NBA power rankings: Nets fall out of top 5

jvtrank

Just a few weeks remain in the NBA regular season, but quite a few teams refuse to start buckling down. Brooklyn experienced one of the biggest drops this week, as the Eastern Conference favorite falls outside the top five. At some point, these guys have to play together or they’ll be in danger of becoming this year’s version of the Clippers. Speaking of which — is anything going to slow them down?

 

Let’s dive in!

 

1. Phoenix Suns (1)

Week recap: 2-1 SU/2-1 ATS

 

Phoenix fell asleep at the wheel in a home game against San Antonio, but the Suns redeemed themselves with a 128-127 win over Milwaukee in overtime. They posted a -4.8 net rating and gave up 1.154 points per possession to their three opponents. Phoenix probably has nothing to worry about defensively. It is hard to keep up this sort of intensity for an entire season.

 

2. Utah Jazz (3)

Week recap: 2-1 SU/1-2 ATS

 

Utah’s lone loss came with a short-handed roster against the Lakers over the weekend. The Jazz are just maintaining course through the dregs of the final month of the season. They outscored their three opponents by just 2.5 points every 100 possessions while posting a 112.4 offensive rating. They lost Donovan Mitchell to an ankle injury, but it seems like he will be ready for the postseason.

 

3. Philadelphia 76ers (4)

Week recap: 2-1 SU/1-1-1 ATS

 

There is no shame in losing to Golden State when Steph Curry is as hot as he has been over the last 11 games. The 76ers scored two great wins over the Nets and Clippers, but they posted a slightly negative net rating despite the success (-0.7). Their offense scored just 1.094 points per possession, but they’ve been short-handed throughout the week.

 

4. Los Angeles Clippers (5)

Week recap: 2-1 SU/1-2 ATS

 

Los Angeles has been on an insane run in the second half and kept it up despite Kawhi Leonard missing two of its three games, both non-covers. Still, this team allowed just 1.058 points per possession to its opponents and came out with a + 6.5 net rating. More and more the Clippers are looking like the team to beat in the Western Conference.

 

5. Denver Nuggets (6)

Week recap: 3-0 SU/2-1 ATS

 

The Nuggets put a cap on their undefeated weekend with a comeback victory over Memphis in double overtime. Their first week without Jamal Murray could not have gone better. Denver led the league in offensive efficiency (125.8) and net rating (+ 15.5). Questions remain about how competitive this team can be in the postseason without Murray, but until then the Nuggets deserve a spot in the top five.

 

6. Brooklyn Nets (2)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/1-2 ATS

 

Injuries continue to be a problem, and now we should start to question whether this team can overcome this situation when the postseason starts. The Nets lost a one-sided affair to Philadelphia and then fell to Miami. Kevin Durant suffered a thigh contusion that will cause him to miss more time, and Nic Claxton is in the health and safety protocol. The Nets are the best team in the Eastern Conference when they are complete, but will they ever be?

 

7. Milwaukee Bucks (7)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/2-2 ATS

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo was back in the fold for the final three games last week, but his presence did not keep the Bucks from dropping their last two. Milwaukee gave up 1.191 points per possession in losses to Memphis and Phoenix, which combined to go 32 of 81 from deep (39.5%). The perimeter struggles continue to plague this team, and nothing indicates it is getting any better.

 

8. Boston Celtics (10)

Week recap: 2-1 SU/2-1 ATS

 

The Celtics’ winning streak was snapped Monday by Chicago, but they were short-handed. Overall, this team is 6-1 SU/4-2-1 ATS in its last seven games and has separated itself from the play-in situation.

 

9. New York Knicks (11)

Week recap: 3-0 SU/3-0 ATS

 

The Knicks have been absolutely incredible. Their 3-0 ATS run is part of a larger 9-0 ATS surge that was at risk Tuesday night against the Charlotte Hornets. Their defense has still been fantastic, but their offense has really taken a step forward. New York averaged 1.191 points per possession last week and is 10th in offensive efficiency in April.

 

10. Miami Heat (8)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/2-2 ATS

 

Miami’s once-reliable defense was gouged for 1.149 points per possession, and Jimmy Butler called his team soft. However, everything came up roses when Bam Adebayo hit the winner against Brooklyn over the weekend. The Heat posted a 115.2 offensive rating, which would be a big positive if they can maintain it through the postseason.

 

11. Atlanta Hawks (13)

Week recap: 1-1 SU/1-1 ATS

 

It was a light week for Atlanta. The Hawks scored a comfortable win over Indiana but were pounded by Milwaukee in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s return from injury. Their offense was great last week, averaging 119.0 points per 100 possessions, which has been a common theme under Nate McMillan.

 

12. Memphis Grizzlies (14)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/4-0 ATS

 

The Grizzlies’ undefeated week against the number is part of a fantastic April in which they are 9-2 ATS. Memphis led the league in offensive efficiency (120.9) last week, which I would expect to regress to the mean in the near future.

 

13. Los Angeles Lakers (9)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/1-2 ATS

 

Los Angeles was able to steal a win when Utah was missing four of its starting five in their weekend meeting. The shocking part about the week was the Lakers’ rock-solid defense getting cracked for 1.145 points per possessions. Luckily, Anthony Davis returns this week.

 

14. Dallas Mavericks (12)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/0-3 ATS

 

Sorry, but the Mavericks cannot complain about the play-in tournament and then do everything possible to keep themselves in it. They were last in defensive efficiency last week (121.9) and lost to Sacramento and New York.

 

15. Portland Trail Blazers (15)

Week recap: 1-1 SU/1-1 ATS

 

Portland lost to a short-handed Charlotte team and needed everything possible to get by San Antonio. Damian Lillard has been beaten up, so when he gets back on the floor, this team should be more consistent than the 110.1 offensive rating it posted over two games last week.

 

16. Golden State Warriors (21)

Week recap: 3-1 SU/3-1 ATS

 

Steph Curry dropped 49 points on 14-of-28 shooting in the Warriors’ win over the 76ers on Monday night as Golden State put together a fantastic week. The Warriors posted a 120.8 offensive rating as a result of Curry’s play, and they are in contention for one of the top two play-in seeds.

 

17. Washington Wizards (22)

Week recap: 4-0 SU/3-0-1 ATS

 

Maybe we rushed to judge Washington too quickly. The Wizards dealt with COVID-19 absences early in the season, and they have looked like a potential playoff team over the last week. Washington had the third-best net rating in the league last week (+ 11.0) and as a result is tied with Chicago for the 10th seed.

 

18. Toronto Raptors (23)

Week recap: 3-0 SU/3-0 ATS

 

Kyle Lowry has still been sidelined and Gary Trent Jr. missed two games last week, but when you play San Antonio, Orlando and Oklahoma City, you have a pretty good chance to put together a winning week. We probably should not read much into this week, but the Raptors moved up because so many teams moved down.

 

19. New Orleans Pelicans (16)

Week recap: 0-3 SU/0-3 ATS

 

Someone needs to remind New Orleans that a play-in game is still on the table because this team seems to be sleepwalking. The Pelicans blew a late lead in New York, one of two losses to the Knicks, and fell in overtime to Washington. Their offensive rating of 105.0 is puzzling, but two games against one of the best defensive teams in the league will do that to you.

 

20. Charlotte Hornets (17)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/1-2 ATS

 

A win over Portland snapped a four-game slide, but it’s clear that injuries have slowed this team. Since the beginning of April, the Hornets are 27th in offensive efficiency, and their 3-point shooting has dipped to 34.4% on 39.3 attempts per game. Their offense was their lifeblood, but maybe the news of LaMelo Ball’s return to basketball activities is what they need.

 

21. Indiana Pacers (18)

Week recap: 1-3 SU/1-3 ATS

 

Indiana heads into this week on a three-game losing streak, and its offense has been atrocious, averaging just 1.084 points per possession. The Pacers’ defense has obviously regressed (114.5) and they are holding a precarious two-game lead over Washington in the race for the final two play-in seeds.

 

22. Chicago Bulls (19)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/2-2 ATS

 

This team has been massively disappointing since acquiring Nikola Vucevic, and then it lost Zach LaVine to health and safety protocols. The Bulls’ defense has been pretty poor, and they allowed their four opponents last week 114.5 points per 100 possessions.

 

23. San Antonio Spurs (20)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/2-2 ATS

 

We really should not read much into the Spurs’ win over the Suns, but they get credit for catching a superior opponent in a poor scheduling spot. The Spurs are 20th in defensive efficiency since the All-Star break, but last week they had the second-best defensive rating in the league (102.5).

 

24. Detroit Pistons (25)

Week recap: 2-2 SU/3-1 ATS

 

The Pistons went with the youngsters to close out the week against Cleveland, and it resulted in a win as a home underdog. Their defense posted the fourth-best rating in the league last week (105.9), and that is a real strength of this youth movement in the Motor City.

 

25. Sacramento Kings (24)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/2-1 ATS

 

The Kings continue to be exactly what we thought they were — a poor defensive team with upside on offense. Sacramento posted the seventh-worst defensive rating in the league last week (115.8) while finishing 10th in offensive efficiency (113.8).

 

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (26)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/1-2 ATS

 

At times Minnesota can look great on offense, but then it can disappear like it did when it averaged just 1.054 points per possession. The Timberwolves need that offense because their defense, which gave up 1.177 points per possession, is not getting better soon. At least D’Angelo Russell is back.

 

27. Cleveland Cavaliers (27)

Week recap: 1-3 SU/1-3 ATS

 

The market really overreacted in making this team a road favorite in Detroit to end the week. The Cavs were outscored by just 3.8 points per 100 possessions last week as their hot-and-cold offense froze over (106.9).

 

28. Orlando Magic (28)

Week recap: 1-2 SU/1-2 ATS

 

Orlando’s defense has really started to regress, and last week it gave up 118.0 points per 100 possessions. The Magic have Atlanta, New Orleans and Indiana on deck this week, so it could get uglier before it gets prettier.

 

29. Houston Rockets (29)

Week recap: 1-3 SU/1-3 ATS

 

Houston sits here because it just cannot be ranked lower than Oklahoma City. The Rockets gave up 1.201 points per possession last week, which is absolutely abhorrent.

 

30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30)

Week recap: 0-4 SU/0-3-1 ATS

 

I mean, come on. Outscored by 14.7 points per 100 possessions and not even sniffing a victory soon. Bettors can find some spots with some inflated sides, but this team is a dumpster fire.

 

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