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Power Rankings: Celtics, Jazz rolling into the break

Thunder, Cavs swap spots; Bulls slip out of Top 10

POSTED: Feb 8, 2016 11:44 AM ET

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann


Few teams have been as hot of late as the Utah Jazz have been.

Does your team need a break?

If you're a fan of the Boston Celtics or Utah Jazz, your answer is "No." If you're a fan of the Chicago Bulls or Sacramento Kings, it's "Yes, please."

Either way, the All-Star break will be here as early as Tuesday night for a few teams. And before games start back up again next Thursday, the trade deadline will have passed. So the next 10 days will be eventful one way or the other.

The Golden State Warriors could seemingly take the break or leave it. Nothing has broken their stride thus far and they made their latest statement with Saturday's 73-point first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

They're No. 1 going into the break and they'll surely be No. 1 coming out of it.

* * *

• Last week: Warriors make a big statement
• This time last year: A good time for a break -- Blake Griffin was lost for more than a month with a staph infection and the Magic fired Jacque Vaughn. Stephen Curry scored 51 points against the Mavs, Norris Cole and Hassan Whiteside were #Shaqtin, DeMarcus Cousins was the latest to break the Suns' hearts, and Anthony Davis hit the buzzer-beater that ultimately decided a playoff spot.

• Plus-minus stud: Danny Green (SAS) was a plus-53 in four games last week.
• Plus-minus dud: Chandler Parsons (DAL) was a minus-51 in four games last week.

• Hero team of the week: Boston (4-0) -- The Celtics have won nine of their last 10, thanks to a much-improved offense and a wild finish in Cleveland .
• Zero team of the week: New Orleans (0-4) -- The Pelicans' week included three double-digit losses to good teams, but also a home loss to the Lakers.

• Team to watch this week: Houston -- The Rockets are just a game and a half ahead of ninth-place Portland, who they visit on Wednesday, the night after trying to end the Warriors' 41-game, home winning streak.

• East vs. West: The West is 162-140 (.536) against the East in interconference games after going 16-8 (3-0 against both Milwaukee and Orlando) last week.

• Toughest schedules through Feb. 7: 1. Milwaukee, 2. Denver, 3. Philadelphia
• Easiest schedules through Feb. 7: 1. Oklahoma City, 2. San Antonio, 3. Golden State
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: Utah (+5), Charlotte (+4), Denver (+4)
• Free falls of the week: Sacramento (-6), Chicago (-4), New Orleans (-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 97.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.0 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

Golden State (46-4)
Pace: 102.0 (2) OffRtg: 113.2 (1) DefRtg: 99.1 (3) NetRtg: +14.0 (2)
The Warriors played only two games last week, but got 51 points from Stephen Curry in Washington and completed a three-game, 20-day sweep of the league's other three title contenders with Saturday's win over the Thunder. They've shot 52 percent over their nine-game winning streak and they might add Kevin Durant this summer. The Super Bowl was just the exception that proves the rule that Steph has it all.
This week: vs. HOU, @ PHX


Last week: 2

San Antonio (43-8)
Pace: 96.2 (23) OffRtg: 109.2 (3) DefRtg: 95.0 (1) NetRtg: +14.2 (1)
Tim Duncan has missed the last seven games and Manu Ginobili is out at least a month with an unspeakable injury, but the Spurs have continued to roll against non-title contenders. LaMarcus Aldridge has averaged 26 points on 60 percent shooting over their four-game winning streak, Patty Mills has had some big games off the bench, and Danny Green has finally been shooting consistently from 3-point range. Now, it's rodeo time.
This week: @ MIA, @ ORL


Last week: 4

Oklahoma City (38-14)
Pace: 99.3 (9) OffRtg: 109.8 (2) DefRtg: 101.7 (11) NetRtg: +8.2 (3)
Wednesday's closing sequence against the Magic -- a Russell Westbrook drive, a Serge Ibaka block, and a Kevin Durant pull-up for the win -- was pure Thunder. And Saturday's game in Oakland could certainly have gone worse, especially given how poorly OKC had been defending (over the previous seven games and through the first half against the champs). They got some things done offensively against a top-three defense.
This week: @ PHX, vs. NOP


Last week: 3

Cleveland (36-14)
Pace: 94.9 (28) OffRtg: 106.3 (4) DefRtg: 100.9 (7) NetRtg: +5.4 (4)
The Cavs haven't exactly hit their stride since they beat the Spurs nine days ago. A brutal third quarter (they've had a few of those lately) in Charlotte and Avery Bradley's game-winner on Friday gave them their first losing streak of 2016 (which ended Saturday). They rank sixth offensively and 17th defensively since Tyronn Lue took over, and Matthew Dellavedova's hamstring injury doesn't help in regard to the defense.
This week: vs. SAC, vs. LAL


Last week: 5

Toronto (34-16)
Pace: 95.8 (26) OffRtg: 105.4 (6) DefRtg: 101.1 (9) NetRtg: +4.3 (6)
The Raptors' winning streak came to an end in Denver on Monday and they lost another starter (James Johnson) to injury in the process. To keep his bench intact, Dwane Casey started rookie Norman Powell as the Raptors began another winning streak in Phoenix and Portland. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined for 107 points in the two wins and will certainly play some minutes together in Sunday's All-Star Game.
This week: @ DET, @ MIN


Last week: 6

L.A. Clippers (34-17)
Pace: 98.1 (14) OffRtg: 106.2 (5) DefRtg: 100.9 (8) NetRtg: +5.3 (5)
The Clippers got another good win over the Heat and are now 17-4 without Blake Griffin after going 17-13 with him. Strength of schedule certainly has a lot to do with it (they're 6-2 against winning teams without Griffin), but it's hard not to prefer Chris Paul-DeAndre Jordan pick-and-rolls with more spacing around them and think that the Clips could get better with a trade that improves both their depth and their defense.
This week: @ PHI, @ BOS


Last week: 7

Boston (31-22)
Pace: 101.3 (3) OffRtg: 103.0 (13) DefRtg: 98.9 (2) NetRtg: +4.0 (7)
The Celtics are still closer (in the loss column) to 10th place than second place in the East, but a 9-1 stretch, highlighted by Avery Bradley's buzzer beater in Cleveland, has them looking stronger than ever. Evan Turner (13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists over the 10 games) has evolved into a pretty good player and a key to their bench success, but is only one of seven Celtics averaging double-figures in this stretch.
This week: @ MIL, vs. LAC


Last week: 8

Memphis (30-21)
Pace: 95.3 (27) OffRtg: 101.9 (22) DefRtg: 102.9 (15) NetRtg: -1.0 (17)
It's fair to have doubts about the Grizzlies, despite their 14-5 record since late December. They still have a negative point differential and they're just 4-12 against the other West playoff teams after Saturday's loss to Dallas, having scored an anemic 95 points per 100 possessions in the 16 games. Jeff Green has shot particularly bad (33 percent) in those games and was 4-for-14 on Saturday after a strong, five-game stretch.
This week: vs. POR, @ BKN


Last week: 9

Miami (29-23)
Pace: 94.6 (29) OffRtg: 101.4 (24) DefRtg: 100.2 (6) NetRtg: +1.1 (10)
The Heat have the league's toughest February schedule and have been outscored by 84 points from 3-point range in their four February games thus far (Gerald Green is 3-for-28 from beyond the arc in the last 10 games). But they're 2-2 because Hassan Whiteside is back and swatted 15 shots in less than 45 minutes in Dallas and Charlotte, capping his third triple-double with a big snatch-block on Marvin Williams.
This week: vs. SAS


Last week: 13

Atlanta (30-23)
Pace: 99.2 (10) OffRtg: 102.9 (14) DefRtg: 99.8 (5) NetRtg: +3.1 (8)
The Hawks had seemingly found their footing, building a three-game winning streak behind their top-five defense. But another ugly first quarter (they've been the fourth worst offensive team in the opening 12 minutes) led to another loss at the buzzer in Orlando on Sunday. They've still won nine of their last 11 at home and play six of their seven remaining February games at the Highlight Factory.
This week: vs. ORL, @ CHI


Last week: 12

Indiana (27-24)
Pace: 99.4 (8) OffRtg: 102.4 (19) DefRtg: 99.6 (4) NetRtg: +2.8 (9)
The Pacers are 9-1 at home against fellow East playoff teams after Monday's loss (in overtime) to Cleveland and Saturday's win over Detroit. But they're 2-8 against the same group on the road after Friday's loss in Atlanta. Myles Turner swatted LeBron, C.J. Miles had a big game in Brooklyn and Paul George broke out of a mini-slump over the weekend, but the defense has been inconsistent of late.
This week: vs. LAL, vs. CHA


Last week: 11

Detroit (27-25)
Pace: 97.9 (15) OffRtg: 102.5 (18) DefRtg: 101.9 (13) NetRtg: +0.6 (13)
The Pistons lost two more times to fellow East playoff teams and needed late-game runs to beat the Nets and Knicks last week. Their offense has improved every 10 games this season and Stanley Johnson has been solid (totaling 36 points and 19 rebounds) in two starts in place of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but they've been a bottom-10 defense over the last four weeks. Off-the-glass alley-oops are the best, though.
This week: vs. TOR, vs. DEN


Last week: 18

Utah (25-25)
Pace: 93.0 (30) OffRtg: 103.0 (12) DefRtg: 101.9 (12) NetRtg: +1.0 (11)
Last season, the Jazz had the league's No. 1 defense, by a wide margin, after the All-Star break. This season, they're getting started earlier. They rank No. 1 defensively over the last 2 1/2 weeks and have won six straight games (twice winning with 84 or 85 points) to grab control of the 8 seed in the West. Rodney Hood has scored 22 or more points in six of his last nine games after doing so five times previously in his career.
This week: @ DAL, @ NOP


Last week: 10

Chicago (27-23)
Pace: 98.7 (11) OffRtg: 100.9 (26) DefRtg: 101.2 (10) NetRtg: -0.3 (15)
The Bulls got Mike Dunleavy back, but lost Jimmy Butler last week. That's a net negative, though it's good news that Butler's knee injury was minor. Chicago has gone from second in the East to sixth with a 5-11 record (and the league's fifth worst NetRtg) over the last month. Now, Monday's visit to Charlotte (with the ninth-place Hornets already holding a 2-1 edge in the season series) looks pretty important.
This week: @ CHA, vs. ATL


Last week: 17

Portland (25-27)
Pace: 97.4 (18) OffRtg: 104.1 (8) DefRtg: 104.5 (18) NetRtg: -0.3 (16)
The Blazers have won 10 of their last 13 games, but only the first (Oklahoma City) and last (Houston) wins of that stretch were against teams above .500 and they lost their grip on eighth place with Thursday's loss to Toronto. Both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have had big games over the stretch, but the minutes with Lillard on the bench and McCollum on the floor have been particularly important.
This week: @ MEM, vs. HOU


Last week: 14

Dallas (29-25)
Pace: 96.5 (22) OffRtg: 103.0 (11) DefRtg: 103.0 (16) NetRtg: -0.0 (14)
Saturday's much-needed win in Memphis ended a three-game losing streak (which featured some ugly offense and included another thumping by the Spurs) and improved the Mavs to 6-1 in overtime games, having shot 17-for-28 from 3-point range in extra time. Chandler Parsons hit two big threes in OT on Saturday after sitting most of the final five minutes of a close game against Miami earlier in the week.
This week: vs. UTA


Last week: 16

Houston (27-26)
Pace: 99.5 (7) OffRtg: 104.2 (7) DefRtg: 106.0 (25) NetRtg: -1.8 (18)
A wild week for the Rockets included an offensive win (with Josh Smith starting at center) over a good defensive team (Miami) on Tuesday, an ugly loss to a below-average defensive team (Portland) on Saturday, and a roller coaster game against the Suns in between. They have a tough schedule through the first week of March and could go into the break in ninth place in the West if they go 0-2 this week.
This week: @ GSW, @ POR


Last week: 22

Charlotte (25-26)
Pace: 97.7 (16) OffRtg: 102.7 (15) DefRtg: 102.0 (14) NetRtg: +0.8 (12)
Two late turnovers against Miami on Friday kept the Hornets from getting back to .500, but a 6-3 stretch (and Wednesday's win over the Cavs) have them in position to compete for one of the last playoff spots in the East. This week's games are two of six they have left against the sixth, seventh and eighth place teams. They've allowed less than 95 points per 100 possessions with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the floor.
This week: vs. CHI, @ IND


Last week: 23

Denver (21-31)
Pace: 97.7 (17) OffRtg: 102.0 (21) DefRtg: 105.6 (22) NetRtg: -3.7 (25)
The Nuggets have been fun to watch more often than not over the last month and the Nikola Jokic bandwagon is running out of room. Denver is 10-8 against the East after wins over Toronto, Chicago and New York last week and Jokic is averaging 15.5 points and 9.8 rebounds, playing with an injured shoulder, over his last six games. His 27 points and 14 rebounds against the Raptors were both career highs.
This week: @ BKN, @ DET


Last week: 20

Washington (22-27)
Pace: 100.2 (4) OffRtg: 102.6 (16) DefRtg: 105.1 (21) NetRtg: -2.5 (20)
Wednesday's loss to the Warriors was pretty typical for the Wizards. John Wall (41 points, 10 assists, 17-for-25 shooting) was fantastic, the defense was not, and they lost. Wall followed that up with a triple-double and Bradley Beal has shot 52 percent over his last six games, but the Wizards have lost eight of their 11 and need these last two games before the break to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
This week: @ NYK, @ MIL


Last week: 15

Sacramento (21-30)
Pace: 102.2 (1) OffRtg: 103.2 (9) DefRtg: 105.9 (24) NetRtg: -2.8 (22)
It's been almost a year since the Kings dumped a coach, so George Karl might be gone soon. Playing at the league's fastest pace doesn't seem to agree with them, though their opponents have enjoyed scoring 120-plus points in four of their last eight games. They're the only team that Chicago has beat in its last five games and that Brooklyn has beat in its last seven. The Kings themselves have lost seven of their last eight.
This week: @ CLE, @ PHI


Last week: 21

New York (23-31)
Pace: 96.0 (25) OffRtg: 102.0 (20) DefRtg: 104.5 (19) NetRtg: -2.5 (21)
The best part of the Knicks' week was that Mike Conley didn't say he's not signing with them this summer, and Derek Fisher paid the price Monday morning for only one win (against the Suns) in their last 10 games. Carmelo Anthony won't be shutting it down after the All-Star Game like he did last year, but dealing with pain in the same knee, he has shot just 33 percent (5-for-23 from 3-point range) over his last seven.
This week: vs. WAS


Last week: 19

New Orleans (18-32)
Pace: 98.2 (13) OffRtg: 103.1 (10) DefRtg: 106.5 (28) NetRtg: -3.4 (24)
The Pelicans' offense had been rolling, but Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson (5-for-36 combined from 3-point range) have gone cold as they've lost four straight games (without Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon). With that streak, and Thursday's loss to the Lakers in particular, Dell Demps should make his reservations for the Lottery and stay busy on the phone with the trade deadline just 10 days away.
This week: @ MIN, vs. UTA, @ OKC


Last week: 26

Minnesota (16-36)
Pace: 96.9 (19) OffRtg: 102.6 (17) DefRtg: 105.7 (23) NetRtg: -3.2 (23)
The Wolves' losing streak didn't come to an end against the Lakers on Tuesdaay, but rather against the Clippers a night later. And then they beat the Bulls on Saturday with Karl-Anthony Towns going for 26 and 17. They have a top-five offense over the last 3 1/2 weeks, having scored more than 115 points per 100 possessions in 407 minutes with Towns and Andrew Wiggins on the floor together in that stretch.
This week: vs. NOP, vs. TOR


Last week: 25

Orlando (22-28)
Pace: 96.5 (21) OffRtg: 101.0 (25) DefRtg: 103.2 (17) NetRtg: -2.2 (19)
Last week was Déjà Vu Week for the Magic. They got their hearts broken by the Thunder for the second time and won at the buzzer on a ridiculous Nikola Vucevic turnaround for the second time. Their young guys all show flashes of offense from week to week, but consistency and defense continue to be issues. After a brutal January, they're playing their first eight February games against teams with winning records.
This week: @ ATL, vs. SAS


Last week: 24

Milwaukee (20-32)
Pace: 96.1 (24) OffRtg: 101.5 (23) DefRtg: 106.2 (26) NetRtg: -4.8 (26)
The Bucks finished 2-13 in Western Conference arenas and are the only team that has lost to the Boogie-less Kings (and they did it twice) this season. Khris Middleton's 41 percent from beyond the arc has him in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest this weekend, but he's shot just 29 percent on threes over the last month and just 6-for-23 over the Bucks' five-game losing streak, their longest of the season.
This week: vs. BOS, vs. WAS


Last week: 28

Philadelphia (8-43)
Pace: 99.9 (6) OffRtg: 94.5 (30) DefRtg: 104.7 (20) NetRtg: -10.2 (29)
In Saturday's win over Brooklyn, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor combined for 40 points, tying the season high for the pair, which was set on opening night. Ish Smith missed Saturday's game with a sprained ankle, but since Smith's arrival, Noel and Okafor rank 1st and 3rd in field goal percentage (minimum 150 FGA), respectively. The Sixers still need a lot more on the perimeter to build a decent offense.
This week: vs. LAC, vs. SAC


Last week: 27

Brooklyn (13-39)
Pace: 96.8 (20) OffRtg: 99.1 (28) DefRtg: 106.5 (27) NetRtg: -7.4 (28)
Just when it looked like the Nets might start climbing the overall standings with the East's easiest February schedule, they lost to the Sixers on Saturday. With a defense that's designed to give up threes (for some reason), they're 6-30 when their opponent makes at least 1/3 of its attempts from beyond the arc. Their last three wins have come after five-game losing streaks, so their next one will be Feb. 23 in Portland.
This week: vs. DEN, vs. MEM


Last week: 30

L.A. Lakers (11-42)
Pace: 98.3 (12) OffRtg: 97.4 (29) DefRtg: 108.3 (30) NetRtg: -10.9 (30)
The Lakers have started each of the last two months off with two wins. They went 1-15 the rest of the way in January and six of their seven remaining February opponents are have winning records. But they almost gave the Spurs their first home loss of the season on Saturday and Kobe Bryant is averaging 28.3 points over his last four games, warming up for his final All-Star Game, where he just might gun for MVP.
This week: @ IND, @ CLE


Last week: 29

Phoenix (22-27)
Pace: 100.0 (5) OffRtg: 99.7 (27) DefRtg: 106.8 (29) NetRtg: -7.1 (27)
Markieff Morris could be following Jeff Hornacek out the door by next Thursday, but Earl Watson's first move as interim coach was to put Morris back in the starting lineup. Morris scored 30 points against Toronto on Tuesday, but shot 10-for-34 against Houston and Utah. The Suns are still playing without a starting point guard, still playing terrible defense, and will likely head into the break with a nine-game losing streak.
This week: vs. OKC, vs. GSW