February is a strange month on the schedule. Over the first 14 days, teams could be looking forward to the All-Star break. And over the last eight days, teams are recovering from (at least) a full week off.
So the month could feature some strange results (there were a couple of those on Sunday) and some strange numbers. Just look at the top 10 in offensive efficiency in February. Three of those 10 teams -- Chicago, Detroit and Orlando -- rank in the bottom 10 offensively for the season as a whole.
The Bulls, amazingly, rank 30th offensively this season, but are first in the month of February. Maybe the addition of Otto Porter Jr. was a missing puzzle piece. And maybe both the Pistons (with Reggie Jackson playing the best basketball of his career) and Magic (with improved bench play) have found something in the urgency of a playoff race. Time will tell if the results are real or just a product of February's disjointed schedule.
For the Milwaukee Bucks, it doesn't seem to matter what month it is. Their offense has had some hiccups in the two weeks surrounding the break, but the only loss they've suffered this month was in the game they played without Giannis Antetokounmpo. So they remain at No. 1 in the rankings for the fourth straight week.
- Last week: Urgency rises for Lakers, others after All-Star break
- This time last year: Rockets remain at top with big week ahead for those below -- The Rockets had won 12 straight games, on their way to winning 28 of 29. The Jazz were in 10th place in the West, two games out of eighth. With the Wolves in fourth, Jimmy Butler tore the meniscus in his right knee in the their first game after the All-Star break. Russell Westbrook beat the Kings at the buzzer and Damian Lillard drove for a last-second game-winner in Phoenix.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Mr. Plus: Al-Farouq Aminu (POR) was a plus-57 in two games last week.
- Mr. Minus: DeAndre Ayton (PHX) was a minus-40 in two games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Portland (2-0) -- Neither of the Blazers' starting guards scored more than 21 points in either of their two games last week. But their bigs beat up the Nets and Sixers inside as they began a seven-game trip with two comfortable wins.
- Something Just Ain't Right: Miami (0-2) -- In one of their biggest games of the season, on their home floor and with a rest advantage, the Heat lost to the Pistons by 23 points.
East vs. West
- The West is 177-142 (.555) against the East in interconference games, though the East was 7-3 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 19
- Toughest: 1. Phoenix, 2. Utah, 3. New York
- Easiest: 1. Indiana, 2. Oklahoma City, 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: Houston (+3), Indiana (+3), Four teams (+2)
- Free falls of the week: Boston (-4), Philadelphia (-4), Three teams (-2)
Week 20 Team to Watch
- Denver -- The Nuggets are healthy, have a four-game winning streak, and are just one game behind the first-place Warriors in the Western Conference. Of course, they have a much tougher remaining schedule than the champs (and both remaining head-to-head matchups are in Oakland), so their three-game lead for second over the Thunder is probably more relevant. They have two games left against OKC, and one of them is Tuesday in Denver. That will be followed by a game against the sixth-place Jazz on Thursday and a visit from the Pelicans on Saturday.
* * *
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 109.4 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.
* * *