With All-Star 2020 in the books, we have a few days to recover before the real games return on Thursday.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers remain at the top of their respective conferences and are back at Nos. 1 and 2 in the Power Rankings as we come out of the break. It would be a surprise if they aren't the No. 1 seeds when the playoffs begin on April 18, but both still have some business to take care of. The Bucks will have a much tougher schedule after the break than they did before it, and the Lakers are 2-6 against the other four teams with top-five records (both of the wins have come by single digits in Denver).
There's a lot more to be determined further down the standings. While there seems to be a clear top eight in each conference, there's a lot of basketball (33% of the season, to be exact) still to be played.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way: Tim Hardaway Jr. (DAL) was a plus-39 in two games last week.
- Wrong Way: Kelly Oubre Jr. (PHX) was a minus-48 in two games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Brooklyn (2-0) -- The Nets got their first road win over a good team, beating the Pacers on Spencer Dinwiddie's game-winner. Then they came home and ended the Raptors' 15-game winning streak.
- Something Just Ain't Right: Atlanta (0-2) -- The Hawks lost to the Cavs by 22 points on Wednesday. 1, 2, 3, Cancun!
East vs. West
- The West is 162-135 (.545) against the East in interconference games after the East went 6-2 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 17
- Toughest: 1. New Orleans, 2. Atlanta, 3. Sacramento
- Easiest: 1. Milwaukee, 2. Toronto, 3. Memphis
- 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: Charlotte (+2), L.A Lakers (+2)
- Free falls of the week: LA Clippers (-2), Portland (-2), Sacramento (-2)
Week 18 Team to Watch
- L.A. Lakers -- On Friday, the Lakers will have a potential first-round playoff preview, hosting the eighth-place Grizzlies, who they haven't faced since before Thanksgiving. And on Sunday, they'll look to avenge a 32-point loss in Boston when they host the Celtics.
- Last week: Minor moves could have major impact on playoff races
- This time last year: Urgency rises for Lakers, others after All-Star break -- Hamidou Diallo won the Dunk Contest, Joe Harris won the 3-point contest, and Kevin Durant was the All-Star Game MVP. The Charlotte Hornets were in playoff position, two games in the loss column ahead of the 10th-place Orlando Magic, who had won seven of their last eight games before the break. The Suns went into the break with a 15-game losing streak and the Pelicans fired general manager Dell Demps. Stephen Curry bounced a pass for Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Sonya Curry drained a half-court shot.
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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 109.7 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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