Injuries derailing the season of a team or individual is nothing new. So far this season, it's been hand injuries - those of Stephen Curry, Kyle Lowry and Gordon Hayward - that have been the most significant, though the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics should be able to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference more than the Golden State Warriors have been able to do in the West.
What's new is the 25-game suspensions - those of Wilson Chandler and especially DeAndre Ayton and John Collins - that have seemingly come out of nowhere to take a player away for nearly a third of the season. This should have been a big year of development for both Ayton and Collins, and maybe it still could be. But losing 25 games to an off-the-floor mistake is a significant setback for two of the league's most promising young big men.
Dion Waiters' 10-game team suspension is another story, not that significant in regard to the standings, but still a setback for a guy who has played just 120 games in his three-plus seasons in Miami.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way:?James Harden (HOU) was a plus-67 in three games last week.
- Wrong Way:?Dwayne Bacon (CHA) was a minus-55 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Denver (3-0) -- It wasn't pretty, but the Nuggets beat three teams - Miami, Philadelphia and Minnesota - that were ranked in the top seven last week.
- Something Just Ain't Right: Atlanta (1-3) -- (Every team won at least one game last week.) The Hawks beat the Spurs on Tuesday and began their five-game trip by taking the Blazers to overtime on Sunday. But in between, they lost at home to Chicago and Sacramento by a total of 32 points.
East vs. West
- The West is 28-24 (.538) against the East in interconference games after going 14-13 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 3
- Toughest: 1. New Orleans, 2. Milwaukee, 3. Memphis
- Easiest: 1. Dallas, 2. Houston, 3. Indiana
- 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: Cleveland (+7), Four teams (+4)
- Free falls of the week: Philadelphia (-9), Atlanta (-6), Minnesota (-6)
Week 4 Team to Watch
- Dallas -- Kristaps Porzingis makes his return to Madison Square Garden on Thursday, and that game is sandwiched by games against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Mavs visit Boston on Monday and host the Raptors on Saturday.
- Last week:?Heat enter Top 5, Sixers still undefeated and Warriors look done
- This time last year:?Raptors reclaim No. 1 spot as Butler heads East -- After an 0-5 road trip, the Timberwolves traded Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia for Robert Covington and Dario Saric. The teams that would eventually meet in The Finals were at the top of the standings, even though the Warriors were dealing with injuries to Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Lou Williams hit a runner in traffic to beat the Bucks in overtime, Caris LeVert beat the Nuggets with a tough floater, and Evan Fournier beat Cleveland at the buzzer. C.J. McCollum dropped Donte DiVincenzo, Miles Bridges put Dewayne Dedmon on a poster, and Carmelo Anthony played his last game with the Rockets.
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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 102.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 106.5 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
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www.aexw.com.cn'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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