Believe it or not, we're halfway there.
The league will reach the midway point of the season (615 of 1,230 games) when two of Thursday's four games are complete. For some teams (like the one in Orlando that has lost 24 of its last 28 games), it may feel like the season should be over soon. For others (like the one in Cleveland that just got its starting point guard), it may feel like the season has just gotten started.
A look at the standings may elicit the feeling that we should just get the playoffs started right now. In the Western Conference, there's a clear top eight, with the the LA Clippers and Utah Jazz seemingly running out of time (and healthy bodies) to make a run. In the East, it appears that we have nine teams for eight spots, with the New York Knicks facing too tough of a second-half schedule to make it 10 for eight.
Most teams are exactly who they've been over their first 41 games. But the Miami Heat will tell you that things can change in the second half of the season. Maybe another remarkable turnaround will get started this week.
- Last week: Warriors face league's toughest January schedule
- This time last year: As trade season begins, Cavs get Korver, drop in rankings -- The Warriors blew a 24-point, second-half lead to the Grizzlies and Draymond Green didn't like it when Kevin Durant called for an isolation in the final minute. The Hawks, in the middle of a seven-game winning streak, sent Kyle Korver to Cleveland. Giannis Antetokounmpo hit a buzzer-beating game-winner at Madison Square Garden, Tyler Johnson hit a more unconventional game-winner in Sacramento, Kawhi Leonard stole the ball from Pau Gasol, and Marco Belinelli just didn't have enough time to pull off the game-winning-shot-after-inbounding-the-ball-off-the-opponent's-rear-end trick.
- Plus-minus stud: Taj Gibson (MIN) was a plus-46 in four games last week.
- Plus-minus dud: Brandon Ingram (LAL) was a minus-49 in four games last week.
- Hero team of the week: Golden State (3-0) -- James Harden was out, but the Warriors got a road win over the No. 2 team in the West without Kevin Durant on Thursday, also taking care of business in Dallas and L.A., running their road winning streak to 10 games.
- Zero team of the week: Atlanta (0-3) -- The Hawks blew a 12-point lead with less than five minutes to go in Phoenix on Tuesday, and things only got worse from there. Losses in Portland and L.A. ran their road losing streak to nine games.
- East vs. West: The East is 123-116 (.515) against the West in interconference games after going 11-6 last week.
- Toughest schedules so far: 1. Charlotte, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Utah
- Easiest schedules so far: 1. Houston, 2. Cleveland, 3. Portland
- 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: Charlotte (+4), Portland (+2), Four teams (+1)
- Free falls of the week: Utah (-3), Indiana (-2), Five teams (-1)
- Team to watch in Week 13: Toronto -- The Raptors' 14-1 record at the Air Canada Centre will be challenged by visits from the Heat (who have won five of their last six road games), Cavs and Warriors.
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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 99.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 105.6 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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