Power Rankings, Week 4: Tough tests await No. 1-ranked Warriors
In the words of Sam Hinkie, every game is a data point. And as each week passes, we learn a little more about the 30 teams in this NBA of ours.
Take the Detroit Pistons, for instance. Ten days into the season, the Pistons were 4-0, looking much improved under new coach Dwane Casey and with the super shooting and playmaking of Blake Griffin. Their four wins were by a total of 13 points, three of them were at home and the other was against the Chicago Bulls, but 4-0 was 4-0. Now, the Pistons are 4-4, and we the point-differential context of those first four games looks important.
Speaking of point differential, the Charlotte Hornets are up to their old tricks. The team that has had a losing record and a positive point differential in each of the last two seasons (they were the only team with that distinction last season) is 5-5, with the point differential (plus-7.6 per game, sixth best in the league) of a team that should be 8-2. The Hornets have three wins by 29 points or more (the rest of the league has six total), but are 1-4 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes.
Charlotte and Detroit were expected to compete for the Eastern Conference playoff spot vacated by LeBron James when he left for L.A. Now, the Washington Wizards may be making room for both of them, but the Hornets-Pistons comparison should be fun to monitor all season long. Both teams go into Week 4 with .500 records and they’ll meet for the first time on Sunday in Detroit.
The top two teams in this week’s rankings, meanwhile, will meet for the first time on Thursday in Oakland.
- Last week Raptors still tops, but Bucks and Warriors gain ground
- This time last year: Quality wins push Pistons into top five — Kristaps Porzingis looked positively unicorn-y on both ends of the floor, and Kris Dunn threw one down on Kelly Olynyk. LeBron James hosted a Halloween party and then scored 57 points in Washington. James Harden dropped 56 on the Jazz, Joel Embiid played 30 minutes for the first time in his career, and Damian Lillard drained a step-back game-winner against the Lakers.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Mr. Plus: Kevin Durant (GSW) was a plus-74 in three games last week.
- Mr. Minus: Justin Holiday (CHI) was a minus-61 in four games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: Denver (4-0) — The Nuggets’ week included two important Western Conference wins (over New Orleans and Utah) that sandwiched a pair of road wins (in Chicago and Cleveland).
- Something Just Ain’t Right: Miami (0-3) — Losses to the Kings, Hornets and Hawks, along with continued injury issues, have the Heat reeling a bit.
East vs. West
- The West is 24-15 (.615) against the East in interconference games after going 13-6 last week.
Movement in the Rankings
- High jumps of the week: Oklahoma City (+11), Sacramento (+9), Memphis (+6)
- Free falls of the week: New Orleans (-11), Miami (-9), Detroit (-8), Utah (-8)
Week 4 Team to Watch
- Golden State — The Warriors have been dominant, but they’ve also played one of the league’s easiest schedules thus far. In fact, they don’t yet have a win over one of the other 11 teams that currently has a winning record, with their only game within the group having been their loss in Denver. Home games against the 5-3 Grizzlies (Monday on NBA TV) and 8-1 Bucks (Thursday on TNT) are opportunities for them to pick up quality wins and for us to see if they’ve truly got their foot on the pedal. They’ll also host Brooklyn (who gave them a good game eight days ago) on Saturday.
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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 102.2 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 108.8 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: 2 ↑
Pace: 103.9 (10) OffRtg: 119.7 (1) DefRtg: 106.3 (10) NetRtg: +13.3 (2)
Klay Thompson broke out of his slump in resounding fashion, draining an NBA-record 14 3-pointers in Chicago on Monday. Whether or not they're setting records, the Warriors are putting up huge numbers, not only by employing Thompson, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. They rank second in player movement (12.4 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession) and third in ball movement (394 passes per 24 minutes of possession), with a seven-pass possession against Minnesota on Friday being a proper display of how hard they are to guard. The 124.8 points per 100 possessions the champs have scored over their seven-game winning streak is the most that they've scored over any seven-game stretch in their five seasons under Steve Kerr. Of course, five of the seven opponents during the streak rank in the bottom six on defense. Their five-game homestand now continues with two games against top-five defenses on Monday and Thursday.
Week 4: vs. MEM, vs. MIL, vs. BKN
Last Week: 3 ↑
Pace: 106.1 (4) OffRtg: 114.7 (3) DefRtg: 100.1 (2) NetRtg: +14.6 (1)
The Bucks didn't need a big game from Khris Middleton to beat the Kawhi-Leonard-less Raptors without Giannis Antetokounmpo on Monday to remain the only undefeated team in the league. And after the Celtics ended their perfect season on Thursday, they recovered to destroy the Kings with another balanced effort (and a triple-double from Antetokounmpo) on Sunday. They've seen the league's biggest increase in the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range (from 30 percent to 45 percent), but they've also outscored their opponents in the paint in all nine of their games. The Bucks now head out for their first multi-game trip of the season (their three road games thus far have all be single-game trips), with the four opponents having a cumulative record of 29-9.
Week 4: @ POR, @ GSW, @ LAC, @ DEN
Last Week: 4 ↑
Pace: 99.8 (24) OffRtg: 110.3 (11) DefRtg: 100.9 (3) NetRtg: +9.5 (3)
The Pelicans were without Anthony Davis when Denver beat them on Monday, and the Jazz were playing the second game of a back-to-back when Denver beat them on Saturday. But there's not much to dislike about how well the Nuggets have taken care of business. They remain the league's most improved defensive team (having allowed 9.0 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season), with their more aggressive scheme resulting in improved numbers on the perimeter. They've gone from 22nd to sixth in opponent turnover rate and 29th to eighth in opponent effective field goal percentage on shots from outside the paint. The Jazz shot just 6-for-31 (19 percent) from 3-point range on Saturday, which was the start of a stretch in which the Nuggets are playing six of seven games at home.
Week 4: vs. BOS, @ MEM, vs. BKN, vs. MIL
Last Week: 1 ↓
Pace: 102.2 (14) OffRtg: 114.0 (4) DefRtg: 105.7 (8) NetRtg: +8.3 (5)
The Raptors lost the game between the league's last two unbeaten teams and then lost Kawhi Leonard to a foot injury. (Hopefully, team and player remain on the same page in regard to that.) But they handled the Sixers in their first meeting on Tuesday and are 2-0 on their four-game trip, having blasted the Lakers out of the gates (they led 41-10 with a little more than two minutes to go in the first quarter) on Sunday. Kyle Lowry leads the league in assists (11.6 per game) by a wide margin and he's had almost twice as many assists to Serge Ibaka (34) as he's to any other teammate (next is 18 to Pascal Siakam). Ibaka had a rough 2018 postseason, but appears much more comfortable as a full-time center (he's played less than a minute with Jonas Valanciunas), shooting 57 percent after a 15-for-17 performance in L.A. He has shot 78 percent in the restricted area, where 38 percent of his shots have come from. That latter rate isn't a career-high, but it's up from just 18 percent over the previous two seasons.
Week 4: @ UTA, @ SAC, vs. NYK
Last Week: 8 ↑
Pace: 96.8 (30) OffRtg: 111.7 (7) DefRtg: 106.0 (9) NetRtg: +5.7 (7)
The Pacers' revamped bench had a rough night against the Blazers on Monday, when the team was outscored by 18 points in less than 24 minutes with at least one reserve on the floor. But Domantas Sabonis scored 30 points on a perfect 12-for-12 shooting in New York on Wednesday and coach Nate McMillan has continued to lean heavily on his starting lineup, which has played 45 more minutes than any other lineup in the league. And of course, in close games, the Pacers lean heavily on Victor Oladipo, who has shot 8-for-11 in the clutch, with his pull-up, game-winning three on Saturday being the highlight. Since that meltdown in the final seconds last December, the Pacers have won three straight games against the Celtics.
Week 4: vs. HOU, vs. PHI, @ MIA, @ HOU
Last Week: 6
Pace: 101.0 (17) OffRtg: 102.7 (27) DefRtg: 98.9 (1) NetRtg: +3.8 (9)
Boston games have been the ugliest in the league, with the Celtics and their opponents combining to score less than 101 points per 100 possessions. Not coincidentally, seven of their nine games have been within five points in the last five minutes. They almost blew double-digit, fourth-quarter leads to Detroit and Milwaukee last week, but are the only team to have beat the Bucks and probably would have won in Indiana on Saturday had Kyrie Irving made a layup. For the most part, they've been playing Marcus Morris over Gordon Hayward down the stretch of close games and their starting lineup continues to struggle offensively. It shot just 7-for-25 (with only two free throw attempts) in their loss in Indiana, which was the start of their longest road trip (five games) of the season.
Week 4: @ DEN, @ PHX, @ UTA, @ POR
Last Week: 12 ↑
Pace: 102.1 (15) OffRtg: 113.5 (5) DefRtg: 104.6 (5) NetRtg: +8.9 (4)
The Blazers went 4-1 in their five-game week, holding their opponents to just 97 points per 100 possessions, but losing to the Lakers on Saturday by missing 29 of their 35 3-point attempts. That was a rare game where their bench let them down, but it recovered 24 hours later, pushing them to an easy win over Minnesota (with Meyers Leonard playing a season-high 22 minutes). Evan Turner still can't shoot 3-pointers, but is one of 11 players who has averaged at least 12 points, six rebounds and six assists per 36 minutes, and the Blazers have scored 115.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor with Damian Lillard and/or C.J. McCollum.
Week 4: vs. MIL, vs. LAC, vs. BOS
Last Week: 13 ↑
Pace: 99.3 (27) OffRtg: 111.6 (8) DefRtg: 109.9 (17) NetRtg: +1.7 (11)
DeMar DeRozan continues to look pretty comfortable in his new home, averaging 28 points over the last five games, shooting 51 percent from mid-range over that stretch, making his last 28 free throws, and daggering the Mavs on Monday with a step-back jumper. The Spurs' offense continues to score efficiently (114 points per 100 possessions) with DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge both on the floor. The Spurs' defense, meanwhile, had climbed from 30th in the league (before last week) to 16th (through Saturday) by holding three straight opponents (including the Pelicans with Anthony Davis) under a point per possession. And then it allowed the league's worst offense (that of the Magic) to have its best game of the season (117 points on just 97 possessions) on Sunday. They'll play nine of their next 12 games on the road.
Week 4: @ MIA, vs. HOU
Last Week: 9
Pace: 104.4 (9) OffRtg: 110.9 (9) DefRtg: 105.3 (7) NetRtg: +5.5 (8)
Among the Clippers' 20 most-used two-man combinations, the best (in regard to on-court point differential per 100 possessions) has been The Bobi and Tobi Show, with the Clips having outscored their opponents by 25.3 with buddies Boban Marjanovic and Tobias Harris on the floor together. Marjanovic got the second start of his career in Orlando on Friday and Marcin Gortat was out of the rotation completely, but it was again bench minutes that got the Clips back over .500 after a couple of ugly offensive games in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. The Clips are near the bottom of the league in 3-point rate (only 28 percent of their shots have come from beyond the arc), but at the very top in free throw rate (35 attempts per 100 shots from the field), even though team-leader Lou Williams' 5.8 attempts per game rank just 20th in the league.
Week 4: vs. MIN, @ POR, vs. MIL
Last Week: 19 ↑
Pace: 108.1 (2) OffRtg: 110.2 (12) DefRtg: 110.0 (18) NetRtg: +0.3 (15)
Though the Kings still stand as the league's most improved offensive team (having scored 7.2 more points per 100 possessions than they did last season), their five-game winning streak (their longest since they won five straight in January of 2016) was as much about defense (their opponents shot just 29 percent from 3-point range and scored just 99 points per 100 possessions) as it was about offense. There's some concern in that they rank last in shot-location defense, with only 23 percent of their opponents' shots having come from between the restricted area and 3-point range (and they haven't played the Rockets yet). The winning streak came to an end in Milwaukee on Sunday, the first of a five-game stretch where four of the five opponents rank in the top 10 on offense.
Week 4: vs. TOR, vs. MIN, vs. LAL
Last Week: 22 ↑
Pace: 105.4 (6) OffRtg: 106.4 (21) DefRtg: 105.0 (6) NetRtg: +1.4 (12)
After losing their first four games, the Thunder have won four straight. The much bigger difference (almost 18 points per 100 possessions) between the wins and the losses has been on the offensive end of the floor, where they've had some huge quarters (one of 38 points or more in each of the last three wins) and where Dennis Schroder has been pretty consistent, even if his minutes alongside Russell Westbrook haven't been. The pair is a minus-12 in 76 total minutes and the Thunder managed to beat the Clippers on Tuesday despite getting outscored by 14 points in 10 minutes with the two point guards on the floor. The starting lineup (with Jerami Grant having taken Patrick Patterson's spot after three games) was huge that night, but has otherwise been inconsistent as well. Home games against the Pelicans and Rockets this week still feel important, but the Thunder's win in Washington on Friday begin a stretch of eight straight against teams that are currently under .500.
Week 4: vs. NOP, @ CLE, vs. HOU, @ DAL
Last Week: 16 ↑
Pace: 100.5 (21) OffRtg: 115.1 (2) DefRtg: 107.7 (12) NetRtg: +7.5 (6)
As noted above, the Hornets continue to have late-game issues. They couldn't get the stop they needed late against Oklahoma City on Thursday and are 5-5 with the point differential of a team that's 8-2. But they have the second-ranked offense in the league, having played four of their 10 games against top-10 defenses. They continue to take care of the ball and have seen a big jump in the percentage of their shots that have come from the restricted area or 3-point range. Tony Parker has averaged 16.2 points off the bench in his last five games and the team has scored more than 126 points per 100 possessions in 52 total minutes with Parker and Kemba Walker on the floor together.
Week 4: vs. ATL, @ PHI, @ DET
Last Week: 14 ↑
Pace: 105.0 (7) OffRtg: 105.3 (25) DefRtg: 106.6 (11) NetRtg: -1.3 (18)
The Sixers are 6-0 at home after wins over the Clippers and Pistons in which Joel Embiid totaled 80 points and 30 rebounds. The Sixers are also 0-5 on the road after losses in Toronto and Brooklyn (both the second game of back-to-backs) in which they totaled 51 turnovers. 51! Dario Saric hasn't shot well at home (effective field goal percentage of 36 percent) or on the road (45 percent), one reason why (beyond the Markelle Fultz thing) the starting lineup has struggled, why Mike Muscala was on the floor late against the Clips and Pistons, and why Wilson Chandler's return (he played Saturday) was noteworthy. The Brooklyn loss was the start of a stretch where they're playing six of eight on the road.
Week 4: @ IND, vs. CHA, @ MEM
Last Week: 20 ↑
Pace: 96.8 (29) OffRtg: 107.2 (16) DefRtg: 103.8 (4) NetRtg: +3.5 (10)
Mike Conley's free throw rate of 40 attempts per 100 shots from the field is a career-high mark. But his effective field goal percentage of 41.6 percent is a career low, and he was 1-for-8 in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies blew 12-point lead in Phoenix on Sunday, ending a three-game winning streak in which they scored 117 points per 100 possessions. The Grizzlies latest starting lineup (Kyle Anderson and Jaren Jackson Jr. in place of the injured Chandler Parsons and JaMychal Green) has been brutal offensively (83 points scored per 100 possessions in its 47 minutes), but they've gotten good minutes off the bench from Shelvin Mack, who's a plus-43 over the last four games.
Week 4: @ GSW, vs. DEN, vs. PHI
Last Week: 7 ↓
Pace: 100.9 (18) OffRtg: 108.7 (15) DefRtg: 107.7 (13) NetRtg: +1.0 (13)
The Jazz offense had some good minutes with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert on the floor together against Minnesota and Memphis last week, but those were the teams' two worst defensive games of the season, with a couple of point guards -- Derrick Rose and Mike Conley -- recording season highs in scoring. And with an ugly offensive performance in Denver on Saturday, the Jazz have a three-game losing streak, with Donovan Mitchell out for Monday's game against Toronto with an ankle injury (which will give him as many absences -- two -- as he had all of last season). They've played five of their last six on the road and are still winless (0-3) at Vivint Smart Home Arena, but will have a rest advantage for each of their three games on this week's homestand (all three opponents will be playing the second game of a back-to-back).
Week 4: vs. TOR, vs. DAL, vs. BOS
Last Week: 5 ↓
Pace: 105.9 (5) OffRtg: 112.2 (6) DefRtg: 114.0 (27) NetRtg: -1.8 (19)
The bigger difference between the Pelicans' five-game losing streak and the four-game winning streak that preceded it has been on offense, but mostly because how efficiently they scored over those first four games was unsustainable. They rank 29th defensively (117.2 points allowed per 100 possessions) over the losing streak, with Anthony Davis having missed three of the five games and with one of the other two having been against the Warriors. The Pelicans have been 27.5 points per 100 possessions better with Davis on the floor (plus-12.7) than they've been with him on the bench (minus-14.8). Julius Randle has scored pretty efficiently -- he and Davis have the two highest free throw rates (58 and 55 attempts per 100 shots from the field, respectively) among 82 players with at least 100 field goal attempts -- but not enough to negate his issues on the other end of the floor. Their tough, five-game trip concludes in Oklahoma City on Monday.
Week 4: @ OKC, vs. CHI, vs. PHX
Last Week: 15 ↓
Pace: 106.3 (3) OffRtg: 110.8 (10) DefRtg: 111.6 (23) NetRtg: -0.8 (16)
It took less than 10 games into his first season with LeBron James for coach Luke Walton's job security to become a topic of conversation. The Lakers sort of responded with two straight wins, including their best defensive game of the season (allowing 110 points on 109 possessions in Portland on Saturday), but then got thumped by the Kawhi-Leonard-less Raptors at home on Sunday. Last season, they rose from 30th to 13th in defensive efficiency. This year, they're back in the bottom 10, having allowed their opponents to take 40 percent of their shots -- the league's highest rate -- in the restricted area. They have played half of their games against the league's top-10 offenses and only two against the bottom 10. Tyson Chandler is reportedly on his way, but we'll see if playing more minutes with a real center has a detrimental effect on their offense.
Week 4: vs. MIN, @ SAC, vs. ATL
Last Week: 10 ↓
Pace: 101.3 (16) OffRtg: 105.4 (24) DefRtg: 107.8 (14) NetRtg: -2.4 (20)
The Pistons have followed their 4-0 start with four straight losses and the league's worst offense (97 points scored per 100 possessions) over the losing streak. Blake Griffin has cooled off from 3-point range, Reggie Jackson has been ice cold (28 percent shooting over the streak), and nobody else has picked up the slack. Ball and player movement are lacking; The Pistons rank 25th in distance traveled per 24 minutes of possession and last in assist rate (having assisted on less than half of their buckets). But even when they've shot off the catch, they've shot poorly, ranking last in catch-and-shoot effective field goal percentage (43.0 percent). Two of the four losses have been against the league's best defensive team (Boston), and they will face four middle-of-the-pack defenses this week.
Week 4: vs. MIA, @ ORL, @ ATL, vs. CHA
Last Week: 17 ↓
Pace: 100.5 (20) OffRtg: 106.0 (23) DefRtg: 111.3 (21) NetRtg: -5.3 (22)
Wins over the Nets and Bulls helped the Rockets start the climb back from a 1-5 start, though they haven't necessarily figured things out on either end of the floor. They allowed Brooklyn's 13th-ranked offense to score more than 120 points per 100 possessions on Friday and scored less than a point per possession against Chicago's 29th-ranked defense on Saturday (with James Harden returning from a three-game absence). It feels like we're just waiting on this team to make a trade, with injuries to Eric Gordon and Nene pushing guys named Gary Clark and Isaiah Hartenstein into the nine-man rotation, but the upcoming schedule is tough, with their next seven opponents having a cumulative record of 47-19.
Week 4: @ IND, @ OKC, @ SAS, vs. IND
Last Week: 11 ↓
Pace: 102.6 (12) OffRtg: 109.9 (14) DefRtg: 109.2 (15) NetRtg: +0.6 (14)
The Heat got Wayne Ellington back on Saturday, but, with Goran Dragic dealing with pain in his foot, were without a point guard in Atlanta. Of course, offense hasn't been the issue as they've lost three straight. Josh Richardson set new career highs (31 and then 32 points) twice last week, Dwyane Wade had a pair of efficient, 19-point games off the bench, and Hassan Whiteside got his first assist (in his 214th minute) of the season on Saturday. But the Heat have allowed the Kings, Hornets and Hawks to shoot 44 percent from 3-point range and score more than 119 points per 100 possessions over their losing streak. They'll face two top-10 offenses (those of the Spurs and Pacers) this week.
Week 4: @ DET, vs. SAS, vs. IND, vs. WAS
Last Week: 18 ↓
Pace: 103.3 (11) OffRtg: 107.1 (17) DefRtg: 114.0 (26) NetRtg: -6.9 (24)
Derrick Rose's 50 points against Utah on Wednesday were a diversion from the Wolves' Jimmy Butler problem. But that problem only got worse last week, with Butler choosing to sit games (the win over the Jazz and the Wolves' loss in Portland on Sunday) because of "general soreness." The Wolves began their five-game trip by scoring an anemic 89 points per 100 possessions at Portland and Golden State over the weekend, with Tyus Jones shooting 5-for-20 in place of the (actually) injured Jeff Teague. It remains unclear just how urgent they are to get a deal done, but they're 0-5 on the road and will face a third straight top-10 defense (that of the Clippers) on Monday.
Week 4: @ LAC, @ LAL, @ SAC
Last Week: 24 ↑
Pace: 100.4 (22) OffRtg: 101.3 (30) DefRtg: 111.3 (22) NetRtg: -10.0 (28)
After scoring a brutal 92 points per 100 possessions over their previous three games, the Magic had their best offensive performance of the season in San Antonio on Sunday. It might not be a coincidence that Jonathan Isaac missed the game with a sprained ankle, because his injury allowed Aaron Gordon to play the four next to Wesley Iwundu or Terrence Ross. Gordon scored 26 points (after averaging just 11 over the previous three games) and has an effective field goal percentage of 56 percent with Isaac off the floor and just 44 percent with Isaac on the floor. The game in San Antonio concluded a stretch of seven straight games against teams that that currently have winning records and the league's worst offense will face the league's worst defense on Monday.
Week 4: vs. CLE, vs. DET, vs. WAS, @ NYK
Last Week: 28 ↑
Pace: 100.0 (23) OffRtg: 106.1 (22) DefRtg: 109.6 (16) NetRtg: -3.5 (21)
The Knicks' new starting lineup (with 20-year-olds at point guard and center) is a plus-1 in its 68 minutes, having held its four non-Warriors opponents to just 90 points per 100 possessions. Mitchell Robinson has provided the highlights (like this one, this one and this one) and Tim Hardaway has helped them manage offensively by ranking as one of the best pull-up shooters in the league. But Hardaway didn't look good after suffering a back injury in the first quarter of the Knicks' loss in Washington on Sunday.
Week 4: vs. CHI, @ ATL, @ TOR, vs. ORL
Last Week: 21 ↓
Pace: 98.9 (28) OffRtg: 110.1 (13) DefRtg: 111.2 (20) NetRtg: -1.1 (17)
The Nets are a plus-38 in the first six minutes of the first quarter and a minus-52 otherwise. Not coincidentally, they're also the team that got drilled by the Knicks and beat the Sixers by 25 in the same week. In between the Jekyll and Hyde act was a loss to the Rockets (in which they had a 14-point lead in the first half) and a Spencer Dinwiddie Special, with the back-up point guard making four threes in the final 8:02 of their overtime win over his old team on Wednesday. Dinwiddie finished third in Kia Most Improved Player voting last season and has seen one of the league's biggest increases in effective field goal percentage (from 47.1 percent to 57.2 percent) thus far this year, though his assist rate is way down (in a contract year, coincidentally or not). The Nets will play seven of their next nine games on the road, where they're currently 1-4.
Week 4: @ PHX, @ DEN, @ GSW
Last Week: 25
Pace: 108.3 (1) OffRtg: 102.5 (28) DefRtg: 110.9 (19) NetRtg: -8.4 (26)
The Hawks ended a four-game losing streak (by beating the Heat) on Saturday, because they didn't get destroyed in the third quarter like they did over the course of the losing streak (getting outscored 144-85 in the third over the four games). Their original starting lineup wasn't the source of all their third-quarter issues, but has been outscored by 24.1 points per 100 possessions, the worst mark among 37 lineups that have played at least 50 minutes. A change was made on Saturday, with Omari Spellman replacing Vince Carter at the four. The Hawks' three first round picks have played just 27 minutes together, but the offense has been potent (132 points scored per 100 possessions) in those minutes.
Week 4: @ CHA, vs. NYK, vs. DET, @ LAL
Last Week: 26
Pace: 105.0 (8) OffRtg: 104.7 (26) DefRtg: 113.8 (25) NetRtg: -9.1 (27)
The Dwight Howard era got off to a great start, with Howard scoring 13 first-quarter points as part of a hot offensive start against Oklahoma City on Friday. But things quickly went downhill from there (especially on the other end of the floor) in Howard's first game, continuing a five-game losing streak over which the Wizards allowed a league-worst 121 points per 100 possessions. Things didn't fall apart on Sunday and the Wizards held an opponent under a point per possession for the first time this season. That opponent was the Knicks, but you have to start somewhere and that was actually the start of seven straight games against teams that currently have losing records. The next step is playing well with Otto Porter (who missed Sunday's game with a toe injury) in the lineup.
Week 4: @ DAL, @ ORL, @ MIA
Last Week: 23 ↓
Pace: 99.5 (25) OffRtg: 106.5 (20) DefRtg: 114.5 (29) NetRtg: -8.1 (25)
The Bulls went 0-4 on their longest homestand of the season, but, after getting thumped by Klay Thompson and the Warriors on Monday, they were competitive against Denver, Indiana and Houston. And Wendell Carter Jr. held his own against some pretty good centers, averaging 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, four assists, two steals and 2.7 blocks, while registering a team-best plus-14 over the three games. Robin Lopez won Halloween with his Elliott costume, his nickname is the best chocolate candy there is, and (after five straight DNPs) he also got to play a few minutes on Friday, having a few fun interactions at the rim with Victor Oladipo.
Week 4: @ NYK, @ NOP, vs. CLE
Last Week: 29 ↑
Pace: 100.6 (19) OffRtg: 102.2 (29) DefRtg: 114.0 (28) NetRtg: -11.8 (29)
The Suns got Devin Booker back on Friday and he ended their seven-game losing streak on Sunday by scoring 14 of their 25 fourth-quarter points (including the game-winning bucket) as they came back from a 12-point deficit with less than nine minutes to go to beat Memphis. Booker's return hasn't kept Mikal Bridges from getting minutes off the bench (despite playing-time competition from Josh Jackson and Jamal Crawford), and the rookie shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range on Sunday, draining a game-tying three off a swing pass from Booker with less than three minutes left. The Suns have scored 91 points on 70 possessions (130 per 100) with Booker and Bridges on the floor together.
Week 4: vs. BKN, vs. BOS, @ NOP
Last Week: 27 ↓
Pace: 102.3 (x) OffRtg: 107.0 (x) DefRtg: 112.9 (x) NetRtg: -5.9 (x)
The Mavs have lost six straight games, mostly because their offense has been bad, but also because Dennis Smith Jr. missed a free throw in San Antonio on Monday and Wesley Matthews committed a dumb foul in L.A. on Wednesday. They're 0-5 on the road and 0-5 with Harrison Barnes, who has made just 10 (26 percent) of his 38 shots from outside the paint. Luka Doncic scored a career-high 31 points against the Spurs and made some big plays out of the pick-and-roll as the Mavs erased a 14-point deficit with four minutes to go against the Lakers. Even though Dirk Nowitzki hasn't played yet, the Mavs' bench remains fun, with Maxi Kleber improved and ridiculously athletic. He ranks in the top 10 in blocks per 36 minutes, with his chase-down of LeBron James being the highlight.
Week 4: vs. WAS, @ UTA, vs. OKC
Last Week: 30
Pace: 99.4 (26) OffRtg: 106.7 (19) DefRtg: 118.5 (30) NetRtg: -11.8 (30)
The Cavs got off the schneid by beating the Hawks on Tuesday, with Rodney Hood having his best game (26 points on 9-for-13 shooting) since coming to Cleveland at the deadline last season. But Kevin Love had foot surgery on Friday, it's not clear what Larry Drew's status is, J.R. Smith wants out, and Kyle Korver has reportedly been expecting a trade as well. It's one thing to be bad, and all pretense of the Cavs competing for a playoff spot is obviously out the window. It's another thing to be dysfunctional, with no clear direction and talk of the team's prize rookie (Collin Sexton) having a long way to go. The Kyrie Irving trade and the Cavs' current situation would probably look at lot better if the Nets had won eight fewer games than they did last season.
Week 4: @ ORL, vs. OKC, @ CHI
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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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