It’s Week 6, the time where we hit the halfway mark of the first-half schedule (on Wednesday) and when 25% of the full, 1,080-game, 2020-21 schedule will have been played. That will be Friday, unless several more games are postponed.
The quarter pole is usually when teams can make a real determination of where they stand. But things are obviously different this season. Not only have there been postponements and extended absences due to the coronavirus, but this is the first season of the new play-in rules.
So instead of drawing just one line after the top eight teams in each conference, we have to imagine two lines: one that separates the top six from the rest of the group, and another for the play-in teams from seventh to 10th place. That makes everything more cloudy, especially in the East, where the defending conference champs currently sit in 13th place at 6-9. Only five East teams have winning records and those 13th-place Miami Heat are just a game and a half behind the sixth-place Cleveland Cavaliers.
The situation in the West is a little more clear and perhaps a lot more sobering for the 5-10, 14th-place New Orleans Pelicans. Where things are really interesting is at the top, where the LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz all have just four losses.
Those three teams lead this week’s rankings, with the champs remaining at the top for the sixth straight week after a big win in Milwaukee. They’ll play the other two teams at the top of the East standings this week, while the Jazz will have a few big games within the conference.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Philadelphia (3-0) — The Sixers are 9-0 when they’ve had both Seth Curry and Joel Embiid available, and the Lakers are coming to town.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: New Orleans (0-3) — The Pelicans lost two games to the red-hot Jazz, but they finished their six-game trip with a loss in Minnesota, trailing by as many as 18 points to a team that was 3-11 and missing its two former All-Stars.
East vs. West
Schedule Strength through Week 5
- Toughest: 1. Charlotte, 2. Oklahoma City, 3. Memphis
- 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: Denver (+6), Five teams (+5)
- Free falls of the week: New Orleans (-9), Phoenix (-6), Three teams (-4)
Week 6 Team to Watch
- Dallas — The ninth-place Mavs should be getting some bodies back this week as they face the most important stretch of their first-half schedule. They host the Nuggets on Monday before heading out for a pair of games in Utah on Wednesday and Friday. Then they’re back home for two games against the Suns on Saturday and next Monday.
Previous Power Rankings
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 109.8 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.