Power Rankings
Power Rankings
Power Rankings
Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Top two teams face off again this week

john_schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

Mar 27, 2017 12:39 PM ET

1:07

Check out some of the stats to know it this week's Power Rankings.

There are only 135 games left in the historical 2016-17 regular season, but it still seems like we have some fireworks left.

Russell Westbrook is chasing the record for most triple-doubles in a season, the Celtics are chasing the Cavs for the No. 1 seed in the East, and the last few playoff spots in the East and the No. 8 seed in the West are still very much up for grabs.

The West's No. 8 seed is up for grabs in Portland on Tuesday, but Nuggets-Blazers isn't the only big game this week. The Cavs, Warriors and Jazz all visit the Spurs, the Spurs go to Oklahoma City, the Rockets will see if they can beat the Warriors again, and the Wizards (fresh off a win in Cleveland) will also visit some of the best teams in the West.

Even when it's not a marquee matchup, you never know what could happen. Some 20 year old just might score 70 points against a top-10 defense.

  • Hero team of the week: Boston (4-0) -- The Celtics began a six-game homestand with a critical win over the Wizards, and then kept it going by scoring 114 points per 100 possessions against the Pacers, Suns and Heat, never getting threatened by Devin Booker's 70-point performance on Friday. They're 14-1 at TD Garden since Jan. 25.
  • Zero team of the week: Detroit (0-3) -- The Pistons have lost six of their last seven. The first of two three-game losing streaks in that stretch came against the Cavs, Jazz and Raptors. The current one has come against the Nets, Bulls and Magic.
  • Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. Memphis, 2. Sacramento, 3. Brooklyn
  • Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Washington, 2. Indiana, 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: Orlando (+4), Boston (+3), Charlotte (+3), Milwaukee (+3), Washington (+3)
  • Free falls of the week: Detroit (-4), Atlanta (-3), Minnesota (-3), Utah (-3)
  • Team to watch this week: San Antonio -- The Spurs will make the race for the No. 1 seed in the West (and home-court advantage through The Finals) very interesting if they can beat the Warriors on Wednesday. But before they get to that game, they have a visit from the champs on Monday. And they finish their week with games against the Thunder (in Oklahoma City) and Jazz.

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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.

* * *

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:
1

Record: 59-14
Pace: 102.3 (3) OffRtg: 113.0 (1) DefRtg: 101.0 (2) NetRtg: +12.0 (1)

The Warriors take a seven-game winning streak (having won the last six by an average of 20.3 points) into a big week. They're just a hair from leading the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency, but play their next five games against top-10 offenses, including three games (starting with a road back-to-back) against the Rockets and Spurs in the next five days. Patrick McCaw remains somewhat of a non-factor in the starting lineup (which is a modest-by-Warriors-standards plus-9.0 points per 100 possessions since Kevin Durant's injury), but Andre Iguodala is playing his best basketball of the season.

This week: @ HOU, @ SAS, vs. HOU, vs. WAS

2
Last week:
2

Record: 56-16
Pace: 96.7 (27) OffRtg: 109.5 (6) DefRtg: 101.0 (1) NetRtg: +8.5 (2)

The Spurs will play seven of their final 10 games, including each of the next five, against the 11 teams that are at least seven games over .500. But they have the best record (16-7) in games played within that group and five of those seven games are at home, where they're 24-3 since Dec. 1. With the tiebreaker and another game against the Warriors (Wednesday), they still have a shot at the No. 1 seed, but Gregg Popovich obviously won't hesitate to rest his best players. Danny Green, who has seen the league's second biggest drop-off in effective field goal percentage since the All-Star break (from 56.5 percent to 43.6 percent), got the day off on Saturday.

This week: vs. CLE, vs. GSW, @ OKC, vs. UTA

3
Last week:
3

Record: 51-22
Pace: 102.2 (4) OffRtg: 112.5 (2) DefRtg: 105.9 (18) NetRtg: +6.6 (3)

The Rockets aren't moving up in the standings, but have won seven of their last eight games and improved to 3-1 against their most likely first round opponent with Sunday's easy win over the Thunder. It will be interesting to see if Mike D'Antoni rests anybody or at least extends his rotation over the final nine games. Ryan Anderson is out two weeks with an ankle injury and, without his starting power forward on Sunday, D'Antoni played just eight guys. Even if James Harden's wrist is OK (he fell on it in the fourth quarter), he would probably need Andrew Wiggins (up 15 minutes with an additional game remaining) to take a couple of days off for Harden to lead the league in total minutes for a third straight season.

This week: vs. GSW, @ POR, @ GSW, @ PHX

4
Last week:
7

Record: 48-26
Pace: 99.1 (13) OffRtg: 108.5 (8) DefRtg: 105.4 (10) NetRtg: +3.1 (8)

The Celtics put the Wizards in the rearview mirror with a win on Monday, and then got help from those same Wizards in Cleveland five days later. The No. 1 seed can be had. They have an easier remaining schedule than the Cavs, they're playing better than the Cavs, and have the final head-to-head meeting (next Wednesday) at home, with Cleveland playing the second game of a back-to-back that night. The numbers don't tell the whole story with Al Horford, but he's averaged 15.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists as the Celtics have won seven of their last eight games, and the team has allowed less than 95 points per 100 possessions with Horford and Amir Johnson on the floor together over that stretch.

This week: vs. MIL, vs. ORL, @ NYK

5
Last week:
8

Record: 45-28
Pace: 99.7 (11) OffRtg: 108.4 (9) DefRtg: 106.1 (19) NetRtg: +2.3 (9)

The Wizards' bench hasn't been completely reliable, but has been remarkably better since the break (eighth in bench NetRtg at plus-2.8) than it was prior to the break (28th at minus-5.8). It was a positive in all four of their games last week, with Kelly Oubre Jr. providing a huge lift in Saturday's win in Cleveland. Their second most-used lineup, with Oubre in place of Markieff Morris, has outscored opponents by 18.6 points per 100 possessions and they put Saturday's game away with a small-ball lineup that had Morris at center and Oubre in place of Marcin Gortat. They have the fewest remaining home games (two) in the East, but their only remaining back-to-back is two straight games in L.A. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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

6
Last week:
4

Record: 47-25
Pace: 98.5 (16) OffRtg: 111.4 (3) DefRtg: 108.1 (23) NetRtg: +3.3 (7)

It might be time for the Cavs to be really concerned about their defense, which has allowed four of their last five opponents to shoot better than 50 percent and ranks 29th since the All-Star break. They were destroyed in the paint (70-30) in Wednesday's loss in Denver and couldn't slow down John Wall in Saturday's loss to Washington, but they've also forced just 10 turnovers per 100 possessions (the lowest rate in the league) since the break. As we wonder whether or not they'll be able to flip the switch on April 15, they have three more games against top-10 offenses, starting with Monday's visit to San Antonio. LeBron James should pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh on the all-time scoring list this week.

This week: @ SAS, @ CHI, vs. PHI, vs. IND

7
Last week:
5

Record: 41-31
Pace: 100.6 (7) OffRtg: 105.4 (15) DefRtg: 105.5 (12) NetRtg: -0.1 (14)

The Thunder are 6-2 since moving Taj Gibson into the starting lineup and their starting lineup has outscored its opponents by 16.4 points per 100 possessions over those eight games. But they remain a clear step behind the three best teams in the West and haven't been able to climb into that 4-5 matchup, having allowed the Warriors and Rockets to score 120 points per 100 possessions (and shoot 32-for-63 from 3-point range) in losses last week. After recording his "perfect triple-double" (making all six of his shots) against the Sixers on Wednesday, Russell Westbrook is randomly shooting 50 percent against the Atlantic Division and 41 percent against the other five divisions.

This week: @ DAL, @ ORL, vs. SAS, vs. CHA

8
Last week:
10

Record: 44-29
Pace: 97.2 (22) OffRtg: 109.7 (5) DefRtg: 104.9 (8) NetRtg: +4.8 (4)

The Raptors have won five straight games, with their best stretch of defense (93.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) of the season. Along with the Celtics, they've climbed into the top 10 in defensive efficiency to give the East as many teams as the West in the top 10 on both ends of the floor. Though their rotation is much different (no Kyle Lowry, new faces, young guys getting time) than it has been previously, they're still much better when they go to their bench. With the improved defense, depth and versatility, all eyes turn toward Lowry's wrist. If he gets healthy, this is the best Raptors team we've ever seen.

This week: vs. ORL, vs. CHA, vs. IND, vs. PHI

9
Last week:
6

Record: 44-29
Pace: 93.7 (30) OffRtg: 106.9 (13) DefRtg: 102.5 (3) NetRtg: +4.4 (5)

The Jazz have lost four of their last five and fell to the Clippers in an important game on Saturday. But they clinched their first playoff berth in five years and regained a two-game cushion in the loss column for the No. 4 seed with losses by the Nuggets and Clippers on Sunday. More important is that Gordon Hayward's leg injury (which kept him off the floor for most of the fourth quarter in L.A.) turned out to be just a quad contusion. Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert has seen an increase in his offensive production of late, averaging 22.0 points over his last five games, scoring a career-high 35 in Wednesday's win over New York. But Hayward remains the most important part of the Utah offense, which has been at its worst with him off the floor.

This week: vs. NOP, @ SAC, vs. WAS, @ SAS

10
Last week:
9

Record: 35-38
Pace: 97.6 (20) OffRtg: 104.9 (17) DefRtg: 104.1 (6) NetRtg: +0.7 (12)

The Heat showed their usual toughness in Boston on Sunday, but have lost three of their four games since losing Dion Waiters to an ankle injury. The team has shot 30 percent from 3-point range and Goran Dragic has shot 34 percent overall (with almost as many turnovers as assists) in that stretch. They made up for the bad shooting with 17 offensive rebounds and 25 second chance points in Tuesday's win over Phoenix, but need to start making shots as they try to hold onto eighth place. This week is big, because their final four games are against three of the top four teams in the East, who could all be playing for playoff position.

This week: @ DET, @ NYK, vs. NYK, vs. DEN

11
Last week:
11

Record: 44-31
Pace: 98.2 (18) OffRtg: 109.3 (7) DefRtg: 105.9 (16) NetRtg: +3.4 (6)

The Clippers just haven't been able to gain any traction since Chris Paul's return. They took a three-game winning streak into Dallas on Thursday, but came up empty on their final six possessions, with Paul, Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin all committing turnovers. They beat the Jazz on Saturday to get back within a half game of fourth place, but blew an 18-point lead with less than five minutes to go against a bad team (Sacramento) that's resting veterans on Sunday. They're 9-9 since Paul's return, with a bottom-10 defense in that time. They ranked fifth defensively before Paul's first injury (through Dec. 22). Some good news: They're the only team that's undefeated (8-0) with a rest advantage (when they didn't play the night before and their opponent did), and will have a rest advantage in five of their remaining seven games, with this week's games against the two worst teams in the West being the only exceptions.

This week: vs. WAS, @ PHX, vs. LAL

12
Last week:
12

Record: 35-38
Pace: 99.3 (12) OffRtg: 107.5 (12) DefRtg: 108.0 (22) NetRtg: -0.6 (17)

An 11-3 March (they had the lead with less than three minutes to go in two of the three losses) has the Blazers in playoff position. They have the league's fourth-ranked offense this month (with both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum just three missed shots away from putting up a combined 50-40-90 line over the 14 games), but more important is the defensive improvement. What was the league's worst defense through December ranks seventh this month and has allowed less than a point per possession in 277 minutes with its two starting bigs - Noah Vonleh and Jusuf Nurkic - on the floor together since Nurkic arrived before the break. Of course, the Blazers don't have time to get comfortable, because the Nuggets are in town on Tuesday and more top-10 offenses will follow.

This week: vs. DEN, vs. HOU, vs. PHX

13
Last week:
13

Record: 35-38
Pace: 100.5 (8) OffRtg: 109.9 (4) DefRtg: 110.7 (29) NetRtg: -0.8 (18)

The Nuggets recovered from another heartbreaking loss to Houston by thrashing the Cavs on Wednesday, but they lost what was one of their two easiest remaining games on their schedule on Sunday. They had scored more than 117 points per 100 possessions over a 9-4 stretch through Friday's win in Indiana, but came up empty in the loss to the Pelicans, their worst offensive game in months. They have to recover quickly, because Tuesday's visit to Portland is the most important game of the season and they have the tougher schedule going forward.

This week: @ POR, @ CHA, @ MIA

14
Last week:
17

Record: 37-36
Pace: 97.0 (24) OffRtg: 107.5 (11) DefRtg: 106.6 (20) NetRtg: +0.9 (11)

The Bucks are an East-best 15-6 since Feb. 11, but they still have some work to do and missed a chance to climb into fifth when they couldn't stop the Bulls' bottom-10 offense on Sunday. They've won their last six games that were within five points in the last five minutes, even though Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton have combined to shoot 5-for-19 on clutch shots in that stretch. They worked through Middleton in the post late in Tuesday's win in Portland, and Antetokounmpo came up with an incredible steal-and-save sequence in the final minute of Friday's win against Atlanta before Malcolm Brogdon and Greg Monroe hooked up for the team's final two buckets. Their final back-to-back of the season is Tuesday and Wednesday in Charlotte and Boston.

This week: @ CHA, @ BOS, vs. DET, vs. DAL

15
Last week:
14

Record: 40-33
Pace: 95.2 (28) OffRtg: 104.7 (19) DefRtg: 104.3 (7) NetRtg: +0.3 (13)

Though they hung close with the Warriors on Sunday, three straight road games against top-five defenses (in which they scored just 96 points per 100 possessions) has the Grizzlies looking more and more like the No. 7 seed in the West. Their new starting lineup (with Vince Carter at the three) has outscored its opponents by 23 points per 100 possessions since the change, but Tony Allen (knee) missed Tuesday's loss in New Orleans, Marc Gasol (foot) missed Sunday's loss at Golden State, and it scored just 19 points in 13 minutes in Thursday's loss in San Antonio. The only team with a top 10 defense (or a top 10 offense) left on the Grizzlies' schedule is those same Spurs, the team who they beat twice at home and who they're most likely to face in the first round.

This week: @ SAC, vs. IND, vs. DAL, @ LAL

16
Last week:
16

Record: 37-36
Pace: 98.5 (17) OffRtg: 105.3 (16) DefRtg: 105.9 (17) NetRtg: -0.6 (16)

The Pacers finally broke their 15-game string of alternating wins and losses, because they couldn't slow down the Nuggets on Friday. Jeff Teague (20.8 points per game on 53 percent shooting over the last four) is giving them some consistent production, Myles Turner had a couple of big games over the weekend, and their starting lineup has been solid (plus-9.7 points per 100 possessions) over the last 10 games (though Nate McMillan made a change on Sunday). But their bench remains a big question mark, especially with Al Jefferson suffering an ankle injury in Sunday's win over Philly. Rodney Stuckey has been banged up and has shot 2-for-22 over his last five games. After Wednesday's loss in Boston, they're 11-18 (the worst record within the group) against the other teams with winning records, and have five straight games against them after Tuesday's visit from the Wolves.

This week: vs. MIN, @ MEM, @ TOR, @ CLE

17
Last week:
19

Record: 35-39
Pace: 97.4 (21) OffRtg: 104.4 (21) DefRtg: 105.7 (13) NetRtg: -1.3 (19)

The Bulls remain weird. We should never count them out and never count them in, no matter how bad or well they play on any given night. Their latest Jekyll-and-Hyde act came with a home loss to Philadelphia on Friday and a big road win in Milwaukee on Sunday. Nikola Mirotic scored a season-high 28 points in Wednesday's win over Detroit and then matched that on Sunday, when Rajon Rondo came one rebound and one assist away from a triple-double. Rondo (from 40.7 percent before the break to 56.4 percent) and Mirotic (from 47.1 percent to 61.5 percent) were both out of the rotation at one point or another, but have seen the league's two biggest post-break increases in effective field goal percentage among 165 players who took at least 250 shots before the break and have taken at least 100 shots after the break. The Bulls are just a half game out of eighth place (with the tiebreaker over Miami) and, after they play the Cavs (in a Thursday TNT game - automatic win) and Hawks (who have lost seven straight) this week, their final six games are against teams that are out of the playoff picture.

This week: vs. CLE, vs. ATL, @ NOP

18
Last week:
15

Record: 37-36
Pace: 99.8 (10) OffRtg: 102.3 (27) DefRtg: 103.6 (4) NetRtg: -1.4 (20)

The Hawks have lost seven straight games and are 0-8 without Paul Millsap after losing at home to Brooklyn on Sunday. Their starting lineups have played their opponents even over these last five games that Millsap has missed (with Kent Bazemore missing the last four and Thabo Sefolosha also out Sunday), but with their depth depleted, they've been outscored by 53 points with at least one reserve on the floor. They still have four remaining back-to-backs, but also play four teams who are on the second night of a back-to-back themselves. Of course, Millsap's availability is more important than the strength of schedule as they try to hold onto a playoff spot. They're still in fifth place (somehow), but just three games ahead of the 10th-place Pistons.

This week: vs. PHX, @ PHI, @ CHI, @ BKN

19
Last week:
20

Record: 31-42
Pace: 100.1 (9) OffRtg: 102.6 (26) DefRtg: 104.0 (5) NetRtg: -1.4 (21)

After Sunday's impressive win in Denver, the Pelicans are 3-0 without DeMarcus Cousins since they traded for him. But they're also 4-2 (with wins over two playoff teams) in the last six games he's played, outscoring their opponents by 9.8 points per 100 possessions (and holding them under a point per possession) in 131 minutes with Cousins, Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis on the floor together in that stretch. The Kings ranked no better than 20th defensively in Cousins' first six seasons in the league and ranked 24th prior to the trade, but he hasn't hurt the Pelicans' defense, which now ranks in the top five after four straight seasons in the bottom 10. Having allowed 3.3 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season, the Pels have the league's most improved defense by a wide margin. The only other teams who have allowed fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season are Memphis (-1.1) and Philadelphia (-1.0).

This week: @ UTA, vs. DAL, vs. SAC, vs. CHI

20
Last week:
23

Record: 33-40
Pace: 98.1 (19) OffRtg: 106.2 (14) DefRtg: 105.2 (9) NetRtg: +1.0 (10)

The fifth-place, 37-36 Hawks are a minus-101 for the season. The 11th-place, 33-40 Hornets are a plus-66 and 3-0 vs. Atlanta after a 15-point win on Monday. A boost in offense (112 points scored per 100 possessions) has the Hornets with four wins in five games for the first time since December, but it will be their inability to get stops in close games that keeps them unable to make the playoffs a second straight season. They're 20-27 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes and rank 28th in clutch defense.

This week: vs. MIL, @ TOR, vs. DEN, @ OKC

21
Last week:
21

Record: 31-41
Pace: 94.0 (29) OffRtg: 103.7 (22) DefRtg: 105.7 (15) NetRtg: -2.1 (23)

With a 3-5 mark in their last eight games, the Mavs just haven't been able to keep up with Denver and Portland in the race for the last playoff spot in the West. They rank 27th offensively over that stretch, having scored less than a point per possession, with Seth Curry and Wesley Matthews combining to shoot 17-for-68 (25 percent) from 3-point range. The only thing J.J. Barea has been able to knock down is Blake Griffin and while Dirk Nowitzki and Nerlens Noel were a plus-36 in 85 minutes together before Thursday, the pair was a minus-13 in 14 minutes against Toronto (their third start together) on Saturday.

This week: vs. OKC, @ NOP, @ MEM, @ MIL

22
Last week:
18

Record: 34-39
Pace: 97.0 (23) OffRtg: 103.3 (24) DefRtg: 105.4 (11) NetRtg: -2.1 (22)

The Pistons are still only a game out of eighth place with a game against the Heat on Tuesday, but they just had their worst week of the season at the absolute worst time. After Tuesday's loss in Brooklyn, Stan Van Gundy finally started Ish Smith over Reggie Jackson in Chicago and Orlando. But that didn't work, as the new starting lineup was outscored by 21 points in 28 minutes over the two games, which the Pistons lost by 50 points combined, because they added bad defense to the offense that ranks last (as they've gone 1-6) over the last two weeks.

This week: @ NYK, vs. MIA, vs. BKN, @ MIL

23
Last week:
27

Record: 27-46
Pace: 98.7 (15) OffRtg: 101.0 (29) DefRtg: 107.3 (21) NetRtg: -6.3 (28)

Elfrid Payton has seven career triple-doubles and all (including four this season) have taken place in the month of March, with the latest coming against Detroit on Friday. The Magic have won three out of four for the first time since December, holding their opponent under a point per possession in each of the three wins. Nikola Vucevic has recorded 14 assists (setting a career high with eight against Charlotte on Wednesday) over the last two games, mostly doing work out of the high post. Vucevic still has the fifth lowest free throw rate among starting centers (about even with that of 38-year-old Dirk Nowitzki), getting to the line just 16 times per 100 shots from the field.

This week: @ TOR, vs. OKC, @ BOS, @ BKN

24
Last week:
24

Record: 27-46
Pace: 101.1 (5) OffRtg: 100.4 (30) DefRtg: 105.7 (14) NetRtg: -5.3 (26)

Dario Saric is closer to really earning that Rookie of the Year award. He had a streak of 22 straight games scoring in double-figures and had averaged 21.4 points over his previous nine before shooting 3-for-15 in Sunday's loss in Indiana. His improved shooting since the All-Star break has come with more attempts and better finishing at the rim. Before the break, he took 31 percent of his shots in the restricted area, where he shot just 52 percent. Since the break, 36 percent of his shots have come from the restricted area, and he's shooting 63 percent there.

This week: @ BKN, vs. ATL, @ CLE, @ TOR

25
Last week:
22

Record: 28-44
Pace: 96.9 (26) OffRtg: 107.7 (10) DefRtg: 108.2 (24) NetRtg: -0.5 (15)

The Wolves have succumbed to their tough March schedule, losing six straight games by allowing their opponents to score 120 points per 100 possessions. Only two of those six games were against top-10 offenses and they allowed the the 23rd-ranked Lakers to shoot 14-for-23 from 3-point range in Friday's overtime loss. Amazingly, they still rank as a top 10 team in regard to defensive improvement, having allowed only 1.1 points per 100 possessions more than they did last season, with the league averaging jumping twice that amount. But their young core obviously needs to develop better habits and bring more effort on that end of the floor.

This week: @ IND, vs. LAL, vs. SAC

26
Last week:
26

Record: 28-45
Pace: 96.9 (25) OffRtg: 104.4 (20) DefRtg: 109.0 (27) NetRtg: -4.6 (25)

On Sunday, the Kings played spoiler for the first time since they beat Denver in the first game after the All-Star break, coming back from 18 points down with less than five minutes to go to stun the Clippers. Buddy Hield scored 11 of their 22 points in the comeback and has made at least two threes in 12 of his 13 games in March, but doesn't get to the basket or to the free throw line very much. In his time with the Kings, he has attempted just 15 percent of his shots from the restricted area and has attempted less than two free throws per game.

This week: vs. MEM, vs. UTA, @ NOP, @ MIN

27
Last week:
25

Record: 27-46
Pace: 99.0 (14) OffRtg: 104.8 (18) DefRtg: 108.8 (26) NetRtg: -4.0 (24)

The Knicks just can't let another bad season end quietly, either in regard to what's happening off the floor or what's happening on it. Joakim Noah was suspended 20 games for use of a banned substance and Jeff Hornacek professed his team's rededication to the triangle offense, saying that fit within the triangle will affect roster decisions this summer. The Knicks have been 2.8 points per 100 possessions better offensively and 4.0 points per 100 possessions worse defensively this season than they were last season, so, even when you account for the change in the league average (up 2.2 points per 100 possessions), playing less triangle was more effective than whatever they're trying to do on the other end of the floor.

This week: vs. DET, vs. MIA, @ MIA, vs. BOS

28
Last week:
29

Record: 16-57
Pace: 103.6 (1) OffRtg: 102.2 (28) DefRtg: 108.7 (25) NetRtg: -6.5 (29)

The Celtics should be rooting for the Lakers right now, because L.A. might need one more win to avoid getting caught in the standings by Brooklyn and reducing Boston's odds at getting the No. 1 pick in the Draft. The Nets are 7-8 (with above-average marks in both offensive and defensive efficiency) in March, have won three of their last four games, and have one of the league's easiest remaining schedules. As they get a look at Archie Goodwin and K.J. McDaniels down the stretch, both have made contributions off a bench that ranks 11th in aggregate NetRtg this month.

This week: vs. PHI, @ DET, vs. ORL, vs. ATL

29
Last week:
28

Record: 22-52
Pace: 102.7 (2) OffRtg: 103.5 (23) DefRtg: 109.1 (28) NetRtg: -5.6 (27)

How do you find a way to celebrate during an eight-game losing streak? Have one of your guys score 70 points, like Devin Booker did in Boston on Friday. Booker's effective field goal percentage (47.5 percent) still ranks well below the league average (51.3 percent), but he has been getting to the line more often of late. Since Jan. 1, he has attempted 35 free throws for every 100 shots from the field, up from a rate of 24 per 100 through December. His 26 free throw attempts on Friday were the most by any player this season and the most by a guard in almost eight years.

This week: @ ATL, vs. LAC, @ POR, vs. HOU

30
Last week:
30

Record: 21-52
Pace: 101.0 (6) OffRtg: 103.2 (25) DefRtg: 111.1 (30) NetRtg: -7.8 (30)

The Lakers picked up another win with a 30-11 run over the final 7:15 of the fourth quarter and overtime against Minnesota on Shaq Night. Not only did Jordan Clarkson score a career-high 35 points on Friday, but he and D'Angelo Russell had a positive plus-minus (plus-6) together for just the second time in their last 27 games. The win put the Lakers within a game of reducing the chances of them keeping their first round pick (which is top-3 protected) from 56 percent (if they were to maintain the second worst record) to 51 percent (if they were to tie with Phoenix). Moving ahead of the Suns in the standings would drop the chances of keeping the pick below 50/50.

This week: vs. WAS, @ MIN, @ LAC, vs. MEM

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