Power Rankings: Quality wins push Detroit Pistons into top five
We’re about 12 percent through the 2017-18 season, and the East-West disparity that promised to be more substantial than ever hasn’t shown up yet. The East and West are about even (the West holds a 28-27 edge) in interconference games through Sunday’s action. Last Monday (Oct. 30) was the first time since Jan. of 2010 that the East had six or more wins (it was 6-1) against the West on a single day.
It’s still very early and the Warriors have played just three games against the East thus far. The East has been able to get seven of its 30 games against the Spurs before Kawhi Leonard has played a minute, with two more coming this week.
But the East also has a couple of teams that are surpassing expectations. The Detroit Pistons (4-1), Indiana Pacers (3-2) and Orlando Magic (3-0) are a combined 10-3 against the West, and seven of those 10 wins have been against West teams that have winning records.
Detroit, with a 4-2 record against all teams that are currently above .500, seems particularly legit. Andre Drummond’s eye-opening improvement from the free throw line has been a part of the league’s third biggest improvement in offensive efficiency, through Detroit has played more games against top-10 offenses (five) than against top-10 defenses (one) thus far.
Things change quickly, but through the first eighth of the season, the East has been a little stronger and a more interesting than we expected.
- Last week: Grizzlies rise above early-season parity
- This time last year: Cavs survive and advance — The Cavs (6-0) were the only unbeaten team in the league, while New Orleans (0-6) and Philadelphia (0-5) were both winless. Kevin Durant scored 39 points in his first game against the Thunder, Jeremy Lin suffered his first hamstring injury of the season, and Eric Bledsoe beat the Blazers at the buzzer.
- Plus-minus stud: Stephen Curry (GSW) was a plus-83 in three games last week.
- Plus-minus dud: Harrison Barnes (DAL) was a minus-78 in four games last week.
- Hero team of the week: Golden State (3-0) — The Warriors took care of business on the road, beat the Clippers, Spurs and Nuggets by an average of 22.3 points.
- Zero team of the week: Sacramento (0-3) — The Kings’ seven straight losses have been by an average of 15.4 points.
- East vs. West: The West is 28-27 (.509) against the East in interconference games, though the East was 14-13 in Week 3 (6-1 on Monday).
- High jumps of the week: L.A. Lakers (+10), Minnesota (+9), Boston (+6)
- Free falls of the week: Milwaukee (-9), LA Clippers (-7), Cleveland (-4), Orlando (-4)
- Team to watch in Week 4: Memphis — The Grizzlies, having suffered some slippage, play just two games, but they’re important road games within the Western Conference. They’ll visit Portland on Tuesday and Houston 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 101.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 104.0 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
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NBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.
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Last Week: 3 ↑
Pace: 103.8 (6) OffRtg: 118.1 (1) DefRtg: 105.7 (20) NetRtg: +12.4 (1)
A game against the Clippers is always a good excuse for the Warriors to step on the gas pedal, and they followed Monday's win in L.A. with two more road wins over good Western Conference teams. As was the case last season, they've been at their best in the third quarter, which they won by a combined score of 77-44 in San Antonio and Denver. The six Warriors with the at least 10 third-quarter field goal attempts have a combined third-quarter effective field goal percentage of 68 percent. Their shooting remains ridiculous and last week's three games produced their three lowest turnover totals of the season.
Week 4: vs. MIA, vs. MIN, vs. PHI
Last Week: 8 ↑
Pace: 98.3 (26) OffRtg: 104.8 (14) DefRtg: 94.7 (1) NetRtg: +10.1 (2)
The Celtics' previous starting lineup (with Aron Baynes) ranks as one of the league's best defensive units, but not much defense was lost when Marcus Morris started what became a huge (64-39) second half in Oklahoma City on Friday, as well as Sunday's win in Orlando. Marcus Smart's shooting remains erratic, but Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have combined to shoot 30-for-61 from 3-point range over the Celtics' eight-game winning streak. Al Horford (17-for-29) has shot even better, while also anchoring the league's No. 1 defense. Over the streak, the Celtics have held their opponents to an average of 10.3 fewer points per 100 possessions than their season average.
Week 4: @ ATL, vs. LAL, vs. CHA, vs. TOR
Last Week: 2 ↓
Pace: 101.2 (13) OffRtg: 108.4 (2) DefRtg: 102.3 (13) NetRtg: +6.1 (4)
The Rockets have found their offense, which ranks No. 1 in November after they scored 120 points per 100 possessions over a three-game winning streak, highlighted by James Harden's 56 points (on 19-for-25 shooting) and 13 assists on Sunday against what had been the league's third best defense through Saturday. After shooting 19 percent from 3-point range in October, Trevor Ariza (10-for-24 in November) has found his shot, and the winning streak actually got started with a 16-0, second-quarter run in New York with Harden on the bench on Wednesday. With all four of their meetings with the Grizzlies coming before Thanksgiving, No. 3 comes Saturday in Houston. The Grizzlies are the only team that has held the Rockets under a point per possession this season, and they've done it twice.
Week 4: vs. CLE, vs. MEM, @ IND
Last Week: 1 ↓
Pace: 98.2 (27) OffRtg: 104.1 (17) DefRtg: 99.6 (3) NetRtg: +4.5 (8)
The offense has struggled as the Grizzlies have lost three of their last four games, with two of the losses - vs. Charlotte and Orlando - coming in games they led by 13 points. Losses like that might make you look at the bench, but you would find that Memphis leads the league in aggregate bench NetRtg (plus-12.4), with Tyreke Evans looking like a serious Sixth Man of the Year candidate. He's averaging 17.1 points on a career-high effective field goal percentage of 61 percent, having scored 19 or more in five of the last six games. If there was still a "Comeback Player of the Year" award, the Grizzlies would have four candidates (all key contributors on that league-best bench): Evans, Mario Chalmers, Chandler Parsons and Brandan Wright.
Week 4: @ POR, @ HOU
Last Week: 10 ↑
Pace: 98.6 (24) OffRtg: 106.0 (9) DefRtg: 102.9 (15) NetRtg: +3.1 (10)
Last season, the league did Andre Drummond a favor by extending the restriction on away-from-the-ball fouls to the last two minutes of every quarter and reducing Drummond's free throw attempts from 7.2 to 4.4 per game. This season, Drummond has helped himself. With a difference-making, 14-for-16 performance in Friday's win over Milwaukee, Drummond is shooting 75 percent from the line, up from 38 percent over his first five seasons in the league. Drummond ranks second in rebounds per game and leads the league in rebounding percentage (for the third straight season), and the Pistons' starting lineup had its best performance (plus-9 in 18 minutes) in Saturday's win over Sacramento. They've still been the league's second worst high-usage (75 minutes or more) lineup, but Detroit has won five of its last six games with Anthony Tolliver providing critical minutes off the bench.
Week 4: vs. IND, vs. ATL, vs. MIA
Last Week: 15 ↑
Pace: 100.5 (15) OffRtg: 107.7 (6) DefRtg: 108.2 (25) NetRtg: -0.5 (15)
The Wolves' late-game success continued with two more narrow escapes in Miami and New Orleans, making them a league-best 5-1 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes. With their 7-3 record, they still have a negative point differential. But it might be more noteworthy that they've held three straight opponents under a point per possession, even if those three opponents all rank in the bottom 11 offensively. They're 7-1 with Jimmy Butler, but didn't need much offense from him (17 total points on 5-for-13 shooting) in weekend wins over Dallas and Charlotte.
Week 4: @ GSW, @ PHX
Last Week: 5 ↓
Pace: 98.7 (23) OffRtg: 100.6 (25) DefRtg: 101.9 (12) NetRtg: -1.2 (18)
Their two best offensive performances have come in gams in which they've assisted on less than half of their buckets, but the Spurs will take the offense any way they can get it as they continue to wait for Kawhi Leonard to make his season debut. Their new starting lineup (with Patty Mills at point guard) has scored 116 points per 100 possessions in its 41 total minutes and was largely responsible for their 31-12 start against Golden State on Thursday and a 34-point third quarter (with Mills shooting 3-for-3 from 3-point range) against Phoenix on Sunday. The Spurs have still seen the league's biggest drop in effective field goal percentage (from 52.4 percent last season to 47.9 percent this season).
Week 4: vs. LAC, vs. MIL, vs. CHI
Last Week: 6 ↓
Pace: 100.2 (17) OffRtg: 105.5 (11) DefRtg: 99.9 (4) NetRtg: +5.6 (6)
The Blazers blew a late lead in Utah on Wednesday, but set their clocks back to Dame Time a night later. After his game-winner against the Lakers and another big shot (and a bunch of free throws) against Oklahoma City on Sunday, Damian Lillard leads the league (by a wide margin) in clutch points, with seven of the Blazers' 10 games having been within five points in the last five minutes. Lillard has an effective field goal percentage of 44 percent in the first three quarters and 61 percent in the fourth quarter and overtime. C.J. McCollum has kind of gone the other way, but hit two huge threes in Sunday's win. The Blazers are seven games into a stretch where they're playing 10 of 11 at home.
Week 4: vs. MEM, vs. BKN
Last Week: 7 ↓
Pace: 102.7 (9) OffRtg: 108.2 (4) DefRtg: 105.5 (18) NetRtg: +2.7 (11)
The Wizards would be wise to not talk [stuff] about the Cavs anymore. They woke up a sleeping giant with more comments from Bradley Beal and John Wall about how Cleveland intentionally avoided them in the playoffs and paid the price on Friday night (and then the giant went back to sleep). Beal made up for it somewhat with 38 points in Wall's absence in Toronto on Sunday, and now they're going to play six straight games against teams with bottom-10 offenses (and records no better than .500), a stretch that should help the numbers of a defense that allowed 126 points per 100 possessions in losses to Phoenix and Cleveland.
Week 4: vs. DAL, vs. LAL, vs. ATL
Last Week: 11 ↑
Pace: 101.2 (14) OffRtg: 106.7 (8) DefRtg: 101.4 (8) NetRtg: +5.3 (7)
The Raptors' six-game trip included five games against teams likely to finish in the top 10 in the West, so a 3-3 result (despite a couple of blown opportunities) is good enough. But Sunday's loss to the Wall-less Wizards (with Kyle Lowry evening things out with a second-quarter ejection) could be one that comes back to haunt them. That was the worst 3-point shooting night for the league's worst 3-point shooting team, with this week's most important game (Sunday in Boston) is against the league's best 3-point defense.
Week 4: vs. CHI, vs. NOP, @ BOS
Last Week: 4 ↓
Pace: 99.5 (21) OffRtg: 108.2 (3) DefRtg: 102.4 (14) NetRtg: +5.8 (5)
After allowing just 92 points per 100 possessions over their 4-0 start, the Clippers allowed 111 as they went 1-4 on a five-game homestand (with the only win coming against the 1-10 Mavs). Only Denver has allowed its opponents to take a lower percentage of their shots from the restricted area than the Clippers have, but the Clips' defense was subpar on the perimeter, forcing only 13.5 turnovers per 100 possessions and allowing their opponents to shoot 39 percent from 3-point range, over the homestand. Now they'll play eight of their next nine (and 16 of their next 23) games on the road, though only one of their next 12 opponents currently ranks in the top 10 offensively.
Week 4: @ SAS, @ OKC, @ NOP
Last Week: 12
Pace: 99.7 (20) OffRtg: 104.2 (16) DefRtg: 97.6 (2) NetRtg: +6.6 (3)
Sunday's loss in Portland dropped the Thunder to 0-4 within the Western Conference and 0-4 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes, having allowed their opponents to shoot 58 percent in the clutch. Russell Westbrook's scoring drop isn't solely about him sacrificing shots for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. His free throw rate is also down from 43 to 33 attempts per 100 shots from the field, and after missing three important ones in the final minute on Sunday, he's shooting just 58 percent from the line. This week's schedule should provide them with their first conference win or two (or three or four).
Week 4: @ SAC, @ DEN, vs. LAC, vs. DAL
Last Week: 9 ↓
Pace: 104.4 (5) OffRtg: 105.3 (12) DefRtg: 100.9 (5) NetRtg: +4.3 (9)
Whether it was regression to the mean, injuries to their point guards, or a combination of both, the Magic offense that ranked second in October ranks 30th in November after a couple of ugly losses (without both Elfrid Payton and D.J. Augustin) to Chicago and Boston. Their other four starters have scored 121 points per 100 possessions in 86 total minutes with either Augustin or Payton at point guard, but just 96 in 69 minutes with either Shelvin Mack or Jonathon Simmons. Payton is expected to return from his eight-game absence against New York on Wednesday.
Week 4: vs. NYK, @ PHX, @ DEN
Last Week: 14
Pace: 97.5 (28) OffRtg: 100.7 (24) DefRtg: 101.6 (10) NetRtg: -0.9 (16)
At times, Ricky Rubio's aggressiveness has given the Utah offense a much-needed threat of the dribble. He shot 11-for-21 from 3-point range in the Jazz's three-game winning streak, with a couple of huge pull-up threes in Wednesday's overtime win over Portland. But he's 1-for-9 from beyond the arc in the two losses since and has averaged just 3.4 assists over the five game stretch. On the other end of the floor, high-scoring and highly efficient games from DeMar DeRozan and James Harden (100 total points on 45 shots) have dropped the Jazz to .500 and to 10th (from third) in defensive efficiency.
Week 4: vs. PHI, vs. MIA, vs. BKN
Last Week: 25 ↑
Pace: 105.3 (3) OffRtg: 99.8 (27) DefRtg: 101.2 (7) NetRtg: -1.4 (20)
The two guys the Lakers got in the D'Angelo Russell trade - Brook Lopez and Kyle Kuzma - combined for 55 points (on 62 percent shooting) in their win over Russell and the Nets on Friday, but the other end of the floor has been the story for L.A. thus far. Not only do the Lakers rank as the second most improved defensive team in the league (only Boston has seen a bigger drop in DefRtg) after four straight seasons of ranking in the bottom three in defensive efficiency, but they've had the best defense against the top 10 offenses in the league among teams that have played more than one game against the group. They've allowed just 93 points per 100 possessions in going 2-2 against the Clippers, Wizards, Raptors and Pistons. Their four-game trip that starts Wednesday includes two more games (at Washington and Milwaukee) against the top 10.
Week 4: @ BOS, @ WAS, @ MIL
Last Week: 16
Pace: 102.3 (11) OffRtg: 102.7 (20) DefRtg: 101.8 (11) NetRtg: +0.9 (13)
With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out of action again, the Hornets' Lamb-and-Bacon starting lineup was a plus-20 in weekend games in San Antonio and Minnesota. Both Jeremy Lamb (27 points) and Dwayne Bacon (18) had career highs against the Spurs, but the Hornets lost both games because they were outscored by 45 points in 62 minutes with at least one reserve on the floor. No matter who has started, bench minutes have been critical. They're 4-0 when Frank Kaminsky has registered a plus-minus of zero or better, and 0-5 when his plus-minus has been negative.
Week 4: @ NYK, @ BOS
Last Week: 22 ↑
Pace: 104.6 (4) OffRtg: 102.9 (19) DefRtg: 103.8 (16) NetRtg: -0.9 (17)
Joel Embiid finally cracked the 30-minute mark, playing 30:15 in Wednesday's win over Atlanta. Over his last three games, he's taken 70 percent of his shots in the paint, up from 44 percent over his first five. With that, and with Robert Covington, J.J. Redick and Dario Saric combining to shoot 49 percent from 3-point range, the Sixers have scored 111 points per 100 possessions over their four-game winning streak, which includes an impressive, wire-to-wire victory in Houston. Their new starting lineup (Saric instead of Jerryd Bayless) is a plus-18 in just 25 minutes together, but they're entering a tough stretch of schedule. Eleven of their next 13 games are against teams that are currently .500 or better.
Week 4: @ UTA, @ SAC, @ GSW
Last Week: 23 ↑
Pace: 100.2 (18) OffRtg: 103.6 (18) DefRtg: 105.5 (19) NetRtg: -2.0 (21)
The Knicks have won five of their last six games, taking advantage of some bad defenses to rank eighth offensively over that stretch. After playing just twice through Summer League, preseason and the first three games of the regular season, Frank Ntilikina has quickly given them two guys under the age of 23 to be excited about. He's got a 3-to-1 assist/turnover ratio in his three November games and was a true difference-maker in Sunday's comeback from 19 points down against Indiana, dishing out six assists (all to Kristaps Porzingis) in the Knicks' 43-17 run to close the game, draining two huge threes, and making some big plays defensively. Ntilikina and Porzingis have the Knicks' best two-man plus-minus, with the team shooting 57 percent in 45 minutes with them on the floor together.
Week 4: vs. CHA, @ ORL, vs. SAC
Last Week: 17 ↓
Pace: 100.4 (16) OffRtg: 105.1 (13) DefRtg: 106.4 (22) NetRtg: -1.4 (19)
After the Nuggets' offense came alive (118 points scored per 100 possessions) for a three-game stretch that culminated in their best win of the season (a blowout of the Raptors on Wednesday), it struggled (100 per 100) over the weekend as they narrowly escaped against Miami and got a second-half thumping from Golden State. Overall, Denver has scored 4.9 fewer possessions than it did last season (with the league average dropping only 2.1), in part because it has seen the league's biggest drop (from 70 percent to 57 percent) in the percentage of shots coming from the restricted area or 3-point range. Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap and Emmanuel Mudiay have all taken more than half of their shots from the area in between.
Week 4: vs. BKN, vs. OKC, vs. ORL
Last Week: 18 ↓
Pace: 102.8 (8) OffRtg: 101.5 (22) DefRtg: 101.4 (9) NetRtg: +0.1 (14)
Two guys can not carry an offense, at least not with the Pelicans. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have averaged a combined 53.0 points over the last four games (54 percent of the team's total), but the Pels have scored less than a point per possession (and shot 26 percent from 3-point range) in each of the four. The defense has been solid as long as Davis and Cousins have been on the floor together, even though five of their 10 games have been against the league's top 12 offenses thus far. There's no relief in that regard coming just yet, as four of their next five are against the top eight.
Week 4: @ IND, @ TOR, vs. LAC
Last Week: 19 ↓
Pace: 102.6 (10) OffRtg: 108.1 (5) DefRtg: 105.8 (21) NetRtg: +2.3 (12)
Myles Turner's return pushed Domantas Sabonis to the bench on Sunday, which wasn't a problem for the first 34 1/2 minutes of the Pacers' game in New York. Sabonis was able to maintain his role as the fulcrum of the Indiana offense when Turner was off the floor and was a plus-23 with 16 points and eight rebounds until that point. Then things fell apart and Sabonis and Turner got just one shot between them over the final 13:30 as the Pacers blew a 19-point lead. After allowing just 93 points per 100 possessions over a three-game winning streak, Indy allowed 113 in weekend losses to the Sixers and Knicks, getting burned on the perimeter in Philly and in the paint in New York.
Week 4: vs. NOP, @ DET, @ CHI, vs. HOU
Last Week: 13 ↓
Pace: 98.8 (22) OffRtg: 105.6 (10) DefRtg: 107.9 (24) NetRtg: -2.3 (23)
The Bucks' defense can be picked apart if their activity and length isn't suffocating. And that's been the case as they've allowed 116 points per 100 possessions over a three-game losing streak. Their opponents have gotten too many corner threes (14 total makes over the three games) and too many free throw attempts (32 per 100 shots from the field) for the Bucks to be able to keep up offensively, even with Khris Middleton scoring a career-high 43 points in Charlotte on Wednesday and with their new starting lineup (John Henson instead of Thon Maker at center) having scored 126 points per 100 possessions, the best mark among the 51 lineups that have played at least 35 minutes together.
Week 4: @ CLE, @ SAS, vs. LAL
Last Week: 21 ↓
Pace: 99.9 (19) OffRtg: 102.0 (21) DefRtg: 104.1 (17) NetRtg: -2.2 (22)
The Heat had some drama in the first two games of their six-game trip, with James Johnson and free throws being the story at the end of both. He put Paul Millsap on the line for the game-winning three-shot trip to the line with a foul 24 feet from the basket on Friday, and then made the game-winning freebies in L.A. (their first road win of the season) on Sunday. For the season, the Heat have the league's worst free throw attempt differential, with their opponents having attempted 8.4 more per game than they have. Within their stretch of 11 of 14 games on the road is a stretch (which began with Sunday's win over the Clippers) where eight of the 12 opponents have top-10 offenses.
Week 4: @ GSW, @ PHX, @ UTA, @ DET
Last Week: 20 ↓
Pace: 101.3 (12) OffRtg: 107.3 (7) DefRtg: 111.7 (30) NetRtg: -4.3 (24)
The Cavs are undefeated when LeBron James scores 57 points and also undefeated (3-0) when they don't lose the first quarter. Unfortunately, James isn't permanently in video-game mode and they've been mostly awful in the opening 12 minutes, losing it by at least nine points for the fifth time in Sunday's loss to Atlanta. They've lost Tristan Thompson to a calf strain for the next 3-4 weeks and not every opponent is going to motivate them with silly talk about them worrying about who they play on their road to The Finals. But that Halloween party looked awesome.
Week 4: vs. MIL, @ HOU, @ DAL
Last Week: 26 ↑
Pace: 105.9 (2) OffRtg: 101.0 (23) DefRtg: 109.2 (26) NetRtg: -8.3 (27)
The Suns' last six days have featured some wild swings. In Brooklyn on Tuesday, they went from up 18 to down eight to up eight in the span of 15:13. In Washington on Wednesday, they came back from 22 down in the second quarter to win by six. And in San Antonio on Sunday, a four-point, halftime lead turned into a 27-point deficit in 18 minutes. T.J. Warren's dropped a career-high 40 points on Wednesday, but the honeymoon seems to be over in regard to the team's defensive improvement under Jay Triano, as they've allowed 115 points per 100 possessions in their three November games.
Week 4: vs. BKN, vs. MIA, vs. ORL, vs. MIN
Last Week: 24 ↓
Pace: 109.3 (1) OffRtg: 104.3 (15) DefRtg: 109.6 (27) NetRtg: -5.3 (25)
Since their win over the Cavs and their 3-2 start, the Nets are 0-4, with losses to the Knicks, Suns and Lakers. The offense has scored less than a point per possession over that stretch, with their five main starters combining to shoot 14-for-63 (22 percent) from 3-point range. They've seen the league's biggest drop (by a wide margin) in turnover rate and they still rank as the fourth most improved offense from last season, but they're trending in the wrong direction and their schedule is getting tougher. After they visit two bottom-10 defenses on Monday and Tuesday, Friday's game in Portland will begin a stretch where they play six of eight games against teams that currently rank in the top 10 defensively.
Week 4: @ PHX, @ DEN, @ POR, @ UTA
Last Week: 29 ↑
Pace: 97.5 (29) OffRtg: 91.7 (30) DefRtg: 101.0 (6) NetRtg: -9.3 (28)
As expected, the Bulls offense is terrible, and things were particularly ugly down the stretch of Saturday's overtime loss to New Orleans. But a big game from beyond the arc (14-for-29) got them an unexpected win in Orlando on Friday and Robin Lopez has kept the defense in the top 10. Their starting lineup ranks as the league's third best defensive unit among those that have played at least 50 minutes, but their bench has the league's worst aggregate NetRtg (by an incredibly wide margin), with Bobby Portis set to return from his suspension in Toronto on Tuesday.
Week 4: @ TOR, vs. IND, @ SAS
Last Week: 30 ↑
Pace: 103.1 (7) OffRtg: 100.2 (26) DefRtg: 106.6 (23) NetRtg: -6.4 (26)
After scoring just 97 points per 100 possessions over their eight-game losing streak, the Hawks got to play against the Cavs' defense on Sunday afternoon and took advantage with their two highest-scoring quarters of the season (37 points in both the first and third). It may not be a coincidence that the strong start also came with the first start for Luke Babbitt, who has scored 45 points over the last three games, shooting 10-for-16 from 3-point range. The Hawks have scored 106 points per 100 possessions with Babbitt on the floor.
Week 4: vs. BOS, @ DET, @ WAS
Last Week: 27 ↓
Pace: 98.5 (25) OffRtg: 98.8 (28) DefRtg: 110.1 (29) NetRtg: -11.4 (29)
After playing 11 games (including three back-to-backs) in the first 18 days of their season, the Mavs are getting some schedule relief this week, with their first two multi-day stretches between games. We'll see if that helps the 29th-ranked defense and/or Dirk Nowitzki, who shot 5-for-17 in their weekend back-to-back and is shooting just 32 percent from his beloved mid-range on the season. But they could be sitting on one win for a while, as their next 10 games are against teams no worse than the Cavs.
Week 4: @ WAS, vs. CLE, @ OKC
Last Week: 28 ↓
Pace: 97.2 (30) OffRtg: 95.7 (29) DefRtg: 109.6 (28) NetRtg: -13.9 (30)
The Kings have the league's worst point differential (both per game and per 100 possessions) and their only win is against Dallas, who they don't get to play again until February. Dave Joerger continues to use different starting lineups and find minutes for the over-30 guys on the roster. Even with George Hill out, Saturday's game in Detroit was clearly about trying to get another win, as Zach Randolph, Garrett Temple and Vince Carter logged the most minutes they've played since the Dallas win in Week 1. The Kings had their best shooting game of the season, but were undone by the Pistons' 20 second chance points (three nights after getting outrebounded 52-26 in Boston).
Week 4: vs. OKC, vs. PHI, @ NYK