The All-Star break has come and gone, and the NBA is going into the stretch run. It’s a six-week sprint to the finish, and the standings are tight in both conferences. Just four games separate the fourth- and eleventh-place West, with nine teams struggling to make the postseason behind the top three. Just 4.5 games separate sixth-place and tenth-place East as teams try to avoid the play-in tournament.
The Dallas Mavericks are struggling to adjust after the Kyrie Irving trade and they have slipped to seventh place in the West. They’re just two games shy of 11th place, and Dallas could quickly fall out of the postseason altogether if they struggle in the final 19 games of the regular season.
A lot will change in the table during the stretch run, but what if things were sorted by net rating rather than win-loss record? Net rating is usually a strong sign of a title contender, but how would placement look any different?
West is identical in the top four spots, but that’s where it gets interesting. In the Eastern Conference, the top 5 split with a clump of teams after that. Here’s a closer look at the rankings based on net rating as of the morning of March 2nd.
1. Denver Nuggets (4.5)
2. Memphis grizzlies (4.3)
3. Kings of Sacramento (2.6)
4. Phoenix Suns (1.7)
5. New Orleans Pelicans (0.9)
6. Thunder from Oklahoma City (0.9)
7. Utah Jazz (0.7)
8. Dallas Mavericks (0.6)
9. Warrior of the Golden State (0.5)
10.Minnesota Timberwolves (0.1)
11. LA Clippers (0.0)
12. Portland Trailblazer (-0.7)
13.Los Angeles Lakers (-0.7)
14. Houston missiles (-9.2)
15. San Antonio Spurs (-10.2)
The Mavs fall down a spot overall, but it’s interesting that three teams behind them actually skip them based on net rating. Oklahoma City makes the biggest jump from 13th on the basis of win-loss records to sixth. Dallas could quickly climb to fifth or fall to 11th based on net rating.
1. Boston Celtics (5.8)
2nd Cleveland Cavaliers (5.4)
3. Philly 76ers (4.1)
4. Milwaukee Bucks (3.9)
5. New York Knicks (3.0)
6. Chicago Bulls (0.7)
7. Toronto Birds of Prey (0.5)
8. Brooklyn Nets (0.5)
9. Washington Wizards (-0.2)
10.Atlanta Hawks (-0.2)
11.Miami Heat (-1.0)
12. Indiana Pacers (-2.5)
13. Orlando Magic (-2.7)
14. Charlotte Hornets (-5.8)
15. Detroit piston (-7.2)
The Heat would miss the play-in tournament based on net ratings, with the Bulls making the biggest jump from 11th to 6th place. Interestingly, only the top eight teams in the east have a positive net rating.
Last season, all four teams that made the Conference Finals finished in the top seven on the net. The Celtics finished second, Golden State finished fourth, Miami finished sixth, and the Mavericks finished seventh overall on the net. The other three teams in the top seven were eliminated by the Mavs or Warriors in the postseason.
The Mavericks have a net rating of .6 and are 2.4 behind the Knicks, who are currently in seventh place. Denver and Memphis are the only two Western Conference teams in the top seven, with the Kings, Suns and Pelicans ranking eighth through ten. Dallas is 14th in the NBA in net rating, which will likely mean a first-round elimination if they qualify for the playoffs.
Will the Dallas Mavericks improve their net rating over time? Can Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving figure out their partnership and go on the run? Do not miss.