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January 22, 2020
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NBA Power Rankings Week 5

NBA Power Rankings Week 5
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The Houston Rockets are the hottest team in the NBA, and they have one player to thank — Buddy Hield.

Wait, what?

That’s right, thanks in large part to 35 points from Hield on Sunday, the Sacramento Kings snapped the Boston Celtics‘ NBA-leading, 10-game win streak, leaving the Rockets’ seven-game run as the longest active win streak in the league. That, and James Harden breaking all kinds of offensive records, of course.

How high can Houston climb? Where does Boston land after the loss? And what will Paul George‘s scorching start mean for the LA Clippers? We answer all that and more in this week’s edition.

Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Andre’ Snellings, Royce Young and Bobby Marks, and The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Week 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | Camp | Free agency | Post-Finals

1. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 11-2
Week 4 ranking: 1

LeBron James set his season high with a plus-30 rating after recording 33 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds in a win over Atlanta on Sunday. It was his 11th double-double of the season (third best in NBA). James already has four 30-point games this season. — Spears

This week: OKC, @OKC, @MEM

2. Boston Celtics
Record: 10-2
Week 4 ranking: 4

The loss of Gordon Hayward to a broken hand did little to cool off the hottest team in the NBA. Despite a one-point loss at Sacramento, Boston still had wins this week over Dallas, Washington and Golden State. The Celtics have an Eastern Conference best 10-2 record and rank third overall in point differential. In the three wins this week, Jaylen Brown had his best stretch of basketball, averaging 23.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.3assists per game and pulling off a rare 50/50 — 51.9% from the field and 50% from deep. — Marks

This week: @PHX, @LAC, @DEN

3. Houston Rockets
Record: 10-3
Week 4 ranking: 10

James Harden could really have a legitimate chance to join Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to average 40 points per game for a season. Harden is averaging 39.5 points despite shooting poorly in four of the first five games of the season. Harden has averaged 43.0 points during the Rockets’ seven-game winning streak, and he isn’t just lighting it up on offense. Houston is allowing only 95.9 points per 100 possessions with Harden on the floor during the winning streak. — MacMahon

This week: POR, @DEN, @LAC, DAL

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