The last time that the league's three best teams in regard to per-game point differential were all in the Eastern Conference was the 1983-84 season. The top of the East is strong, with the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers joining the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics in the top eight in point differential.
The Western Conference remains ridiculously deep, with the 14th-place Minnesota Timberwolves only three games below .500. We could eventually have six teams in the West that will miss the playoffs with a better record than the No. 7 and 8 seeds in the East.
If things are going to eventually get sorted out in the West, performance on the road could be what does it. Only three teams in the West's top 14 -- Denver, Golden State and Sacramento -- have winning records on the road. The ninth-place Mavericks are 2-10 on the road, and the 10th-place Spurs (4-10) and 12th-place Pelicans (4-11) haven't been much better. The Minnesota Timberwolves are 2-12, having just returned from an 0-4 trip.
There is still plenty of season left, and in Week 10, there will be 21 games played between the top 14 teams in the West. Every game counts.
- Last week: Big win in Toronto gets Bucks back to No. 1
- This time last year: Rockets still No. 1 entering big week for Western Conference -- The East had a better record than the West, with the Knicks (16-13) and Pistons (17-13) both holding winning records. The Bulls were in the process of winning their first seven games with Nikola Mirotic, the Warriors were in the middle of an 11-game winning streak, and the Rockets were at the end of a 20-1 stretch. Kawhi Leonard made his season debut with the Spurs, but the Jazz lost Rudy Gobert to his second knee injury of the season. The Thunder outlasted the Sixers in triple-overtime, with Russell Westbrook still at peak athleticism 60 minutes into the game, and Trey Lyles threw one down on Jayson Tatum.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Mr. Plus: Thaddeus Young (IND) was a plus-62 in four games last week.
- Mr. Minus: Collin Sexton (CLE) was a minus-68 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Indiana (4-0) -- The Pacers got Victor Oladipo back and have run their winning streak to seven games, picking up wins over the Bucks and Sixers last week.
- Something Just Ain't Right: LA Clippers (1-3) -- The Clips are sliding. They're only win last week was in overtime in Phoenix, and they then lost games to the Raptors and Spurs by a combined 62 points.
East vs. West
- The West is 93-66 (.585) against the East in interconference games after going 8-8 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 9
- Toughest: 1. Utah, 2. Phoenix, 3. Chicago
- Easiest: 1. Philadelphia, 2. Dallas, 3. Charlotte
- 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: Sacramento (+8), Houston (+7), Indiana (+6)
- Free falls of the week: Charlotte (-5), Minnesota (-5), Atlanta (-4), Memphis (-4)
Week 10 Team to Watch
- Sacramento -- A 6-2 record in December has taken the Kings from 12th to seventh in the West. They've already picked up important wins over the Wolves and Mavs this month, and a stretch where they're playing 13 straight games within the top 14 in the West continues this week. They'll visit Minnesota on Monday (a rest disadvantage game), before returning home to play the Thunder on Wednesday. They'll then have a Saturday-Sunday home back-to-back, with the Grizzlies and Pelicans coming to the Golden 1 Center.
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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 101.0 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 108.3 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
Any stats marked with an * below are based on an estimate for possessions. All other stats are based on true possession counts.
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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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