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Heat and Rockets roll through a slow deadline

Power Rankings, Week 17

POSTED: Feb 24, 2014 10:57 AM ET

By John Schuhmann,


The Heat's five-game winning streak against teams with winning records has them back at the top.

The 2014 trade deadline didn't exactly alter the NBA landscape. Pau Gasol is still in L.A., the Rockets kept Omer Asik, the Suns didn't use Emeka Okafor's expiring and insured contract, and neither the Thunder or Spurs upgraded on the wings.

The Pacers swapped Danny Granger for Evan Turner, but it remains to be see how Turner will fit in with a second unit where Lance Stephenson has been dominating the ball. Other contenders made minor moves to cut salary, clear roster spots or, hopefully, stop the bleeding when they go to their bench.

Really, the most important transactions came after the deadline, when the Magic negotiated a buyout with Glen Davis and the Nets signed Jason Collins.

Davis is the third big man that the Clippers have needed all season. Collins won't make much of an impact on the playoff race, but he's the barrier breaker that American sports has needed for longer than that.

For other contenders, the next four months will be about health and internal improvement. Miami and Houston have got a head start on the rest of the top 12, and they stand at the top of the rankings with 52 days left in the regular season.

* * *

• Last week: Big games ahead as teams get back to work

• This time last year: Scary thought: Heat hitting their stride -- The Heat's streak was at 11 games, the Bulls shot 29 percent against the Thunder, the Warriors introduced sleeved jerseys, J.J. Redick got traded and Josh Smith didn't.

• Plus-minus Studs: Mario Chalmers (MIA) was a plus-60 in three games last week.
• Plus-minus Dud: Wilson Chandler (DEN) was a minus-65 in four games last week.

• Hero Team of the Week: Miami (3-0) -- The Heat's five-game winning streak has come against five teams with winning records, and the only home win came without LeBron James.
• Zero Team of the Week: Boston (0-3) -- The Celtics lost to a team with a starting lineup of Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Wes Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Pau Gasol.

• High jumps of the week: Cleveland (+5), Sacramento (+5), Miami (+3)
• Free falls of the week: Oklahoma City (-3), Utah (-3), Four teams (-2)

• East vs. West: The West is 205-120 (.631) against the East in inter-conference games and was 9-9 last week (3-0 against the Celtics).

• Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. Utah, 2. Sacramento, 3. Minnesota
• Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Chicago, 2. Detroit, 3. Cleveland
Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.

* * *

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank) - Click here
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank) - Click here

The league is averaging 96.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.2 points scored per 100 possessions.

* * *'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.


Last week: 4

Miami (40-14)
Pace: 94.5 (23), OffRtg: 109.8 (1), DefRtg: 102.7 (13), NetRtg: +7.0 (3)
LeBron James picked a good time to break his nose, with the Heat playing just one game in the six days after Thursday's win in Oklahoma City. And the Heat picked a good time to pick up their defense, which, as noted last week, was pretty awful before the break. They held both the Thunder and Bulls to under 90 points per 100 possessions. Against OKC, it was about contesting shots.
This week: vs. NYK, vs. ORL


Last week: 3

Houston (38-18)
Pace: 98.3 (7), OffRtg: 107.7 (5), DefRtg: 102.2 (10), NetRtg: +5.6 (6)
The Rockets are the only team that ranks in the top seven in both offensive and defensive efficiency since Jan. 1 and would have a 10-game winning streak if James Harden hit the game-winner at the end of regulation at Golden State on Thursday. So you can't really criticize them for (basically) standing pat at the deadline, but Wednesday's game in L.A. will be another interesting test.
This week: @ SAC, @ LAC, vs. DET


Last week: 2

Indiana (42-13)
Pace: 96.1 (16), OffRtg: 102.2 (19), DefRtg: 94.1 (1), NetRtg: +8.2 (1)
If you've seen the numbers, it wasn't a surprise to see the Pacers down 20 in the first half of the second night of a back-to-back on the road on Wednesday. They have five more back-to-backs to play, but their four games this week will allow Evan Turner to integrate himself without any pressure. It will be interesting to see how much time he and Lance Stephenson spend on the floor together.
This week: vs. LAL, vs. MIL, @ BOS, vs. UTA


Last week: 1

Oklahoma City (43-14)
Pace: 97.7 (10), OffRtg: 107.2 (6), DefRtg: 99.8 (4), NetRtg: +7.4 (2)
Not surprisingly, Russell Westbrook was rusty after almost two months off, shooting 7-for-25 in his first two games back. More disappointing was the Thunder defense, which allowed the Heat and Clippers (two top-three offenses) to shoot 53 percent and score 114 points per 100 possessions. OKC doesn't play another top-10 offensive team until they visit the Suns next Thursday.
This week: vs. CLE, vs. MEM, vs. CHA


Last week: 6

San Antonio (40-16)
Pace: 96.5 (14), OffRtg: 107.1 (7), DefRtg: 100.6 (5), NetRtg: +6.5 (4)
Patty Mills scored 54 total points (29 in the fourth quarter) and the Spurs came out of the break with two big Tony Parker-less road wins over the Clippers and Blazers. They ran out of gas in Phoenix on Friday, but went 6-3 on the rodeo trip and play eight of their next 10 games at home. Believe it or not, Mills has scored more points this season than any Spur not named Parker, Duncan or Belinelli.
This week: vs. DET, vs. CHA, vs. DAL


Last week: 5

L.A. Clippers (38-20)
Pace: 98.1 (8), OffRtg: 108.7 (3), DefRtg: 102.3 (11), NetRtg: +6.4 (5)
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have been the second most-used two-man combination in the league, so Glen Davis, at least, provides a little playing-time relief. The hope is that he'll also help the defense, which has suffered whenever Griffin or Jordan has sat down. The offense looked just fine in Oklahoma City on Sunday, as the Clips got a much needed win after losing to the Spurs and Grizz.
This week: @ NOP, vs. HOU, vs. NOP


Last week: 8

Phoenix (33-22)
Pace: 98.3 (6), OffRtg: 106.5 (8), DefRtg: 102.8 (14), NetRtg: +3.7 (9)
It looks like there's four teams -- Dallas, Golden State, Memphis and Phoenix -- playing for the last three playoff spots in the West, and the Suns have the toughest remaining schedule of the four. So they might regret blowing a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead against Houston on Sunday. Markieff Morris is in another one of his hot streaks, averaging 20.0 points on 67 percent shooting over the last three games.
This week: vs. MIN, @ UTA, vs. NOP, vs, ATL


Last week: 7

Dallas (34-23)
Pace: 96.5 (15), OffRtg: 108.3 (4), DefRtg: 105.4 (22), NetRtg: +2.8 (11)
A soft schedule has helped the Mavs win eight of their last 10 games. They've shown improvement on the glass (a weakness all season), getting outrebounded only twice in that stretch. But they're still just a game in the loss column ahead of Memphis for the final playoff spot in the West and their schedule picks up later this week, with six straight games against teams with winning records.
This week: @ NYK, vs. NOP, vs. CHI, @ SAS


Last week: 9

Memphis (31-24)
Pace: 92.1 (30), OffRtg: 101.9 (20), DefRtg: 101.9 (8), NetRtg: +0.0 (15)
Tony Allen is back, and though he's coming off the bench, his presence could mean less playing time for James Johnson, which would be a shame. Johnson provides the highlights (like his off-the-backboard dunk in Friday's win over the Clippers), but the Grizz have also outscored their opponents by 6.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. He played just 10 minutes in Saturday's loss.
This week: vs. LAL, @ OKC, vs. CLE


Last week: 12

Golden State (34-22)
Pace: 98.7 (5), OffRtg: 104.1 (12), DefRtg: 99.1 (3), NetRtg: +5.0 (7)
Despite Andrew Bogut's absence over the last seven games, the Warriors have allowed only 95.3 points per 100 possessions over thelr last 12 and are now the best defensive team in the West. The offense hasn't been great, but they've won three straight for the first time since their 10-game streak came to an end in early January. Most of that streak took place on a trip East. Another one begins Monday.
This week: @ DET, @ CHI, @ NYK, @ TOR


Last week: 10

Portland (38-18)
Pace: 97.9 (9), OffRtg: 108.7 (2), DefRtg: 105.5 (23), NetRtg: +3.2 (x)
We saw the silver lining of LaMarcus Aldridge's injury on Sunday, as Thomas Robinson took advantage of the extra playing time (a career-high 33 minutes), tallied 14 points and 18 rebounds, and destroyed Corey Brewer in a big win over the Wolves. If Robinson can find his role and earn the trust of Terry Stotts in Aldridge's absence, it would benefit the Blazers down the line.
This week: @ DEN, vs. BKN, vs. DEN


Last week: 11

Toronto (31-25)
Pace: 94.6 (22), OffRtg: 104.6 (10), DefRtg: 100.9 (7), NetRtg: +3.7 (8)
The Raptors have scored 108.3 points per 100 possessions over the last month (111.8 with Kyle Lowry on the floor) and are now the only Eastern Conference team that ranks in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. That's the basic criteria for a title contender, but Toronto is 1-5 against the Pacers and Heat and still has some work to do just to earn home-court advantage in the first round.
This week: @ CLE, vs. WAS, vs. GSW


Last week: 13

Chicago (29-26)
Pace: 93.0 (28), OffRtg: 98.0 (28), DefRtg: 97.8 (2), NetRtg: +0.1 (14)
Tom Thibodeau has lauded D.J. Augustin for saving the Bulls' season, and the back-up point guard deserves credit for fitting in so well and helping the team recover from the Luol Deng trade. But since the deal, the Bulls have been at their best (plus-10.2 points per 100 possessions) with Kirk Hinrich on the floor and their starters have been the league's second best lineup (minimum 100 minutes).
This week: @ ATL, vs. GSW, @ DAL, vs. NYK


Last week: 14

Washington (28-28)
Pace: 95.7 (19), OffRtg: 101.8 (21), DefRtg: 102.0 (9), NetRtg: -0.2 (16)
The Wizards recovered well from Tuesday's loss to Toronto, winning three straight and holding the Pelicans, Hawks and Cavs all under a point per possession. But Sunday's win came with a knee injury to Nene, who had dropped 30 points and the game-winner on Atlanta the night before. Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin have been solid offensively, but the D would suffer without Nene.
This week: @ CLE, vs. ORL, @ TOR, @ PHI


Last week: 15

Brooklyn (26-28)
Pace: 93.9 (26), OffRtg: 103.0 (17), DefRtg: 104.6 (19), NetRtg: -1.6 (19)
As he was making history and blazing a trail, Jason Collins gave the Nets some good minutes (featuring hard screens, hard fouls and a big offensive rebound) in Sunday's win in L.A. Deron Williams, meanwhile, seems to have done well with the All-Star break again. He averaged 23.0 points on 49 percent shooting in his first three games back, getting to the basket and finishing well.
This week: @ POR, @ DEN, @ MIL


Last week: 17

Minnesota (27-29)
Pace: 99.6 (3), OffRtg: 104.8 (9), DefRtg: 102.5 (12), NetRtg: +2.2 (12)
Though the Wolves are still missing Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Love (averaging 34.6 points on 53 percent shooting over his last five games) looks determined to make one more run at the playoffs. But his team'sdefense (which allowed the Aldridge-less Blazers to score 108 points on Sunday) just isn't good enough to support him. And yes, he's partially to blame for the bad D.
This week: @ PHX, @ SAC


Last week: 18

Charlotte (27-30)
Pace: 95.3 (21), OffRtg: 99.3 (25), DefRtg: 100.8 (6), NetRtg: -1.5 (17)
You'd think that, with Al Jefferson scoring just six points against the Grizzlies on Saturday, the Bobcats would have suffered their first post-break defeat. But their defense was still terrific (it allowed just 94.8 points per 100 possessions in four games last week) and Kemba Walker handled the scoring. They have five days off, but then play the Spurs, Thunder, Heat and Pacers, the first three on the road.
This week: @ SAS, @ OKC


Last week: 16

Atlanta (26-29)
Pace: 97.1 (12), OffRtg: 103.7 (14), DefRtg: 103.4 (16), NetRtg: +0.3 (13)
As the Hawks lost eight straight and sunk from third to eighth in the East, the injuries (to Gustavo Ayon and Paul Millsap) kept piling up. A game against the defenseless Knicks offered some temporary relief, but after they host the Bulls on Tuesday, they play six straight on the road. The best team they've beat on the road this season is the 27-30 Bobcats, and that win was in early November.
This week: vs. CHI, @ BOS, @ PHX


Last week: 19

New Orleans (23-32)
Pace: 94.4 (24), OffRtg: 104.3 (11), DefRtg: 105.9 (26), NetRtg: -1.6 (18)
The Pelicans suffered some brutal losses last week. They led the Knicks by one in the final minutes on Wednesday, only to get outscored 8-0 down the stretch. They came back from 13 down in the fourth quarter in Charlotte on Friday, only to have Eric Gordon miss a free throw to tie in the final seconds. And then they got beat by a Nene dunk with less than a second to go in Washington on Saturday.
This week: vs. LAC, @ DAL, @ PHX, @ LAC


Last week: 25

Cleveland (22-35)
Pace: 95.6 (20), OffRtg: 99.4 (24), DefRtg: 104.6 (18), NetRtg: -5.2 (26)
The Cavs' schedule-aided winning streak came to an end when they faced the Raptors and Wizards. Moving Jarrett Jack to the starting lineup has seemingly been a part of their improved play and Kyrie Irving has shot slightly better with Jack on the floor, but the Cavs have been pretty bad defensively with the two point guards out there together. They've been at their best with Dion Waiters on the floor.
This week: vs. TOR, @ OKC, vs. UTA, @ MEM


Last week: 20

Detroit (23-33)
Pace: 97.6 (11), OffRtg: 102.5 (18), DefRtg: 105.3 (21), NetRtg: -2.8 (23)
After beating the Spurs in John Loyer's first game as head coach, the Pistons have lost four of five, playing some atrocious defense out of the break. It starts with the big three, who have allowed opponents to score 131 points per 100 possessions in their 67 post-break minutes together. If Detroit doesn't make the playoffs, it can at least use the next seven weeks to figure out if this frontline will ever work.
This week: vs. GSW, @ SAS, @ HOU


Last week: 27

Sacramento (20-36)
Pace: 96.8 (13), OffRtg: 103.6 (15), DefRtg: 105.7 (24), NetRtg: -2.1 (21)
This will be the Kings' eighth straight losing season, but they might have a shot at finishing .500 with both DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay in the lineup. Right now, they're 14-14 (with a positive point differential) in games both guys have played (6-6 against the West) and have outscored their opponents by 2.6 points per 100 possessions in 768 minutes with the pair on the floor together.
This week: vs. HOU, @ LAL, vs. MIN


Last week: 21

New York (21-35)
Pace: 92.7 (29), OffRtg: 103.9 (13), DefRtg: 106.2 (27), NetRtg: -2.3 (22)
At least the Knicks didn't make another awful trade. But things are so bad that Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace want to get the heck out of Dodge, and you have to wonder if Carmelo Anthony is thinking the same thing. They've been in every game, but they're 2-8 in February, their defense has the same holes it's had all season, and any hopes of a fourth straight playoff berth are fading fast.
This week: vs. DAL, @ MIA, vs. GSW, @ CHI


Last week: 22

Denver (25-30)
Pace: 99.6 (4), OffRtg: 103.1 (16), DefRtg: 104.7 (20), NetRtg: -1.6 (20)
It's nice that the Nuggets traded for another point guard at the deadline, but they still need Ty Lawson back. They've scored less than a point per possession with him of the floor and are 3-7 in games he's missed. Aaron Brooks was a minus-47 in his first two games. They've lost seven of their last eight games overall and look to be Lottery-bound for the first time since they drafted Carmelo Anthony.
This week: vs. POR, vs. BKN, @ POR


Last week: 24

Orlando (17-41)
Pace: 95.9 (18), OffRtg: 99.0 (26), DefRtg: 104.4 (17), NetRtg: -5.4 (27)
The Magic have won six of their last seven at home, scoring 107.1 points per 100 possessions, but have lost 15 straight on the road, scoring just 93.6. So when they play in Philadelphia on Wednesday, something has got to give. With Glen Davis gone, Tobias Harris has moved to power forward and totaled 50 points on 17-for-26 shooting (9-for-9 in the restricted area) in two games over the weekend.
This week: @ WAS, @ PHI, @ MIA, vs. PHI


Last week: 23

Utah (19-36)
Pace: 93.8 (27), OffRtg: 99.9 (23), DefRtg: 107.6 (30), NetRtg: -7.7 (28)
The Jazz were pretty awful when Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter started together early in the season, but Kanter averaged 22.7 points on 65 percent shooting in three starts with Favors on the shelf last week. Of course, the Jazz lost all three games and were pretty terrible defensively with Kanter on the floor. Gordon Hayward has shot 30 percent (4-for-18 from 3-point range) in his last six games.
This week: vs. BOS, vs. PHX, @ CLE, @ IND


Last week: 28

L.A. Lakers (19-37)
Pace: 99.7 (2), OffRtg: 100.9 (22), DefRtg: 105.8 (25), NetRtg: -4.9 (25)
What happens when you're the 13th man for a playoff team and get traded to the depleted Lakers? Well, Kent Bazemore played 33 minutes in his first game, started his second, and set career highs in scoring both nights. If you've got an open spot on your fantasy roster, you could do worse than picking up Bazemore, who is like the new Xavier Henry, for the last seven weeks of the season.
This week: @ IND, @ MEM, vs. SAC


Last week: 26

Boston (19-38)
Pace: 96.0 (17), OffRtg: 98.4 (27), DefRtg: 103.1 (15), NetRtg: -4.7 (24)
Jump-shooting Kevin Garnett is in Brooklyn and numbers guy Brad Stevens has replaced Doc Rivers, but the Celtics still take a high percentage (31.6 percent -- seventh highest rate in the league) of their shots from mid-range. Nine players who have attempted at least 300 shots have taken more than half of them from mid-range. Two of the nine -- Avery Bradley and Kris Humphries -- are Celtics.
This week: @ UTA, vs. ATL, vs. IND


Last week: 29

Milwaukee (10-45)
Pace: 94.3 (25), OffRtg: 96.9 (29), DefRtg: 106.8 (29), NetRtg: -9.9 (29)
Every couple of weeks, Brandon Knight has one of those games. On Saturday, he went for 30 points (on 12-for-23 shooting) and eight assists against the Pacers' No. 1 defense, taking the ball right at Roy Hibbert for several of his buckets. His effective field goal perentage is down from last season, but Knight has increased his efficiency by being one of the most improved free throw shooters in the league.
This week: @ PHI, @ IND, vs. BKN


Last week: 30

Philadelphia (15-41)
Pace: 102.6 (1), OffRtg: 96.3 (30), DefRtg: 106.8 (28), NetRtg: -10.5 (30)
Less than 19 months ago, the Sixers were playing in Game 7 of the conference semis. Now, only one of the nine guys who played in that game is left on the roster (three were traded on Thursday). The tear down was the easy part and Thaddeus Young is left to endure just how bad this team has become. If they don't win one of their next two games, it's hard to imagine how they'll win again this season.
This week: vs. MIL, vs. ORL, vs. WAS, @ ORL