They came up short in double-overtime against the Houston Rockets, sure, but the Golden State Warriors are firing on all cylinders — which should very much scare the rest of the NBA.
The Cavs, meanwhile, are resting on their laurels, while the Clippers can't decide who they want to be. And on the other end of the spectrum, the denouement of Dirk Nowitzki's career draws ever closer. Here are this week's NBA power rankings.
Dallas Mavericks (previous ranking: 30)
The Mavericks long ago decided that this team would go as Dirk Nowitzki goes. So long as he's injured — and, in the words of Mark Cuban, complaining like a [expletive] about not being able to help — Dallas is doomed this season.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY SportsCary Edmondson
Philadelphia 76ers (29)
The highlight of the season so far in Philly is Joel Embiid's Rookie of the Month award for November. Now, the question is whether "The Process" can sweep the award this season — and the Rookie of the Year prize as well.
Minnesota Timberwolves (25)
The Wolves have lost six of their past seven games since a win over the lowly Sixers, but there's some good news for Minnesota. At this point, Tom Thibodeau's team can't dig much lower. Right?
Associated PressNell Redmond
Phoenix Suns (23)
The calendar is about to turn against Phoenix headed into December. The Suns have the toughest schedule in the NBA before the New Year, including games against the Warriors, Spurs (twice), Jazz (twice) and Rockets (twice). Good luck, Devin Booker.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
Brooklyn Nets (28)
Brooklyn is showing how a rebuilding team should approach the regular season, making low-risk, high-reward moves with an eye on the future. The latest smart play by the Nets is their reported interest in restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas, who's still just 26 years old.
Washington Wizards (26)
It was great seeing Russell Westbrook say hello and dap up Wizards coach Scott Brooks this week. The way things are going for his team, the Washington coach can use all the well wishes he can get.
Orlando Magic (24)
The question in Orlando is whether the Magic will look to jump into the trade market early when things start to heat up later this month — or if they'll keep on keeping on with a rebuild that never actually builds anything.
USA TODAY SportsDouglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans (23)
The Pelicans look more and more like a real NBA team with every passing game, and Tyreke Evans will be back soon to bolster the Pelicans' wing depth. Could New Orleans finally be rounding the corner to respectability?
Denver Nuggets (19)
Look, I'm not expecting Denver to do much this season. I don't even expect them to sniff the playoffs. But the Nuggets' inability to develop, well, anyone is a growing concern in Denver. If this is the best Kenneth Faried will ever be, for example, then what are the Nuggets even doing here?
Miami Heat (22)
Hey, Heat fans: the next time someone gives you flack for being an awful fan, you can point to this latest study that shows Miami fans are actually some of the best in the NBA. No one will believe you, of course, but it's always nice to have evidence on your side.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
Indiana Pacers (21)
Paul George is the second-best player in the Eastern Conference, bar none, but you wouldn't know it this year. The sooner he's fully healthy, the sooner Indiana will return to being an actual NBA team.
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY SportsJeremy Brevard
Sacramento Kings (20)
The Kings might not be playoff-bound this year, but at least they're developing solid chemistry between DeMarcus Cousins and Matt Barnes.
Wait. On second thought, do we actually want the latter influencing the former? This might have been a bad idea, everyone.
New York Knicks (17)
Injuries to Joakim Noah should unleash the ultimate version of the Knicks, with Kristaps Porzingis playing center. For whatever reason, coach Jeff Hornacek refuses to make that move, though. Free your team, coach. Make it so.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY SportsTom Szczerbowski
Detroit Pistons (18)
Reggie Jackson could be back as soon as this weekend; with Reggie Bullock injured, the Pistons desperately need their starting point guard back. And if Jackson can return to form sooner than later, Detroit could start to make some noise in the Eastern Conference.
Portland Trail Blazers (15)
You might notice there's not a ton of movement in the meaty middle of the power rankings this week. More than a month into the season, we're starting to get a pretty firm grasp on who these teams really are — unless, say, a team like the Blazers decides to make a big trade.
Milwaukee Bucks (16)
Milwaukee had an impressive week with three straight wins, including that big one over the Cavs that was overshadowed by J.R. Smith's boneheaded play. Now, Giannis Antetokonmpo (22.8 points per game) and Jabari Parker (18.8) just need a little help carrying the offense to turn the Bucks into one of the best teams in the East.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
Los Angeles Lakers (14)
The most impressive part of the Lakers' early season success is the caliber of the competition. Los Angeles has played the second-hardest schedule in the NBA so far yet exceeded our wildest expectations through the first quarter of the year. Once things ease up, I can't wait to see how good this team can be.
Memphis Grizzlies (9)
We pointed out last week just how clutch Memphis has been in its victories this season, and that trend continued with a one-point win over the Magic on Thursday.
If you're a fan of nailbiters, the Grizzlies have to be your favorite team this season. Memphis was 2-3 over the past week, with both wins coming in one-possession games. For the year, the Grizzlies have just three double-digit wins, yet they're 3-0 in overtime.
Atlanta Hawks (5)
I really wanted to believe that the Hawks were as good as their early-season record, and maybe they still are. Over the past two weeks, though, Atlanta has been in a freefall in the standings and in these power rankings. Paul Millsap (hip) needs to get back on the court as soon as possible to stem this awful tide.
Rob FoldyGetty Images
Boston Celtics (10)
Now that Al Horford is back and healthy, the Celtics have just one major concern: their defense. Boston has gone from a top-five defensive team last season to the bottom third of the NBA in 2016-17.
Chicago Bulls (8)
A relatively easy week for the Bulls ended in disaster with a loss to a Lakers team playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Still, the Bulls are rolling this season, with LeBron James headed to town on Friday (and having to wear a Cubs uniform, thanks to a bet with Dwyane Wade).
Getty ImagesJonathan Daniel
Charlotte Hornets (9)
People who continue to sleep on Kemba Walker as one of the NBA's best point guards are making a huge mistake. He almost single-handedly helped the Hornets to a win over the Mavericks this week, making up for a rare shooting performance with huge shots in the clutch. Still, that Charlotte let the atrocious Mavs hang around isn't a great sign for the Hornets.
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Utah Jazz (12)
Don't look now, but the Jazz have turned into a top-10 team on both offense and defense — which is one of the hallmarks of a true championship contender. Yet Utah keeps flying under the radar behind the likes of the Spurs, Clippers and, of course, the Warriors in the West.
I'm not sure the Rockets can win four shootouts in the playoffs against the Warriors the way they did on Thursday night, and I'm not entirely sure that I care. Watching Houston play basketball is one of the most fun things in all of sports. Enjoy the Bearded one for all of his glory. We can worry about any deficiencies later this season.
Toronto Raptors (6)
As much as we talk about the Cavaliers coasting through the regular season, this has to be kind of a weird year for Toronto, too. Unlike Cleveland, the Raptors are maintaining their intensity so far, but they won't really answer any questions about their ceiling until they meet the Cavs in the postseason.
David Richard-USA TODAY SportsDavid Richard
Cleveland Cavaliers (4)
The conventional wisdom says that Cleveland can cruise all the way until the playoffs, but I don't think that's actually the case — and LeBron knows it. While the Cavs might disappoint you from time to time over the next two months, you can expect this team to kick it into high gear come February. Trust me.
Jeff HanischJeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs (4)
As several NBA observers have noted recently, there's something strange going on in San Antonio. The Spurs are 11-0 on the road as of the time of this writing yet just 4-4 in the friendly confines of the AT&T Center. There are worse problems to have, of course, and one expects that the Spurs will be just fine at home by the end of the year. For now, though, this is a strikingly weird trend.
I'm not going to dock Golden State for an epic double-overtime loss against the Rockets — a game that could have gone either way on multiple occasions. These days, I'd rather marvel at how good the Warriors already are, having fixed a number of their defensive issues to go along with the NBA's greatest offense. Truly, this is the superteam we all expected.