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NBA Power Rankings: Week 4

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


The Pacers and Kings climb up the ladder, while the Pelicans and Pistons tumble backward, in this most recent edition of the NBA Power Rankings.


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1. Golden State Warriors
2018-19 record: 9-1
When the Warriors are clicking, they are virtually unbeatable. Golden State has won seven straight games and has outscored their opponents by 135 points (1,241 to 1,106) over that seven-game stretch. Already this season, we’ve seen both Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry each score more than 50 points before the end of the third quarter. Oh, and Kevin Durant outscored New York 25-14 by himself in the fourth quarter of a win over the Knicks at MSG.



2. Toronto Raptors
2018-19 record: 8-1
The Raptors are 5-0 in the games Kawhi Leonard has played this season, and they have also won two of the three contests he’s missed - including Sunday night’s demolition of the Lakers in Los Angeles. Kawhi is questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Jazz due to a sore left foot/ankle that he initially injured on Friday against Phoenix. He is traveling with the team, so there’s a chance he suits up in Utah.


3. Milwaukee Bucks
2018-19 record: 8-1
The Bucks 8-1 record is the best nine-game start in franchise history; and it’s not just that they are compiling wins, they are doing so in dominating fashion. The Bucks average margin of victory this season is 14.6 points. The only team in the league with a double-digit average margin of victory is the Warriors, at 13.3.


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4. Denver Nuggets
2018-19 record: 8-1
A primary reason Denver has won four straight and eight of their first nine games has been their surprisingly impressive defense. Last season, the Nuggets allowed 109.9 points per 100 possessions and ranked 23rd in the NBA in Defensively Efficiency. In 2018-19, Denver is allowing nine fewer points per 100 possessions are rank third in DefEff. The Nuggets host the Celtics on Monday in a cross-conference showdown between two of the NBA's best defensive squads.


5. Indiana Pacers
2018-19 record: 7-3
Victor Oladipo did it again Saturday night in Indiana, nailing a game-winning 3-pointer with less than three seconds on the clock to sink the Celtics. Considering how well ‘Dipo has performed with the game on the line in an Indiana uniform, Pacers had to feel very confident when he rose up over Kyrie Irving and company. Per NBA.com, Oladipo is 8-of-11 (72.7 percent) from the floor, 5-of-6 from 3-point territory (71.4 percent) and 5-of-6 from the free-throw stripe in clutch situations this season.


6. Boston Celtics
2018-19 record: 6-3
The C’s have won four of their last five games despite disappointing production from their highest paid player. Over Boston’s last five contests, Gordon Hayward is averaging 9.6 points and has been remarkably inefficient, shooting just 38.3 percent from the floor, 28.6 percent from 3-point territory, and 60.0 percent from the charity stripe. Will he start to cede minutes to other, more productive reserves off the Celtics bench? The Celtics have been outscored by three points in the 199 minutes Gordon Hayward has played this season. In contrast, the Celtics have outscored their opponents by 50 points in the 209 minutes Marcus Smart has played this season.


7. Portland Trail Blazers
2018-19 record: 7-3
The Blazers went 3-1 last week and are in the middle of a six-game homestand. However, they take on a few tough teams this week, with the Bucks, Clippers and Celtics all coming to Portland. Then, beginning in mid-November, they embark on a six-game road trip, that will take them from Los Angeles to New York and back to California.


8. San Antonio Spurs
2018-19 record: 6-3
The Spurs had their four-game winning streak ended by the Orlando Magic on Sunday night in a disappointing 117-110 defeat in San Antonio. Rudy Gay has been playing well in 2018-19 but missed his first game of the season on Sunday due to right heel soreness. However, it was due primarily to the Spurs looking to give Rudy a night off on the second night of a back-to-back. Coach Gregg Popovich joked that Gay was sitting out because “he has other things to do."


9. Philadelphia 76ers
2018-19 record: 6-5
The Sixers remain winless on the road this season after getting blown out by the Nets on Sunday in Brooklyn. In the 122-97 defeat, Philadelphia committed 28 turnovers, most in the NBA this season, leading to 39 points for the Nets. Afterward, coach Brett Brown said of his Sixers, who are 6-0 at home but 0-5 on the road: "We're not among the Eastern Conference royalty." Ben Simmons said the team has been playing “soft.”


10. Utah Jazz
2018-19 record: 4-5
Jazz fans got a major scare late Saturday night when Donovan Mitchell fell to the floor and clutched his left ankle before being carried off the court by trainers. However, Utah faithful were able to breathe a sigh of relief a short while later when he returned to the bench and then checked back into the game. "I was just being a baby," Mitchell told reporters afterward. "I'm good. I've twisted an ankle before. It's not a great feeling. I don't tape my ankles, so I'll probably start." Utah will likely need Mitchell if they want to snap their three-game losing streak when they square off with the Raptors on Monday night.

 

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11. Houston Rockets
2018-19 record: 3-5
Houston got the gang back together in the Windy City over the weekend. The Rockets welcomed James Harden, who had missed three straight games with a strained hamstring, back into the lineup in Chicago and handily beat the Bulls. Dating back to the start of last season, Houston is 44-4 when Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela play together. Carmelo Anthony is also starting to find his groove with his new teammates. Over the Rockets last five games, he’s averaging 19.8 points and 3.2 triples, while shooting over 49 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from 3-point range.


12. Oklahoma City Thunder
2018-19 record: 4-4
It appears reports of OKC's demise was greatly exaggerated. After losing their first four games of the season, the Thunder have reeled off four consecutive victories. Yes, the return of a healthy Russell Westbrook has been crucial, but Jerami Grant’s improved play has also been important in OKC’s turnaround. Over his first four games, Grant averaged 7.0 points while shooting just 30.3 percent from the floor, 15.4 percent from 3-point range and 54.5 percent from the free-throw line. Over OKC’s most recent four games, Grant is averaging 14.5 points and shooting 61.8 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from downtown and 61.1 percent from the stripe.


13. Memphis Grizzlies
2018-19 record: 5-3
The Grizz had strung together three impressive wins, including a victory over the Jazz in Utah, before disappointingly falling to the Suns on Sunday night. On Monday, Memphis has the unenviable assignment of playing the Warriors in Golden State on the back end of a back-to-back.


14. L.A. Clippers
2018-19 record: 5-4
The Clippers next five opponents are the Wolves, Blazers, Bucks, Warriors and the Spurs. Fortunately for Los Angeles, they play four of those next five games at home.


15. New Orleans Pelicans
2018-19 record: 4-5
After starting the season by winning each of their first four games, the Pelicans have now lost five in a row. Worse yet, New Orleans has been outscored by an average of 14.6 points during this five-game stretch. After playing the final game of a five-game road trip in OKC on Monday night, the Pels head home for a pair of winnable games (vs. the Suns and Bulls) later in the week.


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