By Tim Reynolds
The Associated Press
NORMAN — Adam Silver is taking over the NBA at a good time.
In fact, for five teams, it’s a really good time.
Indiana, Miami, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Portland all enter the week with winning percentages of .700 or better, and that’s significant.
Only one other time in league history — 1997-98 — have as many as five teams won at such a rate, that coming in a season when Chicago, Indiana, Utah, Seattle and the Los Angeles Lakers did the honors. It’s not inconceivable that more than five finish with that good a record, with the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston still having realistic shots, too.
So in a season where so much of the narrative has been about how bad many NBA teams are, and with good reason, there’s another end of the spectrum to consider as well.
At their current rates, Indiana and Oklahoma City are on pace to finish with two of the top 25 records in NBA history. Milwaukee, meanwhile, would have the 11th-worst mark ever if the season was ending now. And going back to last season, including playoffs, the Bucks have lost 55 of their last 67 games (while the Heat have won 63 times in that same span, starting on March 20).
Yes, there are some very bad teams in the league, and that obviously plays a role in helping everyone else’s record.
But there are probably very few people who would deny that the top of the top in the NBA this season is as good as the league has seen in quite some time. And the first championship that will be awarded in Silver’s era as the league’s commissioner could very well go to a team with a case to say that it had one of the best seasons the NBA ever saw.
Five things to watch in the NBA this week:
Durant watch: It really doesn’t matter who the opponent is anymore. When Oklahoma City is playing, Kevin Durant needs to be followed, period. His scoring average in January, nearly 36 points per night, was seven points better than anyone else in the league. (It also was the second straight time a Kevin took the monthly scoring title, with Kevin Love doing it in December, so Kevin Martin, Kevin Garnett and Kevin Seraphin, it’s your turn, right? OK, probably not.)
Pistons-Heat: Yes, really. Detroit has already won on Miami’s floor once this season. The Pistons are 11-17 since that night, but it’s a safe bet that they’ll have the two-time defending champs’ attention.
Suns-Rockets: They play Wednesday night, a matchup of two teams that may very well wind up making big noise in the Western Conference playoffs. The Suns started 9-9. Through Sunday, they’re 20-9 since, the NBA’s third-best record in that span behind only Oklahoma City and Indiana.
Blazers-Pacers: This one will be worthy of watching Friday night for many reasons, foremost the clash of styles. Portland has the NBA’s highest-scoring offense. Indiana allows fewer points than any other team in the league. Portland won the season’s first meeting 106-102, representing the only time this season the Pacers scored more than 100 points and lost anyway.
Bulls 2K: Chicago enters the week with 1,998 regular-season victories. The Bulls will be the 11th team in league history to get the 2,000 mark.
Stat of week: 1-11. That was the record of road teams in the NBA on Saturday night. The only visiting club to get a win was Miami, topping the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
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