The league passed the three-quarter mark of the season last week, and we're past time for the teams in playoff races to get serious and teams on their way to the Lottery to coast to the finish.
But the last seven days were a week of parity, with 29 of the 30 teams (the Kings were the one exception) winning at least one game and 28 of the 30 (all except the Rockets and Jazz) losing at least once. Three of the top five teams in last week's rankings -- Golden State, Denver and Oklahoma City -- lost two games or more.
The 18-46 Chicago Bulls have won the last five games that Otto Porter Jr. has played in, while the 16-48 Cleveland Cavaliers have won five of the last six that they've played with Kevin Love. The bottom four teams in the West all played spoiler last week, winning at least one game against a team in playoff position or still fighting for a playoff spot.
You can look at remaining schedules and project how teams will do over the final six weeks of the season, but nothing is guaranteed.
- Last week: Blazers, Nuggets make their move
- This time last year: West races heat up on both ends of playoff picture -- James Harden dropped Wesley Johnson, stared him down, waited, licked his lips, and then drained a three. Anthony Davis dropped 53 points on the Suns, averaging 35.6 points over the Pelicans' 10-game winning streak. Dwyane Wade hit a game-winner against Philly, Skal Labissiere hit one to beat the Knicks, and J.R. Smith threw soup Cavs assistant at Damon Jones.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Mr. Plus: Jusuf Nurkic (POR) was a plus-50 in four games last week.
- Mr. Minus: Joe Harris (BKN) was a minus-62 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Utah (3-0) -- The Jazz won in Denver in the second game of a back-to-back, and then returned home to beat the Bucks behind a huge game (career-high 46 points) from Donovan Mitchell.
- Something Just Ain't Right: Sacramento (0-3) -- The Kings almost beat the full-strength Bucks on Wednesday, but were the only team that didn't win a game last week, and they lost a critical one to the Clippers on Friday.
East vs. West
- The West is 191-154 (.554) against the East in interconference games after going 14-12 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 20
- Toughest: 1. Utah, 2. Phoenix, 3. New York
- Easiest: 1. Indiana, 2. Oklahoma City, 3. Miami
- 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: Detroit (+3), LA Clippers (+3), Miami (+3)
- Free falls of the week: Oklahoma City (-5), Indiana (-4), Four teams (-3)
Week 21 Team to Watch
- Boston -- Sometimes, a team finds itself on the road. The Celtics need to figure some things out, and what better way to do it than with a four-game trip through California. They begin the trip at Golden State on Tuesday, before playing the second game of a back-to-back in Sacramento on Wednesday. Then they head to L.A. for games against the Lakers and Clippers on Saturday and next Monday.
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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 100.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 109.5 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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