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How contenders compare to past

Originally Published: March 20, 2013
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

The Denver Nuggets pose a problem for NBA analysts. Usually, we act as historians, looking to past precedent to figure out how teams will perform in the future. But there's never been a team quite like the Nuggets -- not even the Denver squads that have lost in the opening round of the playoffs the past two seasons. The Nuggets' current 13-game winning streak has lifted them into territory rarely seen by a team without a current All-Star, and Denver's nightly dominance of points in the paint is also unique.

Trying to come up with a comparison for the Nuggets led me to the same exercise for the rest of the NBA's top teams. For the eight teams with a .600 winning percentage or better, I chose one past doppelganger. Although I started by using my database to search for teams since the NBA-ABA merger with similar offensive and defensive ratings (adjusted for league average), my comparisons also factored in pace of play, style, players at key positions and even narrative, where appropriate.

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