Power Rankings

Power Rankings, Week 18: Top 5 holds steady after active trade deadline

See where all 30 teams rank as we enter Week 18 of the 2022-23 season.

The Bucks are the hottest team in the league of late, having won 10 straight games entering Week 18.

The landscape has been altered and the 2023 trade deadline could go down as the biggest in NBA history, because it came with Kevin Durant being sent from Brooklyn to Phoenix.

Seven years ago, a team that went 73-9 (six games better than any other team) in the previous regular season added Durant and became the most unstoppable juggernaut we’ve ever seen. And late Wednesday night, a team that went 64-18 (eight games better than any other team) in the previous regular season added Durant and became …

We shall see … after the All-Star break.

Before we get to the break, there are still four more nights of regular-season basketball, and there are some big games (in regard to the standings) to be played in those four nights, with three of the five Tuesday games being Celtics-Bucks, Kings-Suns and Warriors-Clippers. That first game will likely determine who’s No. 1 in next week’s Power Rankings.

This week, it’s still the Celtics.

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Cleveland (4-0) — The Cavs didn’t beat any good teams, but sweeping a stretch of five games in seven nights in today’s NBA is impressive no matter who the opponents are.
  • Something Just Ain’t Right: Indiana (0-3) — The Pacers have gone from 23-18 to 25-33, and the four losses on their current losing streak have been by an average of 12.8 points.

East vs. West

Schedule strength through Week 17

  • Toughest: 1. Charlotte, 2. Detroit, 3. Indiana
  • Easiest: 1. Sacramento, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Denver
  • 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 (+6), Phoenix (+3)
  • Free falls of the week: Brooklyn (-4), Golden State (-4), Chicago (-2), Utah (-2)

Week 18 Team to Watch

  • Brooklyn — The new Nets may be a more interesting team than the superstar version, and they looked pretty good against the Sixers on Saturday before coming up empty down the stretch. But can they possibly remain in the top six in the East? Their last two games before the All-Star break could go a long way in determining that, as the Nets visit the seventh-place Knicks on Monday and host the sixth-place Heat on Wednesday.

Previous Power Rankings

  • This time last year: Sixers, Nets switch gears as Suns, Grizzlies hold top spots — The Nets and Sixers swapped disgruntled All-Stars, while the Kings and Pacers made a stunning deal that sent Tyrese Haliburton and Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento. The Pelicans traded for CJ McCollum, the Celtics acquired Derrick White, and the Mavs sent Kristaps Porzingis to Washington. Nikola Jokic had his third game-saving block of the season, and James Harden went last in the All-Star Draft.

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

The league has averaged 113.6 points scored per 100 possessions and 99.9 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes this season.

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.

Last Week:1

Record: 41-16

OffRtg: 116.8 (3) DefRtg: 110.5 (4) NetRtg: +6.3 (1) Pace: 99.5 (17)

Marcus Smart has missed the last 10 games and the Celtics have played the last three with only four of their top seven players, also missing some combination of Jaylen Brown (who suffered a facial fracture on Wednesday), Al Horford and Robert Williams III. But they’ve won four straight games, a streak that includes quality wins over Philadelphia and Memphis. And with those, the Celtics are 12-5 against the other eight teams that are more than four games over .500, with three of those five losses having come in overtime and a fourth (in Miami) having come by just three points. The Celtics have scored 119.0 points per 100 possessions over those 17 games, and that’s not entirely about the ridiculous efficiency with which they were playing in October and November.

The offense has come back to life over this winning streak, even though Brown (who’s only played 18 minutes) and Jayson Tatum have combined to shoot just 40% over the four games. The Celtics have taken care of the ball, Williams has grabbed a bunch of offensive boards, and Sam Hauser (who’s gotten a few starts) and Derrick White have combined to shoot 36-for-66 (55%) from 3-point range over the streak. The Celtics (11, including three in February) and Warriors (12) now account for 23 of the 68 instances in which a team has made 20 or more 3-pointers this season.

White’s biggest 3-pointer of the winning streak (a fairly audacious face-up from the left wing) gave the Celtics a six-point lead with a little more than two minutes left against the Sixers. With their wins against Philly and Memphis, the Celtics are 18-7 (second best) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, having gone 30-48 in clutch games over the previous two regular seasons. The only team with a better clutch record this season is the Bucks (21-6), and the two best teams in the East will meet in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Week 18: @ MIL, vs. DET

Last Week:2

Record: 39-18

OffRtg: 117.4 (2) DefRtg: 113.1 (14) NetRtg: +4.4 (3) Pace: 99.4 (18)

Nikola Jokic’s on-off differential isn’t getting any smaller. In fact, over their six February games, the Nuggets have been an amazing 60.5 points per 100 possessions better with the two-time MVP on the floor (plus-32.9) than they’ve been with him off the floor (minus-27.6). In Orlando on Thursday (when the Nuggets didn’t have Jamal Murray to run with the reserves), they lost by 11, getting outscored by 19 points (scoring just 16 on 24 offensive possessions) in Jokic’s 10:21 on the bench.

Now we see if Thomas Bryant and Reggie Jackson (expected to sign with Denver after a buyout) can help keep Denver afloat in the non-Jokic minutes. Bryant had a few big games with the Lakers and is registering a career-best mark (71%) for true shooting percentage, but L.A. was outscored by 9.9 points per 100 possessions in his 332 minutes on the floor without LeBron James. Jackson saw his usage rate drop back down with the returns of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this season, but hasn’t seen his true shooting percentage return to where it was two seasons ago (career-best 57.6%). He has shot much better from 3-point range off the catch (64-for-152, 42.1%) than he has off the dribble (11-for-61, 18%). That’s the second biggest differential among 90 players with at least 50 attempts of each through Saturday.

The best records in games played between the top six teams in the Western Conference belong to the Nuggets (8-3) and the Mavs (8-5). Two of the Nuggets’ three losses within the group (and one win) have come against Dallas, with Jokic having missed the two-game series (that the teams split) in November. The final meeting will be in Denver on Wednesday.

Week 18: @ MIA, vs. DAL

Last Week:3

Record: 39-17

OffRtg: 112.6 (21) DefRtg: 109.7 (2) NetRtg: +2.9 (6) Pace: 101.0 (11)

The Bucks’ current winning streak (10 games) is now longer than the one they had to start the season (nine). Giannis Antetokounmpo has seen a jump in usage rate (40.6% over the streak), but this team’s success continues to be mostly about defense, with the Bucks having allowed just 106.8 points per 100 possessions (second best) over the 10 games. The context is that six of the 10 games came against bottom-10 offenses, another came against the Lakers’ 20th-ranked offense (without LeBron James), and another came against the Nuggets without Nikola Jokic.

But all of them came without Jae Crowder, who should make the Bucks even tougher on that end of the floor. They did slow down the Blazers’ fifth-ranked offense on Monday and are now responsible for two of the 12 games in which Portland has made fewer than 10 3-pointers. The Bucks rank fifth in opponent 3-point percentage (34.6%) and third (lowest) in opponent 3-point rate (36.1%) after ranking 19th (35.6%) and 29th (44.8%) last season.

The reduction in opponent 3-pointers might matter most against the Bucks’ two most important opponents. The Celtics (seventh and third) and Sixers (fourth and 10th) are two of the five teams that rank in the top 10 in both 3-point percentage and 3-point rate (3PA/FGA), with Boston having seen the biggest jump in the latter from last season.

Of course, with it now looking like a three-team race at the top of the East, getting the No. 1 seed is extra important. The Bucks are a game in the loss column behind Boston for the best record in the East, and they’ll host the Celtics on Tuesday for the second of three meetings. The first (a 21-point loss in Boston) was on Christmas and one of the Bucks’ worst defensive games of the season, with the Celtics scoring 77 points on just 49 possessions in the second half.

Week 18: vs. BOS, @ CHI

Last Week:4

Record: 36-19

OffRtg: 115.4 (7) DefRtg: 111.7 (6) NetRtg: +3.7 (5) Pace: 98.0 (26)

There are three teams — the Heat (fifth), Celtics (eighth) and Sixers (ninth) — that would rank in the top 10 all-time for team free throw percentage in a single season, all shooting 82.6% or better from the line. But Miami and Boston rank 20th and 23rd in free throw rate (FTA/FGA), while the Sixers rank fifth (.286). And in the last three weeks, Philly has two wins against the Nets by a total of seven points, having shot 64-for-66 from the line over the two games. The other 29 teams have three games total in which they’ve shot 95% or better on at least 30 free three attempts (two of the other three games were also wins by fewer then five points).

Joel Embiid was 12-for-13 from the line in Brooklyn on Saturday and has now made exactly 10 free throws per game (430/43), which would be the seventh highest average in NBA history. (James Harden — 10.2 three seasons ago — is one of the other six players who’ve made 10 or more per game in a single season.) Embiid is also registering a career-high mark for effective field goal percentage (56.6%) and was 26-for-36 from the field over the Sixers’ weekend back-to-back.

But Embiid and James Harden didn’t get much help on Wednesday as the Sixers fell to 0-2 against the Celtics, getting outscored by 27 points from 3-point range. Tobias Harris had been shooting well for an extended stretch, but shot 8-for-32 (including 3-for-15 from 3-point range) over the team’s three games last week.

With the loss in Boston, the Sixers have the worst record (1-4) in games played between the top four teams in the East. That includes two of the three times they’ve scored less than a point per possession, with one of those being a late-November loss in Cleveland in which they were without Harden. Their second meeting with the fourth-place Cavs will be their final game before the break.

Week 18: vs. HOU, vs. CLE

Last Week:5

Record: 37-22

OffRtg: 114.8 (10) DefRtg: 108.9 (1) NetRtg: +5.9 (2) Pace: 96.1 (30)

The Cavs are 6-0 in February, even though they just completed a stretch of five games in seven nights. It certainly wasn’t the toughest stretch in regard to the quality of the opposition, but to hold your opponents to barely a point per possession (100.2 per 100) over a five-in-seven stretch is pretty remarkable. The Cavs have now held their opponent under a point per possession a league-high 13 times, with the Sixers having done it on 10 occasions and only three other teams having done it more than seven times.

The Cavs’ offense hasn’t been as consistent, but it does rank fourth in February, even though three of their six games have come against top-10 defenses (those of the Grizzlies, Pelicans and Bulls). Among 118 players with at least 50 field goal attempts this month, Jarrett Allen (75.3%) and Darius Garland (70.1%) rank first and fifth in February effective field goal percentage. Allen (who was struggling a bit offensively early in the season) has scored 20 points or more in four straight games, while Garland has shot 18-for-30 from 3-point range (including 9-for-14 on pull-up 3s) over the winning streak. The Cavs’ starting lineup (with the much-improved Isaac Okoro at the three) cracked the 200-minute mark last week and has now scored more than 120 points per 100 possessions.

The Cavs trail the third-place Sixers by three games in the loss column, and there might not be much of an advantage to finishing third instead of fourth. But (having won the first of three meetings) they can clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Week 18: vs. SAS, @ PHI

Last Week:7

Record: 34-22

OffRtg: 113.7 (14) DefRtg: 109.8 (3) NetRtg: +3.9 (4) Pace: 101.8 (5)

The Grizzlies put an end to their 1-8 slide with a pair of wins (at home) against the Bulls and Wolves, outscoring their opponents by 44 points in the paint (126-82). In Boston on Sunday afternoon, Ja Morant had as many points in the paint (18) as the top two Celtics combined, and the Grizzlies outscored their opponent by at least 20 points in the paint for the third straight time (and the 21st time this season). Through Week 17, the Grizzlies’ paint differential (plus-12.3 points per game) would be the fifth biggest of the last 10 seasons.

But the plus-26 differential on Sunday was trumped by the Celtics making nine more 3-pointers than the Grizzlies and also (though Steven Adams remains out) Memphis making just 13 of its 21 free throw attempts. The Grizzlies’ 3-point discrepancy for the season is just minus-5.3 points per game (seventh worst), but it’s minus-11.5 per game over their last 13 games.

So it’s good to have Luke Kennard in Memphis, giving the Grizzlies five of the 119 players who’ve shot 36% or better on at least 100 3-point attempts this season. There are 258 players who’ve attempted at least 200 3s over the last two seasons, and the two best shooters among them have been Kennard (44.9%) and Desmond Bane (43.5%). That duo was a combined 4-for-9 from beyond the arc on Sunday as the Grizzlies actually made 12 3s for the first time in their last nine games. Of course, that was no match for what was happening on the other end of the floor.

The Grizzlies are one of eight teams that have allowed their opponents to take more than 40% of their shots from beyond the arc. And after the game in Boston on Sunday, they’re 0-10 when their opponent has made at least 17 3-pointers. Two of those 10 losses (both in late October) have come at the hands of the Jazz, who will be in Memphis on Tuesday.

Week 18: vs. UTA

Last Week:8

Record: 32-25

OffRtg: 110.9 (26) DefRtg: 110.7 (5) NetRtg: +0.2 (17) Pace: 97.0 (28)

Their three games last week — against Indiana, Houston and Orlando — were an opportunity for the Heat to take care of business. And they did win all three, holding both the Rockets and Magic under a point per possession. They’ve won 11 of their last 15 games against the 13 teams that currently have losing records. But no matter how weak the opponent is or how well the Heat defend, their games are close. Each of their last 10 games (and 40 of their 57 total) have been within five points in the last five minutes, with eight of those 10 within three in the last 60 seconds.

Gabe Vincent has started the last four games for the injured Kyle Lowry and hit two free throws to send the Orlando game to overtime on Saturday. He’s shot much better in his nine games as a starter (effective field goal percentage of 58.8%) than he has in his 34 off the bench (46.4%) and the Heat have been much better in 161 minutes with Vincent playing alongside Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo (plus-23.7 points per 100 possessions) than they’ve been in 452 minutes with Lowry playing alongside those three. And even before the veteran’s absence, Vincent had played more clutch minutes than Lowry in this stretch of close games.

The Kevin Durant trade obviously creates an opportunity for the Heat to move up in the standings. They trail the fifth-place Nets by two games in the loss column, with the second of three head-to-head meetings set for Wednesday in Brooklyn. The Heat are 5-5 (2-3 on the road) against the five teams ahead of them in the East.

Week 18: vs. DEN, @ BKN

Last Week:9

Record: 32-24

OffRtg: 117.5 (1) DefRtg: 115.1 (23) NetRtg: +2.4 (7) Pace: 101.3 (10)

De’Aaron Fox was named an All-Star on Friday, and he’s been celebrating by scoring 30-plus points in three straight games for the first time this season. Amazingly, he’s shot just 1-for-12 from 3-point range over the three games, with one of those 11 misses being a contested shot for the win at the end of regulation on Saturday. For the season, Fox has shot just 31.9% from beyond the arc, the 11th worst mark among 122 players with at least 200 attempts.

But Fox is still having the most efficient scoring season of his career (true shooting percentage of 59.3%) for the league’s No. 1 offense, registering career-best marks for field goal percentage in the paint (61.3%) and free throw percentage (79.5%). He’s 27-for-40 (68%) in the paint and 33-for-38 (87%) from the line over these last three games, and after that miss for the win on Saturday, he scored 14 of the Kings’ 19 points in overtime as they earned a split of their two-game series with Dallas (with one more meeting left on the schedule). All 14 of Fox’s OT points came in the paint (3-for-4) or at the line (8-for-8).

The three teams behind them in the standings — the Mavs, Suns and Clippers — all made major moves at the deadline, while the Kings stood pat. They have a tough post-break schedule, but for now, they’re holding strong to third place in the West. Their final game before the All-Star break is a pretty big one, even if Kevin Durant won’t be playing. The Suns are up 1-0 in the season series, having won a close game in late November.

Week 18: @ PHX

Last Week:15

Record: 31-27

OffRtg: 115.4 (6) DefRtg: 114.9 (22) NetRtg: +0.5 (15) Pace: 96.4 (29)

The Mavs’ first three games with Kyrie Irving on the roster were their first three wins without Luka Doncic. Irving didn’t play in the first of those (Monday in Utah), but he scored a pretty efficient 49 points over his first two games in a Mavs uniform, a pair of critical wins over the Clippers and Kings. The Mavs had the league’s third best first-quarter offense prior to Irving’s debut, and they scored a remarkable 86 points on 49 first-quarter possessions over the two games, never trailing in either one.

The Mavs’ first game with both Doncic and Irving was a loss. They outscored the Kings by 14 points in the two stars’ 30 minutes together and staggered their minutes so that one of the two was always on the floor. But they were a minus-19 (allowing the Kings to score 68 points on 47 possessions) in 23 minutes with one star on the floor without the other, and they somehow lost an overtime period in which they shot 6-for-9. Though they have the league’s sixth-ranked offense (which should only get better), the Mavs still need to get stops. With the loss on Saturday, they’re 2-15 (with 10 straight losses) when they’ve allowed at least 120 points per 100 possessions.

Having just played two games against the league’s No. 1 offense, the Mavs will visit the No. 2 offense (that of the Nuggets) on Wednesday. Dallas has held Denver to just 108.0 points per 100 possession in winning two of the first three meetings, but Nikola Jokic played in only one of the three. Doncic is still 7-5 against Jokic head-to-head, and he was the one with the triple-double (though he shot just 5-for-17) in the one meeting this season.

Week 18: vs. MIN, @ DEN

Last Week:6

Record: 33-23

OffRtg: 115.2 (9) DefRtg: 112.9 (12) NetRtg: +2.3 (8) Pace: 99.1 (21)

The Durant-Irving era in Brooklyn was an amazing story of incredible highs, near-misses and, ultimately, one of the best collections of talent in NBA history being derailed by two untimely injuries (in the 2021 playoffs), a pandemic, and an “independent” thinker. While James Harden left a year ago and Ben Simmons has been a disappointment, this season’s edition of the Nets probably had the best group of role players around the stars. But the era came to a swift end last week, leaving the Nets with more quality role players than they had before.

With the roster he’s been given — lots of shooting and defense — in the wake of the Irving and Durant trades, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn will have some tough decisions to make with his rotation. He played 12 guys against the Sixers on Saturday, when Seth Curry wasn’t available. The Nets’ defense looked awesome at times, ultimately holding Philly’s seventh-ranked offense below the league average for efficiency. But Durant and Irving will obviously be missed late in games, and the Nets themselves scored just 16 points on 22 fourth-quarter possessions, losing a game they led by nine points with less than seven minutes to go. The Nets were 13-3 in clutch games with Durant and are now 7-7 without him.

It could take some time before we figure out just how good this team is as currently constructed, but the fifth-place Nets’ last two games before the break could certainly give us some good clues. They visit the seventh-place Knicks on Monday and host the sixth-place Heat on Wednesday, currently 3-0 against the two teams they’d need to hold off to stay where they are in the standings.

Week 18: @ NYK, vs. MIA

Last Week:10

Record: 31-28

OffRtg: 112.3 (23) DefRtg: 112.4 (10) NetRtg: -0.1 (21) Pace: 98.3 (24)

Trading one of the league’s best 3-point shooters (Luke Kennard) to a team (Memphis) you’re in direct competition with is kind of wild. And if the Clippers thought Kennard was a liability defensively, it will be interesting to see how much playing time Bones Hyland gets when the games really matter. But even if Hyland is a project for the future, Eric Gordon gives them more off the dribble and better defense than Kennard, and Mason Plumlee gives them a somewhat mobile big.

It’s been noted in this space multiple times that the Clippers were playing 11 straight games (their last eight before the All-Star break and their first three after it) in between back-to-backs. But apparently, a game doesn’t need to be part of a back-to-back for Kahwi Leonard to miss it. He sat out against the Bucks (who were playing the second game of a back-to-back) on Friday, even though the Clippers had the weekend off. The Clippers fell to 8-8 in games in which they’ve had Paul George but not Leonard and after an incredible, five-game stretch of offense in late January, they’ve scored less than 110 points per 100 possessions in five of their last seven overall.

The Clips are 17-9 with both George and Leonard, though only four of those 26 games have come against the other nine Western Conference teams that are currently in playoff or Play-In Tournament position. Hopefully, George, Leonard and the new additions will all be available as the Clippers complete their pre-break schedule with a couple of pretty big games (both on TNT) on Tuesday and Thursday.

Week 18: vs. GSW, @ PHX

Last Week:11

Record: 31-27

OffRtg: 115.2 (8) DefRtg: 113.8 (19) NetRtg: +1.4 (11) Pace: 97.5 (27)

As is the case with the Heat, each of the Knicks’ last 10 games (including a crazy game against the Heat themselves) have been within five points in the last five minutes. Prior to that stretch, they were at their worst (minus-4.4 points per 100 possessions) in the fourth quarter. But their fourth-quarter offense has been rather amazing of late, and they scored 75 points on 47 fourth-quarter possessions in wins against Orlando and Utah last week. The law of averages got them in the game in between (a loss in Philly in which they scored 15 points on 20 possessions in the fourth), but even with that game included, they’ve had some great shooting and a lot of offensive rebounds over their last eight fourth quarters.

Josh Hart made his Knicks debut on Saturday, bumping Miles McBride out of the Knicks’ nine-man rotation and filling the box score with 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in less than 26 minutes. Hart was a small starting forward in Portland, but he could be a big back-up guard in New York, and he was on the floor down the stretch of the Knicks’ win over the Jazz, grabbing a critical loose ball and finding RJ Barrett for a second-chance 3-pointer with less than four minutes left. The Knicks lead the league with 84 second-chance 3-pointers (two fewer than they had all of last season), with Immanuel Quickley (18) and Julius Randle (17) both in the top seven among individuals.

The Knicks go into the break with one of the most important two-game stretches left on their schedule, a home game against the fifth-place Nets (who they trail by three games) and a road game against the eighth-place Hawks (who they lead by a game and a half). They’ve lost their last nine meetings with Brooklyn, but this is obviously a very different Nets team than any they’ve faced before.

Week 18: vs. BKN, @ ATL

Last Week:16

Record: 31-27

OffRtg: 113.4 (18) DefRtg: 112.0 (7) NetRtg: +1.4 (10) Pace: 98.7 (22)

Devin Booker returned from a 21-game absence on Tuesday and the Suns got a new owner on Wednesday. But those two events were just a prelude to the trade that brought Kevin Durant to Phoenix. This team is going to be near impossible to stop, because you’re either going to give up mid-range shots to elite mid-range shooters or you’re going to bend your defense away from one of the best offensive players in the world. If teams switch, the focus could turn to Deandre Ayton’s ability to play big against smaller defenders. Consistency in that regard has been an issue, but Ayton was terrific against Durant’s old team on Tuesday, scoring a season-high 35 points (on 14-for-18 shooting) and grabbing 15 rebounds (six on the offensive glass) in a four-point win.

“It’s not just him being big in the paint,” Monty Williams said afterward (and before the Durant trade). “It’s him being able to read when he’s in there for two seconds and then he gets out, and then he gets himself ready for an offensive rebound. I think that’s the next-level step that, maybe, we didn’t have in years past.”

Despite Ayton’s efficiency, the Suns rank just 22nd offensively (112.1 points scored per 100 possessions) over their last 13 games. But they’ve won 10 of the 13, because their defense has been terrific and because they’re back to being clutch. They’ve won six of their last seven games that were within five points in the last five minutes, having held their opponents to just 42 points on 48 clutch possessions over that stretch.

We’ll have to wait until after the All-Star break before we see Durant with his new team, but the Suns have two huge games this week, hosting the Kings and Clippers on Tuesday and Thursday. The Suns are the only team that’s undefeated (8-0) within its division, and they’ve held the Clippers under a point per possession over two meetings (one with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, one without them) thus far.

Week 18: vs. SAC, vs. LAC

Last Week:13

Record: 29-28

OffRtg: 113.7 (15) DefRtg: 113.8 (17) NetRtg: -0.1 (22) Pace: 101.3 (9)

The Hawks ranked in the bottom five defensively in three of Trae Young’s first four seasons in the league, with the one exception (they ranked 18th two seasons ago) being the season they went to the Eastern Conference finals. And in each of those four seasons, the Hawks allowed at least 5.2 more points per 100 possessions with Young on the floor than they did with him off the floor.

This season, the Hawks rank 17th defensively, close to being better than average on that end of the floor for the first time in six years. And they’ve only allowed 1.8 more per 100 with Young on the floor (113.2) than they have with him off the floor (111.4). After registering a plus-29 in 42 minutes in wins over the Suns and Spurs last week, their starting lineup has outscored its opponents by 13.3 points per 100 possessions, the third best mark among 26 lineups that have played at least 200 minutes. And it ranks higher among those lineups on defense (third — just ahead of the same group with Onyeka Okongwu in Clint Capela’s place) than it does on offense (eighth).

That starting lineup still includes John Collins, the Hawks actually added a forward at the deadline, and Saddiq Bey (who has shot 39.6% from 3-point range since Christmas) could make his debut in Charlotte on Monday. The Hawks trail the sixth-place Knicks by just a game in the loss column, and they’ve won two of the first three head-to-head meetings, with their win in Atlanta last month being the third most efficient offensive performance for any team this season. The final matchup is back at State Farm Arena on Wednesday.

Week 18: @ CHA, vs. NYK

Last Week:14

Record: 30-29

OffRtg: 113.1 (19) DefRtg: 112.8 (11) NetRtg: +0.3 (16) Pace: 101.9 (4)

Both D’Angelo Russell (22.5%) and Mike Conley (15.9%) are registering the lowest usage rates of their careers. But while Russell’s is much higher than Conley’s, Conley has had the ball in his hands for a higher percentage of his minutes on the floor (21% vs. 17%). A more ball-controlling point guard (with a much higher assist/turnover ratio) could result in better shots for Anthony Edwards, who has an effective field goal percentage of 63.1% on catch-and-shoot jumpers and just 45.1% on pull-up jumpers. That’s the 14th biggest differential among 98 players who had attempted at least 100 of each through Saturday.

But the Wolves probably don’t want to stifle the on-ball development of Edwards, who’s seen an increase in how much he’s had possession of the ball, from 11.2% of his minutes in October and November to 14.7% since Dec. 1. The 21-year-old is already an All-Star, but as much as the Wolves want to compete this season, his best days are a few years down the line. The departure of Russell seemed inevitable, but this roster remains a work in progress, and it would be nice to see what it can do with a healthy Karl-Anthony Towns, who’s now missed the last 38 games.

The Wolves lost their first game with Conley and have allowed more than 125 points per 100 possessions over the first three games of a four-game trip, slipping out of the top 10 in defensive efficiency for the season. Five of their last eight games have come against top-five offenses, and the trip ends on Monday with a game against Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Week 18: @ DAL, vs. WAS

Last Week:12

Record: 28-28

OffRtg: 113.5 (17) DefRtg: 113.4 (15) NetRtg: +0.1 (18) Pace: 103.2 (1)

The Warriors’ first game after Stephen Curry’s latest injury was their most efficient offensive performance of the season. Behind 42 points (12-for-16 from 3-point range) from Klay Thompson, they scored 141 points on 104 possessions in a rout of the Thunder on Monday. Two nights later (and with Jordan Poole leading the way), they were nearly as efficient (114 points on 87 possessions) through the first 42 1/2 minutes in Portland. But they let the Blazers hang around and the Warriors’ offense came up empty (nine straight scoreless possessions) down the stretch, losing a game in which they outscored their opponent by 39 points from 3-point range (tied for the fourth biggest differential for a losing team this season).

Those last 5 1/2 minutes in Portland seemingly carried over to the weekend, when the champs had their second least efficient performance of the season, scoring less than a point per possession in a loss to the Lakers. Thompson shot 5-for-21, nearly as bad inside the arc (2-for-8) as he was outside it (3-for-13). For the season, he’s shot better from 3-point range (39.8%) than he did last season (38.7%), but Thompson’s mid-range field goal percentage (38.5%) is the worst mark of his career and ranks 48th among 59 players with at least 100 mid-range attempts. He’s also taken a career-low 21% of his shots in the paint, where he’s shot just 50.3% (his worst mark since his second season).

So, 56 games into the season, the Warriors are back at .500 and one defeat from being the third team to match its loss total from last season (53-29). They’ll host the Wizards on Monday, but will be at a rest disadvantage when they visit the Clippers (meeting No. 2 of four) 24 hours later. Neither Paul George nor Kawhi Leonard was available when the champs beat the Clips the day before Thanksgiving.

Week 18: vs. WAS, @ LAC

Last Week:17

Record: 29-28

OffRtg: 114.0 (13) DefRtg: 112.3 (9) NetRtg: +1.8 (9) Pace: 100.1 (15)

The Pelicans certainly didn’t “go for it” at the deadline, only making a trade — Devonte’ Graham and picks for Josh Richardson — that takes future salary off the books. Richardson shot 41% from 3-point range last season, but was just 35% over the three seasons prior to that and is at 35.7% this season. There’s more to his game than 3-pointers (he’s been solid on pull-up 2s over the years), but he might have a hard time finding playing time behind all of the guards and wings that the Pelicans already have.

After losing 10 straight games, the Pelicans won the first three of a four-game homestand to climb back over .500. It was their best three-game stretch of offense this season (129.4 points scored per 100 possessions), with Trey Murphy III making as many 3s over the three games (14-for-26) as he made over the last nine games of the losing streak (14-for-43). Brandon Ingram (who missed one of the wins) has also found a rhythm, shooting 54% (including 14-for-27 from mid-range) in February after going 17-for-57 (30%) in his first three games back from a two-month absence. But Ingram didn’t get enough help as the Pelicans’ homestand ended with a loss to Cleveland (one of their worst defensive games of the season) on Friday. The Cavs’ 70 points in the paint and 25 second-chance points were both the second highest totals the Pelicans have yielded this season.

It’s been exactly one month (Jan. 13) since the Pelicans won on the road, and they’ll go into the break with games in Oklahoma City and L.A., currently 8-5 against the six West teams that enter Week 18 with losing records.

Week 18: @ OKC, @ LAL

Last Week:19

Record: 27-28

OffRtg: 114.1 (12) DefRtg: 113.1 (13) NetRtg: +1.0 (12) Pace: 102.2 (3)

Mike Muscala ranked 10th on the Thunder in total minutes (622) at the deadline, but his minutes were usually valuable. Over the last four seasons, the Thunder outscored their opponents by 6.9 points per 100 possessions in 1,359 total minutes with Muscala and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the floor together, and that mark was a plus-12.9 per 100 in 497 minutes this season. The Thunder had seven wins this season in which they were outscored in Muscala’s minutes off the floor, and dealing him for more Draft picks at the deadline could certainly hurt them in the standings going forward. Muscala had a cheap team option for next season, so keeping him wouldn’t have been particularly costly.

The Thunder did win their first game after the deadline, scoring 138 points on 97 possessions (their second most efficient performance of the season) in Portland on Friday. The only Thunder player with a better plus-minus than Muscala this season is Isaiah Joe, who leads the league in 3-point percentage (45.8%) and was 4-for-4 from deep against the Blazers. Lu Dort was also perfect (3-for-3) from deep in returning from a six-game absence and the Thunder scored 70 points in the paint, with 26 of those coming from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. All 44 of Gilgeous-Alexander’s points came in the paint or at the free throw line (18-for-19) and, even with Muscala gone, the Thunder will continue to complement him with bigs who can shoot. Kenrich Williams (38% from 3) is only 6-6 and rookie Jaylin Williams (16-for-32) can be pushed around, but those are the guys left playing the five with Muscala in Boston.

The Thunder have a chance to go into the All-Star break with a winning record (they haven’t had one since they were 4-3), hosting New Orleans and Houston this week. They’re 0-2 against the Pelicans, with the two losses having come by a total of seven points and with the two teams having combined to score just 103.6 points per 100 possessions over the two games.

Week 18: vs. NOP, vs. HOU

Last Week:20

Record: 27-29

OffRtg: 116.3 (5) DefRtg: 116.4 (27) NetRtg: -0.0 (20) Pace: 98.4 (23)

The Blazers rank as a bottom-five defensive team for the fourth straight year, and over their last five games, they’ve allowed an amazing 127.9 points per 100 possessions (their worst defensive stretch of the season), even though none of the five opponents have had a top-10 offense. On Friday, the Thunder had 70 points in the paint and beat the Blazers with a 35-9, fourth-quarter run in which those 35 points came on just 16 possessions.

It seems like the Blazers made a backwards move at the deadline, but size matters on defense, and this team did get bigger and longer on the wings, swapping 6-foot-4 Josh Hart and 6-foot-2 Gary Payton II for 6-foot-7 Cam Reddish and 6-foot-5 Matisse Thybulle. The Blazers rank 28th in deflections per game (12.0), and they’ve added the guy (Thybulle) who ranks fifth with 4.9 deflections per 36 minutes, 3.1 more than Hart has averaged (1.8). Reddish shot 37.9% from 3-point range the last time he got regular rotation minutes (with Atlanta in the first half of last season) and, while Thybulle remains a poor and reluctant shooter, he does move well without the ball. Damian Lillard should empower both more than their previous teammates have.

The Blazers will have a relatively tough schedule after the All-Star break, but they go into the break with an opportunity — games against the Lakers and Wizards — to get back to .500. They’re 13-11 (7-5 at home) against the other 12 teams that currently have losing records, a mark that includes a win in Washington 10 days ago in which the two teams combined to score 128 points per 100 possessions.

Week 18: vs. LAL, vs. WAS

Last Week:18

Record: 28-30

OffRtg: 116.8 (4) DefRtg: 116.1 (26) NetRtg: +0.6 (13) Pace: 100.3 (14)

The Jazz traded three rotation guys last week and it’s possible that none of the three guys they got in return — Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Russell Westbrook — will play much for them going forward (Westbrook definitely won’t). But of course, the Jazz have remained competitive, winning in Toronto on Friday (coming back from 13 points down with less than six minutes left) and hanging with the Knicks (the game was tied with less than five minutes left) the following night in New York. Despite shooting just 27% from 3-point range, they scored more than 120 points per 100 possessions over the back-to-back.

With Mike Conley gone, Utah’s point guards are now Collin Sexton and Talen Horton-Tucker, neither of whom is really a point guard. Sexton had a couple of big buckets in the late comeback in Toronto, and he’s registering career-high marks (by pretty healthy margins) in both effective field goal percentage (56.4%) and true shooting percentage (62.4%). His free throw rate (43.8 attempts per 100 shots from the field) ranks 24th (right behind James Harden) among 265 players with at least 200 field goal attempts.

The offense seemingly ran better with Horton-Tucker (15 assists and just four turnovers over the two games) running the show. And as has always been the case, the team’s success will depend largely on Lauri Markkanen; the Jazz were outscored by 13 points in his 23 total minutes on the bench over the weekend.

The Jazz’s four-game trip (and their pre-break schedule) wraps with games in Indiana and Memphis. They’ve won two out of three against the Grizzlies, though both wins came (at home) in October.

Week 18: @ IND, @ MEM

Last Week:21

Record: 26-31

OffRtg: 112.9 (20) DefRtg: 114.0 (20) NetRtg: -1.0 (24) Pace: 102.4 (2)

The Lakers held onto one of their first-round picks at the deadline and still got three guys — D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt — who can improve what was a pretty brutal rotation beyond LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But it’s certainly not clear that the additions make this one of the eight best teams in the Western Conference, and it may be that a half-measure is worse than having made no move at all.

James put on a show (38 points on 13-for-20 shooting) to become the all-time scoring leader on Tuesday, meeting the moment for the umpteenth time in his career. But he didn’t get enough help in regard to winning what was one of the Lakers’ most important games of the season. He’s missed the last two games with ankle soreness and he’s listed as questionable for the Lakers’ visit to Portland on Monday. They got an ugly win over the Warriors over the weekend, but the Lakers are still just 4-5 since Davis’ return to the lineup, with only the Spurs, Hornets and Bulls having scored fewer points per 100 possessions over that stretch.

The offense has been at its best with James on the floor and the defense has been much better with Davis on the floor, but the Lakers still haven’t been very good (minus-3.0 points per 100 possessions since Davis’ return) when the two have been in the game together. If the new guys are going to improve those two-star minutes, it has to happen quickly.

The win at Golden State on Saturday began a stretch where the Lakers are playing seven of nine games against the six teams between them and seventh place in the West. They’re 2-1 against the 12th-place Blazers and 1-1 against the seventh-place Pelicans, who they’ll host on Wednesday.

Week 18: @ POR, vs. NOP

Last Week:23

Record: 27-31

OffRtg: 114.4 (11) DefRtg: 113.8 (18) NetRtg: +0.6 (14) Pace: 98.1 (25)

If you had Khem Birch as the only guy the Raptors would trade last week, you’re probably lying. As disappointing as this season has been, this team didn’t have to make a (bigger) trade. And the summer will certainly bring more offers for OG Anunoby, who has at least one more year on his contract. The big question is if Fred VanVleet (who can become a free agent this summer) will stay in Toronto or if the Raps just lost their best chance to get something for an undrafted and undersized guard that they developed into an All-Star.

The return of Jakob Poeltl does give this team an opportunity to see what a normal-ish lineup can do for 26 games. It was noted in this space two weeks ago, that the numbers have been really good when the Raps have replaced any one of their small-lineup starters with Precious Achiuwa, who isn’t nearly as big as Poeltl. And in Poeltl’s first 42 minutes back with Toronto, the Raps held the Jazz (who have a top-five offense) and Pistons to less than a point per possession. Of course, Poeltl also committed 11 fouls in those 42 minutes.

The Raptors and Thunder have played the most rest-advantage games in the league (11), and the Raps will break the tie when they host Orlando on Tuesday (with the Magic in Chicago the night before). Alas, even though they have the gotta-go-through-customs bonus, the Raps are just 4-7 (2-6 at home) in rest advantage games thus far. They’re also 1-2 against the Magic, having shot 16-for-60 (27%) from 3-point range in a two-game series in Orlando in December.

Week 18: vs. ORL

Last Week:24

Record: 26-29

OffRtg: 113.5 (16) DefRtg: 113.7 (16) NetRtg: -0.1 (23) Pace: 99.3 (19)

The Wizards don’t come across as an improved team on the surface, but they’ve seen the league’s sixth biggest jump in point differential per 100 possessions from last season, when they were outscored by 3.3 per 100. The bigger improvement (when you take the league-average increase into account) has been on defense, but when Bradley Beal has been on the floor, the Wizards have played elite-level offense. They’ve scored 119.2 points per 100 possessions in his 1,081 minutes, the fourth best on-court mark among Eastern Conference players who’ve averaged at least 20 minutes per game (the top three marks all belong to Celtics).

The Wizards were 0-5 when Beal scored 30 points or more before Saturday, when he had 32 on 13-for-18 shooting and they had their most efficient offensive performance of the season (127 points on just 91 possessions). They scored 80 points before halftime and cruised to a 14-point win over the Pacers, improving to 6-3 within the 9-13 tier in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards rank fourth offensively over the last two weeks, though that comes with the context that four of their six games in that stretch have come against bottom-seven defenses, and they were absolutely shut down (91 points on 97 possessions) by the Cavs’ No. 1 defense on Monday.

The Wizards are the only team that has a better point differential per 100 possessions on the road (minus-0.1, sixth best) than they do at home (minus-0.2, 25th). They’ve won their last four games in West arenas and their last three games before the All-Star break are their last three road games against the opposite conference.

Week 18: @ GSW, @ POR, @ MIN

Last Week:22

Record: 26-30

OffRtg: 112.1 (24) DefRtg: 112.0 (8) NetRtg: +0.1 (x) Pace: 100.5 (13)

Much to the chagrin of #BullsTwitter, Chicago was one of two teams — the Cavs were the other — that didn’t make a trade before the deadline. Statistically, this team (plus-0.1 points per 100 possessions) is better than the one that finished sixth in the East last season (minus-0.5), with only the Bucks having seen a bigger drop in points allowed per 100 possessions.

But offense remains a serious issue and, as the front office was standing pat at the deadline, the Bulls were scoring an anemic 95.0 points per 100 possessions over an 0-3 road trip that included a post-deadline loss to the shorthanded Nets in which the Bulls were outscored by 36 points (51-15) from 3-point range. The Bulls have made fewer 3s over their last four games (23) than the Celtics made against the Hornets on Friday (25), and turnovers (18.5 per 100 possessions) were almost as much of an issue as the shooting on the trip. Zach LaVine shot decently on the trip, but had 12 turnovers and just four assists over the three games and the Bulls were incredibly bad offensively (42 points on 59 possessions) in his 28 minutes on the bench.

With the 0-3 trip, the Bulls have slid out of Play-In Tournament position, though they have an easier remaining schedule than both the ninth-place Wizards and 10th-place Raptors. And their struggling offense will face a par of bottom-10 defenses — those of the Magic and Pacers — on Monday and Wednesday, having scored more than 120 points per 100 possessions in earlier meetings against each of those two opponents.

Week 18: vs. ORL, @ IND, vs. MIL

Last Week:25

Record: 23-34

OffRtg: 111.4 (25) DefRtg: 114.1 (21) NetRtg: -2.7 (25) Pace: 99.2 (20)

The Magic had the league’s second worst record last season, but their two most-used lineups were decent, especially defensively. And this season, the Magic’s most-used lineup — Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr. — has outscored its opponents by 4.5 points per 100 possessions, a mark which ranks 12th among the 26 lineups that have played at least 200 minutes. But that starting group has fallen off a bit this month with its two young stars struggling to put the ball in the basket. Wagner (6-for-25) and Banchero (1-for-21) are a combined 7-for-46 (15%) from 3-point range in February, ranking 107th and 112th (last) in effective field goal percentage among 112 players with at least 50 field goal attempts this month.

The Orlando reserves have picked up some of the slack. Bench minutes were critical (the Magic went on a 49-21 run spanning the first and second quarters) in a surprise win against the Nuggets on Thursday, when Cole Anthony and Bol Bol combined for 34 points on 16-for-25 shooting. Anthony remains below the league average in regard to effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, but he’s seen solid jumps in both (along with assist/turnover ratio) from last season, he had three blocks (two of the strip-on-the-gather variety) in that win over Denver, and he’s been the biggest part of what has been the league’s top-ranked bench in February.

If there are four tiers in the Eastern Conference, the Magic are at the bottom of Tier 3, clearly ahead of the Pistons and Hornets. They’re currently 4-6 (1-4 on the road) against the other four East teams — Chicago, Indiana, Toronto and Washington — that currently have losing records, set to visit the Bulls (1-1) and Raptors (2-1) this week.

Week 18: @ CHI, @ TOR

Last Week:26

Record: 25-33

OffRtg: 112.3 (22) DefRtg: 115.1 (24) NetRtg: -2.8 (26) Pace: 101.6 (8)

Four months ago, it would have seemed doubtful that Buddy Hield and Myles Turner would still in Indiana after the trade deadline. But they’re still here, with the Pacers actually adding a (possible) rotation piece at the deadline by acquiring Jordan Nwora (along with three second-round picks) in a trade that was mostly about their remaining cap space. Nwora isn’t much of a playmaker (his 2.3 assists per 36 minutes this season are a career-high mark) and he probably doesn’t use his length enough on defense (1.4 deflections per 36 ranks 12th among 13 Pacers who’ve played 500 minutes) but he’s shot 38% from 3-point range over his three seasons in the league.

One of the reasons that Hield and Turner didn’t get traded was that the Pacers were (at one point) competing for a playoff spot in the East. And unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. They’ve lost 15 of their last 17 games, ranking in the bottom four on both ends of the floor over that stretch. The slide began with an injury to Tyrese Haliburton, but it hasn’t ended with his return to the lineup. In fact, over the six games since he came back, the Pacers have been outscored by 13.9 points per 100 possessions in Haliburton’s 198 minutes on the floor. Those minutes have been particularly bad on defense and the Pacers just had their worst defensive game of the season, allowing the Wizards to score 127 points on just 91 possessions on Saturday.

That game began a stretch where the Pacers are playing nine of 12 against those that currently have losing records. One of their two wins over this 2-15 stretch came (at home) against the Bulls, who will be back in Indiana on Wednesday.

Week 18: vs. UTA, vs. CHI

Last Week:28

Record: 15-43

OffRtg: 110.7 (27) DefRtg: 117.9 (29) NetRtg: -7.2 (28) Pace: 100.6 (12)

It will be good to see James Wiseman (who the Pistons acquired at the deadline) getting a fresh start in an environment where his plus-minus doesn’t matter. The primary objective for the Pistons right now is developing Jaden Ivey, who’s in a tight race (with the Spurs’ Keldon Johnson) for the worst cumulative plus-minus in the league. And while the Pistons already have Jalen Duren, there should be enough playing time for both of the young centers, though Isaiah Stewart might now have to play even more of his minutes at the four. The Stewart-shooting-3s thing remains a work in progress; he was 3-for-4 from 3-point range on Sunday after missing 16 of his previous 18 attempts.

Duren had the best game of his career – 30 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks – as the Pistons beat the Spurs in double-overtime on Friday. His pick-and-roll defense still needs a lot of work, but he can protect the rim, either by blocking shots or by going vertical. (It may be that his dribble containment issues stem from him trying to bait ball-handlers into blocks.) Opponents have shot 61.5% at the rim when Duren has been there to protect it, a mark which ranks 26th (just behind Evan Mobley) among 53 players who’ve defended at least 200 shots at the rim.

On the other end of the floor, Duren had a couple of intriguing post-ups against the Spurs and he’s scored 1.31 points per possession as a roll-man, a mark which ranks 12th among 58 players with at least 50 roll-man possessions, according to Synergy tracking.

Week 18: @ BOS

Last Week:27

Record: 13-43

OffRtg: 109.6 (29) DefRtg: 117.5 (28) NetRtg: -7.9 (29) Pace: 100.0 (16)

The Rockets finally found a new (and old) home for Eric Gordon, and in exchange, they’ll likely move up in this year’s draft with their second first-round pick (that of the Bucks). Gordon’s last five games with Houston (the first five games of February) were the Rockets’ best five-game stretch of offense (117.7 points scored per 100 possessions), with seven guys averaging double-figures. They remain a team that scores with free throws and second chances, but they did shoot 50% or better in four straight games, having done so just seven times prior to Feb. 1. Among 118 players with at least 50 field goal attempts in February, Kenyon Martin (71.7%) ranks third in effective field goal percentage.

The Jalen Green experience remains a roller coaster. He’s had three 40-point games in the last month, but has followed those up with games in which he shot 3-for-13, 6-for-19 and 5-for-19. He tied the Rockets’ game in Miami on Friday with a pretty incredible left-handed finish, but was then in the middle of the ensuing breakdown that allowed the Heat to get the game-winning lob. The Rockets have lost 13 of their last 16 games that were within five points in the last five minutes, having scored just 84 points on 93 clutch possessions (90.3 per 100) over that stretch.

The Rockets’ first five games of February were also their worst five-game stretch of defense (128.9 allowed per 100), in part because their loss in Oklahoma City nine days ago was the worst defensive game for any team this season. They’re back in OKC on Wednesday to close out their pre-break schedule.

Week 18: @ PHI, @ OKC

Last Week:29

Record: 15-43

OffRtg: 108.8 (30) DefRtg: 115.6 (25) NetRtg: -6.8 (27) Pace: 101.7 (7)

The Hornets traded Mason Plumlee, clearing the way for rookie Mark Williams, the No 15 pick in last year’s draft. Williams has been a good finisher (72% in the restricted area) and a strong rebounder (second among rookies in defensive rebounding percentage), but having to play the Celtics and Nuggets in your first two career starts isn’t really fair. Williams totaled 17 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks over the two games, but the Charlotte starting lineup allowed the two top-five offenses to score 103 points on just 79 possessions (130 per 100) on Friday and Saturday.

The Hornets have lost eight straight overall and are now tied with the Pistons for the worst record in the Eastern Conference. And a good question is whether it’s more amazing that this team ranked eighth offensively last season or that it ranks 30th this season. Last season, the Hornets had six players who shot 36% or better on at least 100 3-point attempts. This season (with LaMelo Ball going 5-for-17 from beyond the arc and dipping below 36% over the weekend), they’re one of two teams — the Rockets are the other — with zero. The offense has been better with Ball on the floor, but has still scored below the league-average mark for efficiency in his 1,087 minutes.

If neither the Spurs (who’ve lost 12 straight) nor the Hornets win on Monday, they’ll both be looking at their Wednesday matchup as a great opportunity to end their losing streaks. The first meeting was the first game of the season, and the Hornets won by 27 points.

Week 18: vs. ATL, vs. SAS

Last Week:30

Record: 14-43

OffRtg: 109.8 (28) DefRtg: 119.9 (30) NetRtg: -10.1 (30) Pace: 101.7 (6)

In their first game after trading Jakob Poeltl, the Spurs were without the other four guys that have been starting (since Devin Vassell’s injury). They still had a great opportunity to end their losing streak, leading by four with less than 20 seconds to go in overtime. But after a Bojan Bogdanovic jumper, the Spurs turned the ball over in the backcourt and fouled Bogdanovic, allowing the Pistons to tied the game. The Spurs had another four-point lead in the second OT, but the Pistons then closed the game with an 11-0 run.

Turnovers have been an issue when Tre Jones has been off the floor, and fouls have been an issue when the Spurs haven’t had Poeltl defending the paint (now a permanent condition). Zach Collins (5.5 fouls per 36 minutes) is the new starting center, and he’s currently being backed up by somebody named Dominick Barlow, who’s committed 6.5 fouls per 36. The Pistons’ 49 free throw attempts on Friday were partially a result of the length of the game, but their free throw rate (FTA/FGA) was the second highest the Spurs have allowed this season.

Jones, Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan returned to the lineup on Saturday, when the latter two combined to score 43 points in Atlanta. But that wasn’t nearly enough, the Spurs were held to a point per possession or less for the third time in the last week, and their losing streak reached 12 games. They now have to play the league’s No. 1 defense, though their last game before the All-Star break (in Charlotte on Wednesday) is about as good of an opportunity as they’ll have to get a win.

Week 18: @ CLE, @ CHA