Week 22 Power Rankings: Toronto Raptors rise to No. 1 with big win over Houston Rockets
We watch the Toronto Raptors. We see them end the Houston Rockets’ 17-game winning streak and build a four-game lead (in the loss column) atop the Eastern Conference. We note that they’re the only team in the league that ranks in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
We watch the Cleveland Cavaliers. We see them lose two games in L.A. We note that they’re 14-19 since Christmas and have been outscored by four points over the course of the season. Through all their roster changes, ups and downs, they’ve been simply mediocre.
So … Is this the year that LeBron James doesn’t make The Finals? Are we ready to make that call with the playoffs 33 days away?
This is easily James’ worst team in the last eight years, but we still haven’t seen a healthy, post-trade-deadline Cavs roster, with Kevin Love having been out for almost six weeks now. We saw the Cavs flip the switch and sweep the Raptors (who had a much better regular-season point differential) last year.
This season, both in Cleveland and in Toronto, feels much different. But we’ll just have to wait until April or May before this drama unfolds. For now, the Raptors are No. 1 and the Cavs most definitely are not.
- Last week: West races heat up on both ends of playoff picture
- This time last year: No. 1 seeds at risk as schedule gets to Warriors, Cavs — LaMarcus Aldridge had a heart-related health scare and Andrew Bogut broke his leg in his first minute playing with the Cavs. Dirk Nowitzki reached the 30,000-point milestone, Marvin Williams threw one down on Bismack Biyombo, Devin Booker hit a game-winning buzzer beater in Dallas, and there was a gorilla on the floor in Phoenix.
- Plus-minus stud: Rudy Gobert (UTA) was a plus-83 in four games last week.
- Plus-minus dud: Elfrid Payton (PHX) was a minus-78 in three games last week.
- Hero team of the week: Utah (4-0) — The Jazz’s week included two road wins (by a total of 37 points) over teams – Indiana and New Orleans – that have otherwise been playing well of late.
- Zero team of the week: Grizzlies (0-4) — The Grizzlies’ losing streak reached 17 games with a 34-point loss in Dallas. P.S. The Mavs aren’t very good.
- East vs. West: The West is 203-173 (.540) against the East in interconference games after going 10-7 last week.
- Toughest schedules so far: 1. Dallas, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Chicago
- Easiest schedules so far: 1. Indiana, 2. LA Clippers, 3. Cleveland
- 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: Dallas (+3), Miami (+2), Toronto (+2)
- Free falls of the week: Atlanta (-2), Cleveland (-2), New York (-2)
- Team to watch in Week 22: San Antonio — We await the return of Kawhi Leonard. He won’t play in Houston on Monday, but it would be a big help if he came back for critical home games against New Orleans and Minnesota on Thursday and 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 99.5 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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Last Week: 3 ↑
Pace: 100.2 (11) OffRtg: 111.2 (3) DefRtg: 102.6 (4) NetRtg: +8.5 (3)
The Raptors got a signature win on Friday, outscoring the Rockets, 45-27 from 3-point range, with their defensive scheme keeping Houston's threes in check and with Kyle Lowry making seven of his nine attempts from beyond the arc. For the season, only Brooklyn (28 percent) has allowed its opponents to take a lower percentage of their shots from 3-point range than the Raptors have (29 percent), with Toronto having seen the biggest decrease from last season (when 33 percent of their opponents' shots came from beyond the arc). While the win over Houston was huge, the Raps were the first team to clinch a playoff spot because they lead the league in TCB (takin' care of business), with a 29-2 record against the 12 teams currently under .500 after beating the Hawks, Pistons and Knicks last week. One of the two losses was in Dallas on Boxing Day, and the Mavs will have a rest advantage when the two teams meet again in Toronto on Friday.
Week 22: @ BKN, @ IND, vs. DAL, vs. OKC
Last Week: 1 ↓
Pace: 100.1 (12) OffRtg: 113.3 (2) DefRtg: 104.3 (10) NetRtg: +9.1 (2)
The Rockets didn't miss James Harden in Dallas on Sunday, getting 12 assists from Chris Paul and six threes from Eric Gordon, while holding the Mavs under 90 points per 100 possessions. But they did miss Ryan Anderson in Toronto on Friday, when they could have used his pick-and-pop game against the Raptors' sagging defense and when a 16-point first quarter resulted in the end of their 17-game winning streak. The starting lineup with P.J. Tucker has been solid, but the lineup with Anderson instead of Tucker has been more potent offensively. In fact, the Rockets have had two of the three best offensive lineups among the 62 that have played at least 150 minutes, and they both include Anderson. It's not clear when he'll return (and he'll probably return to coming off the bench), but Harden is expected to play against the Spurs on Monday.
Week 22: vs. SAS, vs. LAC, @ NOP, @ MIN
Last Week: 2 ↓
Pace: 102.5 (4) OffRtg: 113.7 (1) DefRtg: 103.7 (6) NetRtg: +10.0 (1)
When Stephen Curry re-injured his right ankle on Thursday, running the table went out the window and the champs were reminded that being healthy in May and June remains priority No. 1. And when they lost in Portland and Minnesota over the weekend, we were all reminded that Curry remains their most valuable player. They're 11-6 in games he's missed and have scored 12.6 more points per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor with their other three All-Stars (120.9) than they've scored with the other three on the floor without him (108.3). Klay Thompson has an effective field goal percentage of 66 percent with Curry on the floor and just 55 percent with him off the floor.
Week 22: vs. LAL, vs. SAC, @ PHX
Last Week: 4
Pace: 99.0 (18) OffRtg: 105.9 (15) DefRtg: 104.1 (7) NetRtg: +1.8 (11)
The Blazers' nine-game winning streak now includes two wins over the Warriors in which Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined to average 65.5 points on an effective field goal percentage of 57 percent. As a unit, the Portland starting lineup has scored 114 points per 100 possessions over the course of the streak, but between the two wins over the champs were seven games in which the Blazers held every opponent under a point per possession, and bench minutes have been critical. In fact, only the Toronto bench has been better since the start of the Blazers' winning streak and Portland has outscored its opponents by 18 points per 100 possessions with Zach Collins on the floor over the nine games. The rookie matched his career high (12 points) on 5-for-6 shooting against the Warriors on Friday.
Week 22: vs. MIA, vs. CLE, vs. DET, @ LAC
Last Week: 5
Pace: 98.4 (22) OffRtg: 105.7 (16) DefRtg: 101.4 (1) NetRtg: +4.3 (4)
No team is locked into its playoff position at this point, but the Celtics are now four games in the loss column behind the first-place Raptors and seven games ahead of the third-place Pacers. So they have a cushion to deal with injuries to Jaylen Brown (who took a nasty fall in Minnesota on Thursday) and Kyrie Irving (who's dealing with a sore knee). Still, absences could derail the offense that ranked first since the All-Star break ... before their loss to the Pacers on Sunday. Improvement has come with better shooting from every area of the floor. They lead the league in post-break mid-range field goal percentage, with Irving having made 70 percent of his mid-range attempts (best among players with at least 25 since the break). With better offense, they haven't had any double-digit deficits to climb out of and have trailed for a league-low 18 percent of their minutes since the break.
Week 22: vs. WAS, @ ORL, @ NOP
Last Week: 6
Pace: 97.4 (27) OffRtg: 105.3 (17) DefRtg: 102.5 (3) NetRtg: +2.8 (7)
It's all about the defense. The Jazz have allowed just 92 points per 100 possessions and outscored their opponents by more than 22 points per 100 possessions with DPOY candidate Rudy Gobert on the floor as they've won six straight games, including three against top-10 offenses. But at the same time, their frontline been pretty darn efficient offensively. Gobert, Derrick Favors and Joe Ingles (18-for-36 from 3-point range) have combined for an effective field goal percentage of 67 percent over the streak. Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell combined for 57 points in their big win in New Orleans on Sunday, and the Utah starting lineup has the league's best plus-minus (plus-67) since the All-Star break. The Jazz are still on the outside of the playoff picture, but the streak will likely go on, because they play their next five games against teams with losing records.
Week 22: vs. DET, vs. PHX, vs. SAC
Last Week: 8 ↑
Pace: 98.5 (20) OffRtg: 107.5 (9) DefRtg: 105.4 (12) NetRtg: +2.1 (10)
Darren Collison returned from a five-week absence, but came off the bench in two weekend wins, maybe because the Pacers' current starting lineup (with Cory Joseph at the point) has outscored its opponents by 15.5 points per 100 possessions since the All-Star break (the third best mark among lineups that have played at least 100 post-break minutes). Myles Turner has been a big part of that success, averaged 20 points in three games last week, and had the game-winning bucket in Boston on Sunday. The Pacers rank third defensively since the break and have allowed just 93 points per 100 possessions in 264 post-break minutes with Turner on the floor. But just one of their nine post-break games has been against a top-10 offense and they're about to get tested in that regard. Their game against the Raptors on Thursday is the start of a stretch where they'll play eight of 11 games against top-10 offenses, with four games against the Raptors and Warriors in that stretch.
Week 22: @ PHI, vs. TOR, @ WAS
Last Week: 7 ↓
Pace: 102.6 (2) OffRtg: 107.7 (8) DefRtg: 106.7 (17) NetRtg: +1.0 (14)
The Pelicans' 10-game winning streak, in which they scored 112 points per 100 possessions, got derailed by another Anthony Davis injury (an ankle sprain). He missed just one game (a loss to Washington on Friday) and blocked 10 shots upon his return, but the offense didn't recover as the Pels lost at home to the Jazz. E'Twaun Moore was one of the league's best 3-point shooters (43 percent on 215 attempts) before the break, but is just 7-for-26 from beyond the arc since the break, with Jrue Holiday being the only one of the Pels' shooters who has shot particularly well. They're still in fourth place and still play six of their next seven games at home, but (with a make-up game next week) those seven games will be played over just 10 days.
Week 22: vs. CHA, @ SAS, vs. HOU, vs. BOS
Last Week: 9
Pace: 98.2 (23) OffRtg: 111.1 (4) DefRtg: 108.3 (24) NetRtg: +2.8 (6)
It's a good thing that Derrick Rose doesn't need your bleeping validation, because he was somehow a minus-17 in less than seven minutes in his Wolves debut on Sunday. The Wolves somehow got a much-needed win over the Warriors anyway, with Karl-Anthony Towns scoring 11 of his 31 points in the final six minutes. The first three of those 11 came from beyond the arc and Towns remains in the top 20 in 3-point percentage, but in the six games since Jimmy Butler's injury, he has taken only 15 percent (14/91) of his shots from 3-point range, down from 26 percent prior. Over those same six games, every Minnesota starter is no worse than a plus-30, while the three regular reserves are no better than a minus-17.
Week 22: @ WAS, @ SAS, vs. HOU
Last Week: 11 ↑
Pace: 101.4 (5) OffRtg: 106.1 (13) DefRtg: 103.1 (5) NetRtg: +3.0 (5)
The Sixers' final 17 games are either...
1. At home (11 of the 17), where they're 13-0 in 2018 and/or
2. Against teams currently under .500 (12 of the 17, including all six road games), against whom they're 6-0 since Feb. 1.
The door remains open for them to grab the 3 or 4 seed in the East and their game against the Pacers on Tuesday is the most important one on their schedule in that regard. A win would give them the same number of losses and give the Sixers the head-to-head tiebreaker. Since the break, the Sixers are one of just two teams (Houston is the other) that rank in the top 10 in effective field goal percentage, free throw rate, and offensive rebounding percentage. But they've averaged 21 turnovers in their four post-break losses, though shooting was a bigger problem as they blew a fourth-quarter lead in Miami on Thursday.
Week 22: vs. IND, @ NYK, vs. BKN
Last Week: 10 ↓
Pace: 99.2 (16) OffRtg: 109.2 (6) DefRtg: 108.6 (26) NetRtg: +0.6 (16)
All four of the Nuggets' post-break losses have been within five points in the last five minutes, but their loss in Dallas on Tuesday will be particularly painful if they fall short of the postseason. They led at halftime, but allowed a bottom-10 offense to score 38 points in the third quarter, compelling Mike Malone to keep both Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray on the bench for the entire fourth. Since his return, the Nuggets have allowed almost 15 fewer points per 100 possessions with Paul Millsap on the floor (105) than they've been with him off the floor (119), but still rank 25th defensively over that stretch. Now they play eight of their next nine games on the road, where they've been 9.7 points per 100 points per 100 possessions worse than they've been at home. Murray has shot 42 percent from 3-point range at the Pepsi Center and just 33 percent on the road. That's the fourth biggest differential among 107 players who have attempted at least 100 threes both at home and on the road.
Week 22: @ LAL, vs. DET, @ MEM
Last Week: 12
Pace: 99.2 (15) OffRtg: 107.2 (10) DefRtg: 105.8 (14) NetRtg: +1.3 (13)
The Wizards could be playing for third or fourth place (and for the tiebreaker against Indiana) on Saturday. But before they get to that game, they have to get through a tough back to back - vs. Minnesota, at Boston - on Tuesday and Wednesday. With their loss in Miami on Saturday, the Wiz are 0-4 in the second game of a back-to-back since they lost John Wall in late January, having allowed their opponents to score 123 points per 100 possessions in the four games. This week's is just one of four remaining back-to-backs on their schedule, and their overtime win over the Heat on Tuesday was the last game in which they were playing an opponent on the second game of a back-to-back. Wall was on the court shooting on Saturday, but there's still no clear word as to when he could be back.
Week 22: vs. MIN, @ BOS, vs. IND
Last Week: 13
Pace: 98.9 (19) OffRtg: 106.9 (12) DefRtg: 104.2 (8) NetRtg: +2.8 (8)
The Thunder rank 20th offensively since the All-Star break. Paul George (26 percent) has been the league's worst 3-point shooter among players with at least 50 post-break attempts from beyond the arc, while Russell Westbrook (16 percent) has been the worst among players with at least 25 post-break attempts. But they've held their opponent under a point per possession in two straight games for the first time since they lost Andre Roberson for the season. The two games were Corey Brewer's first two starts, though bench minutes were critical in a critical win over the Spurs on Saturday. Patrick Patterson had one of his best games of the season and Nick Collison came out of retirement to provide a lift in the fourth quarter. The Thunder will have a rest advantage when they host the Clippers (who play in Houston the night before) in another big game on Friday.
Week 22: vs. SAC, @ ATL, vs. LAC, @ TOR
Last Week: 14
Pace: 101.2 (6) OffRtg: 108.0 (7) DefRtg: 106.5 (16) NetRtg: +1.4 (12)
After an ugly start put the Clippers in an early, 14-point hole against the Pelicans on Tuesday, Doc Rivers made a couple of changes to his starting lineup. They paid off on Friday, with a 35-17 first quarter, Sindarius Thornwell scoring a career-high 14 points while also being the primary defender on LeBron James, and a win over the Cavs that helped the Clips remain in playoff position. Lou Williams is a starter again, but they're still getting punch off the bench from Montrezl Harrell, who leads the league (by a wide margin) with 24 points in the paint per 36 minutes since the All-Star break, having shot 69 percent (including 59 percent on post-ups) in his nine post-break games. The Clips have outscored their opponents by 52 points in 163 post-break minutes with Harrell and Williams on the floor together. They now play nine of their next 11 games on the road, with seven of those road games (and both home games) against teams with winning records.
Week 22: @ CHI, @ HOU, @ OKC, vs. POR
Last Week: 15
Pace: 97.2 (29) OffRtg: 105.2 (18) DefRtg: 102.5 (2) NetRtg: +2.7 (9)
With losses at Golden State and Oklahoma City last week, we know the Spurs will have a losing record on the road for the first time since they drafted Tim Duncan. We're pretty sure they're also going to win fewer than 50 games (in a non-lockout season) for the first time in that same timeframe. But maybe Kawhi Leonard will return to save their 20-year playoff streak, with big games against the Pelicans, Wolves and Jazz in a six-game homestand that starts Tuesday. The Spurs still have the West's fourth best point differential, but the loss to the Warriors on Thursday dropped them to 16-14 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, a year after they were a league-best 29-14 in clutch games, with Leonard leading the team in clutch usage rate by a wide margin. If he can just give them a little push in a close games, that could be the difference.
Week 22: @ HOU, vs. ORL, vs. NOP, vs. MIN
Last Week: 17 ↑
Pace: 103.2 (1) OffRtg: 104.2 (22) DefRtg: 105.6 (13) NetRtg: -1.4 (21)
The Lakers remain a solid defensive team and have had the league's most improved offense since the break, having scored 10.7 more points (113.5) than they did before the break (102.8). Julius Randle has led the way, averaging 20.7 points on 59 percent shooting and dropping a career-high 36 on the Cavs on Sunday. He has basically dropped any thought of shooting from anywhere outside the restricted area, where 80 percent of his post-break shots have come from (up from 62 percent before the break). Only Anthony Davis has averaged more points in the restricted area since the break than Randle, and the guy who ranked last in raw plus-minus last season (at minus-453) leads the league in that category (at plus-105) since the break. The Lakers are the spoiler team in the league right now and play 12 of their 16 remaining games against teams with winning records.
Week 22: vs. DEN, @ GSW, vs. MIA
Last Week: 19 ↑
Pace: 97.5 (26) OffRtg: 104.3 (20) DefRtg: 104.2 (9) NetRtg: +0.1 (18)
The Heat have ranked in the bottom 10 offensively since early November, but rank eighth offensively since the break (and fourth over a 6-2 stretch). Improvement has come not just from better 3-point shooting, but also in turnover percentage (they ranked 26th before the break and rank seventh since the break), free throw rate (26th, 12th) and offensive rebounding percentage (23rd, second). Getting two out of three against the Wizards and Sixers last week keeps them in the mix for a top-five seed in the East (and they have six remaining games against the bottom five teams in the conference), but they might have won all three games had Dwyane Wade not missed a bunny at the end of overtime in Washington on Tuesday. And just when they were getting healthy, Wade (hamstring strain) and Hassan Whiteside (strained hip flexor) both suffered injuries on Saturday.
Week 22: @ POR, @ SAC, @ LAL
Last Week: 16 ↓
Pace: 99.9 (14) OffRtg: 109.9 (5) DefRtg: 109.7 (28) NetRtg: +0.1 (17)
When Tristan Thompson sprained his right ankle nine days ago, there were very promising numbers with Larry Nance on the floor with LeBron James. But size still matters and Cavs' opponents have averaged 58 points in the paint, 14 offensive rebounds and 22 second chance points over their last three games, with Nikola Jokic and Julius Randle each scoring 36 points against the defense that remains in the bottom three. The Cavs have grabbed 81 percent of available defensive rebounds (a rate which would lead the league) with Thompson on the floor and just 73 percent (a rate which would rank last) with Nance on the floor. They're now dealing with injuries (to Rodney Hood and Cedi Osman) on the perimeter too.
Week 22: @ PHX, @ POR, @ CHI
Last Week: 18 ↓
Pace: 97.9 (24) OffRtg: 107.0 (11) DefRtg: 106.2 (15) NetRtg: +0.8 (15)
The Bucks weren't able to take advantage of a home-heavy stretch of schedule over the last month. With eight of their last 11 games at the Bradley Center, they went just 4-7 (3-5 at home), and they'll now play eight of their next 11 games on the road. That stretch includes games against the Grizzlies, Magic, Hawks and Bulls, but they haven't exactly been taking care of business against bad teams and allowed the Knicks to hang around for too long on Friday. Their starting lineup has the league's worst plus-minus (minus-42) since the All-Star break, but they've been getting some good minutes from their bench. They've outscored their opponents by more than 13 points per 100 possessions in 175 post-break minutes with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the floor with Jason Terry.
Week 22: @ MEM, @ ORL, vs. ATL
Last Week: 20
Pace: 100.3 (10) OffRtg: 105.9 (14) DefRtg: 106.7 (18) NetRtg: -0.8 (19)
It took an injury to Michael Carter-Williams, a former No. 11 pick who has played for four teams in his first five seasons, for Malik Monk, the No. 11 pick in last year's Draft, to finally get some playing time on a team that's not going to make the playoffs. That either says something about Monk, about the talent evaluation of Rich Cho (who no longer has a job), or Steve Clifford's willingness to give the rookie a chance, even though his bench has ranked near the bottom of the league all season. Monk ranked seventh in 3-point attempts per 36 minutes last week, but made just two of his 15.
Week 22: @ NOP, @ ATL, @ NYK
Last Week: 21
Pace: 98.4 (21) OffRtg: 104.2 (23) DefRtg: 105.4 (11) NetRtg: -1.2 (20)
The Blake Griffin Pistons lost to a team playing the second game of a back-to-back (blowing a 17-point lead to Toronto on Wednesday) before they got a win over a team that wasn't (benefiting from the Bulls' shenanigans on Friday). Griffin has begun to find a rhythm, averaging 28 points (on 51 percent shooting) and 5.8 assists over the last four games, but the Pistons' latest starting lineup has been outscored by 11.4 points per 100 possessions since the break, the worst mark among lineups that have played at least 100 post-break minutes. Their longest road trip of the season (six games over 10 days) begins Tuesday in Utah.
Week 22: @ UTA, @ DEN, @ POR
Last Week: 23 ↑
Pace: 100.1 (13) OffRtg: 101.8 (27) DefRtg: 108.5 (25) NetRtg: -6.7 (28)
The league had a discussion with the Bulls about not playing healthy starters Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez. The result on Friday in Detroit was Holiday and Lopez playing the entire first quarter, which the Bulls won by five, and then not playing the remainder of what turned into a 16-point loss. The optics of that scenario do not seem better than what was happening prior, though things were different in Atlanta on Sunday. Holiday didn't play, but Lopez played the entire first quarter, which the Bulls lost by 12. He sat the rest of the game and they won by seven to improve to 9-5 against the rest of the bottom eight, with four games remaining within the group.
Week 22: vs. LAC, @ MEM, vs. CLE
Last Week: 24 ↑
Pace: 97.3 (28) OffRtg: 101.4 (29) DefRtg: 110.1 (29) NetRtg: -8.7 (29)
Since the All-Star break, the Kings are 0-6 with Zach Randolph and 3-1 without him, though that might more about the quality of the opponent than about Randolph's presence. The defensive numbers (100 points allowed per 100 possessions) have been better than the offensive numbers (106) in the three wins, and that's either because the opponents have been Brooklyn, New York and Orlando, or because Randolph's absence allowed Skal Labissiere and Kosta Koufos to play 31 total minutes together in the New York and Orlando games. The Kings have allowed just 100 points per 100 possessions in 314 total minutes with Labissiere and Koufos on the floor together, the best DefRtg mark among their two-man combinations that have played at least 250 minutes.
Week 22: @ OKC, vs. MIA, @ GSW, @ UTA
Last Week: 22 ↓
Pace: 100.3 (9) OffRtg: 103.1 (26) DefRtg: 108.1 (21) NetRtg: -5.0 (26)
Two days after he was benched for the entire second half of a loss in Indiana, Taurean Prince scored a career-high 38 points against Chicago. But Prince wasn't just making shots on Sunday. With Dennis Schroder out and Kent Bazemore playing just 12 minutes, Prince was making plays and his seven assists may have been more impressive than the 38 points. Of course, the Hawks forced just five turnovers and allowed the league's 27th-ranked offense to score 129 points, so ignore what was written in this space last week about improved defense.
Week 22: vs. OKC, vs. CHA, @ MIL
Last Week: 28 ↑
Pace: 97.5 (25) OffRtg: 104.3 (21) DefRtg: 107.1 (19) NetRtg: -2.8 (22)
When the Mavs swapped Devin Harris for Doug McDermott at the trade deadline, they also replaced Harris with McDermott in their super-fun and amazingly successful Dirk-Nowitzki-plus-bench lineup. And the new group (in fewer minutes) has been just as super-fun and even more successful, outscoring their opponents by 24 points per 100 possessions in their 84 minutes and shooting 34-for-65 (52 percent) from 3-point range. Since the All-Star break, McDermott has shot 61 percent from beyond the arc, the best mark among 141 players with at least 25 post-break attempts. Near the bottom of the list is Dennis Smith Jr. at 22 percent and the Dallas starters' minutes remain a problem. Among the league's 250 most-used three-man combinations, the five worst NetRtg marks (the only ones of minus-10 or worse) belong to combinations that include at least two Mavs starters.
Week 22: @ NYK, @ TOR, @ BKN
Last Week: 26
Pace: 101.1 (7) OffRtg: 103.5 (25) DefRtg: 108.3 (23) NetRtg: -4.8 (25)
Seven different Nets have averaged double-figures in scoring since the All-Star break, though the offense hasn't been very consistent. Spencer Dinwiddie isn't one of the seven, having taken a back seat with D'Angelo Russell starting alongside him since the break. Dinwiddie's minutes are actually up a little since the break, but his usage rate is way down (from 22 percent before the break to 16 percent since) and he hasn't shot well. Only Russell Westbrook (5-for-31) has shot worse than Dinwiddie (5-for-30) on at least 25 post-break 3-point attempts. Still, the Brooklyn small-ball starting lineup has scored 112 points per 100 possessions in its 113 post-break minutes.
Week 22: vs. TOR, @ PHI, vs. DAL
Last Week: 25 ↓
Pace: 99.1 (17) OffRtg: 103.9 (24) DefRtg: 108.1 (22) NetRtg: -4.2 (23)
On Jan. 31, the Knicks had a better record than the Utah Jazz. Since then, they've lost 15 of their 16 games, and they've allowed their opponents to score at least 110 points per 100 possessions in 11 of their last 12. The one win in that stretch was their first game after the break (in Orlando), but they've trailed for a league-high 93 percent of their post-break minutes. (In fact, no other team - not even the Grizzlies - has trailed for more than 76 percent of their post-break minutes.) Emmanuel Mudiay has had a couple of solid games offensively, but opponents have shot 48 percent from 3-point range with him on the floor since he joined the Knicks.
Week 22: vs. DAL, vs. PHI, vs. CHA
Last Week: 27 ↓
Pace: 100.4 (8) OffRtg: 104.4 (19) DefRtg: 108.7 (27) NetRtg: -4.3 (24)
Evan Fournier has a sprained MCL in his left knee, and if he misses the rest of the season, the Magic will have lost at least 128 total games from the four opening-night starters - Fournier, Terrence Ross, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic - that they didn't trade. Gordon (who has missed the last two games) and Vucevic could add to that total in the next five weeks. The Magic have outscored their opponents by 1.3 points per 100 possessions in 947 minutes with at least three of those four guys on the floor, but have been outscored by 6.6 in 2,276 minutes with at least two of them off the floor. When Gordon returns, he could add to the just 67 minutes that he's shared the floor with Jonathan Isaac.
Week 22: @ SAS, vs. MIL, vs. BOS
Last Week: 29
Pace: 102.5 (3) OffRtg: 101.6 (28) DefRtg: 110.7 (30) NetRtg: -9.1 (30)
Elfrid Payton has had some solid boxscore numbers here and there, but since the All-Star break, he has both the league's worst plus-minus and the league's second worst effective field goal percentage among players who have attempted at least 100 post-break shots. Shaquille Harrison, on his second 10-day contract, has had an intriguing game in Charlotte on Saturday, starting in place of Devin Booker and registering 14 points (with some Kyrie-esque finishes at the basket) and four assists in less than 21 minutes. The Suns are 1-15 since Feb. 1, with the only win having come against the team (Memphis) that has lost 17 straight games.
Week 22: vs. CLE, @ UTA, vs. GSW
Last Week: 30
Pace: 96.8 (30) OffRtg: 101.4 (30) DefRtg: 107.2 (20) NetRtg: -5.8 (27)
The Grizzlies almost won in San Antonio on Monday, but couldn't stop Tony Parker down the stretch, and things went downhill from there, with losses to the Bulls and Mavs keeping them in the lead for Lottery odds. Dillon Brooks scored a career-high 29 points in Chicago on Wednesday (showing some creativity off the dribble), but a wrist injury has put Andrew Harrison's development on hold. Kobi Simmons played well (totaling 24 points and a plus-4) in his first two career starts, but shot 5-for-19 over the weekend as the Grizz scored a paltry 83 points per 100 possessions against the Jazz and Mavs. They've lost 17 straight and their game against Chicago on Thursday is one of their two best chances at a win going forward (the other is a home game against the Kings).
Week 22: vs. MIL, vs. CHI, vs. DEN