If the East-West discrepancy in the NBA is cyclical, than this has been a really long cycle.
This will be the 17th time in the last 17 seasons that the Western Conference has had a better record than the Eastern Conference. Last season, it looked like the East had made some progress, winning 48 percent of the games played between the conferences, up from 42 percent in 2014-15 and 37 percent in 2013-14.
But this year, the East has won just 45 percent of interconference games. And with 10 days left in the regular season, the East is in danger of having three playoff teams under .500.
The West, meanwhile, could have all eight playoff teams over .500 after the 8 seed was well under for most of the season. With a 14-3 mark since March 1, the Portland Trail Blazers are 38-38 with four of their final six games at home. Not only does the West have the teams with the three best records, but it has the better depth in its playoff field.
In fact, only one East team that’s currently in playoff position has a winning record against the top eight teams in the West. That’s the Milwaukee Bucks, who are 8-7, with a game in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
If the Bucks don't win at OKC tomorrow, no East team currently in playoff position will have a winning record vs. the West's top 8. pic.twitter.com/z5KugiGISD
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) April 3, 2017
Of course, when we get to The Finals, it won’t matter what happened between the two conferences in the regular season. The Detroit Pistons won the title in 2003-04, the season with the biggest East-West discrepancy in the last 20 years (the West won 63 percent of interconference games).
It would be hard to pick against the Golden State Warriors right now, but we were saying the same thing at this point last year.
Last week: Top two teams face off again this week
This time last year: Last playoff spots still up in the air — The Jazz were in playoff position and the Rockets were not. The Celtics handed the Warriors their first home loss and the Thunder were having fourth-quarter problems. Kyle Lowry had his elbow drained, Blake Griffin returned from a three-month absence, and a D’Angelo Russell prank on Nick Young went a little too far.
Plus-minus stud: Jonas Valanciunas (TOR) was a plus-56 in four games last week.
Plus-minus dud: Ben McLemore (SAC) was a minus-54 in four games last week.
Hero team of the week: Golden State (4-0) — The Warriors ran their winning streak to 11 games with four wins over top-10 teams, including a sweep of a road back-to-back in Houston and San Antonio.
Zero team of the week: Orlando (0-4) — The Magic led the Thunder by 21 and the Celtics by 13, but couldn’t finish either of them off and capped their week with a loss in Brooklyn on Saturday.
East vs. West: The West is 244-202 (.547) against the East in interconference games after going 9-5 last week. With only four interconference games remaining, this will be the 17th time in the last 18 seasons that the West has had the better record.
Toughest schedules so far: 1. Sacramento, 2. Memphis, 3. L.A. Lakers
Easiest schedules so far: 1. Toronto, 2. Atlanta, 3. Boston
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: Charlotte (+5), Chicago (+3), Minnesota (+3), Toronto (+3), Utah (+3)
Free falls of the week: Orlando (-5), Denver (-3), Indiana (-3), Miami (-3)
Team to watch this week: Miami — The Heat are holding on to eighth place by their fingernails and have three tough road games this week, visiting Charlotte on Wednesday, Toronto on Friday, and Washington on Saturday.
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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 98.8 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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