday. The Mavs have played the most games (14) in January and have their fifth back-to-back of the month this week.
This week: @ LAL, @ GSW, vs. BKN, vs. PHX


Last week: 16

Washington (20-21)
Pace: 99.7 (5) OffRtg: 102.6 (15) DefRtg: 104.0 (18) NetRtg: -1.4 (18)
Injuries to Bradley Beal and Otto Porter have kept the Wizards from using their when-everybody's-healthy starting lineup - John Wall, Beal, Porter, Jared Dudly and Marcin Gortat - since Dec. 9. But they have a top-five offense over the last 16 days, with four of the seven games having been against top-10 defenses. They face two more in a big back-to-back Monday and Tuesday, where they might have that lineup back together.
This week: vs. BOS, @ TOR, vs. DEN, @ HOU


Last week: 18

New York (22-24)
Pace: 96.0 (24) OffRtg: 102.1 (17) DefRtg: 104.1 (19) NetRtg: -2.0 (20)
An ugly offensive weekend against the Clippers and Hornets kept the Knicks from climbing back above .500, but overtime wins over the Sixers and Jazz earlier in the week weren't exactly signs that they were on their way (or that they have the defense to survive an off night offensively). Now Carmelo Anthony has a sore knee and they play six of their next seven games against teams with winning records.
This week: vs. OKC, @ TOR, vs. PHX, vs. GSW


Last week: 19

Utah (19-24)
Pace: 93.2 (30) OffRtg: 103.0 (12) DefRtg: 103.4 (17) NetRtg: -0.4 (15)
The Jazz have been playing their best offense of the season, but lost twice in overtime last week, giving up 48 points in the 15 extra minutes. That dropped them to 7-15 (with five straight losses) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, with the league's 28th ranked clutch defense. They had the last game of their road trip postponed and now begin their longest homestand (six games) of the season.
This week: vs. DET, vs. CHA, vs. MIN


Last week: 22

Portland (20-26)
Pace: 97.2 (18) OffRtg: 103.9 (8) DefRtg: 105.6 (24) NetRtg: -1.8 (19)
C.J. McCollum (27.0 points per game on 55 percent shooting) caught fire last week and the Blazers have won five of their last seven games to stay within a game and a half of a playoff spot. The next nine days are critical, as they host four teams with losing records (starting with the eighth-place Kings on Tuesday) before their schedule gets much tougher. They're 6-2 at home against teams currently under .500.
This week: vs. SAC, vs. CHA, vs. MIN


Last week: 24

New Orleans (16-27)
Pace: 98.2 (14) OffRtg: 103.2 (10) DefRtg: 106.2 (29) NetRtg: -3.1 (23)
Eric Gordon's injury (he's out 4-6 weeks with a broken finger) could bring an end to the Pelicans' little-used, big-five lineup that was so potent offensively. But they've had the league's No. 1 offense as they've won five of their last six games. Anthony Davis has been playing more at the four in this stretch, but the Pels have scored 123 points per 100 possessions in the 102 minutes he's played with Ryan Anderson.
This week: vs. HOU, vs. SAC, vs. BKN


Last week: 25

Charlotte (21-23)
Pace: 97.8 (16) OffRtg: 103.0 (11) DefRtg: 101.9 (14) NetRtg: +1.1 (11)
The Hornets stayed afloat with a 3-1 week that included their first road win in 42 days. Only the Suns (11.6) and Pistons (10.2) have a bigger home-road NetRtg differential than the Hornets (10.0), who play 10 of their next 14 games on the road. Kemba Walker was the King of Overtime Week, averaging 34.8 points over four games (setting a franchise record with 52 against Utah) and scoring 21 in 15 minutes of overtime.
This week: @ SAC, @ UTA, @ POR, @ LAL


Last week: 23

Denver (17-27)
Pace: 97.3 (17) OffRtg: 101.6 (20) DefRtg: 105.9 (25) NetRtg: -4.3 (25)
Pepsi Center has been the home of some fun basketball over the last couple of weeks. All seven games on the Nuggets' homestand have been within five points in the last five minutes, the Nuggets and their opponents have combined to score 106 points per 100 possessions, and Nikola Jokic went behind-the-back to Kenneth Faried. After the homestand ends on Monday, the Nuggets play eight of their next 10 games on the road.
This week: vs. ATL, @ BOS, @ WAS, @ IND


Last week: 21

Milwaukee (19-27)
Pace: 96.2 (23) OffRtg: 101.6 (21) DefRtg: 106.1 (27) NetRtg: -4.5 (26)
The Bucks' mild run of success came to an end with weekend losses in Houston and New Orleans that dropped them to 2-9 on the road against the West (with their four remaining games coming in the next 12 days). Their starting lineup had good defensive numbers last week and is a plus-16 in their last eight games after registering a minus-42 over their first 20 together. Jason Kidd returns to the bench on Tuesday.
This week: vs. ORL, @ MEM, vs. MIA


Last week: 20

Orlando (20-22)
Pace: 96.3 (22) OffRtg: 100.7 (26) DefRtg: 101.8 (13) NetRtg: -1.1 (16)
Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton started together for the first time since Thanksgiving on Friday, and the start was good. But the guards were also on the floor together as the Magic blew a 19-point lead in an overtime loss to Charlotte. Orlando is the only team with fewer than two wins in January and the only East team to have lost to the Sixers. And now, the Magic play 11 of their next 12 games against teams with winning records.
This week: @ MEM, @ MIL, @ BOS, vs. BOS


Last week: 26

Minnesota (14-31)
Pace: 97.1 (19) OffRtg: 101.0 (23) DefRtg: 104.4 (20) NetRtg: -3.4 (24)
No team has played more games that were within five points in the last five minutes than the Wolves, who broke an eight-game losing streak in those situations with Saturday's win over the Grizzlies. Karl Anthony-Towns hit a big jumper down the stretch of that one and, after going through a bit of a shooting slump, has averaged 18.8 points (on 60 percent shooting) and 11.8 rebounds over his last four games.
This week: @ CLE, vs. OKC, @ UTA, @ POR


Last week: 27

Brooklyn (12-33)
Pace: 96.9 (21) OffRtg: 98.2 (28) DefRtg: 105.9 (26) NetRtg: -7.7 (28)
The Sporadically Competent Nets showed up against Oklahoma City on Sunday, putting together their best offensive performance of the season behind 31 points from Brook Lopez. Joe Johnson has shot 27-for-52 from 3-point range in January, but his inability to get to the line (303 field goal attempts and 27 free throw attempts since Dec. 1) remains a mystery. The schedule starts to ease up a bit now (not that it matters).
This week: vs. MIA, @ DAL, @ NOP


Last week: 28

Philadelphia (6-39)
Pace: 99.7 (x) OffRtg: 93.9 (30) DefRtg: 104.6 (x) NetRtg: -10.7 (29)
We got the full Ish Smith Experience (16 assists, 8-for-28 shooting) in Monday's double-overtime loss in New York. While Smith hasn't shot particularly well, some of his teammates have. The Sixers' top four guys in attempts are a combined 38.9 percent from 3-point range since Smith's arrival. Hollis Thompson and Isaiah Canaan were a combined 12-for-20 in New York and Orlando on Monday and Wednesday.
This week: vs. PHX, @ DET, vs. GSW


Last week: 30

Phoenix (14-31)
Pace: 100.7 (4) OffRtg: 100.1 (27) DefRtg: 106.2 (28) NetRtg: -6.1 (27)
The depleted Suns scratched out a win over the Hawks on Saturday, thanks to 27 rebounds from Tyson Chandler and a second-straight game of 20-plus points (highlighted by a wild game-winner) from Archie Goodwin. Goodwin is third in line - behind Devin Booker and T.J. Warren - among the Suns' young wings, but has been playing pseudo point guard with Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price all injured.
This week: @ PHI, @ CLE, @ NYK, @ DAL


Last week: 29

L.A. Lakers (9-37)
Pace: 98.6 (12) OffRtg: 97.0 (29) DefRtg: 108.4 (30) NetRtg: -11.3 (30)
Back at the beginning of the month, the Lakers had actually won three straight games. Since then, they've lost 10 of 11, holding a lead for less than 30 minutes (5.6 percent) of the 11 games and strengthening their grip on the title of Worst Defense in the League. Things have been particularly brutal (they've been outscored by 20.3 points per 100 possessions) over their current, six-game losing streak.
This week: vs. DAL, vs. CHI, @ LAC, vs. CHA