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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