Cavaliers Hand Rockets Ninth Straight Loss, 112 96

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have led the Sixers to the top of the latest Power Rankings.

There are four weeks left in the regular season. Four weeks for teams to fight for playoff position and/or find a rhythm before the playoffs begin. But it seems like doing both of those things has never been more difficult.

In both conferences, there are examples of teams (Miami in the East, Dallas and others in the West) who should already have their foot on the gas peddle, but simply can’t put wins together, even when the games on the schedule are very winnable.

Injuries and a condensed schedule have played their part. Teams do not want to risk May and June to win an extra game or two in April. And that caution has affected the top of this week’s Power Rankings, where the Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz have all slid down, having suffered multiple or somewhat inexplicable losses last week.

Right now, there is no clear “best team in the league.” The Jazz still have the best record, but have lost four of their last eight. The Nets have the highest ceiling, but can’t get (and stay) healthy.

So for the first time this season, the Philadelphia 76ers are in the top spot, climbing all the way up from No. 6, with the rise fueled by wins over the Mavs, Nets and Clippers in the last seven days. With more tough games this week, that position may be tenuous. But when they’ve been whole, the Sixers have handled the top competition pretty well (see below).


Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Washington (4-0) — Maybe triple-doubles are meaningful again.

  • Something Just Ain’t Right: Dallas (1-3) — If it weren’t for one miraculous shot, it would have been a brutal week for the Mavs.

East vs. West

Schedule strength through Week 17

  • Toughest: 1. Minnesota, 2. Dallas, 3. Washington

  • Easiest: 1. Phoenix, 2. New York, 3. Chicago

  • 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: Boston (+6), Philadelphia (+5), New York (+5)

  • Free falls of the week: Dallas (-6), Miami (-6), Detroit (-3), Utah (-3)


Week 18 Team to Watch

  • Milwaukee The Bucks are the same team as they were last season, and we really won’t know if that’s a good thing until the playoffs. But this week could offer a clue or two. They’ll get a visit from the Suns on Monday and then have two days off before hosting a huge, two-game series with the first-place Sixers on Thursday and Saturday. After that, they’ll travel to Atlanta to play the fourth-place Hawks on Sunday night.


Previous Power Rankings


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 99.7 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 111.5 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.

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