This could be the best week ever.
Monday could be best day of the NBA year. To celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the league will play 14 games, beginning at 2 p.m. ET and with eight different start times to keep you on your toes. The national TV schedule features Pelicans-Grizzlies from Memphis (5 ET, TNT) and Lakers-Celtics (7:30 ET, TNT), and the League Pass game to watch is the third and final meeting between Russell Westbrook's Rockets and Chris Paul's Thunder.
Two nights later, we have the debut of Zion Williamson, the No. 1 pick with the well-deserved hype. After missing the first 13 weeks of the season, Williamson will play his first regular season game on Wednesday, when the Pelicans host the Spurs on ESPN (9:30 ET).
It should be a fun week for the West-leading Lakers. In addition to that game in Boston on Monday night, LeBron James will make his only visit of the season to Madison Square Garden (Wednesday, 7:30 ET on League Pass) and go head-to-head with Ben Simmons and the Sixers on Saturday (8:30 ET, ABC). All-Star starters will be announced Thursday night, and we'll get some more weekday hoops on Friday, when the Bucks and Hornets tip off from Paris at 3 p.m. ET.
Milwaukee will head abroad as the No. 1 team in the Power Rankings for an eighth straight week and still on pace for a 70-win season.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way:?DeAndre Ayton (PHX) was a plus-52 in three games last week.
- Wrong Way:?Tristan Thompson (CLE) was a minus-79 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Indiana (4-0) -- Victor Oladipo won't make his season debut until next week, but the Pacers got Malcolm Brogdon back last week and won four close games, including one over the Sixers and another in Denver.
- Something Just Ain't Right: Washington (0-2) -- Two nights after Bradley Beal talked about "changing our culture," the Wizards lost by 29 in Toronto.
East vs. West
- The West is 129-106 (.549) against the East in interconference games after going 12-11 last week.
Schedule strength through Week 13
- Toughest: 1. New Orleans, 2. Cleveland, 3. Atlanta
- Easiest: 1. Milwaukee, 2. Phoenix, 3. Denver
- 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: Detroit (+6), LA Clippers (+4), Three teams (+3)
- Free falls of the week: Houston (-6), Oklahoma City (-4), Three teams (-3)
Week 14 Team to Watch
- Phoenix -- The Suns have won seven of their last 11 games, with Devin Booker averaging 32 points on 53% shooting. Now, they face what may be the most important week of their season, with three games against the two teams between them and a playoff spot. The Suns will host the Spurs on Monday and the Pacers on Wednesday. Then they'll head back out for a huge, three-game trip that takes them through San Antonio (Friday), Memphis (Sunday) and Dallas (next Tuesday).
- Last week:?Jazz, Rockets enter Top 5; Nets prepare for difficult stretch
- This time last year:?One star returns, but another goes down -- DeMarcus Cousins made his Warriors debut, shooting 3-for-4 from 3-point range and fouling out in 15 minutes. Anthony Davis was lost for three weeks with a sprained finger, Wendell Carter Jr. and Clint Capela both had thumb surgery, and Lonzo Ball suffered an ankle injury that would keep him out for the rest of the season. The Wizards beat the Knicks in London when Allonzo Trier was called for goaltending on Thomas Bryant's game-winning layup. Paul George beat the Sixers with a four-point play, Pascal Siakam beat the Suns with a buzzer-beating bucket over DeAndre Ayton, and Buddy Hield hit a wild, walk-off game-winner in Detroit.
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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 100.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 109.0 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
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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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