Apr 10 2014 10:22AM

The NBA's Dozen Best Lineups 2013-14

It's funny.

No team is experiencing a greater season collapse than the Indiana Pacers in 2013-14.

Yet when all is said and done, they still have a chance to win the Eastern Conference regular-season battle--only trailing the Miami Heat by half a game--and their starting five still ranks as the top five-man unit in basketball on raw, unadjusted plus-minus score.

Pretty amazing that a team with a 33-7 start, could find themselves going 20-18 and still maintain top-seed hope as we head into the final week of the NBA season.

This could only happen in the East, where the three-time defending conference champs--and two-time NBA champions--Miami HEAT are experiencing their own letdown of a season, coming off of last year's 66-win high to currently possess a 53-24 record with five games to go.

Consequently, you won't find any of the Miami five-man combos on this list, with their best quintets only scoring +51 and +49 scores thus far this season--with Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and either Ray Allen or Dwyane Wade at the 2 guard position.

That doesn't even compare to 2012-13, when the Heat had two Top 6 five-man units, or even the searching-for-identity days of 2010-11 and 2011-12 when the HEAT were still playing Bosh at power forward and teaming him up with a variety of fading centers (Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Erick Dampier) and still putting up better plus-minus scores.

Such is life in an ever-changing NBA.

That said, make sure you pay special attention to these combinations in the playoffs--with apologies to Minnesota's quintet--for these are the dozen five-man units who have either been starting or finishing games off this season with a bang.


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1. INDIANA PACERS (+276)
George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert

No five-man unit has played the amount of minutes together (1432) as these five, and some say that may be part of the problem. Playing 71 games with a +10.0 net rating while allowing only 94.4 points per 100 possessions is tiring no doubt. But if Indiana can return to old form and eliminate first- and second-round playoff opponents in five games or less, they may be able to buy themselves some valuable rest time. Regardless, a hearty congratulations goes out to the Pacers Fab Five who so far have amassed a league-best +276 score.

2. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (+271)
Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic

No NBA team pushed the pace as well as the Timberwolves in 2013-14 (running off a +9.2 net rating at 102.2 possessions per 48 minutes with 112.4 offensive efficiency in 1052 minutes. If I am Minnesota management, this tells me I just need to strengthen Coach Rick Adelman's bench and let the offensive genius keep doing what he is doing. If they win 50-plus in 2014-15, it increases Love's chances on not leaving as a free agent in Summer 2015.

3. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (+240)
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, Andrew Bogut

Iguodala turned out to be the perfect fit many thought he would be, allowing the Warriors to post the best net rating score per 100 possessions (+15.2), scoring 112.2 and allowing 97.1 points per 100 possessions. A just-as-nice discovery is seeing how well Draymond Green fills in for any one of the starting five--from serving as a point-guard replacement to a center fill-in for Bogut (by the way, that Green-Lee-Iguodala-Thompson-Curry lineup has a +76 score in only 104 minutes in 27 games.


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4. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (+222)
Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez

Acquiring Lopez to be the center anchor allowed the rest of the Blazers to blaze the nets with .562 true shooting percentage while the team controlled the ball (only 13.1 turnovers per 100 possessions), scoring a +9.3 net rating while posting a 112.1 offensive efficiency score in 1307 minutes.

5. PHOENIX SUNS (+116)
Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye

Not many teams get after it on D like these workhorses, who allowed only 94.6 points per 100 possessions, while also scoring an impressive +12.6 net rating in the 32 games they have played together. If you said back in October that this quintet would be among the NBA's best, you were the only person to do so.

6. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (+112)
Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

Doc Rivers has not only this unit playing like world-beaters, whether Crawford (a stunniung +21.3 net rating in only 27 games for 265 minutes with 118.4 offensive efficiency and 97.1 defensive efficiency), Darren Collison (+13.3 net rating when he plays with the aforementioned four, for a raw total of +83 in 309 minutes) or J.J. Redick (+7.8 net rating when he plays with the four) is in the shooting guard spot next to Paul, Barnes, Griffin and Jordan.

7. WASHINGTON WIZARDS (+103)
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene, Marcin Gortat
Nene has been out of action for six weeks now with sprained knee ligaments, but is expected to return to the starting lineup later this week or next. His impact on the defensive end is best measured in this quintet's defensive efficiency score of 95.7 points per 100 possessions, along with a +10.7 net rating score.

8. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (+98)
Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts, Al Jefferson

It is amazing what a good young point guard and strong post man can do when complemented by three good role players and a good head coach. In numerical terms, it results in the former laughingstock of the league now averaging an impressive 107.3 points on offense and 95.6 on defense per 100 possessions when these five line up together.

9. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (+83)
Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol

This Grizzlies unit doesn't have as much grit-n-grind as last year's quintet featuring Tony Allen at the 2 spot. But they've had a makeshift good season, considering they had to deal with Marc Gasol's early-season sprained MCL left-knee injury that sidelined him for 23 games. Still, by breaking down the game to a chess-like pace (an unheard-of 89.24 possessions per 48 minutes), these five can play BoreBall or BoarBall with the best, while still averaging 105.7 and 98.4 offensive and defensive efficiency numbers, respectively.

10. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (+81)
Reggie Jackson, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins

With formerly injured Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha back in the starting lineup, the Thunder has their best quintet back, but would you believe their best five has Reggie Jackson in place of Russell Westbrook as the point guard, netting 104.9 offensive efficiency and 98.9 defensive efficiency. Strangely enough, the standard starting lineup, which features on-again, off-again injured star Westbrook, has a -7.5 net rating in only 20 games and 285 minutes together. Luckily for the Thunder, they now have a week to hopefully iron out some of the wrinkles that have developed over time. All five are now finally healthy. Together.


Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

11. SAN ANTONIO SPURS (+72)
Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter, Tim Duncan

The Spurs' motion offense is quite legendary, but the best-kept secret in San Antonio is that no quintet plays better defense together than the Spurs standard starting lineup that has only only logged 30 games together this season because of various mid-season injuries. Thanks to the great wall of Duncan/Splitter and the perimeter pressure of Leonard, Green and Parker, these Spurs allowed a league-best 87.5 points per 100 possessions, while still netting +14.6 and 102.1 offensive efficiiency in 262 minutes this season.

12. CHICAGO BULLS (+63)
Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah

This Bulls' unit only has a +3.7 net rating, but they make the list for putting in the work (593 minutes) and pulling out that +65 score to barely make this list in 37 games. They're not flashy, but you know they'll show up if you don't.

SOURCE: Stats.NBA.com