Power Rankings
Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 7: Quarter pole a good time to assess playoff chances

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann NBA.com

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Nov 26, 2018 12:04 PM ET

The Magic are among the teams that should feel good about where they stand at the quarter mark.

We're about to reach a critical point in the 2018-19 season. Toward the end of Wednesday's 10-game slate, we will reach the season's quarter point (308 of 1,230 games played), when we should start to take a team's record pretty seriously.

On average, about 14 of the 16 teams that eventually make the playoffs are in the top eight at the quarter mark of the season. At the quarter mark last season, seven of the eight eventual Eastern Conference playoff teams were no worse than tied for eighth place in the conference, with the 10-11 Miami Heat (one game out of eighth) being the lone exception. The same thing was true in the West, where the 8-12 Oklahoma City Thunder were the only eventual playoff team that wasn't in the top eight through Nov. 29.

A team's first 20 games are only a quarter of its season, but they can be pretty indicative of things to come. Over the last 15 (full) seasons, 92 percent of teams that had at least 12 wins through their first 20 games went on to make the playoffs, while only five percent of teams with six or fewer wins through their first 20 games turned things around and made the postseason.

Wins through 20 games, last 15 full seasons

Recovering from a slow start has obviously been tougher in the Western Conference, where things are especially jumbled right now. Through Sunday's games there are seven teams that are three games over .500, but another seven that are within a game of eighth place at no worse than 9-11. Come Thursday morning, the West standings may not mean quite as much as they usually do.

But in the East, the Orlando Magic should feel pretty good about being 10-10 through their first 20 games, while the Miami Heat and Washington Wizards should be worried about their chances of returning to the postseason.

Previously...

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: New York (3-1) -- After getting edged out by the Blazers on Tuesday, the Knicks won in Boston, came back to beat the Pelicans, and became just the second team to win in Memphis this season.
  • Something Just Ain't Right: Portland (1-3) -- The Blazers have been going through a rough travel schedule, but they lost two games (at Milwaukee and Golden State) by 43 and 28 points.
 
Dig into some of the stats from the latest edition of NBA.com's Power Rankings!

East vs. West

Schedule strength through Week 6

  • Toughest: 1. Utah, 2. Phoenix, 3. Minnesota
  • Easiest: 1. Toronto, 2. Detroit, 3. Dallas
  • Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.

Movement in the Rankings

  • High jumps of the week: Dallas (+9), Denver (+6), Detroit (+6)
  • Free falls of the week: Boston (-12), San Antonio (-6), Portland (-4)

Week 7 Team to Watch

  • Dallas -- Behind the league's best bench, the Mavs have won six of their last seven games to climb to .500 and a virtual, four-way tie for eighth place in the West. A six-game stretch, in which they're playing six teams tied with them or ahead of them in the standings, begins on Wednesday, when they visit the Rockets. It continues with weekend games against the two Los Angeles teams, in L.A. against the Lakers on Friday and home against the Clippers on Sunday.

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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 101.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 108.4 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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1
Last week:
2

Record: 14-5
Pace: 104.3 (4) OffRtg: 116.1 (1) DefRtg: 104.9 (6) NetRtg: +11.2 (1)

The Bucks had their first head-scratching loss of the season on Friday, blowing a six-point lead with less than 80 seconds to go and allowing the Suns to pick up their first road win of the season. But they sandwiched that with three wins against quality opponents from the Western Conference, holding the Nuggets' and Blazers' top-10 offenses under a point per possession, and then shooting 57 percent against the Spurs on Saturday. Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to be close to unstoppable; he has seen an increase in usage rate every season of his career, and is registering career highs in both effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, even though he's 5-for-45 from 3-point range. His 19.0 points per game in the paint lead the league by a wide margin and are the most since Shaquille O'Neal averaged 19.6 in the 2002-03 season.

Week 7: @ CHA, vs. CHI, @ NYK

2
Last week:
1

Record: 13-6
Pace: 102.7 (9) OffRtg: 112.0 (6) DefRtg: 107.6 (11) NetRtg: +4.4 (6)

The Clippers blew a 24-point lead (the second largest lead a team has had in a game it lost this season) in Washington on Tuesday, but came back from Thanksgiving to pick up two quality wins, even with Lou Williams shooting 7-for-27, over the weekend. They came back from eight points down with less than three minutes to go in the fourth quarter against Memphis on Friday and had a huge third quarter in Portland on Sunday. Tobias Harris had 15 of their 38 points in that third period and is one of three players - Stephen Curry and Nikola Vucevic are the others - averaging at least 20 points per game while shooting 50 percent or better from the field and 40 percent or better from 3-point range. The Clips' schedule remains road-heavy for the next few weeks, with an interesting, four-game trip (through Sacramento, Dallas, New Orleans and Memphis) tipping off on Thursday.

Week 7: vs. PHX, @ SAC, @ DAL

3
Last week:
4

Record: 17-4
Pace: 102.0 (12) OffRtg: 113.7 (3) DefRtg: 105.4 (7) NetRtg: +8.3 (2)

The Raptors have played the league's easiest schedule to date and their current five-game winning streak has come against teams with a cumulative record of 33-65 (.337). Things are about to get tougher, because their visit to Memphis on Tuesday begins a stretch of 12 games where 10 of the opponents are no worse than the 11-8 Pacers. With OG Anunoby and C.J. Miles both returning from injuries over the weekend, their top 10 guys are healthy. But their bench unit - Anunoby, Miles, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright and a center - was a minus-13 in 20 minutes against the Wizards and Heat. Their two starting lineups (with Serge Ibaka or Jonas Valanciunas at the five) have been two of the league's four best lineups (among those that have played at least 100 minutes) and they've also been really good with VanVleet mixed in with starters.

Week 7: @ MEM, vs. GSW, @ CLE

4
Last week:
10

Record: 13-7
Pace: 98.8 (26) OffRtg: 110.6 (8) DefRtg: 104.0 (4) NetRtg: +6.6 (3)

The Nuggets have rebounded from a 1-6 stretch by winning three straight games, their best stretch of defense (97.3 points allowed per 100 possessions) since their first three games of the season. And on Saturday in Oklahoma City, they got what was probably their best road win to date, in part because, with Gary Harris out, Torrey Craig returned to the rotation and kept Russell Westbrook (3-for-14 with Craig as his primary defender) in check, with a couple of highlight blocks to help observers take notice. Trey Lyles totaled 38 points on 15-for-21 shooting over the weekend, with five assists (including a tasty, over-the-head dime) from Mason Plumlee, and the Nuggets have now outscored their opponents by 12 points per 100 possessions in 289 minutes with the reserve bigs on the floor together. Though their schedule remains road-heavy for the next two weeks, they're playing just two (important) games in an eight-day stretch that began Sunday.

Week 7: vs. LAL, @ POR

5
Last week:
5

Record: 12-7
Pace: 102.9 (8) OffRtg: 107.8 (16) DefRtg: 102.6 (1) NetRtg: +5.2 (4)

With Russell Westbrook returning from a six-game absence last week, the Thunder had some great numbers (plus-28 points per 100 possessions in 73 minutes) with Westbrook and Dennis Schroder on the floor together. Schroder dropped a season-high 32 points on the Warriors on Wednesday, and (with Hamidou Diallo out with an ankle injury) OKC started and finished their win over Charlotte on Friday with both point guards on the floor. But Schroder was back on the bench to start their game against Denver on Saturday, and new starter Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was a minus-10 in a seven-point loss. After a 1-for-12 night against the Nuggets, Westbrook is 9-for-51 (18 percent) from 3-point range, also shooting a career-low 62 percent from the free-throw line.

Week 7: vs. CLE, vs. ATL

6
Last week:
6

Record: 14-7
Pace: 101.1 (15) OffRtg: 114.1 (2) DefRtg: 108.9 (18) NetRtg: +5.2 (5)

The Warriors must have had a great Thanksgiving. After getting blown out by the Thunder on Wednesday, they came out of the holiday with their two best Curry-less wins of the season, thumping the Blazers and edging the Kings (thanks to Klay Thompson's put-back). Kevin Durant shot a ridiculous 19-for-28 (68 percent) between the restricted area and the 3-point line (where the league average is 40 percent) over two games. His 3-point percentage is way down (31 percent, from 42 percent last season), but Durant ranks second in restricted area field goal percentage (79 percent) and fifth in mid-range field goal percentage (52 percent). After they host the Magic on Monday, the champs will head out on one of two five-game trips they have this season, hoping to get Stephen Curry back along the way.

Week 7: vs. ORL, @ TOR, @ DET

7
Last week:
3

Record: 12-8
Pace: 101.2 (14) OffRtg: 110.7 (7) DefRtg: 108.7 (16) NetRtg: +2.0 (10)

The Blazers have gone 2-5 against a tough travel schedule (a six-game trip that went from the west coast to the east coast and back again, and then a home game), scoring less than a point per possession in three of the last four losses. They made a lineup change (Jake Layman out, Maurice Harkless in) on Sunday, but a Jusuf Nurkic shoulder injury prevented them from getting to what has been the league's best lineup in the second half against the Clippers. The lineup of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Evan Turner, Al-Farouq Aminu and Nurkic has outscored opponents by 26.5 points per 100 possessions (the best mark among 32 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes) and has been Terry Stotts' most-used lineup in the fourth quarter. The Blazers have a couple of days off to do some laundry and get their legs back before hosting the Magic on Wednesday.

Week 7: vs. ORL, vs. DEN, @ SAS

8
Last week:
8

Record: 12-7
Pace: 96.4 (30) OffRtg: 105.7 (23) DefRtg: 103.6 (3) NetRtg: +2.0 (9)

Jaren Jackson has made seven of his last nine 3-point attempts and blocked seven shots in New York on Sunday. But last week was a tale of two Marc Gasol fouls for the Grizzlies. In the final seconds in San Antonio on Wednesday, Gasol's foul on LaMarcus Aldridge's game-winning 3-point attempt wasn't called and the Grizzlies escaped with a win. In the final seconds in L.A. two nights later, Gasol was whistled for fouling Danilo Gallinari on his 3-point attempt (from almost the exact same spot on the floor) to tie the game, and the Grizzlies lost in overtime. With a team that ranks last in pace, in the bottom eight on offense, and third defensively, you get a lot of close games, and nine of the Grizzlies' last 10 have been within five points in the last five minutes. They'll play two teams this week (Brooklyn and Philadelphia) who are similarly familiar with going down to the wire.

Week 7: vs. TOR, @ BKN, @ PHI

9
Last week:
11

Record: 14-8
Pace: 103.0 (7) OffRtg: 108.7 (13) DefRtg: 108.7 (17) NetRtg: +0.0 (16)

Guess what? The Markelle Fultz situation only got stranger last week, with Fultz's agent saying that his client won't play until he has his shoulder checked out again (Monday) and the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting that the Sixers could be ready to move on without the former No. 1 pick. But rookie Landry Shamet is doing his best to alleviate the situation, shooting 18-for-36 from 3-point range over the last eight games, and Jimmy Butler hit his second game-winner in the last nine days to cap a comeback from 20 points down in Brooklyn. The Sixers have won five of their last six games, but defense has been a concern. In fact, the last three games (122 points allowed per 100 possessions) is the worst three-game defensive stretch they've had since the start of last season.

Week 7: vs. NYK, vs. WAS, vs. MEM

10
Last week:
13

Record: 11-8
Pace: 104.2 (5) OffRtg: 109.2 (12) DefRtg: 107.5 (10) NetRtg: +1.7 (12)

Fortunately for the Lakers, they won't play the Magic again until, at least, The 2019 Finals. L.A. has won seven of its last nine games, but has lost to Orlando twice in the last nine days, getting outscored, 142-92, over the second and third quarters in the two losses. They rank fourth defensively since adding Tyson Chandler, but six of their nine games in that stretch have been against teams that rank in the bottom 10 offensively and that middle 24 minutes on Sunday was rife with breakdowns. The next two weeks will be a little tougher in regard to opponent offenses, though the Lakers will have a four-game homestand after visiting the Nuggets' eighth-ranked offense on Tuesday.

Week 7: @ DEN, vs. IND, vs. DAL, vs. PHX

11
Last week:
20

Record: 9-9
Pace: 100.9 (17) OffRtg: 108.4 (15) DefRtg: 107.0 (8) NetRtg: +1.4 (13)

The Mavs' two most-used lineups (their starters with either Wesley Matthews or Dorian Finney-Smith at the wing alongside Luka Doncic) have combined to score less than 96 points per 100 possessions in 265 total minutes. But the team has still scored more than 110 points per 100 possessions in five of their wins over a 6-1 stretch that has included wins over the Thunder, Warriors and Celtics. They've won the last six games that J.J. Barea has played in and have been 17.6 points per 100 possessions better offensively with him on the floor (scoring 119.5 per 100) than w/ him off the floor in those 6 wins, even though he's played less than half of his minutes alongside Luka Doncic. Their defense ranks second in November, but they're about to play their next six games against teams that rank in the top 12 offensively.

Week 7: @ HOU, @ LAL, vs. LAC

12
Last week:
9

Record: 11-8
Pace: 98.1 (27) OffRtg: 107.7 (17) DefRtg: 104.7 (5) NetRtg: +3.0 (8)

Not breaking news: The Pacers aren't as good without Victor Oladipo, who has missed the last three games with a right knee issue. After going 0-7 without Oladipo last season, they beat the Jazz without him on Monday, getting big games from Domantas Sabonis (19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists) and Aaron Holiday (19 points on 7-for-10 shooting) off the bench. The bench has continued to be solid and Holiday may be earning himself continued playing time once Oladipo returns, but the Pacers' starting lineups (with Tyreke Evans in Oladipo's place and Sabonis starting for the injured Myles Turner on Friday) got outscored by a total of 39 points in just 35 minutes in losses to Charlotte and San Antonio. The shooting of Sabonis and Bojan Bogdanovic wasn't the problem. In fact, those guys rank first and fourth in effective field goal percentage among 217 players with at least 100 field goal attempts this season.

Week 7: @ UTA, @ PHX, @ LAL, @ SAC

13
Last week:
19

Record: 10-7
Pace: 100.5 (21) OffRtg: 108.5 (14) DefRtg: 107.7 (13) NetRtg: +0.7 (15)

Some time off did the Pistons' offense some good. After playing just one game in Week 5, they came back and scored 119 points per 100 possessions, with six guys averaging double-figures, in a 3-1 Week 6. Reggie Jackson has not shot particularly well, but he had 10 of the team's 18 points in overtime in their win over the Rockets on Friday. They're 10-7 with their four most-used lineups having been outscored by 42 points in 238 total minutes. As they've gone 6-2 over their last eight games, they've been at their best with reserves on the floor. Rookie Bruce Brown joined the bench crew and registered a plus-18 in 25 minutes in the Houston win after playing just five minutes over the previous six games.

Week 7: vs. NYK, vs. CHI, vs. GSW

14
Last week:
12

Record: 9-9
Pace: 96.9 (29) OffRtg: 109.8 (10) DefRtg: 110.7 (23) NetRtg: -0.8 (18)

James Harden has averaged 37.5 points over the last four games, but also seven turnovers over the same stretch, and the Rockets' defense hasn't exactly flipped the switch with the return of Jeff Bzdelik to the bench. They allowed almost 120 points per 100 possessions in weekend losses in Detroit and Cleveland, even though the Pistons and Cavs made only 14 3-pointers combined. Last season, the Rockets outscored their opponents by 5.0 points per game at the free throw line, the league's second best differential. This season, they've been outscored by 2.3 points per game at the line, having seen a small drop in their own free throw rate (FTA/FGA) and a big increase in that of their opponents. After allowing only 23 free throw attempts per 100 shots from the field (the league's sixth lowest mark) last season, the Rockets have allowed 31 per 100 (29th) this year.

Week 7: @ WAS, vs. DAL, @ SAS, vs. CHI

15
Last week:
14

Record: 10-10
Pace: 105.1 (3) OffRtg: 112.8 (4) DefRtg: 111.7 (27) NetRtg: +1.2 (14)

Anthony Davis recorded just the third 5 x 5 game (at least five points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) in the last 12 years on Wednesday in Philadelphia, but needed to make five free throws to send the game to overtime, and he only made four, missing the last of a three-shot trip with 2.5 seconds left on the clock. And now, he's hurt again, suffering a right hip injury late in the third quarter in New York on Friday. He returned for the final few minutes of the fourth, but not before the Pelicans had begun to blow what was a nine-point lead with less than six minutes to go. With Davis out on Saturday, the Pelicans lost in Washington, despite 53 combined points from Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle. They're now 0-4 without Davis (having lost seven straight games without him going back to last season) and have been 18.6 points per 100 possessions worse with him off the floor (minus-10.2) than they've been with him on the floor (plus-8.4).

Week 7: vs. BOS, vs. WAS, @ MIA, @ CHA

16
Last week:
17

Record: 10-10
Pace: 100.2 (23) OffRtg: 105.4 (26) DefRtg: 108.4 (14) NetRtg: -3.1 (24)

The Magic's season can be summed up pretty well by a weekend in which they lost by 25 in Denver and won by four in L.A. They've been outscored by 58 points over their 20 games, but they're 10-10, with eight of their 10 wins having been within five points in the last five minutes. They cooled off offensively last week, but still rank 12th on that end of the floor over an 8-4 stretch and the 114.7 points their starting lineup has scored is the sixth best mark among 32 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes. The win over the Lakers on Sunday was Nikola Vucevic's fourth game with 28 or more points in the last two weeks. He has cut down on mid-range shots (taking more threes) and also has more free throw attempts over the last six games (31) than he had in his first 14 (29).

Week 7: @ GSW, @ POR, @ PHX

17
Last week:
15

Record: 9-11
Pace: 100.7 (19) OffRtg: 105.6 (24) DefRtg: 107.7 (12) NetRtg: -2.0 (21)

With Donovan Mitchell (rib contusion) missing their game in Sacramento on Sunday, a big game from Ricky Rubio - 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting, including the most points he's scored in the restricted area (12) in 4 1/2 years - helped the Jazz stop the bleeding with their best offensive game (133 points on 110 possessions) in more than two weeks. Prior to that, they had lost five of their last six, with two of the five worst offensive performances (less than 81 points scored per 100 possessions) the league has had this season. They're in 14th place in the West, but just a game out of eighth and the schedule has been tough. They're the only team that hasn't played a November game against a one of the 12 teams that are currently under .500. Things now start to get easier (in regard to opponent strength, not travel), especially with Victor Oladipo unlikely to play on Monday.

Week 7: vs. IND, @ BKN, @ CHA, @ MIA

18
Last week:
18

Record: 9-10
Pace: 101.2 (13) OffRtg: 112.7 (5) DefRtg: 108.5 (15) NetRtg: +4.3 (7)

The Hornets got a win in a close game on Monday, coming back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to edge the Celtics, with Tony Parker giving Kemba Walker (who followed up his 60-point performance with 43 against what was the league's No. 1 defense) some much-needed scoring relief down the stretch. But more heartache was to follow, as the Hornets lost close games in Oklahoma City and Atlanta over the weekend. James Borrego has started the same five guys in all 19 games (the starting lineup ranks second in total minutes, with solid numbers on both ends of the floor), but injuries to Parker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Willy Hernangomez have provided opportunities for some new (and old) faces off the bench. Frank Kaminsky saw his first rotation minutes of the season last week (scoring 34 points on 12-for-22 shooting) and Devonte' Graham was on the floor down the stretch in Oklahoma City on Friday. The Hornets' second four-game homestand of the season begins Monday, though the Bucks will have a rest advantage, having had Sunday off.

Week 7: vs. MIL, vs. ATL, vs. UTA, vs. NOP

19
Last week:
7

Record: 10-10
Pace: 100.5 (22) OffRtg: 104.6 (27) DefRtg: 102.8 (2) NetRtg: +1.8 (11)

Brad Stevens has begun to tinker with his starting lineup, first with Aron Baynes instead of Gordon Hayward to start last week, and then with Marcus Morris in Baynes' place in Dallas on Saturday. But the Celtics are still searching for answers, having lost four of their last five games to fall back to .500. They've also fallen out of the top spot in defensive efficiency, having allowed 115 points per 100 possessions over their last three losses, with three small guards - Kemba Walker (43 points on Monday), Trey Burke (29 points and 11 assists on Wednesday) and J.J. Barea (20 points and eight assists in only 26 minutes on Saturday) - doing the most damage. The biggest difference between their October defense (96.2 points allowed per 100 possessions) and their November defense (106.3) has been beyond the arc, both in regard to 3-point percentage (27 percent vs. 34 percent - still below the league average) and 3-point volume (36 percent vs. 39 percent of all opponent field goal attempts).

Week 7: @ NOP, vs. CLE, @ MIN

20
Last week:
21

Record: 10-10
Pace: 106.2 (2) OffRtg: 107.6 (18) DefRtg: 109.8 (20) NetRtg: -2.1 (22)

The Kings' point differential says that their record is a little deceiving (and that they should be 8-12). Four of their 10 wins have come by five points or less and six of their 10 losses (including a 21-point home loss to the struggling Jazz on Sunday) have been by 14 points or more. But they have played the league's fourth toughest schedule to date and if you catch them on the right night, they do look like a playoff team. They picked up important wins over Oklahoma City and in Utah last week, with Marvin Bagley III having a huge fourth quarter (12 points, eight boards and three blocks) against the Thunder on Monday and Willie Cauley-Stein (23 points on 11-for-15 shooting) looking like an All-Star against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz in Wednesday. They were one defensive rebound from beating the champs on Friday, and you best get back on defense after a made bucket.

Week 7: vs. LAC, vs. IND

21
Last week:
22

Record: 9-11
Pace: 102.3 (10) OffRtg: 106.7 (22) DefRtg: 109.6 (19) NetRtg: -2.9 (23)

Tom Thibodeau's Timberwolves finally rank higher on defense than they do on offense! The Wolves have the league's second-ranked defense since the Jimmy Butler trade (100.6 points allowed per 100 possessions), with five of their seven post-trade games having been against teams that rank in the top 12 offensively. Robert Covington shot an amazing 1-for-18 against Chicago on Saturday and the starting lineup has struggled offensively (barely scoring a point per possession in its 107 minutes), but the Wolves have allowed just 97.5 points per 100 possessions with Covington on the floor and Derrick Rose continues to be terrific offensively since moving back to the bench. He's averaged 20.4 points on 60 percent shooting in his five post-trade games as a reserve.

Week 7: @ CLE, vs. SAS, vs. BOS

22
Last week:
16

Record: 9-10
Pace: 99.0 (25) OffRtg: 109.7 (11) DefRtg: 110.0 (21) NetRtg: -0.4 (17)

The Spurs caught a break with Victor Oladipo missing Friday's game in Indiana, but they probably deserved it after getting hosed on a no-call at the end of their loss to the Grizzlies on Wednesday. You win some and you lose some, but the Spurs have lost eight of their last 11 games, with the league's 28th-ranked defense over that stretch. The Pelicans (78) and Pacers (68) both registered season highs for points in the paint against the Spurs last week, and the Bucks' 66 points in the paint on Saturday were their third highest mark of the season. With the Spurs having the league's least efficient shot selection (only 53 percent of their shots have come from the restricted area or 3-point range), their margin for error is razor thin and they can't afford being sub-par defensively.

Week 7: @ CHI, @ MIN, vs. HOU, vs. POR

23
Last week:
25

Record: 7-12
Pace: 104.0 (6) OffRtg: 107.2 (20) DefRtg: 112.2 (28) NetRtg: -5.1 (26)

The Wizards have gained some footing by winning five of their last eight games, taking advantage of a rest advantage vs. the Clippers (to come back from 24 points down) on Tuesday and Anthony Davis' absence on Saturday. With six guys averaging double-figures, the offense has seen an uptick (ranking 10th) over the eight-game stretch, and Otto Porter finally broke out against the Pelicans, scoring a season-high 29 points on 12-for-15 shooting. That helped their new starting lineup (with Kelly Oubre in place of Markieff Morris and Thomas Bryant in for the injured Dwight Howard) have its best game (plus-8 in 16.5 minutes) of the week. Bench production remains inconsistent and their small-ball look (frontline of Morris and Jeff Green) has been pretty terrible defensively (122 points allowed per 100 possessions).

Week 7: vs. HOU, @ NOP, @ PHI, vs. BKN

24
Last week:
28

Record: 7-14
Pace: 100.6 (20) OffRtg: 107.0 (21) DefRtg: 111.6 (26) NetRtg: -4.6 (25)

Even though the Knicks went from losing six straight games to winning three straight, the turnaround wasn't so sudden, because they had been scoring pretty efficiently over the second half of the losing streak. They've scored 114 points per 100 possessions over the last six games, with five different guys scoring at least 21 points in a game and a sixth (Noah Vonleh) having three of the seven highest scoring games of his career in that stretch. The resurrection of Emmanuel Mudiay may be the most remarkable aspect of the season so far. The fourth-year point guard was a plus-minus disaster in Denver and New York last season, but this year, the Knicks' offense has been at its best (110 points scored per 100 possessions) with him on the floor. Among 167 players with at least 300 field goal attempts last season and at least 100 this season, he has seen the third biggest jump in effective field goal percentage (from 43.3 percent to 54.2 percent).

Week 7: @ DET, @ PHI, vs. MIL

25
Last week:
24

Record: 8-13
Pace: 99.8 (24) OffRtg: 110.1 (9) DefRtg: 111.0 (25) NetRtg: -0.9 (19)

Spencer Dinwiddie and D'Angelo Russell combined for 69 points on 27-for-43 shooting against Philadelphia on Sunday, and the Nets remain in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, despite the absence of Caris LeVert for the last seven games. But they've lost seven of their last nine and rank 28th defensively over that stretch. Their shot defense hasn't been terrible, but over those nine games, they rank in the bottom six in opponent free throw rate (29th), opponent turnover percentage (25th) and opponent offensive rebounding percentage (26th). The Nets haven't quite reached Hornets-level hard luck, but their last four losses have all been within five points in the last five minutes, and their opponents have shot 11-for-16 (4-for-6 from 3-point range) in the clutch in the four games. Of course, they don't get to Jimmy Butler's game-winner on Sunday if they don't allow 70 second-half points prior to that.

Week 7: vs. UTA, vs. MEM, @ WAS

26
Last week:
23

Record: 7-12
Pace: 102.2 (11) OffRtg: 105.5 (25) DefRtg: 107.3 (9) NetRtg: -1.7 (20)

The Heat had the most roster continuity from last season to this season, with guys on this year's roster having played 97 percent of the team's minutes last season. But they've had the least lineup continuity through the first six weeks, with their most-used five-man unit having played just 61 minutes together and every other team having a lineup that has played at least 70. Hassan Whiteside had his second 20-20 game of the season against Brooklyn on Monday, Josh Richardson had a big game (27 points on 10-for-16 shooting) in Chicago on Friday, and Dwyane Wade turned back the clock (35 points and six assists) in Toronto on Sunday. But Goran Dragic has missed seven of the last 12 games, Tyler Johnson has missed each of the last three, and Dion Waiters has yet to play this season. A four-game homestand begins Tuesday and the Heat's next five games are against teams no better than the 10-10 Pelicans, but their 7-12 record has come against the league's sixth easiest schedule to date.

Week 7: vs. ATL, vs. NOP, vs. UTA

27
Last week:
27

Record: 5-15
Pace: 101.0 (16) OffRtg: 100.6 (30) DefRtg: 110.2 (22) NetRtg: -9.6 (29)

Jabari Parker has seen an increase in offensive production of late, averaging 23 points on 54 percent shooting over the last three games, and the 30th-ranked Bulls' offense had a night (124 points on 104 possessions) against the Suns' 29th-ranked defense on Wednesday, with Parker registering eight assists for just the second time in his career. But that was the only game in their last seven that they scored a point per possession, and their small guards - Ryan Arcidiacono, Antonio Blakeney, Shaquille Harrison and Cameron Payne - combined to shoot a brutal 4-for-37 in losses to the Heat and Wolves over the weekend. Lauri Markkanen is getting closer to making his season debut.

Week 7: vs. SAS, @ MIL, @ DET, @ HOU

28
Last week:
26

Record: 4-15
Pace: 100.8 (18) OffRtg: 103.2 (28) DefRtg: 112.6 (29) NetRtg: -9.4 (28)

At this point in his career, Jamal Crawford hurts his team more than he helps; The Suns have been outscored by more than 18 points per 100 possessions in 233 minutes with Crawford on the floor. But when the Bucks denied Devin Booker the ball on the final possession on Friday, Phoenix needed somebody else who could get a bucket, and Crawford was that dude, hitting the game-winner in the Suns' first road win of the season. The team continues to put up good numbers with Booker at point guard; They've now scored more than 115 points per 100 possessions in 201 total minutes with Booker on the floor without either of their nominal point guards, and their latest starting lineup (with Mikal Bridges and Trevor Ariza at the wings) has outscored its opponents in six of the seven games that it's played in.

Week 7: vs. IND, @ LAC, vs. ORL, @ LAL

29
Last week:
30

Record: 4-14
Pace: 97.9 (28) OffRtg: 107.3 (19) DefRtg: 113.9 (30) NetRtg: -6.6 (27)

The Cavs have a two-game winning streak, having beat two pretty good teams (Philadelphia and Houston) over the weekend. The two games are their two best offensive games of the season (129 total points scored per 100 possessions), and also the only two games in which they've recorded assists on less than 35 percent of their field goals. Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson (assisted on just six of their 30 buckets) took turns scoring off the dribble and Tristan Thompson gave them a bunch of second chances with 17 offensive rebounds over the two games. If Kyle Korver hadn't missed a wide-open three against the Lakers on Wednesday, the Cavs might be 3-0 since they told J.R. Smith that he could go home.

Week 7: vs. MIN, @ OKC, @ BOS, vs. TOR

30
Last week:
29

Record: 4-16
Pace: 106.7 (1) OffRtg: 101.2 (29) DefRtg: 110.8 (24) NetRtg: -9.6 (30)

Trae Young sort of broke out of a major slump on Sunday as the Hawks put an end to their 10-game losing streak with a win over the Hornets. Young shot 6-for-18, but drained four threes after a stretch of 27 attempts in which the only one he made needed to hit the glass first. Young's effective field goal percentage of 39 percent this month ranks last among 133 players with at least 100 November field goal attempts. Jeremy Lin, meanwhile, has averaged 25 points and seven assists per 36 minutes over the last six games and has an effective field goal percentage of 67 percent this month, the fourth best mark among those same 133 players. John Collins had his best game of the season (in his fifth appearance) on Sunday, registering 23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, and sealing the win by blocking Kemba Walker at the buzzer.

Week 7: @ MIA, @ CHA, @ OKC


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