PORTLAND, Ore. — You never know what you're going to get with this Blazers team.
A week ago, Portland was four losses into a five-game losing streak. But Portland snapped the streak by beating the Heat in Miami on Wednesday and have now won three in a row — all on the road — leading up to Monday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Three straight wins on the road helped catapult the Blazers back into the Top 10 in the most of the major NBA power rankings that were released Monday.
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Portland has righted itself by improving its defense. During its five-game losing streak, Portland's defense, which had been ranked in the Top 5 all season, was playing at a league-worst level. But over the past three games, the Blazers' defensive rating is 94.2, the best in the NBA during that stretch.
The Timberwolves will be a good test for Portland. Minnesota (17-13) is fourth in the West and has the fifth-best offense in the NBA. Portland's three wins on this road trip have come against mediocre to poor competition. Miami (15-14) is a solid team, but Orlando (11-20) has lost five in a row and Charlotte (10-19) is on a three-game losing streak.
If the Blazers beat Minnesota on Monday, they'll move past the Timberwolves into fourth place in the Western Conference.
The schedule remains challenging for the Blazers. The Spurs (20-10) visit the Moda Center on Wednesday, followed by a home matchup against the Nuggets (16-13) on Friday and a quick road trip to Los Angeles for a game against the Lakers (10-17) on Saturday.
Here's a look at where the Blazers stand in the latest batch of NBA power rankings.
RANKINGS RELEASED MONDAY
Last week's ranking: 14
Portland's neighbors: Wizards at 9; Timberwolves at 7
What they wrote: The Blazers have won three straight games, all on the road. They lead the league in defensive efficiency (99.0) and opponent field goal percentage (43 percent) on the road. They've effectively limited their opponents from the perimeter, allowing the fewest 3s (8.4) and attempts (24.4) per game away from Rip City.
Sports Illustrated: Blazers rank No. 9 (up 4)
Last week's ranking: 13
Portland's neighbors: Pacers at 10: Knicks at 8
What they wrote: Creeping ever-so-closely to the league’s elite tier, the Blazers are getting it done with consistent performances from CJ McCollum and gritty defensive performances late in games. Is it weird to admit it’s kind of fun watching Ed Davis?
CBS Sports: Blazers rank No. 7 (up 9)
Last week's ranking: 16
Portland's neighbors: Knicks at 8; Spurs at 6
What they wrote: Their offense is starting to find itself, but the defense is beginning to slip a little. They appear to be settling in as a team that will more than likely beat bad teams, but they don't really have a statement win yet.
USA Today Sports: Blazers rank No. 10 (up 1)
Last week's ranking: 11
Portland's neighbors: Wizards at 11; Pistons at 9
What they wrote: The Blazers, who have won three consecutive games after losing five in a row, rank fourth in the NBA with a defensive rating of 101.5.
NBA.com: Blazers rank No. 14 (up 2)
Last week's ranking: 16
Portland's neighbors: Nuggets at 15; Timberwolves at 13
What they wrote: The Blazers are simply better on the road (9-5) than they are at home (7-8), especially defensively, where they've allowed 4.9 fewer points per 100 possessions away from the Moda Center after a pair of ugly wins in Orlando and Charlotte over the weekend. Zach Collins hasn't shot very well, but has proven himself to be a solid rebounder (16 boards in 34 minutes over the weekend), and has remained in the rotation with the return of Jusuf Nurkic. After a couple of DNPs, Shabazz Napier has returned and has given the Blazers some good minutes over their three-game winning streak. They've outscored their opponents by 22 points per 100 possessions with Napier on the floor with both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum this season. That's the team's best mark among three-man units that include the two starting guards.
RANKINGS RELEASED WEDNESDAY
NBC Sports: Blazers rank No. 14 (up 3)
Last week's ranking: 17
Portland's neighbors: Thunder at 15; Knicks a 13
What they wrote: They continue to surprise with a top-10 defense (4th in the league for the season, 8th the last 10 games) but struggling on offense. The Blazers went a respectable 3-2 on a five-game road trip, improving the team to 9-6 away from Portland (which is better than their 7-8 record at home). One other concern for Portland fans: Your team has played the third easiest schedule in the NBA so far. Things will get tougher.
Jared Cowley is a digital producer at KGW. Follow Jared on Twitter here.