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Power Ratings | Memphis to the sprint in the heart of the marathon | NBA

Power Ratings |  Memphis to the sprint in the heart of the marathon |  NBA

After a first balance in the fourth season; it is time to take stock of the teams; the classic “Power Rankings”; in the middle of the campaign. A complicated exercise because the wave of Omicron upset the balance of almost all the teams; distorting many results and breaking some dynamics.

Memphis and other teams in form

The main lesson from this second quarter of the season is that Ja Morant and his Grizzlies have taken off. It is first without its leader that Memphis (29-14) found their feet; stringing together victories by really establishing their defense; before Morant’s rocket carried them even higher. Since the beginning of December; the Tennessee team is the best team in the NBA; with 18 wins in 22 starts; the third attack; the best defense; a “Net Rating” of +12.6 and wins against the Nets; the Warriors (x2 ); the Suns or the Heat.

The history of the club to compare with the first quarter of the season; is therefore impressive.

Despite the injuries Cleveland (24-18) Without a doubt; it is the other very good surprise of the second quarter. The Cavaliers’ start to the season was already good and despite the quarantines as well as the hard hits (Collin Sexton; Ricky Rubio…); the “high ball” is paying off; with a defense that is still just as delicate to maneuver; a Darius Garland that is visibly growing; and a collective that seems globally on the same wavelength.

Toronto (20-18) It also raised the bar very nicely. Nick Nurse has gotten his full rotation back; as well as a Fred VanVleet-Pascal Siakam duo in good shape; and that necessarily changes a lot of things. The squad is still limited; but his army of versatile wingers can pose problems for everyone.

Of course we can add Chicago (27-12) who took control of the East despite the turmoil of many; many quarantines and injuries. The Bulls may have benefited from a lenient schedule and a few miracles from DeMar DeRozan; but there’s the (new) mental strength of Billy Donovan’s group; as well as Nikola Vucevic’s growing influence on the game; to balance everything out.

In general; we can also add Miami (26-15) Y Philadelphia (23-17); who above all endured despite the absences; thanks to a dense group or a dominant Joel Embiid.

Trouble among the leaders

Phoenix (31-9) Y Golden State (30-10) They are still top of the league but both clubs; so brilliant in the first quarter; have shown some flaws recently.

The Suns; therefore; sometimes cough offensively; but remain extremely solid nonetheless; thanks in particular to their late-game management. Chris Paul and his team have won 14 of the 17 games they have played with five points or fewer in the last five minutes this season. It is the best ratio in the league.

The Warriors are clearly looking for a second wind. Particularly targeted; visibly tired and consequently frustrated; Stephen Curry hit the mark and Steve Kerr will have to find solutions to reactivate his attack; which fell from 3rd place to 26th between the first and second quarters of the season. Fortunately; the defense is still holding; but Golden State is counting on the return of Klay Thompson to free up some of its “Splash Brother” and regain efficiency on the offensive level.

Utah (28-14) should have been among the fit teams. They were even the team with the best record in the second half of the season … until Rudy Gobert was isolated. Inevitably; without his defensive totem; the balance is much more difficult to find but the defensive collapse is embarrassing; with four consecutive losses illustrating how much this army of shooters relies on the French center defensively.

For Brooklyn (26-14) Y Milwaukee (26-17); are different observations; with the Nets still concerned about toughness and impact under the circle; and just getting their first hit against a “cador” of the season; their “Big Three” mechanically incapable of building automatisms with a Kyrie Irving limited to road games only. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s reigning champions are on AC and usually fail to start their season.

big disappointments

The first team that comes to mind is obviously Atlanta (17-23). It was the year of the confirmation of the conference finalists and it’s an understatement to say that Trae Young and her gang are underwhelming.

Granted; they’ve struggled with quarantines and injuries; but the defensive struggles are too much; with Clint Capela losing impact; and he can’t make up for it anyway. The appointment of Nate McMillan had shaken the group last year but; this season; the coach cannot find solutions for a team that; like john collins; no reference points. Especially since the Hawks are too predictable; and it weighs them down in the fourth quarter.

Portland (16-24) He seems clearly on their side at the end of a cycle; not helped by injuries to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. seems to be a bit the same Indiana (15-27) that the arrival of Rick Carlisle did not revive. It’s hard to think the Blazers and Pacers will remain intact at the “trade deadline”…

We can also put the -story–: LA Lakers (21-21); Boston (21-21) Y New York (21-21)surprisingly all at the same level. For LeBron James and his crew; it’s the very balance of the team that’s problematic; without Anthony Davis; with an always embarrassing defense and an offense that leans on the exploits of LeBron James and the eruption of some “role players;” while Russell Westbrook seems on his lost side.

As Bob Cousy very aptly explained recently; the Celtics seem to lack a driver while the Knicks; while there are some sparks lately; need to find the fire of Julius Randle from last season if they want to get back into the rankings in the second half of the season.

the soft belly

Lots of teams in this intermission as this fun season seems to allow almost no pace. Charlotte (23-19) he’s capable of beautiful things; but LaMelo Ball’s crew is still fragile defensively. Washington (22-20) he stands above the waterline with amazing composure late in the game; but still looks too limited to really expect anything more than a runner-up finish in the next playoffs.

To West; Dallas (22-19) he seems to have found some defensive stability; allowing him to climb back up the rankings; but it will take a huge increase in power from the Luka Doncic – Kristaps Porzingis duo at the end of the season to aim higher. For Denver (20-19) and the Los Angeles Clippers (21-21); the problem is linked to the numerous absences. Without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr; Nikola Jokic is too lonely on the Nuggets; while Los Angeles has a hard time hoping to shine without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Minnesota (20-21) For his part; he seems the epitome of that soft belly; with alternating winning streaks and losing streaks; and overall stats that put the team around 15th in almost every area. But it is still progress for the club compared to the last few seasons.

donkey caps

So there are seven fools left; even if their balance sheets are quite different. New Orleans (15-26) It is thus going uphill after a disastrous start to the season; and while the return of Zion Williamson is increasingly hypothetical this season. For Sacramento (17-27) Y Saint Anthony (15-26); it is the frustration that dominates when the balance of the two clubs is discussed halfway.

The Kings are too inconsistent; with De’Aaron Fox looking less sharp; when the Spurs lack “stars” but don’t deserve it in tough conditions. For Oklahoma City (13-27); Houston (12-31); Detroit (9-31) Y Orlando (7-35); the operation tanking ongoing rebuilding and the only interesting prospect is the progression of the young players. For the results; we will have to wait.


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