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1. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are balling. They boast the league’s most effective and efficient offense. Milwaukee leads the NBA in Offensive Rating, averaging 115.3 points per 100 possessions. They also are near the top in Defensive Rating, allowing 104.4 points per 100 possessions. The Bucks are the only team in the league to rank in the top-five in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency. Unsurprisingly, Milwaukee leads the NBA in Net Rating by a wide margin, outscoring their opponents by 10.7 points per contest.
2. Toronto Raptors
Despite losing three of their four games last week, the Raptors have already notched 13 wins this season. No other team in the Eastern Conference has more than 11. Kyle Lowry exited Saturday’s blowout victory over the Bulls in the third quarter and did not return to the contest. However, coach Nick Nurse downplayed the severity of the injury when speaking with reporters after the game.
3. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have lost five of their last seven games, which is the team’s worst seven-game stretch under Steve Kerr, and are now 12-6 on the season. In 2016-17, Golden State didn’t lose their sixth game until January 6th. In 2015-16, the year before Kevin Durant arrived, when they won an NBA-record 73 games, they didn’t lose their sixth game of the season until March 6th! Nonetheless, Steve Kerr said that the team would be “very cautious” bringing Stephen Curry back from his groin injury. Draymond Green is also ailing. He missed this past weekend’s game due to a nagging toe injury.
4. Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers .688 winning percentage is tops in the Western Conference. Portland is the middle of an arduous six-game road trip; after playing the Knicks on Tuesday, the travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks Wednesday night and then face the Warriors in Golden State on Friday.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
Prior Saturday night, Russell Westbrook had missed each of the Thunder’s previous five games due to an ankle sprain. However, Westbrook was able to take part in practice on Friday, including part of the contact portions, and went through shootaround on Saturday. Then, Westbrook’s wife gave birth to twins over the weekend, and Russ left to be with his family. Coach Billy Donovan said that they didn’t know if Westbrook would’ve been physically able to play on Saturday if he was there and they never got to the point where they tried to test him to find out. Russ is listed as out for Monday’s game vs. Sacramento. Nonetheless, the streaking Thunder has won 10 of their last 11 games. That 10-1 record is the best in the league over that stretch.
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6. Philadelphia 76ers
Jimmy Butler has only been a Sixer for a week, but he’s already made quite an impression. Butler was incredibly clutch late in overtime on Saturday to carry Philly past the Hornets in Charlotte. With less than 15 seconds remaining in the game, Butler blocked Kemba Walker’s final field goal attempt and saved it inbounds to a teammate. Then, Jimmy Buckets came down the other end of the floor and drilled a game-winning dagger 3-pointer with less than a second left on the clock. Welcome to Philadelphia.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are rolling right now. They have won six of their last seven, with three of their most recent victories coming against the Bucks, Warriors and Spurs. Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams are all averaging over 19 points per game. The only other teams in the league with a trio over players averaging over 19 ppg are the Warriors and Pelicans.
8. Boston Celtics
The Celtics notched an important victory on Friday, when they knocked off the Raptors in overtime, behind 43 points courtesy of Kyrie Irving. However, they scored just 86 points in a home loss to the Jazz on Saturday. Boston’s offensive struggles this season have been puzzling. They are currently averaging fewer than 104 points per 100 possessions and rank 27th in the league in Offensive Efficiency, ahead of only the lowly Suns, Bulls and Hawks.
9. Indiana Pacers
Victor Oladipo (right knee) was a game-time decision on Saturday night but did end up starting. However, just four minutes into the game, he tumbled into the front row after a foul and reaggravated his right knee injury. He has been ruled out of Monday’s game vs. the Jazz, but, fortunately, it doesn’t sound like it will be a longterm issue. “A little sore, but I’m good,” Oladipo told reporters Monday morning.
10. Houston Rockets
The Rockets are back over .500 after stringing together a four-game winning streak, which included victories over the Pacers, Nuggets and the Warriors in Golden State. During this four-game surge, James Harden is averaging 30.8 points, 7.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 triples and 2.3 steals.
11. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grit-and-Grind approach worked well for the Grizzlies for the better part of a decade. This season, they are getting back to what they know and love in Memphis. While the rest of the league is running and gunning, the Grizz are slowing the game down and playing stout defense. The results have certainly been encouraging. Memphis, last in the league in Pace, is the only team in the league averaging fewer than 97 possessions per 48 minutes and rank fourth in the NBA in Defensive Efficiency.
12. Denver Nuggets
Over the first four games of November, Nikola Jokic averaged 5.8 points on 4.5 field goal attempts, while shooting 38.9 percent from the floor. Over his next five games, Jokic averaged 21.6 points on 16.2 FG attempts, while shooting 51.9 percent from the floor. However, the Nuggets haven’t been snap out of a surprising slump. After beginning the year by winning nine of their first ten contests, Denver has now lost five of six, with that lone win coming against the Hawks at home.
13. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans played twice over the weekend, beating the Knicks on Friday and the Nuggets on Saturday. Over that 27-hour stretch, Anthony Davis scored 83 points (on just 45 FG attempts), grabbed 25 rebounds and dished out 13 assists. Yet, it wasn’t just AD doing the damage. New Orleans had four players post double-doubles on Friday (Davis, Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic) and three players record double-doubles on Saturday (Davis, Randle and Mirotic).
14. Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James hung 51-points on Miami Sunday night. It was the Lakers seventh win in their last nine games, and they are now 9-7 on the season. This is notable because the Heat were also 9-7 through LeBron’s first 16 games with Miami, and the Cavaliers were 9-7 through his first 16 games when he re-joined Cleveland in 2014. Fans in Los Angeles are hoping that the other trend continues – both the Heat and Cavs advanced to the NBA Finals in each of those seasons.
15. Utah Jazz
It was a wild weekend for Donovan Mitchell. In a loss to the Sixers on Friday, Mitchell attempted 35 shots and converted only 13. In addition, he failed to hand out an assist. However, he bounced back the next night in Boston, when he led the Jazz to a victory over the Celtics, finishing with 28 points (on 10-of-21 shooting), six assists and three steals. Utah completes a five-game east coast road trip on Monday, but they then travel to L.A. to play the Lakers on Friday and to Sacramento to play the Kings on Sunday.
16. San Antonio Spurs
Last week started out in extremely disappointing fashion for the Spurs, as they lost three straight games, including back-to-back defeats to the Kings and the Suns. In Phoneix, San Antonio was blown out by 20 points. However, the Spurs ended the week on a high note, knocking off the shorthanded Warriors at home on Sunday.
17. Detroit Pistons
This is the Blake Griffin the Pistons hoped they were getting when they traded for him last February. Griffin currently leads the team in scoring (24.5 points), assists (4.8) and 3-pointers (2.2), while also grabbing 10.3 rebounds per game. Only three players in NBA history have averaged at least 24/10/4 and two treys per game over the course of a full season: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and DeMarcus Cousins.
18. Orlando Magic
Winners of seven of their last nine games, the Magic have looked like a new team in November. The Magic’s seven victories are the most in the Eastern Conference dating back to November 4th. The offense has been explosive. Orlando is scoring 114.2 points per 100 possessions over that stretch, which ranks third in the NBA.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves won their first three games last week, before falling to the Grizzlies. Minnesota plays Denver on Wednesday but then have a chance to rack up some wins when they play the Nets, Bulls and Cavs in their first three games after Thanksgiving. The resurgent Derrick Rose has scored at least 17 points in six straight games. He is averaging 21.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.7 treys (while shooting 49.5 percent from the floor and 57.1 percent from downtown) during this six-game stretch.
20. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs are playing very well of late, winning five of their last six games. They are being led by a precocious neophyte, Luka Doncic. Over his first 15 career NBA games, Doncic has tallied 292 points, 99 rebounds and 63 assists. The only rookies in NBA history to match or exceed those totals in those categories in their first 15 career contests are Oscar Roberston and Magic Johnson. Pretty exclusive company for the teenager from Slovenia.
21. Charlotte Hornets
The league is still buzzing about Kemba Walker’s incredible 60-point explosion against the Sixers on Saturday. Kemba 60’s points were the most ever in Charlotte’s franchise history, and the most ever in NBA by a player shorter than 6’2”. Walker is currently averaging 28.7 points per game, which is second in the league behind only Stephen Curry.
22. Sacramento Kings
Before losing at Memphis and Houston over the weekend, the Kings had jumped out to an 8-6 record. It was the first time they’d won eight of their first 14 games since 2014. Part of the reason for Sacramento success this season has been their ability to push the pace. The Kings are averaging 22.9 fastbreak points per game, the highest average this season. They’ve scored at least 17 fast-break points in every game they’ve played this season.
23. Brooklyn Nets
Jarrett Allen missed a pair of games recently due to an illness but has looked great since returning to the lineup. Over the Nets two contests this past weekend, Allen averaged 20.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, while shooting 54.2 percent from the floor and 82.4% from the charity stripe.
24. Miami Heat
The slumping Heat have lost six of their last seven games, and a knee injury has slowed Goran Dragic. He did not play Sunday vs. the Lakers and could be sidelined for additional games. “He’s sore, still, and a little bit swollen,” coach Erik Spoelstra said on Sunday. “He already has had an MRI but we’ll check him out again [Monday] and then we’ll go from there.”
25. Washington Wizards
Hard to imagine, but things may go from bad to worse for the Wizards. They find themselves six games under .500 after losing to the Blazers on Sunday night and Dwight Howard (gluteal soreness) exited the game and was unable to return. Now the Wiz have two weeks of tough games to look forward to. Washington’s next six opponents are the Clippers, Raptors, Pelicans, Rockets, Pelicans and 76ers. Yikes. On Monday morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski published an article which stated that every player on the Wizards “is available to discuss in trade scenarios.”
26. New York Knicks
The Knicks have lost six of their last seven, and have been sieve-like defensively of late. New York has allowed opponents to score at least 128 points in four of their previous five and each of their past three games. It’s the first time they have given up 128+ points in three consecutive contests in over 40 years. Things won’t get any easier for New York; each of their next seven opponents currently has a winning record.
27. Chicago Bulls
After a scorching start to the season, Zach LaVine has come back down to earth. He scored at least 20 points in each of the Bulls first 14 games, averaging 27.1 PPG. However, he sat out Saturday’s blowout loss to the Raptors due to an illness. In his two previous two contests, as he was fighting a cold, he averaged 12.5 points, while shooting just 29.0 percent from the floor.
28. Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker has struggled with his jumper of late. Over Phoenix’s last four games, Booker is shooting just 35.0 percent from the floor. He looked to be laboring a bit during his most recent outing, and he may still be dealing with some pain in his hamstring, which can zap a shooter’s leg stretch. However, Booker has still been doing his part to facilitate the offense. He’s dished out 12 assists in each of the Suns past two games. On the season, he’s averaging a career-high 7.3 dimes. Coming into this year, his previous career-high was just 4.7 assists.
29. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks have lost 11 of their last 12, but Atlanta fans had reason to be excited last week when stud sophomore John Collins returned to the lineup. Collins was moving well in his 2018-19 debut and finished with 12 points in just 12 minutes of action.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James returns to Cleveland for the first time as a Laker on Wednesday night. In an article authored by Joe Vardon of The Athletic on Monday, James goes on record stating that he did not want the Cavs to trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics back in the summer of 2016. “Everyone knows that when Kyrie got traded it was the beginning of the end for everything. It’s not a secret,” James said