Arizona Republic’s NBA power rankings: Heat, Bulls rampaging, Lakers, Suns slip – AZCentral.com - Techy Hunters

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Sunday, October 31, 2021

Arizona Republic’s NBA power rankings: Heat, Bulls rampaging, Lakers, Suns slip – AZCentral.com

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Monty Williams, Chris Paul congratulate Willie Green getting first win as NBA head coach

Suns coach Monty Williams and point guard Chris Paul congratulate former lead assistant Willie Green on getting his first win as an NBA head coach.

Duane Rankin, Arizona Republic

No more undefeated teams, but plenty of one-loss East squads heading into the month of November.

Knicks. Heat. Wizards. Bulls.

Nice, but which team has had the best win thus far?

Each has a case, with Chicago’s being the strongest after upending previously undefeated Utah, but Miami has the most impressive string of victories.

The Heat blasted defending NBA champion Milwaukee, topped Brooklyn, defeated Charlotte and ran through Memphis.

So movement continues in this week’s Arizona Republic NBA Top 10 power rankings through Sunday’s games as some title contenders fell out of the Top 5.

More: Arizona Republic’s NBA power rankings: Jazz rise, Suns, Lakers, Nets fall in first week of season

1. Utah Jazz (6-1, Last week 2nd)

They were the last undefeated team before losing to Chicago (5-1).

Got a nice response win Sunday at Milwaukee on the second of a back-to-back. Utah’s victory over Denver wasn’t as strong as it would’ve been had reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic not gone down with a knee injury.

Still, that was Utah at its best.

Seven guys in double figures as Rudy Gobert had 23 points and 16 rebounds. Averaging 16.3 points on 72.1% shooting, Gobert leads the league in rebounding at 17.2 boards a game. 

Early MVP candidate?

2. Miami Heat (5-1, Last week Next 5)

Kyle Lowry uncorked a little bit with a season-high 15 points, hitting 4-of-5 from deep, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals in Saturday’s win over Memphis.

He doesn’t have to go for big scoring numbers every night as the Heat are fourth in the NBA in scoring at 114 points a game.

They have three guys averaging at least 20 points in Jimmy Butler (25.6 ppg.), Tyler Herro (22 ppg) and Bam Adebayo (20.6 ppg.), who is also grabbing 14 rebounds a night.

Herro is delivering his numbers off the bench as he’s hitting 39.5% of his 3s.

Miami just needs Lowry to run the offense, play that pesky, annoying defense and make timely shots.

3. Milwaukee Bucks (3-4, Last week 1st)

Losing to the Timberwolves and Spurs at home isn’t a good look at all.

Their losing skid reached three in a row after Sunday’s loss to Utah, but at least they were without Khris Middleton, who was ruled out for the showdown due to illness. 

Defense continues to fail the Bucks as they’re 21th in defensive rating.

Plus they’re shooting just 31.9% from 3 despite generating 40.7 attempts a game. Giannis Antetokounmpo has five double-doubles in seven games, scoring 30, 40, 28 and 25 in his last four games, but continues to take 3s.

He went 3-of-6 against the Timberwolves, but shot 0-for-2 the game before at Indiana, 0-for-3 the game after versus San Antonio and went 3-of-11 against the Jazz.

Yes, 3-of-11 on a 10-of-20 overall shooting night. Some cringe when he launches, but the Bucks lived with him making just 30.3% of his 3s last season.

He’s at 29% this season. Might as well keep letting it fly, right? Right?

4. Brooklyn Nets (4-3, Last week 4th)

James Harden delivered his best offensive game of the season with 29 points, hitting 3-of-6 on 3s, eight rebounds and eight assists in Friday’s win over Indiana.

The NBA placing emphasis on non-basketball moves has impacted his game, but Harden needed a game like this to start accepting the changes. 

Getting to the line 19 times, making 16, should help his confidence, too. He followed that up with his first triple-double of the season with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in just three quarters of Brooklyn’s 26-point win over Detroit.

However, the Nets are 20th in the league offensive rating. They shouldn’t be that low in with Kevin Durant and Harden.

5. Chicago Bulls (5-1, last week Next 5)

Not only did they hand Utah its first loss of the season, but the Bulls bounced back from a one-point loss to New York.

DeMar DeRozan is truly a pro’s pro who can still put in work. 

When Utah cut the lead to five with 2:13 left in the game, DeRozan answered with a jumper. It’s just one bucket as he finished with a game-high 32, but may have been the most important one of the night for the Bulls.

Zach LaVine is the guy on this team, but to have a vet who can come up big in any game and be that steady influence? The Bulls may just have something here.

Next five (plus one for this week)

Golden State Warriors (5-1) — It’s getting harder to keep them out of the Top 5, but two of their five victories are against the Thunder. Jordan Poole can score, but the Warriors will take consistency over shooting a career-low 24.3% from 3 on a career-high 6.2 attempts and averaging three turnovers.

Denver Nuggets (4-2) — Denver has won two in a row since falling to Utah as Jokic returned from that knee scare with a near triple-double in a blitzing of Dallas. Following that up with 26 points, 19 boards and seven assists in a two-point win over Minnesota, the reigning MVP is that dude.

Philadelphia 76ers (4-2) — Atlanta returned to the place it pulled off the Game 7 stunner to advance to last season’s Eastern Conference finals and found themselves down 15 in the first quarter. Philadelphia leads the NBA in offensive rating, but how much longer will this Ben Simmons situation linger?

Los Angeles Lakers (4-3) — Squandering a 26-point lead against an Oklahoma City team that hadn’t won a game is very alarming. So why are they still ahead of the Knicks and Wizards? Still need to see more from those two, but the Lakers better clean up their defense that’s ranked 27th in defensive rating.

New York Knicks (5-1) and Phoenix Suns (2-3) — New York posted big wins over Chicago and Philadelphia, but that Orlando loss? Just collapsed in the fourth. The Suns got a much-needed victory Saturday over Cleveland to snap a two-game skid. Still one of the NBA’s best teams, but are 27th in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 31%. Huh?

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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