The midway point of the season is upon us.
Game No. 615 of 1,230 is scheduled for Thursday night, and there's still no team with a record within two games of .500. But the disparity between the top 13 teams and the bottom 17 isn't quite as stark as it was a couple of weeks ago (and the race for eighth in the West is a little more compelling).
There has been some separation in the East, where the eighth-place Orlando Magic aren't exactly setting the world on fire. But they still have five fewer losses than any of the seven teams behind them.
The first-place Milwaukee Bucks haven't clinched a playoff berth yet, but stay tuned. Despite a loss in San Antonio on Monday, the Bucks are at No. 1 in the Power Rankings for a seventh straight week.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way: Rudy Gobert (UTA) was a plus-74 in four games last week.
- Wrong Way: Devonte' Graham (CHA) was a minus-58 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: San Antonio (3-1) -- The Spurs lost to the Grizzlies on Friday, but began the week with a win over the Bucks, and sandwiched the Memphis loss with wins in Boston and Toronto.
- Something Just Ain't Right: Detroit (1-2) -- The Pistons won a nail-biter in Cleveland before losing at home to both the Cavs and Bulls. Throw in a knee procedure for their best player and it felt like the beginning of the end for this version of Detroit Basketball.
East vs. West
- The West is 117-95 (.552) against the East in interconference games after going 17-6 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 12
- Toughest: 1. New Orleans, 2. Atlanta, 3. Cleveland
- Easiest: 1. Brooklyn, 2. Milwaukee, 3. Houston
- 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: Philadelphia (+4), Four teams (+3)
- Free falls of the week: Charlotte (-4), Detroit (-3), LA Clippers (-3), Miami (-3)
Week 13 Team to Watch
- Brooklyn -- Kyrie Irving is back, and he shot 10-for-11 (with some deft finishes in and around the paint) in his return on Sunday. Now the Nets will play a stretch of five games against teams no worse than the 25-15 Sixers. It starts with a game against the red-hot Jazz on Tuesday. They'll visit Philly on Wednesday and then host the best team in the league (the Bucks) on Saturday.
- Last week: West playoff races heating up as Celtics rise to No. 2, Sixers tumble
- This time last year: Playoff chase intensifies as second half begins -- In a double-overtime game won by the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 56 points and Russell Westbrook dished out 24 assists. J.J. Barea tore his Achilles and James Johnson dunked on Kyrie Irving, who sounded off after not getting the ball on the final possession of a Celtics loss in Orlando two nights later. Nikola Jokic had one of the best assists of the season and hit an awkward game-winner in Miami, while Serge Ibaka made a game-winning 3-pointer in Washington.
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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 108.8 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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