Power Rankings, Week 8: Lakers Return To No. 1; Jazz Continue To Rise

Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers continue to find ways to win this season.

Here we go again …

In the last 21 years (from the 1999-00 season through last season), the Eastern Conference has had a winning record in interconference games only once. That was in the 2008-09 season, when the East went 231-219 (.513) against the West. In each of the last 21 seasons, the West has been better.

And we’re almost certainly going to make it 21 of 22. Only 96 (21%) of the 450 interconference games have been played thus far. But the West has already built a big advantage, going 59-37 (.615) through the first six weeks of the season. That would be the West’s fourth-best mark of the last 22 years, and its best since the 2013-14 season (.631).

Through January, only six East teams are at or above .500. In the West, there are 10 teams no worse than 9-9. And the discrepancy could get bigger. With the shortened season, the league removed in-conference games, rather than interconference games. In a normal season, interconference games account for 37% of all games played. This season, they account for 42%.

So get ready for a lot more. Over the last five weeks of the first-half schedule (between now and March 5), 17 of the league’s 30 teams are scheduled to play more games against the opposite conference than they are against their own. And this week’s schedule features a tasty, TNT double-header on Tuesday: Clippers-Nets and Celtics-Warriors. The Celtics will also visit the Clippers on Friday and the Suns on Sunday.

Speaking of the Clippers, they’re the first team to unseat the Lakers at the top of the Power Rankings.

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Houston (3-0) — Undefeated with Walladipo.

  • Something Just Ain’t Right: Dallas (0-4) — It’ll take more than having everybody in uniform to get the Mavs back on track.

East vs. West

Schedule Strength through Week 6

  • Toughest: 1. Memphis, 2. Detroit, 3. Oklahoma City

  • Easiest: 1. Orlando, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Atlanta

  • 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 (+6), Houston (+6), Oklahoma City (+4), San Antonio (+4)

  • Free falls of the week: Cleveland (-5), New York (-5), Portland (-5), Toronto (-5)

Week 7 Team to Watch

  • Atlanta The Hawks are one of two East teams with a winning record (4-2) against the West. But two of those wins came against the Wolves and another came against the Clippers without Paul George or Kawhi Leonard. So this week will be a real test of the Hawks, who have won four of their last six games overall and currently sit in sixth place in the East. They’ll host the Lakers on Monday, the Mavs on Wednesday, and the Jazz on Thursday. Then they complete the four-game homestand with a visit from the Raptors, one of the East teams they may have to hold off come playoff time.

Previous Power Rankings

  • This time last year: Celtics, Raptors climb into Top 5; Jazz, Sixers tumble — The Raptors were 11 games into a 15-game winning streak, while the Wolves were 11 games into a 13-game losing streak. Damian Lillard had averaged 48.8 points over his last six games and with Clint Capela injured, the Rockets started playing without a center. Kyrie Irving registered his second 50-point game with the Nets, but his season was over the following night. Victor Oladipo made his season debut for the Pacers and hit a huge shot in a win over the Bulls, while the Kings pulled off a miracle win in Minnesota, coming back from 17 down in 2 1/2 minutes.

Stats Key

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 100.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 110.3 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.

Source : https://www.nba.com/news/power-rankings-2020-21-week-7

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