Believe it or not, we're going to hit the halfway mark of the 2018-19 season this week. When nine of Wednesday's 10 games are complete, the league will have played 615 of 1,230.
It seems like we just passed the quarter mark of the season and it's not clear that anything has been sorted out since then. Though things are starting to get desperate for a few of them, there are still 14 teams with a chance to reach the postseason in the Western Conference, where the Golden State Warriors continue to tread water (relative to expectations).
In the East, five teams have clearly separated themselves from the pack. But in the 20 games played between them, each of those five teams has at least three losses.
No team has clearly established itself as the clear best team in the league. The Milwaukee Bucks have the league's best pace-adjusted point differential by a wide margin, but have played the league's most home-heavy schedule in a season with a higher winning percentage for home teams (.600) than usual (.593 over the last 10 full seasons).
The Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs have made big runs over the last month, but both started those runs from 14th place in the West and, if the playoffs started today, neither would be hosting a first-round playoff series.
The three longest winning streaks in the league this season have been just eight games long, and the most recent of those -- that of the Boston Celtics, who were .500 when the streak started -- ended 3 1/2 weeks ago. There have been 89 games (less than six per team) played since Christmas and every team has at least one loss over those 12 days.
With the trade deadline exactly one month away (Feb. 7), parity continues to be the story of the 2018-19 season. For now, the Denver Nuggets are at the top of the rankings, with a five-game winning streak that began with a win over the No. 2 Spurs.
- Last week: Bucks are No. 1 as start of 2019 looms
- This time last year: Warriors lead steady top 10 at season's midway point -- The Eastern Conference had a better record than the West and the Jazz were five games in the loss column out of a playoff spot. Isaiah Thomas made his season debut for the Cavs and DeMar DeRozan set a Toronto franchise record with 52 points against the Bucks. Marquese Chriss had an incredible (and game-saving) block against the Hawks, C.J. McCollum had two game-winners (one, two) that looked remarkably similar, and Stephen Curry beat the Mavs with a pull-up 3-pointer.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Mr. Plus: Taj Gibson (MIN) was a plus-65 in four games last week.
- Mr. Minus: Cedi Osman (CLE) was a minus-77 in three games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: San Antonio (3-0) -- The Spurs scored more than 118 points per 100 possessions in a 3-0 homestand against three top-10 defenses (those of the Celtics, Raptors and Grizzlies).
- Something Just Ain't Right: Cleveland (0-3) -- The Cavs lost three home games by 25 points or more, and it wasn't exactly a murderer's row of opponents (Miami, Utah and New Orleans).
East vs. West
- The West is 116-87 (.571) against the East in interconference games, though the East was 12-10 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 12
- Toughest: 1. Utah, 2. New York, 3. Chicago
- Easiest: 1. Miami, 2. Indiana, 3. Oklahoma City
- 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: San Antonio (+8), Brooklyn (+5), Houston (+3)
- Free falls of the week: Memphis (-5), Four teams (-3)
Week 13 Team to Watch
- Minnesota --Tom Thibodeau is gone, but the Wolves still have a season to save, and they enter Week 13 just two games out of eighth place in the West. After one day to absorb the loss of their coach, they'll host the Thunder on Tuesday and, after a couple of days to maybe change some things up in practice, they have a Friday-Saturday back-to-back in which the Mavs and Pelicans (two teams on their tail) come to town.
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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 108.6 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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