The Philadelphia 76ers appear to be trusting the process and as a result are my team of the week. The 76ers (5-4) have won four straight games to move above the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 13, 2013.
Philadelphia has scored at least 112 points during the current winning streak, increasing its offensive output in each of their four games, culminating with a season-high 121 points in the win over Indiana on Saturday. The Sixers shot 50% (46-of-92) from the field and made a season-high 18 three-pointers, on 36 attempts (36%), against the Pacers. It is the second time that the Sixers have made at least half of their shots from the field this year.
Their offensive production is the biggest reason why the 76ers are off to their best start since 2013. Philadelphia is averaging 116.4 points a game and has outscored its opponents by 31 points during this four-game stretch. Overall, the Sixers are averaging 107.7 points a game (10th in the league) though they are shooting just 44.2% from the floor (27th). They are also third in the league with 12.7 three-pointers a game and fourth in three-point percentage (39.5%).
The Sixers, the second youngest team in the league with an average age of 24.2, still have long ways to go if they want to end their five-year playoff drought. The Sixers do have a lot of nice young pieces in Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. 2017 No. 1 draft pick Markelle Fultz, who has struggled in the early going, is out until mid-November with a shoulder injury.
Simmons and Embiid are certainly the team’s catalyst and both are off to great starts to the season. But the key to the continued success of the team will fall on the shoulders of veterans J.J. Redick, Robert Covington and Jerryd Bayless. The reason being is those three are the team’s lone shooters.
Covington is one of the best three-point shooters this year while Redick is one of the most proficient long-range bombers in the history of the league. Covington, 11-of-20 on shots from beyond the arc over the last two games, has made at least one triple in each of his nine games. The 6-9 forward is currently 6th in the league with 32 triples, knocking them down at a 49.2% clip. Covington is third on the team at 15.4 points per game, on 47.6% from the field, with 7.1 points coming while spotting up.
While Covington is mainly a spot-up shooter, Redick is at his best shooting off the move. Redick poured in a season-high 33 points, on 11-of-19 from the floor including 8-of-12 on three-pointers, against the Pacers. It was Redick’s fourth game with at least three triples this year. Redick is averaging 15.0 points as he is shooting 43.8% from the field and 43.5% (20-of-46) from beyond the arc in seven games.
Bayless has been the team’s rock. With Simmons taking over the ball-handling duties, Bayless has been able to mill around the three-point line and wait for someone to deliver a pass. The oft-injured 29-year-old is producing 11.0 points, on 46.1% from the field and 42.2% on three-pointers.
The Sixers will likely need to keep up their offensive production because they have issues on the defensive end. The 76ers have allowed at least 100 points in eight of their first nine games and are permitting 108.6 points a contest, which ranks 22nd in the league. They are 16th in defensive rating as they are holding opponents to 44.3% from the floor and 31.5% from beyond the arc.
Philadelphia’s biggest problems are turnovers and fouls. The Sixers rank last in the league in both categories as they are committing 18.1 turnovers and have been called for 25 fouls a game.
This is the second edition of the weekly power rankings. The rankings will include the movement of each team relative to where they were ranked last week.
1. Boston Celtics (8-2), +7 spots
The Celtics are the first team in NBA history to reel off eight victories after starting the season 0-2. Veteran Marcus Morris, who made his season debut on Nov. 3, averaged 10.5 points along with 5.5 rebounds in 20.5 minutes of action in two games. Boston, which ranks first in scoring defense and defensive rating, has held all eight of their opponents during the winning streak to under 94 points.
2. Golden State Warriors (7-3), +3 spots
The Dubs won six of seven including three in a row, all on the road and by at least 19 points. Steph Curry picked up his first double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 assists in the win over the Nuggets on Saturday, but more impressively he registered a career-high plus-minus-+44. Third quarter was important for the Warriors during the recent road trip as they outscored their three opponents by an average of 36.7-to 24.4. Golden State is currently the highest scoring team in the third stanza at 31.9 points a game, which is also their highest scoring quarter.
3. Houston Rockets (8-3), -1 spot
The Rockets have won three straight as they have scored at least 119 points in each of those games, which includes a season-high 137 on Sunday. James Harden was directly involved in 66.4% of the Rockets points against the Jazz (Sunday) as he had a career-high 56 points to go along with 13 assists, tying him with Russell Westbrook for the most games (3) in NBA history with 50 points and 10 assists. Harden, who made 19-of-26 field goal attempts (76%), fell one point shy of Calvin Murphy’s franchise record but he joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to record such numbers while shooting over 75% from the field.
4. Detroit Pistons (7-3), +6 spots
The Pistons, who have won 5 of 6, improved to 3-0 on the second night of back-to-backs with their victory over the Kings (Saturday). Guard Avery Bradley has been clutch during this six-game stretch, tallying 20 points and making at least three triples on four occasions. Scoring off opponent’s turnovers has been a major factor in their success as the Pistons have outscored their opponents in that department in 9 of the first 10 games. Detroit ranks fourth in turnovers forced (17.4) and fourth in points off turnovers (20.6).
5. Minnesota Timberwolves (7-3), +8 spots
The Timberwolves are on their first five-game winning streak since Jan. 2-10, 2009. Jeff Teague is starting to feel comfortable with the Wolves, recording four double-doubles in the last five games. Minnesota is a league-best 4-0 in games decided by three points or less.
6. San Antonio Spurs (6-4), -2 spots
Head coach Gregg Popovich moved past Phil Jackson for sixth place on the league’s all-time victory list with 1,156 wins following the Spurs victory over the Suns on Sunday. Second-year guard Bryn Forbes, who tallied a season-high 22 points on Nov. 3, scored in double-figures in consecutive games for the first time in his career after tallying 12 points against the Suns. San Antonio is only giving up 7.8 second-chance points a game, which is the fewest in the league.
7. Washington Wizards (5-4), -1 spot
The Wizards won just for the second time in six games with their victory over Toronto on Sunday. Bradley Beal has gotten off to a strong start in November, pouring in at least 36 points in each of the three games while shooting 54.5% from the field and 41.2% from beyond the arc. Washington, the third highest scoring team in the league (113.5), has topped the century mark eight times.
8. Toronto Raptors (5-4), -1 spot
The Raptors won two of their final three games to close their recent six-game road trip at 3-3. Kyle Lowry was ejected in the second quarter of the Raps’ loss to Washington on Sunday, marking the sixth time the 31-year-old has been tossed. Toronto is making a league-low 30.5% of their three-point attempts.
9. Memphis Grizzlies (6-4), -8 spots
The Grizzlies went 1-3 this past week. Tyreke Evans has increased his scoring output over the last three games topping the 20-point plateau in each contest and averaging 26.0 points while shooting 57.6% from the floor and 50% from beyond the arc during this stretch. Evans leads a bench unit that owns a league-best 92.2 defensive rating and has the highest net rating (+12.4) as the Grizzlies’ reserves are outscoring their opposing benches by 5.7 points a game, which is also top in the league.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (5-4), -7 spots
The Clippers went just 1-4 on their recent five-game homestand. Los Angeles erased a 23-point fourth quarter deficit against the Heat on Sunday but still lost to Miami (104-101) falling to 0-282 all-time when trailing by 20-points entering the fourth quarter. DeAndre Jordan, who posted his fifth game of at least 18 rebounds (Sunday), leads the league in offensive rebounds (5.8) and total rebounds (15.1) per game.
11. Orlando Magic (6-4), no movement
The Magic have lost two straight as they have failed to score 90 points in each game. Evan Fournier, the team’s leading scorer, was held to six points on 2-of-14 shooting in the loss to Boston, marking the first time this season that the 25-year-old Frenchman did not reach double-figures this season. Orlando ranks second in the league in three-point defense, holding opponents to 31.2% from beyond the arc.
12. Portland Trail Blazers (6-4), no movement
The Trail Blazers have won two straight and improved to 4-2 at home after fending off the Thunder (103-99) on Sunday night. Damian Lillard has scored 30 or more points in each of his last four games after not scoring that many points in any of the team’s first six contests. Portland, which leads the league in rebound percentage, is the only team to rank in the top-3 of the league in both offensive and defensive rebound percentage.
13. New Orleans Pelicans (5-5), +3 spots
The Pelicans have won two straight, both on the road, to improve to 4-2 away from home on the season. DeMarcus Cousins (25 points, 11 rebounds) and Anthony Davis (27 points, 16 rebounds) each picked up double-doubles in the overtime win over the Bulls on Saturday, marking the fourth time the duo has done so with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds — which is one fewer than the NBA record through the first 10 games. Cousins and Davis are the only teammates ranked in the top-5 in rebounds per game.
14. Los Angeles Lakers (5-5), +9 spots
The Lakers have won three of four with all three victories coming at home where they are 4-3 on the season. Rookie Kyle Kuzma, who replaced injured Larry Nance in the starting lineup, has posted two straight double-doubles to give him three such games on the year. Brook Lopez is also playing well, averaging 27.3 points and nearly four three-pointers over the last three games.
15. New York Knicks (5-4), +9 spots
The Knicks are 3-1 during their current five-game homestand and have won 5 of 6 overall. Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 24 of his career-high 40 over the last 13 minutes 30 seconds on Sunday, joined Patrick Ewing as the only players in franchise history to put up 40 points and five blocks in franchise history when he accomplished the feat in a come-from-behind win over the Pacers. Porzingis has topped the 30-point plateau seven times and is currently second in the league in scoring at 30.2 a game.
16. Philadelphia 76ers (5-4), +9 spots
17. Milwaukee Bucks (4-5), -8 spots
The Bucks have lost three straight games with the last two setbacks coming on the road where they are now 2-2 on the season. Khris Middleton, who poured in a season-high 43 points in loss to the Hornets (Wednesday), is averaging 23. 7 points along with 6.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists over his last four games. Milwaukee’s reserves scored just 14 points in their 105-96 points to Detroit (Saturday) and their bench is averaging 25.2 points a game for the season, which ranks 29th in the league.
18. Utah Jazz (5-5), -4 spots
The Jazz are one of three teams to have yet to record a road victory (0-4). Rookie Donovan Mitchell has scored at least 17 points in all three of his games in November and four of his last five overall. Utah has been outscored by an average of 14.3 points on the road this year while they have a plus-8.0 margin in their six home games.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder (4-5), -4 spots
The Thunder fell to 0-3 on the season when they failed to score 100 points following their 103-99 loss to the Blazers on Sunday. Carmelo Anthony was ejected on Sunday after being called for a flagrant 2 foul after hitting Nuggets big man Jusuf Nurkic in the face while driving to the basket, it was Anthony’s 10th flagrant foul of his career. OKC is No. 1 in the league with 11.0 steals a game.
20. Denver Nuggets (5-5), +3 spots
The Nuggets are one of two teams, the Pelicans (5-0) are the other, who are at least 4-0 against teams with a sub-.500 record. Paul Millsap, who is averaging 15.2 points a game, had his first two 20-points contests this week when he dumped in 20 and 27 in consecutive games versus Toronto and Miami, respectively. Denver’s defense, 19th in opposing field goal percentage (46.1%) gave up a season-high 127 points in their loss to Golden State on Saturday as they allowed the Warriors to shoot 54.9% from the field, the highest percentage the Nugs have permitted to opponents this season.
21. Charlotte Hornets (5-5), -3 spots
The Hornets have begun their current four-game road trip with two straight losses and are now 1-4 away from home. Jeremy Lamb, who is averaging a career-high 17.6 points a game, failed to score 15 points for the first time all season against the Timberwolves on Sunday. Charlotte leads the league with 39.8 defensive rebounds despite ranking sixth in defensive rebound percentage at 80.8%.
22. Indiana Pacers (5-5), -1 spot
The Pacers have dropped two straight games. Myles Turner returned to the court (Friday) from a concussion that he suffered during the first game of the season, averaging 13.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 24 minutes over the two games. Indiana is one of the top offensive teams in the league, ranking in the top-5 in scoring, offensive rating and field percentage.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-6), -4 spots
The Cavs have lost five of seven, including three straight at home following their loss Sunday to the Hawks at Quicken Loans Arena. LeBron James, who became the youngest player to reach 29,000 points after torching the Wizards for 57 points (Friday), is averaging 45.0 points — on 66.1% shooting — along with 9.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds in three November games. Cleveland is permitting their opponents to make a league-high 13.4 three-pointers at a 41.7% clip, which is also a league worst.
24. Miami Heat (4-5), -4 spots
The Heat bounced back from blowing a 25-point lead to defeat the Clippers (104-101) on Sunday to even their record during a season-long six game road trip at 1-1. Hassan Whiteside, who missed five games due to injury, posted two double-doubles in three games this week — averaging 13.0 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 60.0% from the floor. Since Jan. 1, 2017 Miami is 34-8 in games they shoot at least 30% from beyond the arc including 4-2 this season.
25. Phoenix Suns (4-6), +4 spots
The Suns have lost two in a row to fall to 4-3 under Jay Triano. T.J. Warren is on pace to have a career year in scoring as he is averaging 16.7 points a game after he scored in double-figures in three of the four games this past week, which includes a career 40-point output against Washington on Wednesday. Phoenix, which has made a three-pointer in 1,068 straight games, is last in the league in assists per game (18.1) and assist percentage (47.8).
26. Brooklyn Nets (3-6), +4 spots
The Nets, who have lost four straight, dropped to 0-4 away from home with a loss to the Lakers on Friday, which began a five-game road swing for the team. Third-year forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continued his offensive surge to start the season, scoring 20 points in each of the two games this week — matching his season total of at least 20 points last year (two). Brooklyn is currently playing the fastest pace of all 30 teams, averaging 109.26 possessions and a league-high 91.8 shot attempts.
27. Chicago Bulls (2-6), +3 spots
The Bulls have played the fewest games in the league. Guard Justin Holiday has scored in double-figures in all but one game despite shooting the ball so poorly (34.4%). Forward Bobby Portis is expected to be available on Tuesday when Chicago visits Toronto as his eight-game suspension is up.
28. Atlanta Hawks (2-8), no movement
The Hawks snapped an eight-game losing streak with their win over the Cavs (Saturday), marking their second road win of the season. Second-year forward Taurean Prince is showing that he is someone that the team can rebuild with as he has scored in double-figures in each of his last five games, which includes his second double-double of the season against the 76ers on Nov. 1. Atlanta has suffered a league-high six losses by 10 or more points.
29. Sacramento Kings (1-8), -3 spots
The Kings have lost a league-high seven games and have the league’s worst point differential (-12.0). Veteran Zach Randolph picked up his production this week, scoring in double-figures and grabbing at least five rebounds while shooting 55.2% from the field in three games. Sacramento is the worst defensive rebounding team in the league as they are hauling in a league-low 72.2% of all defensive rebounds available.
30. Dallas Mavericks (1-10), +2 spots
The Mavs are the only team in the league to have played 11 games and are the first team to lose 10 games. Harrison Barnes, who averaged 19 points in three games this week, has made over 50% of his shots in each of his November games, marking just the fourth time this season he has done so. Dallas ranks 27th in the league in total rebounds with 39.9 a game through the Mavericks are dead last in rebound percentage at 45.8%.