Most Dangerous Teams in the NBA with a Lead

Tyler Condit@@tylerconditFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2015

Most Dangerous Teams in the NBA with a Lead

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The goal in each NBA game is, of course, to win. The best way to do that is to get out to a lead and hold onto said lead. This is a dedication to the five best teams in the league at holding leads. 

    The Philadelphia 76ers are not one of those teams. Marc Stein wrote this yesterday about the 76ers in his weekly NBA power rankings:

    "They're somehow still winless despite holding a fourth-quarter lead in each of the past five games, getting outscored by 50 points in the final six minutes of those five L's."

    For that reason, they're not on this list. The teams who are on this list, save for one, play conservative basketball and rarely allow transition points. In fact, according to TeamRankings.com, three of my top five toughest teams to come back against rank in the top six in fewest transition points allowed per game. 

    Four of the teams rank in the bottom seven in pace of play, per Basketball-Reference.com. All five are in the top ten in defensive efficiency. 

    So who are these mystery teams? Let's find out.

5. Miami Heat

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    With apologies to the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, who sport similar records and play almost as well on the defensive end, the Miami Heat fit into my list as the fifth-toughest team to come back against. 

    Miami has only lost one game this season that it led by more than 10 points at any point during the game, blowing a 13-point second-quarter lead against the Pacers. 

    Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Heat rank third in defensive rating, play at the fourth-slowest pace in the league and sport a deep bench. Nine guys play at least 15 minutes per game for this club. All of those factors help them get ahead early and maintain leads.

4. Utah Jazz

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    Darren Abate/Associated Press

    The Utah Jazz are one of two teams on this list that haven't lost a game this season that they've led by double digits, according to research conducted on Basketball-Reference.com. They did hold a nine-point advantage that slipped away in Cleveland, but that's a tall task to ask of any NBA team playing against LeBron James in Quicken Loans Arena. 

    Like the Heat, the Jazz keep teams at bay with tough defense and by playing at the slowest pace in the league, per Basketball-Reference.com.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Cavaliers have only one loss so far this season in which they led by double digits at any point. According to Basketball Reference, the Pistons came back from a 13-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Cavs, 104-99, on November 17.

    Per TeamRanker.com, the Cavs allow the third-fewest points per game in the second half. They also sport the third-most-efficient offense in the league, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

2. San Antonio Spurs

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    Darren Abate/Associated Press

    The San Antonio Spurs are 14-4, so it's tough to find many flaws in their play. In their fifth game of the season, they jumped out to a 12-point second-quarter lead against the Wizards. They lost that game. Other than that, they've only lost three games and never led by more than eight points in any of them.

    The Spurs rank first in defensive rating and opponent points per game, according to Basketball-Reference.com. They allow just 18.8 points per game off three-pointers, the second-lowest mark in the league. They also allow the fewest first-quarter points and second-quarter points, according to TeamRanker.com. That first-half dominance gets them some sizable leads that make them tough to come back against.

1. Golden State Warriors

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    This one was pretty obvious.

    Last season, the Golden State Warriors went 57-0 when they held at least a 15-point lead at some point in the game, according to ESPN Stats & Info. This year, they're undefeated when they've held any sort of lead at any point in the game because, well, they're undefeated.

    Sure, they have been prone to allowing teams to go on runs, but the Warriors are way ahead of the rest of the league in made threes, fastbreak points, average margin through three quarters and average biggest lead, all according to TeamRanker.com.

    Monday night, the Jazz nearly toppled the undefeated Warriors. Maybe someone else on this seven-game road trip will come back to beat the Warriors.

    Maybe, but I doubt it.

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