No lead is safe in the NBA because every team makes a run during the game. This week’s Fanalyst Rankings analyze which teams build the biggest leads and the largest margin of safety for winning.
There are two sides to every NBA Power Ranking: the Fanalytical and the Fanatical. As a Miami HEAT blogger living on the east coast, MHI plays the fanalyst for the Eastern Conference. As a Denver Nuggets fan living west of the Mississippi River, Mrs. NBA plays the fan and provides the yawns. The roles are reversed for the Western Conference.
1. Miami HEAT (30-14, prev. rank: 1)
MHI: The HEAT go on the biggest runs in the Eastern Conference with an average biggest lead of 15 points while only allowing their opponents’ average biggest lead to reach 9 points (which ranks 2nd in the East). The HEAT will face teams from across the spectrum this week (in terms of average biggest lead) during a 4-game home-stand: Bobcats (30th), Rockets (7th), Clippers (4th) and Lakers (13th). The HEAT should be able to protect enough leads to go 4-0.
Mrs. NBA: *Yawn* Wake me up when LeBron can score pointzzzzzzzzz like Melo.
2. New York Knicks (30-15, prev. rank: 2)
MHI: The Knicks rank 4th in the East with an average biggest lead of 13 points and allow opponents an average biggest lead of 10.2 points. This week, the Knicks play 2 top 10 teams at making runs and 2 teams that are below average: Pistons (10th), Wizards (29th), Timberwolves (18th) and Clippers (4th). The Knicks should make enough runs to go 4-0 this week if Kidd stays healthy.
Mrs. NBA: *Yawn* Wake me up when the Knicks can get to the Eastern Conference Finals
3. Indiana Pacers (28-19, prev. rank: 4)
MHI: The Pacers play it relatively close to the vest with an average biggest lead of 11.6 points that ranks 14th in the NBA but their defense doesn’t allow opponents to build leads bigger than 10 points per game (8th in the NBA). The Pacers play 3 games in 3 nights to make up for a game cancelled earlier this season, but fortunately, 3 of the 4 teams they play this week don’t go on very big runs: Bulls (8th), Hawks (19th), @Sixers (27th) and Raptors (16th). Frank Vogel’s crew should go 3-1 in rock fights this week.
Mrs NBA: *Yawn* Wake me up when they beat Miami in the playoffs.
4. Chicago Bulls (29-18, prev. rank: 3)
MHI: The Bulls rank 3rd in the East with an average biggest lead of 13.1 points while allowing opponents to get ahead by no more than 8.8 points (best in the East). The Bulls play 3 games on the road this week ending with a back-to-back at altitude, but only one of those opponents is above average at building a lead: @Pacers (14th), @Nuggets (11th) and @Jazz (21st). Tom Thibodeau will push his players to succeed at the expense of their health, but it looks like an 0-3 week for the Bulls without Boozer and Noah healthy.
Mrs. NBA: *Yawn* Wake me up when Rose is back.
5. Brooklyn Nets (28-19, prev. rank: 5)
MHI: The Nets rank 2nd in the East with an average biggest lead of 13.3 points and they allow opponents an average biggest lead of 10.6 points. The Nets start the week with a back-to-back and 2 of their 4 games are against top 10 teams in building a lead: Lakers (13th), @Pistons (10th), @Wizards (29th) and Spurs (2nd). Looks like a 2-2 week for Brooklyn.
Mrs. NBA: *Yawn* Wake me up when the Nets can get past the first round...
6. Milwaukee Bucks (25-21, prev. rank: 6)
MHI: The Bucks’ average biggest lead is an average 11.6 points (15th in the NBA) but they allow opponents to build leads as big as 12-13 points on average. The Bucks offense will have to go on bigger runs if they want to be successful in a week against 2 above average teams at building a lead that starts with a back-to-back at altitude before coming home: @Nuggets (11th), @Jazz (21st) and vs. Pistons (10th). There won’t be a lot of fear of the deer in this 1-2 week.
Mrs. NBA: *Yawn* Fear The Venison
7. Atlanta Hawks (26-20, prev. rank: 7)
MHI: The Hawks build an average biggest lead of 11.1 points that ranks 10th in the East but don’t allow opponents to build a lead bigger than 11.3 points (7th in the East). The Hawks start this week with a tough back-to-back and play a top 5 team at building a lead, an average team and a below average team: @Pacers (14th), vs. Grizzlies (5th) and vs. Hornets (23rd). A 1-2 week for the Hawks will continue their descent to 0.500 without Lou Williams.
Mrs. NBA: *Yawn* Wake me when Josh Smith is traded or realizes he isn't a bloody max player.
8. Philadelphia 76ers (20-26, prev. rank: 8)
MHI: The Sixers rank 12th in the East with an average biggest lead of just 8.4 points while allowing opponents to build an average biggest lead of 12.3 points. Fortunately for Doug Collins, the Sixers homestand continues this week against 3 teams that are mediocre when comes to building a lead: Magic (28th), Pacers (14th, playing their 3rd game in 3 nights) and Bobcats (30th). The Sixers should be able to make enough runs to go 3-0 this week against that competition.