Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Memphis Grizzlies rise above early-season parity

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

It’s early, not yet Halloween on the calendar and not yet eight percent into the NBA schedule.

Last season taught us to ignore (for the most part) the struggles of the regular-season Cleveland Cavaliers. But these Cavs are different than last season’s Cavs, with three new rotation pieces – Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade and Jeff Green – that don’t necessarily fit well alongside LeBron James.

It’s fair to discount any losses the Cavs incur before April. It’s also fair to wonder about Cleveland’s ability to succeed while counting on those three guys. In the words of Sam Hinkie, every game is a data point.

The Golden State Warriors have much more continuity than the Cavs, retaining the top eight guys from the team that went 16-1 in the postseason. So their three losses are easier to brush aside. But those three losses still make it impossible to put the champs at the top of the Power Rankings.

The difficulty of putting the league’s 30 teams in order goes well beyond that. Of the 30, 22 are no better than 4-2 and no worse than 2-4. Seven teams are 3-3, while one team’s only win is another team’s only loss.

We’ve got some serious parity early on and it might take some time before things out. Forgive us if these rankings look silly a month from now and, for now, focus on the team-by-team details, rather than the big picture.

  • Hero team of the week: Detroit (3-1) — Back-to-back road wins over the Clippers and Warriors is as good as it gets in this early season.
  • Zero team of the week: Sacramento (0-3) — After becoming the first team to lose to the Suns, the Kings blew a 19-point, second-half lead to DeMarcus Cousins and the Pelicans, and then lost to the Wizards by 27.
  • East vs. West: The West is 15-13 (0.536) against the East in interconference games after going 12-11 last week.
  • High jumps of the week: Orlando (+9), Detroit (+7), Portland (+7)
  • Free falls of the week: Cleveland (-15), Minnesota (-11), Miami (-5), Utah (-5)
  • Team to watch in Week 3: Washington — The Wizards return east and, after getting a visit from the Suns on Wednesday, play two big games within the conference, hosting the Cavs on Friday and visiting the Raptors on Sunday.

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Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)

OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)

DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)

NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)

The league has averaged 101.2 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.4 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

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NBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.

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Last Week: 6

Record: 5-1

Pace: 96.7 (29) OffRtg: 104.5 (14) DefRtg: 97.2 (4) NetRtg: +7.4 (6)

The Grizzlies are undefeated with Chandler Parsons, who got a rest day in Dallas on Wednesday and finally had his breakout game against Houston on Saturday, making more shots from outside the paint (eight) than he did in his first eight games (six), including preseason. It's only two weeks, but it has to be noted that Parsons is now the official league-leader in 3-point percentage. As the Grizzlies' own shot selection gets more Houston-esque (they've turned mid-range shots into both more layups and more threes), they've held the Rockets, who have scored 109 points per 100 possessions in their other five games, to less than 93 per 100 in their two meetings. They'll face two top-10 offenses (those of the Magic and Clippers) this week.

https://twitter.com/memgrizz/status/924674706678018048

Week 3: vs. CHA, vs. ORL, @ LAC, @ LAL

Last Week: 1

Record: 5-2

Pace: 99.2 (23) OffRtg: 104.2 (16) DefRtg: 102.7 (15) NetRtg: +1.5 (14)

The Rockets remain undefeated against all teams that are not the Grizzlies, but injuries (to Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza) and illness (for Eric Gordon on Saturday) have kept their offense (which ranked No. 1 in the preseason) from finding its rhythm early on. James Harden's effective field goal percentage is up (he's been one of the league's best finishers in the restricted area), but his true shooting percentage is down, because, among 99 players who took at least 500 shots last season and have taken at least 50 shots this season, only Kyle Lowry has seen a bigger drop in free throw rate (FTA/FGA).

https://twitter.com/NBAcom/status/923621576611741696

Week 3: vs. PHI, @ NYK, @ ATL, vs. UTA

Record: 4-3

Pace: 103.9 (5) OffRtg: 115.5 (1) DefRtg: 108.4 (26) NetRtg: +7.1 (7)

The Warriors have shot better than they did last season, when they set an NBA record for effective field goal percentage. But only Minnesota has seen a bigger increase in opponent effective field goal percentage than the champs. A big part of the increase has been from beyond the arc, which could be dismissed as noisy data. But they've also dropped from ninth (60 percent) to 28th (67) in opponent field goal percentage in the restricted area. That and their continued rebounding issues (they've allowed 15 or more second chance points in six of their seven games) suggests more legitimate concerns about their interior defense.

https://twitter.com/johnschuhmann/status/924832233659215878

Week 3: @ LAC, @ SAS, @ DEN

Last Week: 10

Record: 4-1

Pace: 99.4 (20) OffRtg: 106.9 (6) DefRtg: 92.8 (1) NetRtg: +14.1 (1)

The Clippers won their two more important games last week and remain undefeated within the Western Conference, but their quest for a perfect season came to an end when they scored just 17 points in the final 16:56 against Detroit on Saturday. Danilo Gallinari shot 1-for-7 over that stretch and has the fourth worst effective field goal percentage (35.8 percent) among 136 players who have attempted at least 50 shots this season. Thursday's game-winner was the residue of a big overhaul in Blake Griffin's shot selection. His ratio of 3-point attempts to mid-range shots has gone from about 1/3 last season to almost 4/1 this season.

https://twitter.com/NBATV/status/923836677574991874

Week 3: vs. GSW, vs. DAL, vs. MEM, vs. MIA

Last Week: 2

Record: 4-2

Pace: 98.8 (25) OffRtg: 99.7 (23) DefRtg: 98.9 (9) NetRtg: +0.8 (15)

Though LaMarcus Aldridge is registering career-high marks in both effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, the Spurs' Kawhi Leonard-less offense has not been good, save for Wednesday's win in Miami and a couple of quarters against Minnesota in the opener. They were held under 90 points per 100 possessions in weekend losses in Orlando and Indiana, with Spurs not named Aldridge or Gasol shooting 28 percent. They've assisted on just 54 percent of their buckets, their lowest rate under Gregg Popovich.

Week 3: vs. @ BOS, vs. GSW, vs. CHA, vs. PHX

Last Week: 13

Record: 4-2

Pace: 100.7 (13) OffRtg: 109.9 (3) DefRtg: 98.0 (7) NetRtg: +11.9 (2)

The only things keeping the Blazers from being undefeated are Giannis Antetokounmpo's last-minute defense nine days ago and Blake Griffin's game-winning three on Thursday. That shot came after C.J. McCollum missed one of two at the line and McCollum has already missed more clutch free throws this season (he's 4-for-7) than he did last season (when he was 36-for-38). Though they rank last in opponent free throw rate (37 attempts per 100 shots from the field), the Blazers have been the third most improved defensive team in the league thus far, having allowed almost 10 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season. And that's with three of their six games having been against teams that currently rank in the top 10 offensively.

Week 3: vs. TOR, @ UTA, vs. LAL, vs. OKC

Last Week: 7

Record: 4-2

Pace: 103.7 (8) OffRtg: 106.3 (9) DefRtg: 99.8 (10) NetRtg: +6.5 (8)

The Wizards have led by double-digits in five of their six games, because their starting lineup has been fantastic. Both Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter (who was already one of the best shooters in the league) have seen big jumps in effective field goal percentage. But the Wiz blew a 10-point lead in the final seven minutes in L.A. on Wednesday and blew an 18-point, second-half lead at Golden State on Friday, shooting 12-for-48 in the two fourth quarters. They play six of their next seven games at home and eight of their next nine against teams that currently have losing records, with Sunday's visit to Toronto being the lone exception in both cases.

Week 3: vs. PHX, vs. CLE, @ TOR

Last Week: 14

Record: 4-2

Pace: 99.6 (18) OffRtg: 101.1 (20) DefRtg: 95.1 (2) NetRtg: +6.0 (9)

The Celtics have had the league's best defense since they lost back-to-back games to start the season. In winning the last four, they've held each of their opponents to about 90 points per 100 possessions. They're the only defense that has successfully kept Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks away from the basket, holding them to 14 and 38 points in the paint (both season-low marks), respectively. The offense hasn't been great, but Kyrie Irving has saved them late, shooting 6-for-8 on clutch shots in wins in Philly, Milwaukee and Miami.

Week 3: vs. SAS, vs. SAC, @ OKC, @ ORL

Last Week: 18

Record: 4-2

Pace: 106.9 (3) OffRtg: 111.0 (2) DefRtg: 101.1 (12) NetRtg: +9.9 (3)

After they shot 46 percent from 3-point range through their first five games, got a career-high 41 points and a game-winning three from Aaron Gordon against Brooklyn on Tuesday, and became the first team in 143 games (including postseason) to shoot at least 57 percent from the field against the Spurs, the Orlando offense finally came back to Earth a bit in Sunday's loss in Charlotte, the first time in the last four games that they've missed Elfrid Payton (though it probably didn't matter who was guarding Kemba Walker). Gordon (64 percent), Evan Fournier (63 percent), Nikola Vucevic (62 percent) and Jonathon Simmons (59 percent) all rank in the top 25 in effective field goal percentage among 136 players who have attempted at least 50 shots.

Week 3: @ NOP, @ MEM, vs. CHI, vs. BOS

Last Week: 17

Record: 5-2

Pace: 99.3 (21) OffRtg: 106.3 (11) DefRtg: 101.7 (13) NetRtg: +4.6 (10)

The Pistons trailed both of their weekend games by double-digits. But in the second half on Saturday, they locked down the Clippers. And in the second half on Sunday, they scored 63 points against the Warriors. Though their four perimeter starters have shot 29-for-58 from 3-point range over their three-game winning streak, their starting lineup has been outscored by 16.2 points per 100 possessions this season, the second worst mark among the 19 lineups that have played at least 50 minutes. They're a plus-12.5 per 100 possessions in 240 minutes with at least one reserve on the floor.

Week 3: @ LAL, vs. MIL, vs. SAC

Last Week: 8

Record: 3-2

Pace: 103.8 (7) OffRtg: 106.7 (7) DefRtg: 97.4 (5) NetRtg: +9.3 (4)

The Raptors are just some late-game execution from having a great trip so far. They led by two with six minutes to go in San Antonio on Monday and led by five with two minutes to go at Golden State on Wednesday, but allowed the Spurs and Warriors to shoot a combined 9-for-11 in closing those games out. The Raps have seen the league's biggest increase in the percentage of their shots that come from the restricted area or 3-point range (from 59 percent last season to 74 percent through Sunday), but that's coming from everybody but DeMar DeRozan, who is still the king of non-restricted-area two-point shots, which account for 73 percent (58/80) of his attempts. Still, if his teammates start shooting better than 30 percent from beyond the arc (the Raps rank 29th in 3-point percentage), look out.

Week 3: @ POR, @ DEN, @ UTA, vs. WAS

Last Week: 11

Record: 3-3

Pace: 100.6 (14) OffRtg: 104.8 (13) DefRtg: 96.3 (3) NetRtg: +8.5 (5)

The Thunder are 3-0 (plus-23.7 per game) against the Eastern Conference and 0-3 (minus-4.3 per game) against the Northwest Division, while the search for a fifth finisher continues. In Friday's loss in Minnesota, Andre Roberson and Alex Abrines each played less than 10 minutes, while the other four starters were a minus-18 in a little less than 10 minutes with Jerami Grant. The list of guys who have played with the four stars (Steven Adams is a star too!) does not include Patrick Patterson, who has shot just 3-for-17 (without a single free throw attempt) to start the season.

https://twitter.com/johnschuhmann/status/924655261901574144

Week 3: @ MIL, vs. BOS, @ POR

Last Week: 12

Record: 4-2

Pace: 99.1 (24) OffRtg: 106.1 (12) DefRtg: 104.0 (16) NetRtg: +2.1 (12)

Is Jason Kidd the new Tom Thibodeau? With the Bucks up 19 entering the fourth quarter in Atlanta on Sunday, Kidd had the opportunity to give Giannis Antetokounmpo some extra rest. But the league-leader at 39.0 minutes per game played the entire fourth on an afternoon when the Bucks got some decent minutes from one of their wings (Rashad Vaughn) off the bench. They're a plus-7 (and no worse than a minus-2 in any of their six games) in Antetokounmpo's 54 minutes on the bench thus far.

Week 3: vs. OKC, @ CHA, @ DET

Last Week: 9

Record: 3-3

Pace: 96.5 (30) OffRtg: 97.5 (26) DefRtg: 97.6 (6) NetRtg: -0.1 (17)

As expected, Jazz games have been the ugliest in the league. And it's not just about the slow pace (though that contributes to inefficiency on both ends of the floor), as they're the only team that has scored and allowed less than 98 points per 100 possessions. After shooting 25 percent through his first five games, Donovan Mitchell provided some life in Saturday's win over the Lakers, scoring 22 points (tying the high for the Jazz this season) and submitting an early entry for Dunk of the Year. They're winless on the road, but undefeated at home, with Saturday's game having begun a stretch where they're playing eight of nine at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

https://twitter.com/utahjazz/status/924469558710173702

Week 3: vs. DAL, vs. POR, vs. TOR, @ HOU

Last Week: 4

Record: 3-3

Pace: 100.1 (17) OffRtg: 106.5 (8) DefRtg: 114.3 (30) NetRtg: -7.8 (26)

Jimmy Butler is already pretty important to the Wolves, who lost two games by 20-plus points (to the Myles Turner-less Pacers and Pistons) without him last week. Then they got Butler back and got their second win over Oklahoma City, with Butler scoring or assisting on all 14 points of a late 14-5 run that turned a three-point deficit into a six-point lead. Also important was some rare energy on defense from Karl-Anthony Towns, who still has the second highest on-court DefRtg (the Wolves have allowed a brutal 118.2 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor) among 199 players who have averaged at least 20 minutes in three or more games.

Week 3: @ MIA, @ NOP, vs. DAL, vs. CHA

Last Week: 19

Record: 3-3

Pace: 102.7 (11) OffRtg: 101.0 (21) DefRtg: 98.2 (8) NetRtg: +2.8 (11)

Through Saturday, the Hornets had been outscored by a league-worst 9.6 points in the paint per game. But on Sunday (in Game 2 of a five-game stretch against teams that currently have winning records), Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard combined for as many points in the paint (40) as the Magic had in Charlotte's best win of the season. The Hornets have outscored their opponents by 19 points per 100 possessions in 181 minutes with both Walker and Howard on the floor, but have been outscored by 24 in 107 minutes with one or both on the bench. Cody Zeller's return (he came back from a four-game absence on Sunday) could help in that regard.

https://twitter.com/hornets/status/924810593063731200

Week 3: @ MEM, vs. MIL, @ SAS, @ MIN

Last Week: 15

Record: 3-3

Pace: 99.5 (19) OffRtg: 102.4 (17) DefRtg: 104.2 (17) NetRtg: -1.8 (18)

The Nuggets are one of only three teams that have played at a slower pace than they did last season, but their break-out offensive game came Sunday against the team - Brooklyn - that plays at the fastest pace in the league. After totaling just seven points on 13 shots in his first two games, Nikola Jokic has averaged 21 on 14 over the last four, though Sunday was the first time the rest of the starting lineup (it was a plus-26 in 20 minutes) really came along for the ride. After another game in New York on Monday, the Nuggets begin their longest homestand of the season (six games in 11 days).

Week 3: @ NYK, vs. TOR, vs. MIA, vs. GSW

Last Week: 20

Record: 3-3

Pace: 103.2 (9) OffRtg: 107.0 (5) DefRtg: 105.1 (19) NetRtg: +1.9 (13)

DeMarcus Cousins had a huge week, averaging 36.3 points, 16.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists, dropping 41 in his return to Sacramento on Thursday and recording a triple-double against the Cavs on Saturday. He ranks second in the league in scoring while registering career highs (by pretty wide margins) in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage. But as expected, Jrue Holiday has been the Pelicans' bellwether, having shot 61 percent in their three wins (in which they've scored 115 points per 100 possessions) and 29 percent in their three losses (99).

Week 3: vs. ORL, vs. MIN, @ DAL, @ CHI

Last Week: 21

Record: 3-3

Pace: 103.8 (6) OffRtg: 107.8 (4) DefRtg: 107.2 (22) NetRtg: +0.6 (16)

Two out of three ain't bad, and the Pacers (without Myles Turner) won two of three games last week against some good Western Conference teams. The one they lost was at Oklahoma City, but the trade they made with the Thunder isn't looking so bad with Victor Oladipo averaging 25.5 points on an effective field goal percentage of 58 percent after hitting the game-winning three against the Spurs on Sunday, and Domantas Sabonis ranking fifth in the league in field goal percentage. It's funny how Arvydas Sabonis' kid is better suited playing like a big man who makes plays than like a floor-spacing afterthought.

Week 3: vs. SAC, @ CLE, @ PHI, @ NYK

Last Week: 5

Record: 3-4

Pace: 100.3 (15) OffRtg: 104.3 (15) DefRtg: 109.8 (27) NetRtg: -5.4 (22)

The Cavs had their best offensive game of the season when they moved Dwyane Wade to the bench, used him and LeBron James as their only point guards, and maximized the amount of shooting they had on the floor in Tuesday's win over Chicago. But that success was fleeting and they've scored less than a point per possession in losing three straight games to Brooklyn, New Orleans and New York. We knew the defense would be sub-par (until April, at least), but it's on offense where concerns about the players they added are more legit. They're struggling against the easiest part of their schedule.

Week 3: vs. IND, @ WAS, vs. ATL

Last Week: 16

Record: 2-3

Pace: 100.3 (16) OffRtg: 101.7 (18) DefRtg: 106.7 (21) NetRtg: -5.1 (21)

Given the state of the Eastern Conference and their second-half improvement last season, the Heat seemed like a playoff team by default. But wins still do not come easy for this group, even when they make 13 threes in the first half against a bad team playing without two starters. They blew a 21-point lead against the Hawks on Monday before recovering for a win, and with a couple of more bad third quarters against San Antonio and Boston, the Heat have been the league's worst third-quarter team, both offensively and defensively. They're a plus-23 on the other three quarters and a minus-38 in the third. Their longest trip of the season (six games over 10 days) begins Friday in Denver.

Week 3: vs. MIN, vs. CHI, @ DEN, @ LAC

Last Week: 24

Record: 2-4

Pace: 102.8 (10) OffRtg: 99.1 (25) DefRtg: 106.0 (20) NetRtg: -6.8 (25)

The Sixers' week was a tale of two rookies. Markelle Fultz's shoulder/shooting situation got a lot more confusing before the team shut him down (indefinitely, as per Sunday's update). But Ben Simmons recorded his first triple-double in Detroit on Monday and had another fantastic game in Dallas on Saturday. After an ugly finish - they went scoreless on their final five possessions, with three turnovers - against Houston on Wednesday, Philly executed a little better in Dallas, with Joel Embiid doing some work in the post for their final bucket. That was the Sixers' fifth game that was within five points in the last five minutes, but the first time that Dario Saric was on the floor down the stretch.

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/924649541508349952

Week 3: @ HOU, vs. ATL, vs. IND

Last Week: 28

Record: 2-3

Pace: 99.2 (22) OffRtg: 100.6 (22) DefRtg: 102.6 (14) NetRtg: -2.0 (19)

As expected, Kristaps Porzingis has seen a huge increase in usage rate (only two regular rotation players have seen a bigger increase). As a result, he's already scored 30-plus points in more games (four) than he did in his first two seasons (three) combined. He hasn't shot better, but has been a little more efficient than he was last season, thanks to an increase in free throw rate (from 26 to 33 attempts per 100 shots from the field). Tim Hardaway finally broke through (with 34 points on 11-for-19 shooting) in Cleveland on Sunday, but it was defensive improvement (they allowed the Nets and Cavs to score just 92 points per 100 possessions) that got the Knicks their first two wins of the season, and Frank Ntilikina looks like he can make an impact on that end of the floor.

Week 3: vs. DEN, vs. HOU, vs. PHX, vs. IND

Last Week: 22

Record: 3-4

Pace: 107.4 (1) OffRtg: 106.3 (10) DefRtg: 110.6 (28) NetRtg: -4.3 (20)

The Nets were riding high after beating Cleveland on Wednesday, but then they gave the Knicks their first win on Friday, allowed the Denver offense to finally get going on Sunday, and probably realized that beating the Cavs by only five points isn't that great of a win anyway. The losses to New York and Denver made it a league-high three defeats after leading by double-digits, with only Minnesota having a worse second-half defense. They're a plus-12 in the first quarter and a minus-37 thereafter, with their last two third quarters (minus-31) accounting for most of that. Both of their meetings against the Suns are in the next eight days.

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/923371592725532672

Week 3: vs. PHX, @ LAL

Last Week: 23

Record: 2-4

Pace: 106.0 (4) OffRtg: 94.5 (29) DefRtg: 100.9 (11) NetRtg: -6.4 (24)

When the Lakers went to Brandon Ingram on the final possession of regulation against Washington on Wednesday, the result was a pretty ugly isolation against Kelly Oubre Jr. But Ingram had the bounce and the reach to tip in his own miss to send the game to overtime, where L.A. got its first quality win of the season. And then Ingram barely saw the floor down the stretch of Friday's loss to Toronto. As was the case last season, the Lakers have been at their worst in the first quarter (getting outscored by 12.3 points per 100 possessions) and incrementally better with each subsequent period, though they had a strong first period against the Raptors and couldn't hold on to what became a 17-point lead.

Week 3: vs. DET, @ POR, vs. BKN, vs. MEM

Last Week: 30

Record: 2-4

Pace: 107.0 (2) OffRtg: 96.9 (28) DefRtg: 108.1 (25) NetRtg: -11.2 (29)

In both of his two full seasons as an NBA head coach, Jay Triano's Raptors ranked last in defensive efficiency. But it's been on defense where the Suns have been more improved since Triano took over for Earl Watson last week. They've handled the Eric Bledsoe situation pretty horribly (though time will tell if they can get value for him in a trade), but new starting point guard Mike James had the game-winning drive against Sacramento on Monday and was a plus-11 in 67 minutes with Devin Booker last week. After winning their first two games under Triano, the Suns almost beat the team (Portland) that beat them by 48 on opening night, but T.J. Warren had his game-tying drive roll off the rim and Marquese Chriss missed a wide-open 18-footer for the lead in the final minute.

https://twitter.com/akaSD/status/922687953381421056

Week 3: @ BKN, @ WAS, @ NYK, @ SAS

Last Week: 27

Record: 1-6

Pace: 97.7 (27) OffRtg: 101.3 (19) DefRtg: 110.7 (29) NetRtg: -9.4 (27)

Nerlens Noel's minutes are still limited (less than 20 per game), but he has been starting alongside Dirk Nowitzki the last three games and the pair is a plus-25 (with the Mavs scoring 118 points per 100 possessions) in their 36 minutes together in that stretch. The Mavs are the only team to beat the Grizzlies (behind a big game from Dennis Smith Jr. on Wednesday), and erased some big leads on Thursday (in Memphis) and Saturday (against Philly), but haven't been able to finish. They're 0-4 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes.

Week 3: @ UTA, @ LAC, vs. NOP, @ MIN

Last Week: 25

Record: 1-5

Pace: 97.9 (26) OffRtg: 97.4 (27) DefRtg: 108.0 (24) NetRtg: -10.6 (28)

The Kings had a stretch of 48 minutes (the second half vs. New Orleans on Thursday and the first half vs. Washington on Sunday) in which they were outscored 121-68. Though the Sunday game came with two days of rest prior and a day off afterward, they rested both George Hill and Zach Randolph and started a 25-and-under lineup. Skal Labissiere may be the best player in that group so far, shooting 52 percent and somehow registering a plus-6 for a team that has been outscored by 54 points in its six games.

Week 3: @ IND, @ BOS, @ DET

Last Week: 29

Record: 1-4

Pace: 96.9 (28) OffRtg: 91.0 (30) DefRtg: 107.4 (23) NetRtg: -16.4 (30)

Fred Hoiberg's magic against the Cavs (He was 7-1 against them in his first two seasons in Chicago) continued into this season for three quarters of Tuesday's game in Cleveland, with his young guys moving the ball and with Lauri Markkanen draining five threes in the first half. Alas, the Bulls came up empty in the fourth quarter and that was the only game in which their 30th-ranked offense has scored at least a point per possession. They have three guys - Markkanen, Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez - giving them some life, and maybe Kris Dunn (who returned from injury in Saturday's loss vs. OKC) can be a fourth.

https://twitter.com/johnschuhmann/status/924663893498253312

Week 3: @ MIA, @ ORL, vs. NOP

Last Week: 26

Record: 1-6

Pace: 101.5 (12) OffRtg: 99.2 (24) DefRtg: 105.0 (18) NetRtg: -5.8 (23)

The Hawks have lost six straight games, dealing with injuries to Dennis Schroder (who's been back for the last two) and Ersan Ilyasova (who's out for at least another week). They had some decent starts (they were a plus-15 in the first quarter over their first six games) until Sunday afternoon's loss to Milwaukee, but they need to be great defensively for 48 minutes in order to hang with more talented teams and they've had the league's second worst defense in the second period (thanks in part to Wayne Ellington's six second-quarter threes on Monday).

Week 3: @ PHI, vs. HOU, @ CLE

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