NBA ratings: Jazz down, Hawks up

jvtratings

Just over two weeks remain in the NBA season, and the play-in teams have been all the rage. Washington, Golden State and San Antonio put together winning weeks while solidifying their spots in the play-in races. However, the real shock this week is Utah: The Jazz plummeted outside our top five after consecutive losses to Minnesota.

 

We also have a new team in the top 10 this week, as Atlanta put together a couple of wins without Trae Young. Could the upstart Hawks actually win a playoff series?

 

Let’s recap the week, and we begin with a familiar franchise.

 

1. Phoenix Suns (1)

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

 

Phoenix might have only split its four games last week, but it was bookended with impressive wins over Philadelphia and New York, so the Suns retain the top spot. The troubling aspect of the four games was a defense that gave up 118.4 points per 100 possessions. In April the Suns are 19th in defensive efficiency, so we have to wonder if it is an anomaly or signs of a larger problem.

 

2. Los Angeles Clippers (4)

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

 

The Clippers ended the week with a dud, losing to New Orleans on the road, but this team continued its impressive second half with wins in three of four without Kawhi Leonard. Despite the loss to the Pelicans, the Clippers had the second-best offensive rating of the week at 116.9 and are tied for the league lead with 19 wins since the All-Star break.

 

3. Philadelphia 76ers (3)

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

 

The 76ers probably should be knocked down a bit after their week, but two losses to Milwaukee and another to Phoenix in which they were not at full strength does not merit punishment. Ben Simmons finally returned to the court, and Philadelphia allowed just 0.88 points per possession to Oklahoma City. Yes, it was the Thunder, but there is no denying what Simmons means to this defense, which had allowed a rating of 1.253 the three previous games.

 

4. Denver Nuggets (5)

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

 

Despite losing Jamal Murray, Monte Morris and Will Barton to injury, the Nuggets continue to perform. They outscored their opponents by just 3.7 points per possession and caught Memphis at the end of a long road trip, but results are results. Their offense scored only 1.13 points per possession, and that could be the case going forward with so many missing from the lineup.

 

5. Brooklyn Nets (6)

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

 

The biggest positive for Brooklyn was the return of Kevin Durant. The Nets played some pretty tight games last week and outscored the opposition by only 2.0 points every 100 possessions, but that should improve with Durant on the floor. In the win over the Suns, they posted a 133.3 offensive rating, their highest in two weeks.

 

6. Milwaukee Bucks (7)

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

 

Milwaukee deserves credit for beating Philadelphia twice, albeit a short-handed squad, but the loss to Atlanta was a microcosm of the problems plaguing the Bucks all season. In the fourth quarter of that loss, the Bucks allowed 41 points, 1.577 points per possession and eight 3-point makes. And the Hawks were without Trae Young.

 

7. New York Knicks (9)

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

 

The winning streak ended Monday against Phoenix, but the Knicks still had a fantastic week. They took out Atlanta in overtime and beat Toronto by 17 in a game the market deemed them as home underdogs. New York’s defense might have fallen off, but it led the league in offensive efficiency last week at 122.7, an impressive feat for the 20th-ranked offense.

 

8. Utah Jazz (2)

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

 

Consecutive losses to Minnesota will knock you pretty far down this list. Utah is now 5-10 ATS in its last 15 games but has a + 7.5 net rating, which is proof that this team has peaked in terms of its power rating. The Jazz scored just 1.043 points per possession last week, which will surely correct itself.

 

9. Boston Celtics (8)

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

 

The Celtics’ offense fell off last week, averaging no more than 1.052 points per possession in any of its three games. The Celtics also took bad losses to Chicago and Charlotte, but they have not been whole. Once healthy, this team should regain the form it had at the beginning of April.

 

10. Atlanta Hawks (11)

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

 

Atlanta lost Trae Young to injury at the beginning of last week, but the Hawks delivered in wins over Miami and Milwaukee as 6.5-point underdogs. Their offense disappeared in a loss to Detroit, but it was an awful scheduling spot. Young will be back at some point, and so should young wing defenders De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. Atlanta’s potential is sky-high.

 

11. Miami Heat (10)

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

 

There is no shame in splitting four games in a week, but losing to Atlanta without Trae Young and Clint Capela, then allowing 1.161 points per possession to Chicago is troubling. The Heat continue to put forth wildly inconsistent efforts, but the market power-rates them highly. Why?

 

12. Memphis Grizzlies (12)

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

 

The Grizzlies were fantastic in sweeping a two-game set in Portland but looked exhausted in the fourth quarter of their blowout loss to the Nuggets on Monday night. Their defense has quietly regressed, and last week they gave up 1.157 points per possession.

 

13. Los Angeles Lakers (13)

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

 

Anthony Davis’ return has caused the betting market to improve this team’s power rating when it likely should not have. In three games with Davis, the Lakers did not cover a closing number and posted a -3.5 net rating despite blowing out the Magic.

 

14. Dallas Mavericks (14)

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

 

Congratulations on three wins over the Pistons and Lakers, but the Mavericks put together a quintessential performance in their loss to the Kings. Dallas has allowed at least 1.177 points per possession in six of eight games, which has been its Achilles heel all season.

 

15. Golden State Warriors (16)

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

 

Steph Curry continued his otherworldly play when he dropped 37 points on 11-of-21 shooting Sunday against Sacramento. The win was the second of the week for Golden State, which also put together the fourth-best defensive rating of the week. The Warriors are very live to make the postseason, and they have the best point guard in the world to thank.

 

16. Washington Wizards (17)

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

 

Washington’s winning streak ended in overtime Monday against San Antonio, but after a week in which the Wizards led the league in offensive efficiency, they deserve to move up. They have established a full-game lead over Chicago in the race for the final play-in seed in the East.

 

17. Toronto Raptors (18)

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

 

Toronto’s most impressive win came over Brooklyn at the beginning of the week, but four of its last six wins have been over Cleveland, Orlando and Oklahoma City. The Raptors’ offense scored 1.138 points per possession last week, and that was with Gary Trent Jr. missing some time. Could they be righting the ship and thrusting themselves into the play-in picture?

 

18. Portland Trail Blazers (15)

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

 

Portland continues to be disappointing, and the Blazers’ four-game losing streak has them in danger of participating in the play-in tournament for the second consecutive year. Opponents scored 1.184 points per possession last week, the third-worst defensive rating in the league.

 

19. New Orleans Pelicans (19)

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

 

The Pelicans finally found their offense last week, averaging 1.179 points per possession while beating Orlando and the Clippers. Their tomfoolery over the last two weeks has them four games out of the play-in tournament with only 11 games left. Their season is all but over.

 

20. Charlotte Hornets (20)

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

 

Charlotte deserves a ton of credit for staying afloat while its wing players remain on the sideline. The Hornets’ small-ball lineup with P.J. Washington at center has been insanely effective, outscoring opponents by 4.8 points every 100 possessions and averaging 1.166 points per possession.

 

21. Indiana Pacers (21)

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

 

How do you even grade a week in which a team went undefeated against Oklahoma City, Detroit and Orlando? The Pacers get credit for winning and maintaining their place in the Eastern Conference play-in by a comfortable margin without Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner on the floor.

 

22. San Antonio Spurs (23)

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

 

Going 3-1 in four games but posting a -0.3 net rating is the ultimate example of getting by on smoke and mirrors. The Spurs gave up 1.131 points per possession last week, which could burn them this week with matchups against Miami, Boston and Philadelphia.

 

23. Chicago Bulls (22)

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

 

The Bulls’ loss to Cleveland was pretty bad, and their offense has been wildly inconsistent. In losses to the Cavaliers and Heat, they averaged just 1.064 points per possession, but in their wins they posted a 120.4 offensive rating. At least Zach LaVine could be back in the near future.

 

24. Sacramento Kings (25)

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

 

The Kings’ 3-1 ATS week is part of a 5-1 ATS run over the last six games. This team has been pretty streaky this season, and that does not seem to be ending anytime soon. Richaun Holmes returned in the final two games of the week, and his presence should help Sacramento string together a few more covers.

 

25. Minnesota Timberwolves (26)

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

 

Do we credit Minnesota for solid defensive efforts against Utah or chalk it up to poor shooting from its opponent? The Timberwolves finished seventh last week in offensive efficiency, a positive sign for a team that has not really been whole all season.

 

26. Detroit Pistons (24)

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

 

Detroit snapped a three-game losing streak Monday by beating Atlanta, but to ignore the massive scheduling advantage the Pistons had in that game would be foolish. Their offense has disappeared, and they scored just 105.8 points per 100 possessions last week.

 

27. Cleveland Cavaliers (27)

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

 

Cleveland ended the week on a three-game slide and ranked 25th in defensive efficiency by allowing 115.9 points per 100 possessions. The week culminated in a visibly frustrated Kevin Love slapping a ball inbounds after the Cavaliers gave up a basket to Toronto.

 

28. Houston Rockets (29)

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

 

The Rockets snagged a couple of covers last week, but the week took a negative turn with reports that John Wall was done for the season. Houston managed just 99.4 points per 100 possessions on offense, and that is not improving.

 

29. Orlando Magic (28)

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

 

The only cover of the week came courtesy of the betting market inflating the number the Lakers were laying against them Monday. The Magic did something last week most thought was impossible by posting a worse net rating (-20.9) than Oklahoma City.

 

30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30)

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

 

It is actually impressive how bad this team is. The Thunder’s losing streak is now at 14 games, and their net rating over that stretch is -20.7, which is 4.8 points worse than Orlando’s. Will the Thunder win another game this season?

 

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