It was the third week when the coronavirus pandemic struck the NBA. We’ve seen COVID-related absences (some positive tests, some contact tracing quarantines) across the league, affecting both the schedule and the quality of play.
Kevin Durant missed three matches and Bradley Bell was forced into isolation over the weekend. Mavs had to leave three Denver players and the Sixers had only seven healthy players on Saturday, and they started two rookie teams you might not have heard of before. The Bulls lost few rotation players, the Celtics lost most of the front line last week, and on Sunday, Miami-Boston became the second postponement of the season.
This is what we knew would happen with the off-bubble season playing. We can hope that, because we’re 17 days after Christmas, this is the height of the epidemic-related absences around the league. But we don’t know what’s around the corner, and every situation (both inside and outside the NBA) is a cause for concern.
COVID-19 cases weren’t the only bad news from last week. Three players – Atlanta’s Bogdan Bogdanovic, Markel Foltz of Orlando and Thomas Bryant of Washington – lost due to severe knee injuries. In positive news, the charming Mo Pampa is finally back in his season after contracting the virus in the summer.
The games continue. We’ll do our best here to focus on basketball, knowing that health and safety remain our top priorities on the go in the 2020-21 season.
Plus minus players of the week
Teams of the week
- Make it last forever: Oklahoma City (3-1) – Breaking the thunder (again)! They went 4–1 on a five-game road trip.
- Something is not right: Sacramento (1-3) – The Kings had a difficult win over the Bulls, but lost their other three matches (one versus 2-7 Raptors). A total of 78 points.
East versus West
Schedule strength during week 3
- Harder: 1. Memphis, 2. Charlotte, 3. Detroit
- Easier: 1. Atlanta, 2. Orlando, 3. Los Angeles Lakers
- Table strength depends on the opponent’s cumulative record, and is adjusted for home versus absences and rest days before the match.
Movement in order
- High jumps per week: Charlotte (+11), Golden State (+10), San Antonio (+10)
- Free Fall of the Week: Atlanta (-11), Cleveland (-9), Sacramento (-8)
The fourth week team to watch
- Denver – Nuggets won four of their last five to go back to 0.500. And they have some good tests of what an improved defense might be this week. They will end their three-game journey in Brooklyn on Tuesday before returning home to start three matches with the Warriors (Thursday) and Jazz (Sunday).
Previous strength ratings
Speed: Crop count per 48 minutes (league standings)
turning off: Points scored per 100 properties (league rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 properties (league rank)
NitGet: Point difference per 100 properties (League Rank)
Leagues averaged 101.2 ownership (per team) per 48 minutes and 109.6 points scored per 100 property this season.
The NBA.com strength rankings, which release every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have a rating issue, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an email or Connect with him on Twitter.