Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Warriors take strong hold of top spot

Power Rankings: Warriors find their stride

There was a point last season where the Golden State Warriors were going to be a near-permanent fixture atop the Power Rankings. And they ranked No. 1 for 10 of the last 11 weeks, briefly sliding to No. 2 after losing in San Antonio in mid-March.

We may have reached that point of no descent this season. The Warriors played three of the best teams in the league last week and beat them all handily. They crushed the Cavs on Monday, blew past the Thunder in the second half on Wednesday, and had another big third quarter in Houston on Friday. They’re putting it together, more consistently, on both ends of the floor.

For the first time this season, a team ranks No. 1 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Warriors were in that position at times two seasons ago, but the last team to rank No. 1 on both ends of the floor over a full season was the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Last year’s Warriors topped that Bulls team in regard to wins, and maybe these Warriors can match them in regard to two-way success.

We’ve had the Spurs, Cavs and Clippers atop the rankings at points this season. Though the Rockets haven’t been able to reach the top, they’re an elite team. But none of those teams have nearly as high a ceiling as the Warriors do. And none can rest two of the league’s 20 best players and still have two more to rely on.

The Warriors have hit their stride and there may be no catching up.

Last week: Warriors and Cavs face off again at midway point

This time last year: Spurs, Warriors finally square off — The Cavs fired David Blatt, the Clippers traded Josh Smith to Houston, Archie Goodwin hit a game-winner against the Hawks, and the Spurs had won 13 straight games going into their first meeting with the Warriors.

Plus-minus stud: Kevin Durant (GSW) was a plus-112 in four games last week.

Plus-minus dud: Aaron Gordon (ORL) was a minus-63 in four games last week.

Hero team of the week: Golden State (4-0) — The Warriors did what they needed to do against the Cavs, coming out strong early and never letting their foot off the gas. There could have been a letdown later in the week, but they picked up two more quality wins and took care of business in Orlando on Sunday.

Zero team of the week: Milwaukee (0-4) — The Bucks 0-4 week included three losses to teams’s – Philadelphia, Orlando and Miami – from last week’s bottom 10.

East vs. West: The West is 139-115 (.547) against the East in interconference games after going 12-11 last week (4-1 against Cleveland, Toronto and Boston).

Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. Phoenix, 2. Portland, 3. Brooklyn

Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Indiana, 2. LA Clippers, 3. Golden State

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: Philadelphia (+6), Miami (+5), Charlotte (+3), Denver (+3), Utah (+3)

Free falls of the week: Milwaukee (-4), Orlando (-4), New York (-3), Portland (-3), Sacramento (-3)

Team to watch this week: Washington — The fifth-place Wizards play games against the sixth-place Hornets (Monday), third-place Celtics (Tuesday) and fourth-place Hawks (Friday), before finishing the week in New Orleans.

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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 98.7 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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