21. Nets (6-9, LW 22). The hot start to the Jacque Vaughn era is over, he is now 4-4 as a head coach with a couple of defensive clunkers in there. Not that it’s Vaughn’s fault, Kevin Durant gets that, as he told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report: “Look at our starting lineup. Edmond Sumner, Royce O'Neale, Joe Harris, [Nic] Claxton and me. It’s not disrespect, but what are you expecting from that group? ” Kyrie Irving remains suspended. Ben Simmons is coming off the bench as a backup five.
4 net rating in those games. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are finding their rhythms. It’s been a relatively soft schedule for the Nuggets so far, but we should see a better test this Friday and Sunday with two games in Dallas. 4. Suns (8-5, LW 3). The Suns have stumbled losing 3-of-5 on a road trip, but are without Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson right now so they don’t tumble far down the rankings. The Suns are still a top-five offense and defense in the league, and Devin Booker is playing at an All-NBA level (Phoenix wouldn’t have been in the game in Miami without him, but then Jimmy Butler spoiled that party). The Suns should be able to pick up some wins with 5-of-6 at home, including the Warriors who struggle outside the Bay Area.
Tunisia’s US Monastir wins 2022 Basketball Africa League crown, defeating Angola’s Petro de LuandaThe Milwaukee Bucks stumbled this week, the Boston Celtics have not stumbled for seven straight games, and that winning streak moves them to the top of this week’s NBC Sports NBA Power Rankings. The Denver Nuggets have quietly played well and have climbed up to third. 1. Celtics (11-3, Last week No. 5).
Three of their next five games are against the Heat, that will be a good measuring stick. 19. Pacers (6-6, LW 10). It’s going to frustrate Pacers fans this season, who see a 6-6 team with a couple of promising young players — Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin — and a franchise that doesn’t have a history of tanking. So why all the focus on a Myles Turner trade nationally? The latest rumor was maybe the Clippers. The reason is that other teams expect them to move veterans, particularly Turner (a free agent after this season and has given the impression he wants a clean slate somewhere new). Still, this is a week the Pacers can pad that record with games against the Hornets, Rockets, and two against the Magic.
Things do not get easier. Brooklyn heads to Portland to face the Trail Blazers Thursday, then has the Grizzlies, 76ers, and Raptors. Next Tuesday could be Simmons’ return to Philadelphia, so get ready for some boos. 22. Bulls (6-8, LW 14). The Bulls are winless in clutch games (within five points in the final five minutes), with a 0-6 record, an offense struggling to create good looks and a -46. 4 net rating. That all will improve some over time, but it points to a real problem for Chicago about execution in big minutes. Overall the Bulls still have a bottom-10 offense in the league and maybe their fortunes will turn around whenever Lonzo Ball can return, but the best teams still win games with their stars out.
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What is working for the Hawks is the starting lineup of Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, De'Andre Hunter, John Collins and Clint Capela — it has played more minutes than any other five-man lineup in the league so far (240 minutes) and has a +8. 8 net rating. That lineup will see a tougher schedule coming up, they picked up a win over the Bucks but now comes the Celtics, Raptors and Cavaliers. Good tests. 9. Grizzlies (9-6, LW 6). The good news: Jaren Jackson Jr. made his debut on Tuesday night, and while there was a lot of rust (3-of-14 shooting) just having him back as a rim protector will boost the Grizzlies 19th ranked defense.
The hand switch into the dunk is ridiculous, Ja. He has 31 PTS heading into Q4 on TNT 👀 pic. twitter. com/rjMAyzwvNX — NBA (@NBA) November 16, 2022 10. Jazz (10-6, LW 4). Losers of three straight (Wizards, 76ers, Knicks) and things are about to get tougher with the Suns, Trail Blazers and Clippers the next three. Losing to Joel Embiid when he has a historic night is forgivable, but it lays bare the blueprint teams are using to attach the Jazz — be physical and get the ball inside and pound Kelly Olynyk and Lauri Markkanen. Expect to see more of that from teams who like to play physical, such as the Clippers.
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Boston has flown almost under the radar this season, even though they have won seven in a row, thanks to the dramas in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and other cities. There could have been drama after the suspension of Ice Udoka, but credit coach Joe Mazzulla for not letting that happen and keeping the team focused. Mazzulla has the Celtics’ offense humming (best in the league) and that is winning games (the defense is 19th, but when Robert Williams returns that will change).
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While Kawhi Leonard has only played 42 minutes all season, the problems have been bigger than that. The offensive slumps are costing them games, like allowing Brooklyn to go on a 20-2 fourth-quarter run and get the win on Saturday in a game the Clippers seemed to have under control. With the Pistons, Spurs and Jazz at home this week it’s a chance for Los Angeles to rack up a few wins — and maybe find some consistent offense outside a Paul George isolation. 14.
11. 76ers (7-7, LW 10). Philadelphia has gone 3-2 without James Harden (out for a month with a right foot tendon sprain), with the last two of those wins because Joel Embiid has been a force of nature — 101 points over two games. Sunday he dropped a career-high 59 points on the Jazz, but this was a dominant all-around effort with 11 rebounds and five blocks in the fourth quarter, when he just took over. We are witnessing MVP-level Embiid, and the Sixers may need more of him this coming weekend with the Bucks and Timberwolves in a back-to-back.
20. Knicks (7-7, LW 15). Tom Thibodeau’s seat is getting warm and the problem — outside of the team not trading for Donovan Mitchell — is the end of the court where Thibs is supposed to specialize: Defense. The Knicks are bottom 10 in the league, and being without Mitchell Robinson (knee injury) is not helping. Thibodeau understands what the problem is, “But I know if we’re relying on trying to outscore people that’s not going to work. Our margin of error is small, we have to play with great intensity on every possession. ” A quality win for New York in Utah on Tuesday, kicking off a rough five-game road trip, and beyond that a tough stretch of the season. Thibs seat could get hotter.