Klay Thompson said last week that the Golden State Warriors are "trying to win every game going into the playoffs."
Maybe that's not realistic, but the champs are one of five teams (all in the Western Conference) that haven't lost since the All-Star break and have started to play better defensively. When they're focused, the Warriors can be the best team in the league on both ends of the floor.
Of course, if the Warriors are going to try to run the table, the Houston Rockets have to stay just as locked in. The Rockets have won 15 straight games, but still have just a one-game edge in the loss column over the champs.
They won't play each other again until the conference finals (if they get there), but both the Rockets and Warriors have some interesting road games this week. Houston will visit Oklahoma City and Toronto, while Golden State will visit Portland (where the Blazers have won 13 of their last 14) and Minnesota.
- Last week: Rockets remain at top with big week ahead for those below
- This time last year: Chase for No. 8 seed in West heats up -- Kevin Durant suffered an MCL sprain that would keep him out for more than a month. The Cavs set a regular season record with 25 3-pointers in Atlanta, where Glenn Robinson III hit a game-winning three two nights later. The Suns beat the Celtics by scoring five points in the last five seconds, Rudy Gobert beat the Kings with a buzzer-beating tip-in, and Jahlil Okafor played some immobile defense.
- Plus-minus stud: James Harden (HOU) was a plus-53 in three games last week.
- Plus-minus dud: Cristiano Felicio (CHI) was a minus-62 in three games last week.
- Hero team of the week: Houston (3-0) -- The Rockets' week included two double-digit, road wins over teams - the Clippers and Jazz - that have otherwise been playing well.
- Zero team of the week: Memphis (0-4) -- The Grizz have vaulted to the top of the Lottery race with a 13-game losing streak, losing to both the Suns and Magic last week.
- East vs. West: The West is 193-166 (.538) against the East in interconference games after going 13-4 last week.
- Toughest schedules so far: 1. Dallas, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Utah
- Easiest schedules so far: 1. Indiana, 2. Houston, 3. Toronto
- 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: New Orleans (+8), Utah (+4), Three teams (+3)
- Free falls of the week: Minnesota (-5), Memphis (-4), Washington (-4)
- Team to watch in Week 21: Houston -- The Rockets take their 15-game winning streak on a four-game trip, which includes three games against teams with winning records. The highlight should be their Friday game in Toronto, where the Raptors have the league's best home record.
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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 99.5 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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