Power Rankings: Deadline doesn't change title picture
The trade deadline has come and gone, probably without affecting anybody’s Finals predictions.
Jimmy Butler is still in Chicago, Paul George is still in Indiana, and the Boston Celtics still have just one (2017) All-Star. There was an All-Star traded before he could leave New Orleans, but the DeMarcus Cousins deal won’t affect anything beyond the chase for the No. 8 seed this season.
Some playoff teams – Houston, Oklahoma City, Toronto and Washington – added depth. But the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors still don’t have clear challengers in their respective conferences. In fact, upon signing Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut (as expected), the Cavs will be adding as much depth after the deadline as any other team added before it.
Still, there’s a lot to keep an eye on with just 47 days to go before the playoffs begin. Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker are already contributing to wins in Toronto, Lou Williams has fit right in with the Rockets, and the pressure is on Cousins and Anthony Davis to figure things out on both ends of the floor as the Pelicans try to grab the last playoff spot in the West.
Last week: DeMarcus Cousins trade shakes things up before deadline
This time last year: History happening in two places — Earl Watson got his first win as a head coach after losing his first nine games. Isaiah Thomas dropped a no-look, over-the-head dime, Kyle Lowry beat the Cavs with a step-back jumper, and Stephen Curry beat the Thunder from 37 feet.
Plus-minus stud: Stephen Curry (GSW) was a plus-43 in two games last week.
Plus-minus dud: Tim Hardaway Jr. (ATL) was a minus-45 in two games last week.
Hero team of the week: Utah (2-0) — Road wins are good wins and the Jazz picked up two of them over the weekend, including one in Washington, where the Wizards had won 19 of their last 20 games.
Zero team of the week: Atlanta (0-2) — The Hawks are still six games over .500, but have a point differential of minus-63 for the season after getting outscored by 37 points (and shooting 38 percent) in a back-to-back against Miami and Orlando.
East vs. West: The West is 190-157 (.548) against the East in interconference games after going 6-5 last week.
Toughest schedules through Sunday: 1. L.A. Lakers, 2. Portland, 3. Brooklyn
Easiest schedules through Sunday: 1. Washington, 2. Indiana, 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: Utah (+3), Six teams (+2)
Free falls of the week: Atlanta (-3), LA Clippers (-3), Seven teams (-2)
Team to watch this week: Washington — After the Wizards host the Warriors on Tuesday, they play a home-and-home with the Raptors that could go a long way in determining the 3 seed, which would be the key to a much better chance of advancing in the playoffs.
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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 98.9 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 106.0 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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