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NBA Power Rankings: Week 5

Monday, November 13, 2017


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1. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 12-2
We’re going streaking! After dropping their first two games of the season, and losing Gordon Hayward within the first five minutes of the season opener, the Celtics have remarkably reeled off 12 straight wins. A few interesting facts related to this current streak: Boston is just the second team in NBA history to win 12 consecutive contests after starting a season 0-2. This is also the Celtics’ first winning streak of 10 or more games before Thanksgiving in 45 years. Lastly, the C’s are the first team in league history to record a double-digit winning streak with six rookies appearing in at least one game.

 

2. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 10-3
When the Warriors are firing on all cylinders, it looks like they are the varsity scrimmaging against the JV, regardless of who the opponent is. Golden State has won six straight games, all in blowout fashion, all by at least 17 points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, “only one other team in NBA history won six straight games, each by a margin of 17-or-more points: The Suns won six successive games in that manner in January of 1990. That Phoenix team, coached by Cotton Fitzsimmons, featured a starting five of Kevin Johnson, Jeff Hornacek, Tom Chambers, Kurt Rambis and Mark West.”

 

3. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 11-3
James Harden is carrying Houston while playing at an incredible level. Over the Rockets six games in November, Harden is averaging 35.8 points, 11.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 5.7 treys, and 1.7 steals. Houston has won each of those six contests. It's hard to argue that anyone has had a more significant impact on their team over the first month of the season.

 

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4. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 10-3
The Pistons are enjoying their best start in over a decade. The last time they won at least 10 of their first 13 games was 2005-06, when they jumped out to a 15-3 mark. That was in the heart of a stretch when Detroit dominated the East. Those Pistons teams advanced to at least the Eastern Conference six years in a row, from 2002-03 to 2007-08. This Detroit team has a long way to go before being considered conference championship contenders, but they are off to an undeniably impressive start.

 

5. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 8-5
The Spurs started the season winning their first four games. Then dropped four in a row, and have now won four of their last five. It’s notable that San Antonio never dipped below .500. Amazingly, since 1997, the Spurs have had a losing record for just 48 days. That’s by FAR the fewest in the league. The team with the second fewest days owning a losing record over that span is the Dallas Mavericks, at 778 days. The Spurs play at Dallas on Tuesday.

 

6. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 7-5
After allowing opponents to score at least 110 points in each of their first five home games this season, the Wiz have allowed an average of just 94.5 points in each of their last two games inside Capital One Arena. Unsurprisingly, Washington won both contests.

 

7. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 7-5
Despite Kyle Lowry getting off to a sluggish start, the Raptors have been as good as expected. They’ve lost five games, but each of those five defeats has been to a team that currently is at least two games above .500 (Spurs, Warriors, Nuggets, Wizards and Celtics).

 

8. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 7-5
Yes, the Grizz have dropped four of their last six games, but they are also on the verge of having their full complement of players for the first time all season. Both Ben McLemore (right foot surgery) and Wayne Selden (right quad) made their season debuts on Saturday, and JaMychal Green (ankle) is expected to return to the lineup this week. Assuming Mike Conley can shake off his early-season slump, Memphis should be able to make a move.

 

9. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 8-5
After a shaky start in October, the Nuggets have won five of six to improve their record to 8-5 on the year. It’s the first time they have won eight of their first 13 games in a season since 2012.

 

10. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 7-5
The Wolves were riding a five-game winning streak before getting beat in the Bay by the Warriors on Thursday. A road loss to Golden State is always understandable, but then Minny lost on Saturday night in Phoenix, which surely left coach Tom Thibodeau surly. The Timberwolves continue their road trip on Monday in Utah.

 

11. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 8-5
The Magic’s surprisingly strong start is directly attributable to their vastly improved offense. In 2016-17, Orlando ranked 29th in offensive efficiency, 29th in True Shooting percentage and 28th in field goal percentage. This season, Orlando is eighth in offensive efficiency, fourth in True Shooting percentage and sixth in field goal percentage.

 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 6-7
OKC had lost four in a row before beating the Clippers and Mavs at home over the weekend. The difference in those two most recent wins has been the superlative play of Paul George. PG-13 averaged 39.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 5.5 treys in those two victories. He had a total of just 25 points and four assists in the Thunder’s two prior games combined.

 

13. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 6-6
Eric Bledsoe provided precisely what Milwaukee was looking for during his first week with the Bucks. Bledsoe had brought top-tier speed to the Bucks backcourt and has helped Milwaukee push the pace. He’s scored in double-figures in his first two games with his new team, and the Bucks won both.

 

14. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 6-7
Remarkably, the Cavs have yet to string together consecutive wins since the first two games of the season. Their defense continues to be incredibly porous. Cleveland held their opponents under 100 points in each of those first two games this year, but have yet to do so since. The Cavs rank dead last in Defensive Efficiency, allowing 112 points per 100 possessions.

 

15. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 7-6
The Pels have won four of five and are above .500 for the first time this season. However, it’s important to note the quality of the teams they’ve beaten and those they have lost to. New Orleans is undefeated (7-0) against teams that currently have a losing record, but they have yet to record a single victory (0-6) against teams with a winning record.

 


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