There are just three nights and 27 games remaining in the 2017-18 regular season, and there is still a lot to be determined.
At this point last year, we already knew all four of the first-round playoff matchups in the Western Conference. Right now, the only seeds that are set are the top two in each conference, and the Denver Nuggets still have a chance to climb out of ninth place into playoff position.
No matter who finishes 5-8 in the West or how things shake out in the East, there will be some dangerous teams in the lower seeds, and an upset or two may be in the cards.
Of course, that wouldn't be anything new. In each of the last 11 years (from 2007-2017), at least one team with home-court advantage has lost a first round series. Of the 21 first-round "upsets" over that span, 13 came in 4-5 series, but eight did not.
When this season started, it was hard to imagine a scenario where the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors weren't meeting in The Finals for a fourth straight year. Now, it's much easier.
The Warriors are without their most important player, while the Cavs never seem to be fully healthy and very good defensively. Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors have been the best teams in their respective conferences. Those two teams top the final Power Rankings of the season and we won't really know the meaning of the last 25 weeks until we get through the next 10.
- Last week: Celtics make things interesting atop East
- This time last year: Warriors again the favorites as playoffs near -- All four playoff series in the Western Conference were set after Russell Westbrook killed the Nuggets' playoff dreams with a 36-foot, buzzer-beating three. James Johnson kept the Heat's season alive with a game-winning drive in Washington. The Hawks came back from a 26-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Cavs, D'Angelo Russell beat the Wolves at the buzzer, and Kevin Durant returned from a five-week absence for the final three games of the regular season.
- Plus-minus studs: Anthony Davis (NOP) was a plus-68 in three games last week and Eric Gordon (HOU) leads the league in raw plus-minus (plus-565) for the season.
- Plus-minus duds: Julius Randle (LAL) was a minus-53 in four games last week and Josh Jackson (PHX) has had the league's worst raw plus-minus (minus-529) this season.
- Hero team of the week: New Orleans (3-0) -- The Pelicans took care of business against the Grizzlies and Suns before picking up a huge win at Golden State.
- Zero team of the week: Washington (0-3) -- The Wizards blew a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead in Cleveland on Thursday, and then lost at home to the Hawks.
- East vs. West: The West is 236-213 (.526) against the East in interconference games after the East went 4-3 last week. This is the 18th time in the last 19 seasons that the West has had a better record than the East, but it will be the East's third best season in that stretch. The lone remaining East-West game is Oklahoma City at Miami on Monday.
- High jumps of the week: Atlanta (+3), Five teams (+2)
- Free falls of the week: Boston (-6), Chicago (-4), LA Clippers (-3)
- Team to watch in Week 26: Denver -- The Nuggets probably needed to win their last seven games of the season to make the playoffs. Five down, two to go. They host the Blazers on Monday and visit the Wolves on Wednesday
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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 99.6 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 106.2 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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