What’s up, NBA fans?
Four teams have won nine of their last 10 games: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. The Rockets haven’t lost with Chris Paul in the lineup.
In other news, not much has changed in the NBA landscape this week other than the Oklahoma City Thunder moving up to the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. The top three teams in each conference remain the same and the Power Six teams remain the same as well.
We’ll take a look at an upcoming Eastern Conference battle in the Game of the Week, another Los Angeles rookie, assist leaders and a Most Valuable Player update.
1. Houston Rockets (24-4). Last week: 1st.
The Rockets have won 13 in a row and hold the top spot after moving here last week. They look like the team to beat in the Western Conference. Everyone knows about the star guards in James Harden and Chris Paul, but the sudden improvement of Clint Capela (13.7 points per game, 11.0 rebounds per game, 1.81 blocks per game) has been crucial this season.
2. Golden State Warriors (23-6). Last week: 3rd.
An eight game winning streak is usually enough to boost a team into the first spot but Houston has been playing out of this world and continues to hold them off. Once Stephen Curry returns, they could make their way to the top. They jumped the Celtics this week are winners of eight straight.
3. Boston Celtics (25-7). Last week: 2nd.
They’re 7-3 in their last 10, not bad, but a bit of a decline compared to how they were previously playing. The losses consisted of a 105-102 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, a 108-85 drubbing to the Chicago Bulls and a 107-95 loss to the Utah Jazz. The Celtics got some good news this week when Gordon Hayward said he’d be open to returning this year.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (23-8). Last week: 4th.
Cleveland is starting up another winning streak. They’ve won five straight after the Indiana Pacers ended their 13-game winning streak. 18-1 in their last 19 games is pretty good. The slow start to the season is a distant memory at this point.
5. Toronto Raptors (20-8). Last week: 6th.
It looks like the Canadians are here to stay as the third Eastern Conference Power Six representative for the foreseeable future. The former Power Six mainstay Detroit Pistons are 3-7 in their last 10 and have been replaced by the Raptors for the third week in a row.
6. San Antonio Spurs (20-10). Last week: 5th.
Kawhi Leonard is back! Well, kind of. He played 16 minutes against the Dallas Mavericks and 17 minutes against the Rockets while the Spurs lost both games. Leonard didn’t play in Saturday’s 98-96 win over the Mavericks. There isn’t much argument for any other team to be in the Power Six at this point. The Spurs are three or more games ahead of the Pistons, Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Game of the Week
The Celtics head to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to face the Pacers on Monday at 7:00 p.m. on NBATV. Currently, Boston leads the Eastern Conference and Indiana is in fifth. The Pacers have surprised some people this year led by the play of Victor Oladipo (24.4 points per game) and Domantas Sabonis (11.9 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game), who were acquired in the Paul George trade. Lance Stephenson and Kyrie Irving are always fun to watch as well.
- Boston Celtics
- Cleveland Cavaliers (1.5 GB)
- Toronto Raptors (3 GB)
- Detroit Pistons (7 GB)
- Indiana Pacers (7 GB)
- New York Knicks (7.5 GB)
- Milwaukee Bucks (8 GB)
- Washington Wizards (8 GB)
In the hunt: Miami Heat (8.5 GB), Philadelphia 76ers (9 GB).
- Houston Rockets
- Golden State Warriors (1.5 GB)
- San Antonio Spurs (5 GB)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (8 GB)
- Portland Trail Blazers (8.5 GB)
- Denver Nuggets (8.5 GB)
- New Orleans Pelicans (10 GB)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (10.5 GB)
In the hunt: Utah Jazz (11 GB), Los Angeles Clippers (13 GB).
Stat of the Week: Assist Leaders (per game)
- Russell Westbrook, OKC, 9.9
- (tie) James Harden, HOU, and LeBron James, CLE, 9.1
- Ben Simmons, PHI, 7.8
- Draymond Green, GS, 7.3
- (tie) Kyle Lowry, TOR; Lonzo Ball, LAL; and Jeff Teague, MIN, 7.2
Rookie Watch: Kyle Kuzma
Yes, the Los Angeles Lakers have another rookie on their team. Kuzma, the 27th selection out of Utah, may even be the Lakers’ best rookie. Standing at 6-foot-9, he can play either forward position. He may not get the media attention that Lonzo Ball does, but Kuzma has his name in the Rookie of the Year conversation. He’s scored 20 points or more in eight games this season and also has eight double-doubles including a 30 and 10 game against the Phoenix Suns in November. He’s averaging 16.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists this year.
Usual suspects here. The MVP race stayed the same as last week. Chris Paul was considered, as was Stephen Curry, but their teammates are more deserving and there’s only one MVP trophy. Others considered were Joel Embiid, DeMar DeRozan, Victor Oladipo and either DeMarcus Cousins or Anthony Davis.