The headline deal from an active trade deadline was made between the teams in 14th and 15th place in the Western Conference. It was a fascinating trade we’ll be talking about for a few years, but in regard to this season, it changes very little.
There were some small-to-medium-sized shake-ups, however. The Houston Rockets traded James Harden’s favorite assist target to play center-less basketball. The Miami Heat added some experience and versatility to a team that was already contending in the Eastern Conference. And the LA Clippers won the Marcus Morris sweepstakes.
Maybe a minor move will make a major difference in the postseason. Time will tell, and the early returns on the new faces in new places have already begun.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Milwaukee (3-0) — Let us not take the Bucks for granted. A little revenge against the Sixers was the highlight of the week, but this team is also 21-4 on the road (and on pace for the best road winning percentage in NBA history) after handing double-digit losses to the Pelicans and Magic.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: San Antonio (0-4) — The rodeo trip started innocently enough with a three-point loss at the hands of the Clippers. Things went downhill from there.
East vs. West
Schedule strength through Week 16
- Toughest: 1. New Orleans, 2. Atlanta, 3. Golden State
- Easiest: 1. Milwaukee, 2. Toronto, 3. Brooklyn
- 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: Brooklyn (+3), Sacramento (+3), Three teams (+2)
- Free falls of the week: Detroit (-3), Indiana (-3), San Antonio (-3)
Week 17 Team to Watch
- Denver — It was a little disappointing that the Nuggets didn’t find an upgrade at the deadline. But they’re still in second place in the West (despite a bunch of injuries) and 10-5 in games played between the conference’s top eight. They have a shot at the No. 1 seed, especially if they can get a win against the Lakers on Wednesday. Prior to that they’ll host the Spurs on Monday.
- Last week: Celtics, Raptors climb into Top 5; Jazz, Sixers tumble
- This time last year: Sixers surging in wake of deadline-day deals — The Pelicans didn’t trade Anthony Davis before the deadline. But at the top of the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors all made moves, with the Bucks acquiring Nikola Mirotic, the Raptors trading for Marc Gasol, and the Sixers dealing for Tobias Harris. Dallas sent Harrison Barnes to Sacramento, the Sixers sent Markelle Fultz to Orlando, and the Wizards sent Otto Porter Jr. to Chicago. John Wall tore his Achilles while recovering from heel surgery, but Caris LeVert returned from a three-month absence. The Clippers came back to win three games they trailed by 20-plus points, and Rajon Rondo picked up a loose ball and beat the Celtics at the buzzer.
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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 100.7 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 109.6 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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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
Pace: 105.4 (1) OffRtg: 113.4 (2) DefRtg: 101.5 (1) NetRtg: +11.9 (1)
The Sixers have had their two highest 3-point totals against the Bucks, and their 21 3-pointers were the difference on Christmas Day in Philly. But on Thursday in Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't shoot 8-for-27 and the Bucks had a 64-36 advantage inside the arc, holding Joel Embiid to a worse shooting game (6-for-26) than the MVP had in the first meeting. The Lopez brothers have combined to shoot just 29% from 3-point range (even with Brook's 5-for-5 performance in Orlando on Saturday), but kept Embiid in check and their rim protection numbers are as similar as their DNA.
As league-wide efficiency continues to climb, the Bucks have held their opponents under a point per possession in 14 of their 20 games since that Christmas Day loss to the Sixers, allowing 5.3 fewer points per 100 than any other team over that time. For the season, the Milwaukee starting lineup has held opponents to an anemic 90.8 points per 100 possessions in 340 minutes.
The Bucks have played the fewest games (they're 5-3) within the top six teams in the East (each of the other five have played at least 11 games within the group). They'll have one more this week (Wednesday in Indiana) and 10 more after the break.
Week 17: vs. SAC, @ IND
Pace: 99.8 (18) OffRtg: 112.7 (5) DefRtg: 105.5 (3) NetRtg: +7.2 (2)
The Raptors have won 14 straight games and are still just one game in the loss column ahead of the Celtics, who have won 10 of their last 11 to keep pace. Five of the 10 wins have come over teams that are currently over .500 and the only Celtics who have played in all 11 games are Brad Wanamaker and Grant Williams.
Jayson Tatum (26.8 points per game) has led seven Celtics averaging double-figures over the 10-1 stretch and has shot 24-for-45 from 3-point range over the last five. He already has a new career high for 3-pointers in a season (126), a result of him trading mid-range shots for 3-pointer and improving his shooting off the dribble. After shooting 32.0% on off-the-dribble 3-pointers over his first two seasons, Tatum has shot 39.2% this season, a mark that ranks sixth among 45 players who have attempted at least 100 pull-up 3-pointers.
The Celtics have beat some good teams over these last few weeks, but their win in Oklahoma City on Sunday (sealed by Marcus Smart's strip of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the closing seconds) was the start of a stretch where they're playing 10 of 14 games against teams with winning records.
Week 17: @ HOU, vs. LAC
Pace: 100.5 (15) OffRtg: 111.5 (11) DefRtg: 104.9 (2) NetRtg: +6.5 (4)
The Raptors continue to be shorthanded (Kyle Lowry missed a game on Saturday when he got lost in Serge Ibaka's scarf), and their second-ranked defense has slipped a little without Marc Gasol. They had two of their three worst defensive performances of the season last week, allowing the Pacers and Nets to score more than 120 points per 100 possessions at Scotiabank Arena.
But the winning streak, now at 14 games, remains alive. The champs forced three straight Indiana turnovers over an 11-0 run to close that win on Wednesday and they got the one stop they needed after losing an 18-point lead to Brooklyn on Saturday. Eight of their 14 wins on the streak have been within five points in the last five minutes, and both the Raptors (20-for-39) and their opponents (18-for-33) have shot better than 50% in the clutch over these four weeks.
The Raps are just one bucket from shooting 50% overall (they're 621-for-1,244) over the course of the winning streak. They've seen a bigger improvement from their first 39 games in the paint, where the scarf artist has shot 68% over the 14 games. He's one of six players (a pair of former Raptors are also in the group) who have shot 70% or better on at least 100 shots in the restricted area and 45% or better on at least 100 shots elsewhere in the paint.
Week 17: vs. MIN, @ BKN
Pace: 100.8 (13) OffRtg: 113.2 (4) DefRtg: 106.3 (5) NetRtg: +7.0 (3)
The Lakers stood pat at the deadline, holding on to Kyle Kuzma. A few hours later, Kuzma shot 2-for-8 and registered a minus-14 in less than 20 minutes as the Lakers lost to the Rockets. The Lakers have been staggering the minutes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the minutes with James off the floor continue to be a struggle. In Davis' 441 minutes with James on the bench, the Lakers have been outscored by 7.2 points per 100 possessions (by 15 per 100 over the nine games since Davis' return from a five-game absence), and Davis and Kuzma have combined to shoot 22-for-88 (25%) from 3-point range. Darren Collison (42% from 3-point range over his last four seasons) is not walking through that door.
The Houston game was ultimately lost with a 16-3 Rockets run (with Kuzma off the floor) down the stretch. After winning 12 of their first 13 games that were within five points in the last five minutes, the Lakers lost seven of eight before holding off a late Warriors run on Saturday. Even with the dagger in his first regular-season visit to the Chase Center, James has shot just 4-for-24 on clutch 3-pointers, the third worst mark among 49 players who have attempted at least 15.
Week 17: vs. PHX, @ DEN
Pace: 102.8 (8) OffRtg: 112.5 (6) DefRtg: 106.4 (6) NetRtg: +6.1 (5)
Maurice Harkless wasn't bad for the Clippers. He shot 37% from 3-point range and ranked second on the team with 3.7 deflections per 36 minutes. But Marcus Morris is an obvious upgrade offensively, while giving the Clippers some additional size and strength on both ends of the floor. The Clippers have been about average offensively in (limited) minutes with Lou Williams, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Montrezl Harrell on the floor together, and Morris can make that group more potent.
The question is how much we'll see of the Clippers at full strength and at full focus (see their 27-point loss in Minnesota on Saturday) between now and April 15. The good news in that regard is that they have only three back-to-backs left on their schedule. Patrick Beverley has missed the last two games with a groin injury, but rest time is coming and the Clippers will be the last team to start its post-break schedule (getting Thursday and Friday off next week).
They went 0-2 against the Bucks, but the Clips are 6-0 against the other five Eastern Conference teams with winning records, with two marquee matchups on TNT (Tuesday and Thursday) this week.
Week 17: @ PHI, @ BOS
Pace: 97.7 (29) OffRtg: 111.6 (10) DefRtg: 107.6 (9) NetRtg: +3.9 (8)
The Nuggets pared down their extended rotation at the deadline, but not to the end of upgrading their top 10. That's OK if Nikola Jokic (averaging 27.3 points, 11.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists over a 5-1 stretch) and Jamal Murray (29.0 points on an effective field goal percentage of 74% since returning from a 10-game absence) continue to play like they have recently. The Nuggets have been without at least three of their top 10 guys in each of their last 13 games, but they haven't broken stride.
Gary Harris was the primary defender as the Denver defense (back in the top 10) held Damian Lillard in check again on Tuesday, but it would be nice if Harris could make a shot. He has shot 28% (including 5-for-42, with 10 straight misses, from 3-point range) since early January and was 0-for-13 in Utah on Wednesday. He was still on the floor down the stretch as the Nuggets closed with a 14-3 run, highlighted by Jokic's casual go-ahead bucket with less than a minute to go. It was the second time in seven days that the Nuggets had come back from double-digits to beat the Jazz, and Denver now leads the league with 14 wins (they're 14-11) after trailing by 10 points or more.
Week 17: vs. SAS, LAL
Pace: 99.3 (19) OffRtg: 111.6 (9) DefRtg: 107.5 (8) NetRtg: +4.1 (7)
The Jazz have a worse point differential, both per game and per 100 possessions, than they did last season. But, after going 15-18 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes last season, they're 21-10 this season. That's the league's biggest jump in clutch winning percentage.
Donovan Mitchell (32 more clutch field goal attempts than any of his teammates) has been the go-to guy down the stretch. But Rudy Gobert's rim protection (or goaltending, if you will) has been critical and, with a ridiculous game-winner on Sunday, Bojan Bogdanovic (12) trails only Zach LaVine (15) in clutch 3-pointers.
Bogdanovic's effective field goal percentage is down from his career-best mark of 57.5% last season, but he has scored 0.468 points per touch, the highest mark among 221 players that have averaged at least 30 touches per game. The Jazz have scored 13.3 more points per 100 possessions with Bogdanovic on the floor (114.6) than they have with him off the floor (101.3). They lead the league in both 3-point percentage (38.6%) and catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage (41.9%), with four of the 26 players who have shot 43% or better on at least 100 catch-and-shoot attempts.
Week 17: @ DAL, vs. MIA
Pace: 98.3 (27) OffRtg: 111.9 (7) DefRtg: 108.6 (14) NetRtg: +3.3 (10)
The Heat got a lot (Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and cap relief) for Justise Winslow, who had played 16 minutes in the last two months. In Iguodala and Crowder, they added a couple of defenders they can put in front of guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam and Ben Simmons, so that Jimmy Butler can continue to do what he does best, which is play the passing lanes. They also give the Miami zone some more length and mobility. It's not hard to envision the Heat defense finishing in the top 10 for a fifth straight season.
The other end of the floor could be more interesting. Over the last three years, Crowder and Iguodala have shot just 33% on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, one of the strength's of the Heat's seventh-ranked offense. But this team also ranks fifth in assist percentage (having recorded assists on 64% of their buckets), and the system should lend itself to a couple of high-IQ vets. With Crowder and Iguodala contributing three apiece, the Heat team assisted on 31 of its 39 baskets in Portland on Sunday.
The Heat outscored the Blazers by nine points in 35 minutes with Crowder and/or Iguodala on the floor, but their starting lineup (missing Butler for the second straight game) put them in too big of a third-quarter hole to climb out of. They've lost three straight games for the first time this season.
Week 17: @ GSW, @ UTA
Pace: 99.1 (22) OffRtg: 110.6 (14) DefRtg: 107.9 (11) NetRtg: +2.7 (11)
The Thunder are a plus-36 in 600 total minutes with their four full-time starters - Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams - on the floor. That breaks down to a plus-105 in 145 minutes with Dennis Schroder and a minus-69 455 minutes with anybody else as the fifth guy. Those latter groupings are, basically, all of the starting lineups they've used. The Thunder have been outscored by 3.7 points per 100 possessions in both the first and third quarters.
The Schroder lineup is generally saved for the last few minutes of each half. And it's a big reason why the Thunder lead the league with 23 wins in games that were within five points in the last five minutes. Schroder is the leading candidate to unseat Lou Williams as Sixth Man of the Year, leading the league in total minutes, points and cumulative plus-minus off the bench.
After an ugly third quarter against the Celtics on Sunday, the Thunder got to the Schroder lineup with just a three-point deficit. But they can't win every close game and they were undone by a pair of pull-up 3-pointers from Kemba Walker that they couldn't quite recover from.
Week 17: vs. SAS, @ NOP
Pace: 103.9 (2) OffRtg: 113.3 (3) DefRtg: 110.0 (15) NetRtg: +3.3 (9)
An impressive win over the Lakers. A 36-point loss to the Suns. And a loss to the Jazz in which the lead changed hands four times in the final 30 seconds. It's fair to say that, for the new-look Rockets, the results have been mixed and the visuals have been fascinating. We had James Harden jumping center and guarding JaVale McGee, Rudy Gobert guarding Russell Westbrook, and P.J. Tucker trying to keep guys much bigger than him off the glass.
Over the six games since Clint Capela (now an Atlanta Hawk, pretty weird) last played, the Rockets have seen a jump in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range (51.0%, up from 47.5% prior) and a drop in free throw rate (21.8 attempts per 100 shots from the field, down from 29.3 prior). They've also also seen a jump in the percentage of their opponents' shots that have come in the restricted area.
The defense could improve with more time and more reps in their switch-everything scheme for which Robert Covington is an ideal component. It's still not clear if this is going to work, but it is clear that it will be fun to watch either way.
Week 17: vs. BOS
Pace: 99.8 (17) OffRtg: 108.3 (20) DefRtg: 106.2 (4) NetRtg: +2.2 (12)
Who needs Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks when you have Furkan Korkmaz? With the Sixers returning home from an 0-4 trip, Korkmaz made 13 of their 25 3-pointers (on 20 attempts) in wins over the Grizzlies and Bulls, the two highest-scoring games of his career (34 and 31 points). Ben Simmons assisted on six of his 13 threes over the two games, with one handoff against Memphis being particularly slick. Korkmaz might be the poster boy for the Sixers' home-road differential, having shot 47% from beyond the arc at the Wells Fargo Center and just 33% outside it.
It will be interesting to see how Brett Brown fits Robinson (10 points in 12 minutes in his Sixers debut on Sunday) and Burks into a rotation that already has Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle coming off the bench, given that Brown doesn't play more than three reserves together at a time. Josh Richardson returned from a six-game absence over the weekend and should be back in the starting lineup (where Shake Milton has been holding his place) soon enough.
The Sixers have won 10 straight games at home, ready to welcome Kawhi Leonard on Tuesday. It will be their first meeting since Game 7 in Toronto.
Week 17: vs. LAC
Pace: 103.5 (4) OffRtg: 109.0 (19) DefRtg: 110.5 (19) NetRtg: -1.4 (18)
The Grizzlies have been as many as 10 games under .500 (they were 6-16) this season. But they've won 14 of their last 18 games to give the Western Conference an eighth team with a winning record. With their victory in Dallas on Wednesday (in which they outscored the Mavs, 60-26, in the paint), they have wins over six of the seven teams ahead of them in the standings (with the Lakers being the exception).
Now, the Grizzlies have a winning record while ranking 19th on both ends of the floor. With five losses (and only one win) by 24 points or more, they have the point differential (-1.6 per game, 11th best in the West) of a team that's 23-30. The Timberwolves have fewer losses in games that weren't within five points in the last five minutes (15) than the Grizzlies do (17).
But the Grizz have the league's second-ranked defense (107.0 points allowed per 100 possessions) over this 14-4 stretch. With the score tied with less than five minutes to go in Washington on Sunday, they got six straight stops. The Wizards are healthier than they've been in a while and the loss was their second worst offensive performance of the season (99 points on 110 possessions).
The Grizzlies still have a lot of work to do to hold onto eighth place. They still have six games remaining against the three teams behind them in the West standings, with a big one against the ninth-place Blazers on Wednesday.
Week 17: vs. POR
Pace: 99.3 (20) OffRtg: 116.1 (1) DefRtg: 110.4 (17) NetRtg: +5.7 (6)
Kristaps Porzingis is not a driver. According to Second Spectrum tracking, he has shot just 28% on drives, the second worst mark among 140 players with at least 75 field goal attempts on drives. And with the score tied in the final minute in Washington on Friday, Porzingis couldn't finish a drive over Isaac Bonga.
Porzingis is a rim protector. Opponents have shot just 52.4% at the basket when he's been there to protect it, the eighth lowest mark among 35 players who have defended at least five shots at the basket per game. And after that failed drive, he contested Bradley Beal's drive to keep it a tie game. Alas, Porzingis wasn't near the rim (he was defending the inbounder) for Beal's game-winning bucket on the next possession.
The Washington loss put an end to a three-game stretch where Porzingis averaged 35 points on an effective field goal percentage of 63%. But without him (or Luka Doncic) on Saturday, the Mavs got a wire-to-wire win in Charlotte, shooting 17-for-35 from 3-point range. Their offensive success goes well beyond the brilliance of Doncic, and they rank third on that end of the floor (119.1 points scored per 100 possessions) over the All-Star's six-game absence.
Week 17: vs. UTA, vs. SAC
Pace: 98.7 (24) OffRtg: 110.2 (15) DefRtg: 108.1 (13) NetRtg: +2.1 (13)
If Victor Oladipo didn't hit that long 3-pointer to tie in his season debut, the Pacers would have a seven-game losing streak. Of course, if they didn't blow an 11-point lead with less than three minutes to go in Toronto on Wednesday, they'd have their first road win against one of the other good teams in the East. Five of their last six games have been within five points in the last five minutes and their opponents have shot 15-for-19 on clutch shots (and rebounded two of the four misses) since that overtime win over Chicago.
The Indiana defense has taken a step backward overall, allowing almost 118 points per 100 possessions over four losses last week. The 62 3-pointers they've allowed over the that stretch (to the teams that rank second, third and fifth in 3-pointers per game) are the most they've allowed in any four-game stretch in franchise history.
The Pacers have won 11 of their last 12 meetings with Brooklyn, but their two worst offensive games of the season have come against the Bucks, who will be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
Week 17: vs. BKN, vs. MIL
Pace: 101.2 (12) OffRtg: 111.8 (8) DefRtg: 113.1 (26) NetRtg: -1.4 (17)
The Blazers' loss in Utah on Friday, in which the officials failed to call goaltending on Damian Lillard's drive to tie in the final seconds, may loom large in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But Portland still controls its own destiny, three games in the loss column behind the eighth-place Grizzlies with all three head-to-head meetings still to come. The first of those is Wednesday in Memphis and the Grizz will have a rest advantage, with the Blazers playing (another important game) in New Orleans the night before. The other two meetings (March 12 and April 5) are in Portland, where the Blazers have won five straight after a quality win over the Heat on Sunday.
Lillard has cooled off a bit and Anfernee Simons (concussion) is on the shelf, but Gary Trent Jr. has emerged as another shooter of the bench. He has shot 42% from 3-point range (including 28-for-52 over the last 2 1/2 weeks) and the Blazers have scored more than 119 points per 100 possessions in his 392 minutes on the floor with Lillard.
Week 17: @ NOP, @ MEM
Pace: 103.7 (3) OffRtg: 110.0 (17) DefRtg: 112.1 (23) NetRtg: -2.1 (19)
The Pelicans are one of six teams with a better record on the road (12-15) than they have at home (10-16). They're 9-3 on the road since late December and got one of their best wins of the season in Indiana on Saturday. With Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson both out with ankle injuries, Jrue Holiday (who was not traded on Thursday) had one of his best games of the season (31 points, six rebounds, 10 assists and three steals) in Holiday Bowl II.
The Pels have actually been better statistically at the Smoothie King Center (plus-0.1 points per 100 possessions) than they've been away from it (minus-4.2), but just haven't been able to close games in their own building. In games that were within five points in the last five minutes, they're 3-10 at home (including 1-9 since late November) and 8-9 on the road (6-1 since Christmas).
They could have both Ingram and Williamson back as they close their pre-break schedule with home games on Tuesday and Thursday. With a relatively easy remaining schedule, the Pels are still in the playoff race, and a win over the ninth-place Blazers would clinch the season series and the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Week 17: vs. POR, vs. OKC
Pace: 102.0 (9) OffRtg: 107.3 (22) DefRtg: 107.9 (10) NetRtg: -0.6 (15)
It seems unlikely we'll see Kyrie Irving (right knee sprain) in uniform in one of the Nets' last two games before the break. But Caris LeVert is finally looking like the guy who was the team's best player in last year's playoffs. With Irving out the last three games, LeVert has moved into the starting lineup and averaged 29.7 points (on an effective field goal percentage of 61%) and 6.3 assists. He came up short on the game-winning shot on Saturday, but scored a career-high 37 points against the league's second-ranked defense.
The Nets have climbed into the top 10 in defensive efficiency, the last six games (three with Irving, three without) have been their best stretch of offense (121.6 points scored per 100 possessions) this season, and they've seemingly stabilized after a 2-12, post-Christmas stretch. They're still just 5-18 against the 14 teams currently over .500, and in their four seasons under Kenny Atkinson, they're 3-25 against the two teams they face this week.
Week 17: @ IND, vs. TOR
Pace: 98.5 (25) OffRtg: 108.3 (21) DefRtg: 110.5 (18) NetRtg: -2.2 (21)
Buddy Hield has started 44 games, so he's ineligible for the Sixth Man of the Year award. But his 23.1 points per game over the last eight are the most any reserve has averaged this season (minimum five games) and his 44 3-pointers trail only Damian Lillard's 48 over the last 2 1/2 weeks. Hield has made nine or more 3-pointers more times in these eight games (twice) than he had in 288 career games prior (once). And along with his nine 3-pointers on Saturday, he registered a plus-31 in a win over the Spurs.
With three straight victories, the Kings are 6-2 since the lineup change. The last five games have been their best stretch of offense (118.7 points scored per 100 possessions) this season, with Hield not the only King who has shot well from 3-point range. Bogdan Bogdanovic shot 10-for-18 from beyond the arc in wins over the Wolves and Heat earlier last week, and the Kings freed up some money to re-sign the third-year guard by dealing Dewayne Dedmon at the deadline.
Week 17: @ MIL, @ DAL
Pace: 100.5 (14) OffRtg: 111.2 (13) DefRtg: 112.3 (24) NetRtg: -1.1 (16)
Just as they did last year, the Spurs have lost the first four games of the rodeo trip, allowing their opponents to shoot 53% from the field and 47% from 3-point range, with the Blazers hitting nine 3-pointers in a 39-point fourth quarter on Thursday. The Spurs rank 25th opponent 3-point percentage (36.9%) and 20th in the (lowest) percentage of opponent shots that have come from 3-point range (39%). Their own 3-point leader (Patty Mills) missed a great look for the lead in the final minute against the Clippers on Monday and is just 6-for-23 on clutch 3-pointers for the season.
This week's opponents both rank in the bottom half of the league in both 3-point percentage and the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range. But in regard to overall opponent strength, the second half of the rodeo trip is tougher than the first half. The Spurs are 1-7 on the road against the top eight teams in the West, with Monday being their first of three games against the second-place Nuggets.
Week 17: @ DEN, @ OKC
Pace: 98.1 (28) OffRtg: 104.9 (29) DefRtg: 107.1 (7) NetRtg: -2.2 (20)
The Magic's results are usually about the quality of their opponent, and they ended a five-game losing streak by beating the Hornets (with their most efficient offensive performance in seven weeks) on Monday. But three nights later, they lost to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, with their 21st turnover coming after Steve Clifford didn't get the timeout he wanted. The Magic had erased a 13-point deficit, but then blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead and (after getting thumped by the Bucks on Saturday) are now 3-28 in games they've trailed by double-digits. Only the Pelicans (2-26) have fewer wins after trailing by 10 points or more.
Despite a 2-10 mark over the last 3 1/2 weeks, the Magic still have a three-game edge in the win column for eighth place in the East. Still, it would be nice to get a couple of wins at home against teams below them in the standings before they head on vacation. They're 0-3 against the Hawks and Pistons thus far, having scored less than a point per possession in all three games against the teams that rank 27th and 21st defensively.
Week 17: vs. ATL, vs. DET
Pace: 102.0 (10) OffRtg: 110.0 (16) DefRtg: 110.6 (20) NetRtg: -0.6 (14)
The Suns' hopes for competing for a playoff spot in the West probably came to an end with an 0-3 trip through the East, which concluded with them allowing the below-average offenses of the Nets and Pistons to score almost 122 points per 100 possessions. The 58 restricted-area points the Pistons scored on Wednesday were the most the Suns have allowed since their first game of the season.
Since DeAndre Ayton moved back into the starting lineup last month, he's one of three Suns averaging more than 20 points per game. Ayton is 6-11 and has taken 71% of his shots in the paint. With a soft touch, he ranks sixth in field goal percentage on non-restricted-area paint shots (minimum 75 attempts). He's also a good free throw shooter (80%) for a big man. But his free throw rate of 16 attempts per 100 shots from the field ranks 159th among 196 players with at least 300 field goal attempts. Devin Booker has a rate of 40 free throw attempts per 100 shots from the field, the 20th highest mark among that same group of players.
Week 17: @ LAL, vs. GSW
Pace: 100.5 (16) OffRtg: 105.2 (28) DefRtg: 108.0 (12) NetRtg: -2.9 (23)
Thaddeus Young has seemingly found a rhythm since replacing Lauri Markkanen in the starting lineup. Young has shot 55% over the last eight games, having shot just 42% prior. Chandler Hutchison has had his moments (there was some nice stuff within his six buckets against the Pelicans on Thursday), and interim starting center Luke Kornet scored a career-high 25 points in Philadelphia on Sunday. Somebody named Adam Mokoka went nuts (15 points in five minutes) in garbage time against New Orleans
But the Bulls have lost five straight games, their worst stretch of defense (121.6 points allowed per 100 possessions) this season. All five opponents (none of them a top-10 offensive team) have shot 50% or better from the field, and the last four have combined to shoot 45% from 3-point range. The losing streak has dropped the Bulls out of the top 10 in defensive efficiency and into 10th place in the East, behind the team they'll visit on Tuesday.
Week 17: @ WAS
Pace: 103.4 (6) OffRtg: 111.2 (12) DefRtg: 116.0 (30) NetRtg: -4.7 (25)
Rui Hachimura returned from a seven-week absence on Monday and didn't take long to find his rhythm. The rookie shot 17-for-33 in his first three games back, flashed some finishing skills in scoring 14 first-half points against Dallas on Friday, and recorded his third career double-double against Memphis two nights later. Hachimura is clearly comfortable in the mid-range (despite missing 25 games, he ranks sixth among rookies with 39 mid-range buckets), but there's nothing about his long-distance form that says he should wait before launching more liberally from beyond the arc.
Having swapped Isaiah Thomas for 22-year-old Jerome Robinson at the deadline, the Wizards' focus for the next two months should continue to be player development. They are, amazingly, just two games in the loss column out of a playoff spot, but the eighth-place Magic have the much easier remaining schedule and the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Week 17: vs. CHI, @ NYK
Pace: 99.0 (23) OffRtg: 105.2 (27) DefRtg: 111.9 (22) NetRtg: -6.8 (26)
Each of the Knicks last five games have been within three points in the final minute of regulation. With late-game heroics from Marcus Morris in Indiana and Cleveland and (after Morris was traded on Thursday) with Julius Randle taking over the reins against Orlando and in Detroit, the Knicks won four straight for the first time in more than two years. Wayne Ellington (who has made 19 of his 37 3-pointers in the fourth quarter or overtime this season) hit some timely shots and Elfrid Payton did a lot of everything against the Magic, finishing with nine assists and seven steals.
With the winning streak, the Knicks became the third team to match its win total from last season. Of course, in that regard, they had the lowest bar in the league. The streak came to an end in Atlanta on Sunday, with Morris' ability to get to his pull-up especially missed at the end of the fourth quarter.
The deadline is in the rear-view mirror, but it's not time to turn things over to the kids. RJ Barrett was back in the starting lineup for the last two games, but shot 3-for-14 and was on the bench down the stretch both nights. Kevin Knox, meanwhile, has played 20 minutes just once in the last 13 games.
Week 17: vs. WAS
Pace: 103.4 (5) OffRtg: 105.3 (26) DefRtg: 113.4 (27) NetRtg: -8.1 (27)
With their trade for Clint Capela, we've learned that the Hawks didn't see John Collins as a full-time center. Capela (dealing with a heel contusion) has yet to make his Atlanta debut, but Damian Jones has started the last six games at the five. And in the Hawks' double-overtime win over the Knicks on Sunday, Collins played 44 of his 50 minutes alongside Jones, Dewayne Dedmon or Bruno Fernando. He still managed to grab 16 rebounds and take 13 of his 19 shots in the restricted area.
The Hawks blew a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead in that game, but came back from eight points down in the first overtime, with Trae Young's defense (seriously) setting up his game-tying free throws. Over their last 14 games, the Hawks are 7-7, with Young averaging 32.1 points and 11.2 assists and with the team scoring more than 118 points per 100 possessions in his 425 minutes on the floor.
Week 17: @ ORL, @ CLE
Pace: 98.4 (26) OffRtg: 109.4 (18) DefRtg: 111.8 (21) NetRtg: -2.4 (22)
So, clearly the Pistons were ready to move on from Andre Drummond, who is still just 26 years old and for whom they only got a second round pick on Thursday. Maybe the future is 24-year-old Christian Wood, who totaled 44 points, 23 rebounds and seven assists in his two starts over the weekend. Wood has shot 39% (on 98 attempts) from 3-point range and 79% in the restricted area, the third best mark among 174 players with at least 100 restricted-area attempts. He's somehow a plus-80 in 952 minutes for a team that's 19-36. There's something there, though Wood himself is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
So is Reggie Jackson, who recovered from a 1-for-16 performance in Memphis on Monday to average 24.3 points over the last three games. Of course, the Drummond trade came back to haunt the Pistons on Saturday, when they trailed the Knicks by two with less than a minute to go and couldn't get the rebound they needed to give themselves a chance for the win. They're just 6-14 in games between the bottom seven teams in the East, including 0-3 against the Hornets, who are in Detroit on Monday.
Week 17: vs. CHA, @ ORL
Pace: 103.3 (7) OffRtg: 106.9 (23) DefRtg: 110.1 (16) NetRtg: -3.1 (24)
The Wolves' 13-game losing streak was so bad, they needed to turn over half their roster to end it. Of course, they ended it with their best win of the season (just their third over a team that's currently over .500), thumping the Clippers on Saturday.
The Wolves lead the league with 28.4 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts per game, but rank 29th in catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage (33.7%). On Thursday, they added three of the 57 players who have shot 40% or better on at least 100 catch-and-shot attempts, and two nights later, they came one shy of the NBA record for 3-pointers in a game (27). Two of those three shooters they added - D'Angelo Russell and Omari Spellman - didn't play. But the third - Malik Beasley - came out firing and drained seven 3-pointers, with six of the seven coming off the catch.
The Wolves' aren't going to make 26 3-pointers every night and, long-term, it will be tough for them to defend well with D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns manning the two most important positions on the floor. But they went from "This isn't working" to "Maybe this will work?" at the deadline, so that's something.
Week 17: @ TOR, vs. CHA
Pace: 96.7 (30) OffRtg: 105.6 (25) DefRtg: 113.7 (28) NetRtg: -8.1 (28)
The Hornets have officially moved on from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams, two remnants from the group that was overpaid after overachieving (48-34, 6 seed, first-round exit) in 2015-16 (though MKG got paid the summer prior). Nicolas Batum (with a $27 million player option for next season) and Cody Zeller remain, but this summer, the Hornets will finally have some flexibility and, probably, a better sense of where they stand in the Eastern Conference hierarchy than they had four years ago.
Using that space to acquire more draft picks would seemingly be the best way to go. The Hornets have all of their own first-round picks going forward, but don't have any extras, and it always helps to have more bites at the apple. Player development remains priority No. 1 and there are 32 more games to let the kids play. Devonte' Graham (three straight games of better than 45% shooting) might be emerging from an extended slump, but P.J. Washington has missed his last 15 3-point attempts.
Week 17: @ DET, @ MIN
Pace: 101.3 (11) OffRtg: 103.9 (30) DefRtg: 112.5 (25) NetRtg: -8.5 (29)
The Warriors were going to need another wing more than they needed D'Angelo Russell, who was never a good fit with a team that moves and moves the ball as much as the Warriors do. They're one of three teams that rank in the top six in both ball and player movement (389 passes and 11.5 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession).
The question is whether Andrew Wiggins is the best wing the Warriors were going to get by the start of next season. Making the trade now gives him 30 games to break some habits before the results start to matter, and they got a pretty tasty pick (the Wolves' 2021 first rounder, top-three protected) to possibly use in a trade in the next year.
The Warriors aren't a team that discourages mid-range shots. Even without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant (guys with the license to shoot from anywhere), 19% of their shots, the league's third highest rate, have come between the paint and the 3-point line. Wiggins has shot just 34% from mid-range over his career, but has reduced the percentage of his shots that have come from mid-range from 26% last season (and as high as 37% three seasons ago) to just 13% this season. In his first game with his new team, only one of his 12 shots came from between the paint and the 3-point line.
Week 17: vs. MIA, @ PHX
Pace: 99.2 (21) OffRtg: 106.0 (24) DefRtg: 115.4 (29) NetRtg: -9.4 (30)
With apologies to John Henson and Brandon Knight, the Cavs basically got Andre Drummond for nothing. Stranger about that trade is that the area where Drummond helps his team most is the one thing that the Cavs are actually good at. He leads individuals in rebounding percentage for the fifth time in the last seven seasons and they're one of four teams that rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
Drummond's arrival likely begets the departure of Tristan Thompson, who came off the bench as the Cavs got waxed by the Clippers on Sunday, either in a buyout in the next few weeks or as a free agent on July 1. Kevin Love will be easier to trade in the summer than he was last week, and Drummond might have a difficult decision in regard to his $29 million player option for next season.
The Cavs have lost 13 of their last 14 games. Their last win at home was Dec. 23 against the team (the Hawks) that's at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday.
Week 17: vs. ATL