We're into the second half of the 2018-19 season and things remain wide open in the Western Conference. And things have become a little more interesting in the Eastern Conference, where teams 9-11 in the standings have shown some signs of life.
The ninth-place Orlando Magic had lost nine of their previous 12 games before sweeping a home-and-home back-to-back against the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets over the weekend. The 10th-place Detroit Pistons had lost 16 of 20 before Blake Griffin took revenge on the Clippers on Saturday. The 11th-place Washington Wizards, meanwhile, have beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks in the last eight days, and almost knocked off the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
The West has remained dominant. Its winning percentage in interconference games (.587) is its second highest in the last 15 years, and the 11th-place Minnesota Timberwolves have a better record (against a tougher schedule) than the team (Brooklyn) that sits in seventh place in the East. But that doesn't mean that we can't enjoy a little drama for those last few playoff spots in the weaker conference.
And it's not that weak at the top, where the Toronto Raptors sit with a five-game winning streak in hand and a big game in Boston this week.
- Last week: Spurs surging at midway point
- This time last year: Changes afoot outside of top four spots -- The Celtics came back from a 22-point deficit to beat the Sixers in London and a well-executed ATO from the Knicks sent their game against Chicago to double-overtime. Lou Williams scored 50 points as the Clippers beat the Warriors in Oakland and Damian Lillard took issue with Chris Paul's late layup. Lance Stephenson floored himself, Zach LaVine made his debut with the Bulls, and Kawhi Leonard played his last game with the Spurs.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Mr. Plus: Stephen Curry (GSW) was a plus-84 in three games last week.
- Mr. Minus: Noah Vonleh (NYK) was a minus-84 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Golden State (3-0) -- Home wins over the Knicks and Bulls aren't exactly noteworthy on the surface, but the Warriors won those two games by a total of 64 points, before picking up a road win in Dallas on Sunday. The offense is starting to hum.
- Something Just Ain't Right: Charlotte (0-3) -- The Hornets have been on a tough trip out west, but they lost to the Clippers and Blazers by a total of 50 points before looking more competitive in Sacramento.
East vs. West
- The West is 132-93 (.587) against the East in interconference games after going 16-6 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 13
- Toughest: 1. Utah, 2. New York, 3. Chicago
- Easiest: 1. Miami, 2. Indiana, 3. Philadelphia
- 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: Golden State (+4), Washington (+3), Six teams (+2)
- Free falls of the week: Charlotte (-4), L.A. Lakers (-4), San Antonio (-3)
Week 14 Team to Watch
- Golden State -- It's a big week in the world of the Warriors. They'll be playing for first place in the Western Conference on Tuesday in Denver and DeMarcus Cousins is expected to make his season debut on Friday in L.A. In between, they'll host Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.
* * *
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 108.8 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
* * *
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.
* * *