Updated: February 8, 2016, 5:17 PM ET
NBA Power Rankings: Warriors right at home at No. 1
By Marc Stein
Monday, Feb. 8
Since the Golden State Warriors last lost a home game, we've seen the National Football League crown two Super Bowl champions ... and we've seen Tiger Woods plummet from 47th to 436th in the world golf rankings.
It's been so long, in other words, that the Warriors presumably would have retained the No. 1 spot in ESPN.com's weekly NBA Power Rankings even if they had lost Saturday night in their long-awaited first meeting of the season with the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder. But because the Warriors won, holding off OKC's late rally to stretch their regular-season winning streak at Oracle Arena to 41 games and counting, they'll proceed to All-Star Weekend later this week in Toronto with a comfortable lead at the top.
This is the first season in NBA history that the league can claim to have two teams that won 42 of their first 50 games, but No. 2 San Antonio is going to need some help to close the gap and finally leapfrog Golden State for the first time this season after 15 weeks of Warriors dominance.
Not everything is perfect in the Warriors' world; Steph Curry's Carolina Panthers lost the Super Bowl on Bay Area soil and reserve center Festus Ezeli had to undergo exploratory knee surgery on this Rankings Monday. But ESPN's Basketball Power Index has seen enough now, after 50 games, to give the Warriors a whopping 84-percent chance to win at last 70 games and a 54-percent shot to match the record 72 wins recorded by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
You can comment below on the latest 1-to-30 ladder assembled by the Committee of One, which offers its profuse thanks to our pals within the NBA wing of ESPN Stats & Information, as well as the Elias Sports Bureau, for the invaluable data assistance they faithfully provide week after week to help us with all of our calculations.
|April 10, 2014. That's the last time Golden State squandered a 15-point lead. The Warriors are up to 97-0 since in such situations, turning back OKC after the Thunder erased a 20-point deficit. The Dubs have likewise won their past 54 regular-season games in which they led after three quarters, which is the longest such streak since Utah won 67 in a row from November 1997 to March 1999. |
|The Spurs head into the Rodeo Road Trip boasting the highest average scoring margin in league history (plus-13.4) through 50 games. Yet there's no denying that Tim Duncan's absence has hurt San Antonio defensively; Timmy & Co. allowed a league-best 89.8 PPG through their first 44 games of the season and have surrendered 102.4 PPG in the past seven Duncan has sat.|
|Heard a lot of vitriol coming out of Cleveland a week ago when the Raptors, riding an 11-game win streak to match an old Blue Jays 11-gamer for the longest in city history, placed one spot higher than the Cavs. Not so much after the Raps rebounded with a win three nights later on the hot Blazers' floor, and the Cavs dropped two in a row for their first mini-crisis under Tyronn Lue.|
|On one hand, OKC's second-half comeback in Oakland might not have been as encouraging as it seemed, since Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shot a combined 2-for-14 on 3s, which basically never happens. On the other hand, OKC did show you just how dangerous this team can be, for all its flaws, now that KD and Russ happen to be playing the best ball of their lives at the same time.|
|LeBron James insists his long-distance shooting isn't an issue; we respectfully disagree after he went 0-for-18 on 3s over six games. Brace yourself, meanwhile, for a week full of such gems: Tyronn Lue will have coached 11 NBA games by Sunday's All-Star Game; Gregg Popovich, meanwhile, has watched teams make 222 coaching changes since he became Spurs coach in November 1996. |
|In the midst of a 9-1 surge, with the offense humming, Celtics radio play-by-play ace Sean Grande paid us a visit Sunday night on the NBA Insiders show on ESPN Radio and pointed out that Boston not only ranks sixth in the league in nightly point differential (at plus-4.3), but also sports a top-six record in the whole league since the last Super Bowl. Click here for more serious C's talk.|
|The 18-4 mark since losing Blake Griffin on the day after Christmas is impressive enough, but even greater encouragement stems from the fact that the Blake-less Clips are starting to beat quality teams with some regularity. They've dumped the Heat twice in 2016, to accompany recent wins in Indiana and Atlanta and at home over Chicago, dropping Miami to 5-2 on Super Bowl Sundays.|
|The best week of the year in Memphis -- when tennis players are in town to hang out with their NBA counterparts -- is underway, which means part of us will be pining for Graceland even while the Committee is loving its time in Toronto. Have you noticed, meanwhile, that the Griz recently scored 100-plus points in a franchise-record nine consecutive games?
|One of the better All-Star Weekend plots: Raptors all-time leading scorer Chris Bosh returns to Toronto as one of just four players -- along with LeBron, D-Wade and the retiring Kobe -- to have made every All-Star team for the past decade dating to 2006. One small problem for the Three-Point Contest contestant: Bosh is shooting .268 on 3s over his past 15 games (15-for-56).|
|Golden State's Draymond Green and Atlanta's Paul Millsap are the only two All-Stars who achieved that status without the benefit of a single 30-point game. The Hawks, meanwhile, are one of just two teams (along with Orlando) yet to face the mighty Warriors. Atlanta's two turns against our stubborn No. 1 come in the span of eight days after the All-Star break.|
|Of the 21 players averaging at least 20 PPG, none has a lower FG percentage than Paul George's .412, even after he shot .475 from the field in November. And a 7-11 record in games decided by five points or less -- more losses in those circumstances than any team but Minnesota (13) -- continues to sting. The flip side: Indy is hanging in there as a top-five team in defensive efficiency. |
|You could diminish what the Jazz are doing these days by pointing out that only one opponent during their current six-game winning streak is presently on track for a playoff berth. Or you could praise them for taking advantage of the schedule opportunity to make a quicker-than-envisioned return to .500 and climb to fifth in the West in the nightly point margin (plus-1.5). Your call.
|Andre Drummond just became only the fourth player in the past 35 seasons to make it to game No. 50 averaging 15+ PPG and 15+ RPG, joining Kevin Love (2010-11), Kevin Willis (1991-92) and Moses Malone (1982-83). The last Piston to do it: Bob Lanier back in 1972-73. Yet something tells me Stan Van Gundy, with Detroit at a pedestrian 9-10 in 2016, doesn't even want to hear it.|
|As covered last week in great detail in conjunction with our pal Calvin Watkins, all the current signals suggest that the Rockets are more likely than not to keep Dwight Howard beyond the Feb. 18 trade deadline. Yet it's undeniably factual to point out that the Rockets are 5-0 in 2016 when Howard isn't in uniform ... compared to 6-8 when he is available.|
|How valuable is Dirk Nowitzki, at 37, no matter what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says? Before the latest shredding by San Antonio, Dallas was plus-183 this season with Nowitzki on the floor ... and minus-207 without him. Saturday's W in Memphis not only hiked the Mavs' record to 6-1 in OT but also improved the worst record among West playoff teams against .500-or-better teams to 10-19. |
|The Blazers made the most of their recent seven-game homestand, going 5-2 with passable defeats to two of the East's more reputable outfits (Atlanta and Toronto) before heading back on the road and inflicting a beatdown in Houston that dredged up memories of the raggedy state of the Rockets during the 4-7 start that wound up getting Kevin McHale fired. |
|The Bulls now lead the NBA with nine losses in games in which they led by at least five points in the fourth quarter, and have taken a steep drop on this Rankings Monday thanks largely to the sudden uncertainty surrounding Jimmy Butler's left knee. Worse yet: Chicago is minus-99 in the fourth quarter and overtime for the season, which ranks fourth worst in the league.|
|It's suddenly incumbent upon the Hornets to lift local spirits after the Super Bowl demise of Cam Newton's Panthers. Maybe the looming return of Al Jefferson, combined with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's faster-than-expected recovery and ongoing good work from Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum, can comfort the region. More overtime games wouldn't hurt; Charlotte is 5-0 in OT.|
|Surely nobody misses January more than George Karl and the Kings, whose 1-7 spiral -- ever since we (gulp) bumped 'em up to No. 14 -- has put Karl in immediate danger of losing his job exactly one year after he got it. If he is indeed ousted, Sacramento will install its ninth coach since the 2006-07 season, breaking a tie with the Nets for the most in the NBA in that span.|
|Will Rocky Mountain dwellers be drinking in two trophy ceremonies in the span of a week? OK, OK: Shame on us for daring to put Will Barton's bid for a slam-dunk title in Toronto in the same sentence as the Super Bowl that Peyton Manning's Broncos just won, but the Committee gets carried away sometimes. Especially when we're about to travel to one of our favorite cities.|
|The Wizards, like the Kings, have too much to worry about in the standings right now, after their own 3-8 spiral, to spend too much time fretting about All-Star Saturday invites. But we have no such conflicts, so we're rife with outrage that two of our faves -- Washington's Jared Dudley and Sacramento's Omri Casspi -- were snubbed from the Three-Point Contest field.|
|A week ago, New Orleans could take solace in the belief it had become a .500 team (17-17) since that 1-11 nightmare start filled with injuries. But an 0-4 week, with a home loss to the Lakers overshadowing everything else, has propped a new cloud over the Pels, with the ground to make up for the eighth seed realistically too vast now for any trade in the next 10 days to cover.|
|With Carmelo Anthony (knee) ailing and concern growing that the rookie wall is impeding him anew, Kristaps Porzingis picked a good time to uncork his eighth career 20-and-10 game Sunday. The problem, of course, is that Zinger couldn't prevent the Knicks from slipping to 2-6 in those games. Or save Derek Fisher's job with the Knicks submerged in a 1-9 nosedive.
|How badly did Orlando need that Nikola Vucevic
buzzer-beater -- making him the league's only player with multiple buzzer-beaters this season after his first on Nov. 11 -- to topple Atlanta on Sunday afternoon? The Magic were 19-13 when the calendar flipped from 2015 to 2016, yet found themselves tied with Phoenix for the league's worst record in 2016 (at 2-15) until Vucevic's second buzzer-beater.
|The Wolves have finally halted the league's longest active win streak after 14 victories in a row for the Clippers. We need to start talking more, though, about Andrew Wiggins' sophomore season, since he's poised to become just the ninth player to average 20 PPG at age 20 or younger, but shoots just .252 from 3-point range while ranking second-to-last in assists (1.8 APG) among 21 current players averaging 20+ PPG.|
|This isn't exclusively the young Bucks' fault, but their road losses last week in Sacramento, Portland and Utah helped the Western Conference hike its head-to-head advantage over the East to 162-140 for the season, pouring more water on that "East Is Back!" narrative. What Milwaukee does at the trade deadline figures to be the most compelling part of its season from here.|
|Only two teams in history have started a season 46-4: Golden State this season and the Philadelphia 76ers way back in 1966-67. Not trying to be cruel by pointing that out, just trying to soften the blow before we share that the modern-day Sixers have lost 30 home games since these Warriors were last beaten at home on Jan. 27, 2015, tied for second in that span behind Minnesota's 32.|
|The Nets are 3-12 since the dismissal of Lionel Hollins, who was only the second coach to be fired in this quick-trigger season that saw Houston's Kevin McHale go first and has since seen Cleveland's David Blatt, Phoenix's Jeff Hornacek and New York's Derek Fisher depart. Next question: Can the Nets really get a new GM in place before the trade deadline if interviews are just starting?|
|Good timing from a true showman: With his final All-Star Game appearance approaching, Kobe Bryant happens to be the first player in league history to score at least 25 points in three consecutive games at the age of 37 (or older) since Michael Jordan. His Airness also did it in his final season, stringing together four such games for the Wizards at the age of 40 in December 2002.|
|Question: Did the Suns fire Jeff Hornacek when they did because they wanted to make sure Markieff Morris got on the floor more in advance of the Feb. 18 trade deadline? Management would surely counter that a 7-30 free fall, after a 7-5 start, suggests a lack of competitive spirit that overrides any injury alibis. So let's see if they respond to the new voice of Earl Watson with more fight.|